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They are old and they are artists whose lifelong achievements are underrecognized.

But no longer, thanks to an extraordinary exhibit of their work that opened Wednesday in a gallery steps from the White House.It's called "Still Working."

"The subject is not age, the subject is art," said Stuart Shedletsky of the Parsons School of Design in New York who spent three years traveling through the United States searching for talented, mature artists.

The show, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, consists of 105 paintings, sculpture and drawings by 32 artists aged 60 to 98.

"I didn't want unknown artists," Shedletsky said. "I wanted those who were underknown."

Not one of the works, exhibited in five rooms, deals with the subject of age.

Shedletsky said he set out to skewer the myth that artists produce their most significant pieces when they are young.

"We propose the contrary: that many more artists have evolved and matured slowly, often doing their best and most resonant work late in life," he says. "Sixty can be a pivotal age for many artists. . . . At that age many are pursuing deeper personal awareness rather than financial gain or public attention. The late work of artists becomes more poetic and direct."

The art ranges from the dark and disturbing, like Hans Burkhardt's image of black rain that has the head of Christ on a charred wooden cross, to the amusing "The Juggler" by Michele Russo, to elegant, intriguing sculptures of falling water by Jack Zajak.

The show's run at the Corcoran ends Aug. 21. It will begin two-month runs in Chicago in October, New York in January 1995, and Los Angeles in September 1995.