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Helping the Modern Get Over Itself

by Roberta Smith

The Museum of Modern Art has unveiled changes in its galleries which include the addition of a painting by Cuban Grandmaster Amelia Pelaez.

The permanent collection of any great museum is in a state of constant, usually subtle flux. Works go up, are shifted about and later removed from view, making way for others…..

…..And then there’s the small, wonderfully dense Gallery 4, loosely devoted to still life with works from 1915 to the early 1950s. My favorite on either floor right now, this selection juxtaposes paintings by Matisse, Braque and Giorgio Morandi with surprises by, among others, the American outsider Forrest Bess, Bernard Buffet (French), Gertrude Green (American), Emilio Pettoruti (Argentine) and Amelia Peláez Del Casal (Cuban). The Del Casal, “Fishes,” was painted in 1943 under the spell of Picasso (and acquired the following year), but it definitely has a mind of its own.

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