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Strength in numbers

At last we are coming round to the view that great art doesn't have to be produced by solitary geniuses

The world of culture is full of unspoken distinctions and barriers. One of the most persistent is between types of art which people think can and can’t be collaborative. Examples of the former include soap operas, pop songs, musicals and film scripts. Examples of the latter include classical music, literary fiction, plays and poems. The visual arts hover somewhere in the middle: we expect most paintings and sculptures to be by individuals, but we don’t mind the odd maverick exception, such as the Chapman brothers or Gilbert & George.

The picture is complicated, of course, by the fact that some…

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