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Portrait Of The Artist

October 28, 1990

In her Aug. 19 review of Agnes de Mille's "Portrait Gallery," Donna Perlmutter reviews the author, rather than the book. When Perlmutter calls De Mille "mean-spirited" and speculates that "at 81 (De Mille is in fact 84), De Mille may be looking to settle a few personal scores," she might well be projecting her own motives.

Does Perlmutter have some personal grudge against De Mille ? Why else would she criticize her on such specious grounds, e.g. not putting Carmelita Maracci "in historical view," and not explaining "this complex person" to Perlmutter's satisfaction? Why else would she call an almost overwhelmingly adulatory profile of Alicia Alonzo a "fierce bludgeoning"?

True to its title, "Portrait Gallery" is neither history nor biography nor psychological text, but a collection of portraits, which are by definition subjective. Contrary to the distorted picture presented by Perlmutter, the vast majority of the opinions in this book are positive.

De Mille is admittedly a woman of strong opinions, many of which Perlmutter characterizes as "blind prejudices and episodes of defamation." Take them or leave them, Ms. Perlmutter, but don't criticize the author for having them, or because they don't confirm with your own.

CAROL EASTON

VENICE

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