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Comments on New Museum

September 27, 1987

Some of Cathy Curtis' comments (Sept. 22) regarding the Modern Museum of Art are correct. The museum did put on a Tamayo exhibit, and it did borrow perhaps too heavily from the greatest Tamayo collection in the United States.

Yet most of her review is off the mark and leaves me wondering if we saw the same artist or the same exhibit. She looks at paintings vibrant with the hues of a master colorist and sees them as lifeless. She stands before a brilliant fusion of pre-Columbian and modernist art, unique in all the world, and calls Tamayo a follower. Presumably she would have been one of the first detractors of "Les demoiselles d'Avignon," another work notable for its fusion of styles.

She reads a welcoming letter saying that "appreciating art is a worthy first step in improving our world" and pronounces it "naive."

She has in her hands a catalogue that might have informed her and saved her from such irresponsible comments, yet sees the museum as inadequately appreciating the power of words to inform. That she was not informed is evident. But I believe that merely giving "a glance"--either to art or an essay about it--is hardly the way to become informed.

In the face of such powerful works as "Grito," "Piano Virtuoso" and "Personage in the Window," she sees only lifelessness, skinny arms, round eyes and pinheads.

I am one of those who returned the next day. I saw some of the same people from the night before, who had also returned to have a second look at the art. I suggest Cathy Curtis do the same--take a thoughtful look, with feeling--because she has much to learn about art and about reviewing art. As it is, her pallid spirit drains the life out of her ability to respond to greatness with little beyond mean-spirited cynicism.

As Tamayo has said, we must respond to art "with our senses." I hope in the future The Times will find reporters less lacking in sensibility, reviewers up to the task of understanding the exhibits they are sent to report.


Long Beach

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