One thing about art objects: They never shut up.
If they survive, they continue to broadcast; they transmit information and spawn experiences that we savor, puzzle over, interpret and judge. With time, people and events fade, but works of art often live to see another day, make a different impression and appear in a new light.
Hippocrates had it right: ars longa.
Every time an art object is put on view in a museum, it is seen anew; its placement will alter the way it is perceived and thought about.
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This fall, three New York museum exhibitions promise to deliver more than incremental doses of change. Each will expand a portion of the master narrative of 20th-century art beyond the usual historical boundaries and great white (male) hunters of artistic glory. In the process they could also illustrate different forms or degrees of revisionism - shallow or foundational, in numbers or in kind.
The most extreme case is "Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy and Germany, 1918-1936," opening Friday at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition will concentrate on a current that mainstream art history mostly forgot: the Classical and realist figurative styles that flourished in Western Europe during the fractious inner-war period and sometimes became associated with Nazism and fascism.
During these years many artists responded to the devastation of World War I by forsaking experimentation for traditional aesthetic values.
France's "retour a l'ordre" (return to order), Italy's "ritorno al mestiere" (return to craft) and Germany's "Neue Sachlichkeit" (New Objectivity) have been considered in terms of a few formerly avant-garde exemplars such as Picasso, Braque, Leger.
With 80 artists, "Chaos and Classicism" will be abundant with relative unknowns.
If the Guggenheim show expands upon an outre artistic phenomenon, the Museum of Modern Art broadens one of American art's great genesis myths with "Abstract Expressionist New York," opening Oct. 3.
The show's intention is to move beyond the short list of artists - barely a baker's dozen - generally associated with what is called the triumph of American painting. Instead, this show will represent around 65 artists with 300 paintings, sculptures, photographs and works on paper, all from the Modern's holdings, except for three or four promised gifts.
"The Big Picture" may be the largest exhibition ever devoted to Abstract Expressionism. It should be a movable feast of re-evaluation.
The very boundaries of the style will be stretched by the inclusion of Romare Bearden and the architect and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller.
Given that freshness of information is often a measure of impact, the smallest of these three shows may prove to break the most ground. This is "Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968," opening at the Brooklyn Museum on Oct. 15.
It will present more than 80 works by 25 women from the United States and eight other countries. In one way or another, all use objects from popular culture in their work.
Some - the sculptors Escobar, Chryssa and Niki de Saint Phalle, the painter-sculptor artist Yayoi Kusama and the painters Vija Celmins and Rosalyn Drexler - have long been tangentially associated with Pop Art. Others are barely known. Pop Art, American style, has always been especially narrow, even where male artists are concerned. The prospect of 25 new candidates for its pantheon is little short of thrilling.