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Francis Alÿs, Paradox of Praxis I (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing), Mexico City, 1997, private collection © Francis Alÿs Photo: Enrique Huerta
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by Charlie Finch

All you have to know about Francis Alÿs is to meet him, which I did at the opening of his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art last Tuesday evening. At 51, Alÿs, a Belgian who lives in Mexico City, looks like James Taylor, with an impressive aquiline nose, long hair, sweat pants and the skinny body of a 30-year-old long-distance runner. Curators who adore his look, out of Peter Matthiessen by Jackson Browne, physically anathema to a museum office, will tell you that his art is about politics.