Every exhibition tells a story, usually about an artist or groups of them. Occasionally, however, some shows focus on non-artists : individuals who work as art dealers, curators, critics of collectors.

Essential to a functioning art world, they don't make things. They make things happen.

Such shows have been on the rise in New York lately, revealing the broader context of modern art. The latest is the bountiful ''Felix Feneon : The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde - From Signac to Matisse and Beyond'' at the Museum of Modern Art.

[Its immediate predecessors include last year's ''Lincoln Kirstein's Modern'' at MoMA and ''Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art'' at the Jewish Museum.]

The suave and brilliant Felix Feneon [1861-1944] is the ideal subject for a show of this kind, since he was one of the busiest, most fascinating players in Parisian cultural circles in the decades around the turn of the 20th century.

A confirmed dandy, he worked as a critic, editor, translator, journalist, publisher, gallerist, private-dealer and prescient collector, not only of the French avant-garde but also of non-Western art, especially African sculpture, whose aesthetic value he was early to recognize.

And like many artists and writers of his generation, he was a self-identified anarchist, surveilled by the police and, once, arrested.

In short, just reading the detailed chronology in the show's treasure of a catalog can be exhausting.

The current exhibition was just beginning to be installed when the lockdown began. It went on view for the first time when the museum reopened last week.

An amazing show, which will be up through Jan 2. It began as a collaboration as between Isabelle Cahn, chief curator at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and Philippe Peltier, a former department head at the Musse du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in the French capital, where a much larger group of the non-Western material was exhibited.

The Modern's presentation - organized by Starr Figura, a curator of prints and drawings, working with the curatorial assistant Anna Blaha unites the shows.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on The World of Art, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Roberta Smith.


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