20 MAY 1995, Page 30

A near miracle

Sir: Giles Auty's piece (Arts, 6 May) was a lucid exposition of the true quality of Modernist Art. Indeed, to have spoken so much truth on a single page was a near miracle.

However, the lack of raiment of this par- ticular emperor was brilliantly elucidated nearly 20 years ago by the American author, Tom Wolfe, in The Painted Word (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1975). The offi- cial US art establishment, including the New York Times arts and book review pages, didn't attack Wolfe's book. It was simply ignored or, if noticed, treated with cursory derision as the philistine blathering of a non-expert.

Marxist-leaning art critics understand the utility of the un-book when a challenge appears to prevailing orthodoxy. For some- thing to be incontrovertible, no one must controvert it — so no one did.

Arnold Lovell

91 Pound Ridge Road, PO Box 215, New York, USA