The author of the first Shock of the New is Ian Dunlop, an English writer who was once the art critic for The Evening Standard in London and is now on the staff of Sotheby's, the auction house in New York.
Mr. Dunlop's Shock is quite different from Mr. Hughes's, of course. It focuses on seven historic exhibitions of the modern period, beginning with the Salon des Refuses in Paris in 1863 and ending with the Degenerate Art show staged by Hitler's minions in Munich in 1937. Along the way, attention is paid to the Armory Show of 1913 and the International Surrealist Exhibition in 1938.
To say that Mr. Dunlop's book was published without fanfare would be a gross understatement. It seems to have fallen from the presses directly into the deepest obscurity. This writer stumbled upon a copy only last year in a secondhand book shop. The book proved to be very lively reading. It is certainly worth rescuing from the oblivion to which it was so hastily consigned. But if it were to be reprinted now, I suppose it would have to be given a new title. Such is the power of television.
In The Shock of the New Ian Dunlop quotes first-hand accounts of the irresistible laughter provoked by the exhibits. Word would get around that in this or that there was a funny picture, and, as Zola reported in his novel L'CEuvre, "people came stampeding from every other room in the exhibition and gangs of sightseers, afraid of missing something, came pushing their way in, shouting 'Where? — "Over there!" "Oh, I say! Did you ever?"