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Age of the arbitrary

Can you pick 100 works of art that define our time?

By Sebastian Smee   December 2013

Matthew Barney, Cremaster 4, 1994

How many full-throttle, age-defining artistic masterpieces made between, say, 1700 and 1730 can you name? Not too many? The period produced no shortage of art. And yet, compared with our own era, which has witnessed—and is still witnessing—a deluge of artistic production, the early 18th century was arid.

What, then, from our own era, will be remembered as the art that defined our age? Will the explosion in production be reflected in a boom in epochal works? Or will it all pass through a…

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