York conveys an offhand weirdness—a skeleton sits cross-legged in a yard, flattering a nude woman; outsize snakes squiggle across green-and-brown lawns, suggestive of changing seasons, that eternal churn of life. York once told an interviewer we live in a Garden of Eden: "It might be the only paradise we ever know, and it's just so beautiful, with the trees and everything here, and you feel you want to paint it."

Piero's Virgin and Child Enthroned With Four Angels
©The Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, Williamstown, Mass.
Piero's Virgin and Child Enthroned With Four Angels

He was as good as his word.

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