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The Cover
September 16, 1998


JAMA. 1998;280(11):948. doi:10.1001/jama.280.11.948

A Joan Thorne (1943- ) painting is not easy. Tangled as a Mayan jungle, dense as subway graffiti, fearful as a Gorgon's head, her pictures are huge panoramas of not only color and form, but of sound, movement, even angst. The difficulties begin at the very threshold, the title. From there they are only compounded as the viewer moves forward into the colors—the reds, blues, lime greens, oranges, purples—and the shapes—sinewy, curving cords of color that snake among the slightly bent rectangles, stuffed triangles, and circle-parts. Looking at such a painting is somewhat like plunging into a stormy sea: Exciting, but most of the time beyond one's depth, with rescue only a distant possibility. All the proper elements of a painting are there but navigating them is daunting. Grasp at anything—a bit of color, a familiar shape, a remembered pattern—and it immediately floats beyond reach.