British art invaded New York this spring. The three-pronged attack was mounted not by the YBAs responsible for the adolescent tantrums in Brooklyn last year, but by a group of seasoned painters, all over seventy, all with distinguished track records: Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff, and Craigie Aitchison, in order of their familiarity to audiences on this side of the Atlantic. The three shows overlapped by accident rather than by design, it seems, but the coincidence probably made all of them more provocative than they would have been in isolation. Seeing recent works by Freud, Kossoff, and Aitchison in fairly close proximity offered opportunities for interesting comparisons and suggested even more interesting questions about individuality and the Britishness of British art.

Freud was last seen here in some depth in 1996, in concurrent exhibitions at Acquavella and the Metropolitan. I confess to mixed...


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