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Primitivism in 20th Century Art (Museum of Modern Art, 2002)
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THE NEW YORK CANON
by Jerry Saltz



A canon is antithetical to everything the New York art world has been about for the past 40 years, during which time we went from being the center of the art world to being one of many centers. But New York magazine is celebrating its 40 year anniversary and asked me to think about what events make up a New York Canon of art. Itís possible to look at the artists and events I choose and not see a direct line of growth (if there has ever been such a thing), but rather an expanding and contracting cloud that has broken free of linear progress, something that grows in all directions at once. The fact that there was no one New York Ur-Artist, no single style that dominated all the others in this period is a form of progress in itself. Even though the magazine wanted a New York-oriented list I did not just pick art about New York by New Yorkers. I choose work that seemed to change the way that art looked in New York. Thatís why there are artists from Europe, Asia and elsewhere in America here.

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