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Since impressionism had, at its extremities, given rise to the expressionists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, the postwar painter Jean-Michel Atlan said great art could only be made in the margins.

In early postwar Europe, abstraction and figuration were the embattled avant-gardes. Working at their intersection, Belgian Pierre Alechinsky acquired notoriety in the short-lived Paris-based avant-garde group of artists Cobra — an acronym of the home countries of its participants, Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. This eponymous exhibition is the artist’s first Japan retrospective.

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