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As a poet, Michael Fried—well, let’s just say that while the third-person ode to a dead cat in 1994’s To the Center of the Earth was pardonable, its second-person one probably wasn’t. As an artwriter, however, Fried is a titan. In the ’60s and early ’70s, Fried’s criticism of postwar modernism (some of which will be collected next year in Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews) earned him a position in the formalist firmament next to Clement Greenberg. As David Carrier has noted, Fried cemented his reputation by then abandoning criticism for history, although 1980’s Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot maintained Fried’s focus on spectatorship. Courbet’s Realism (1990) and Manet’s Modernism, or, The Face of Painting in the 1860s (1996) completed a trilogy on French painting, and Fried is now at work on a study of Caravaggio. Tonight the Johns Hopkins professor joins Jeff Wall, himself an art historian, for “Jeff Wall and Michael Fried: A Dialog,” presented in conjunction with the photographer’s current retrospective. At 6:30 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (GD)