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Some walls really are beautiful: Hockney, Van Gogh and our fractured politics

By Lisa Van Dusen      

At a time when we should be connecting to produce sums greater than our parts, examples of just such moments stand out amid the divisions.

America is besieged by a daily deluge of diversionary gibberish from its own commander in chief Donald Trump; Europe is preoccupied by the manufactured crisis of one of its major unifying powers, led by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May; and China has become the testing ground for all the ways digital innovations can be harnessed to turn human life into an Orwellian nightmare under President Xi Jinping, writes Lisa Van Dusen. White House photograph by Shealah Craighead, photograph courtesy of the U.K. government, and courtesy of the Kremlin

At any other moment in history, a two-man show of paintings by David Hockney and Vincent Van Gogh might not feel subversive. But in the era of weaponized wedges, the union of a straight, visionary Dutchman who produced his best work in France and a gay, visionary Yorkshire man most widely known for his renditions of classic California feels somehow like an aesthetic insurrection. All that beauty in one place—currently, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam—seems like a timely, anti-ugliness political statement in addition to being a celebration of genius and fridge-magnet bonanza.

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