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Clement Greenberg (1909–1994)

Författare till Art and Culture: Critical Essays

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Clement Greenberg was born in the Bronx in 1909, and was educated at Syracuse University. He became an editor of Partisan Review in 1940, art critic of The Nation in 1942, and associate editor of Commentary in 1945. His books include Art and Culture, the four-volume Collected Essays and Criticism, visa mer and the posthumous Homemade Esthetics. He died in New York City in 1994, at the age of eighty-five. visa färre

Inkluderar namnet: ed. Clement Greenberg

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Verk av Clement Greenberg

Joan Miró (1948) 12 exemplar
Hofmann (1961) 5 exemplar

Associerade verk

Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (1968) — Bidragsgivare — 758 exemplar
Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste (1968) — Bidragsgivare — 212 exemplar
The New Art: A Critical Anthology (1966) — Bidragsgivare, vissa utgåvor110 exemplar
Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (2004) — Bidragsgivare — 71 exemplar

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Really insightful and places the avant-garde developments in modern art in context with industrialisation as well as authoritative regimes, giving a convincing explanation for the Nazi denunciation of modern art as degenerate art or cultural bolshevism (something that the contemporary right wing has adopted again, yay!).

I did find Greenberg's essay somewhat elitist and wished that he could have elaborated on the implications of a "superior" culture, how its superiority is determined, and its necessity.… (mer)
 
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yuef3i | Sep 19, 2021 |



The most influential voice of modernism in the art world for twenty-five years following World War II, particularly in the United States, art critic, cultural philosopher, aesthetician Clement Greenberg was a force to be reckoned with, a man who never held back in asserting his sharp, compelling well-formulated opinions, particularly on topics touching modern art. This collection entitled “Modernism with a Vengeance” contains over sixty entries – essays, reviews, letters, interviews – taken from the years 1957-1969, each and every piece providing anyone interested in art and culture with much to ponder. To whet a reader’s artistic palate, here are quotes along with my comments on two essays I found especially provocative:

The Case for Abstract Art
“Many people say that the kind of art our age produces is one of the major symptoms of what’s wrong with the age. The disintegration and, finally, the disappearance of recognizable images in painting and sculpture, like the obscurity in advanced literature, are supposed to reflect a disintegration of values in society itself.” --------- Of course Greenberg is alluding to nonrepresentational, abstract art of painters like Pollock and Mondrian and people who find such art to be not only degenerate but downright crazy or sick or even silly. The author counters in several ways, including how modern art has been under constant attack ever since the time of the Impressionists. When I myself hear modern art attacked in this way, I keep in mind how Hitler and the Nazis organized their infamous 1937 ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibit, where artists such as Chagall, Grosz, Kandinsky, Klee, Marc and Nolde were put on display for public ridicule.

“I think a poor life is lived by anyone who doesn’t regularly take time out to stand and gaze, or sit and listen, or touch, or smell, or brood, without any further end in mind, simply for the satisfaction gotten from that which is gazed at, listened to, touched, smelled, or brooded upon.” ---------- Greenberg spent a significant part of his life, an hour or two or three every day, standing and gazing at art. He simply could not tolerate people passing judgment on paintings who refused to make a serious commitment to visit museums and galleries. Sidebar: One insightful Greenberg observation: when listening to music or reading literature one is always, on some level, anticipating the next musical phrase or the next page in the book; with abstract art, there is no ‘next’, it is all right there, a viewer has to stick with it, gazing deeper and deeper. Personal note: I think all art, particularly abstract art, suffers from reproductions in books and magazines, that is, many people will judge a six foot canvas by a six inch photo.

The Identity of Art
“In the long run there are only two kinds of art: the good and the bad. This difference cuts across all other differences in art.” ---------- Reminds me of Eduardo Galeano recounting a story about communist intellectuals pressing a Brazilian artist for a definition of art. His reply, “All I know is this: art is art, or it’s shit.” When we think of a painter of portraits we frequently think of an artist like Rembrandt or Vermeer, but recall how the vast majority of portraits during the 16th and 17th and 18th centuries were painted by mediocre artists commissioned by nobility or the wealthy, commissioned not so much for love of art but for that love that never fades - love of self.

"The error made by too many partisans of non-decorative abstract art is to think that the kind of experience they get from it is different from the kind of experience they get from representational art – to think, in fact, that it is an utterly new kind of experience.” ---------- Nihil sub sole novum. True, each painting or sculpture gives us a unique portal into the realm of the aesthetic, but aesthetic experience is aesthetic experience, as every philosopher of art has known since Alexander Baumgarten in the eighteenth century, the first philosopher to categorize experience as aesthetic.

“One cannot validly be for or against any particular body of art in toto. One can only be for good or superior art as against bad or inferior art. One is not for Chinese, or Western, or representational art as a whole, but only for what is good in it.” ---------- Greenberg encourages us to hone our ability to ‘see’ by the following exercise: pick an artist you really enjoy. Look carefully at a number of that artist’s painting, if possible the originals, not copies. Determine which paintings especially resonate with you and which other paintings do not. Then carefully assess and evaluate what has caused the difference.

“Quality in art can be neither ascertained nor proved by logic or discourse. Experience alone rules in this area – and the experience, so to speak, of experience.” ---------- Again, to come to know an artist and his or her painting, we have to use our eyes.; not reading, not discussing, not putting the painting into words, but looking very carefully as painting is ultimately a visual, sensual experience.

“Too many people simply refuse to make the effort of humility – as well as of patience – that is required to learn how to experience, or appreciate, art relevantly. Such people do not have the right to pronounce on any kind of art – much less about abstract art. Left to themselves, they would not be able to tell the difference in quality between a calendar picture by Petty and a nude by Rubens. ---------- Thanks, Clement! That’s the way to tell it like it is. The bottom line – to appreciate the visual arts takes a serious commitment.

If this review has piqued an interest to watch Clement Greenberg in action in front of a live, and sometimes critical audience, here is a great Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk5Nzo2qzro
… (mer)
 
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Glenn_Russell | 1 annan recension | Nov 13, 2018 |

"When art is under scrutiny as art and nothing but art, then the question of the relation of art to life, of esthetic to moral value, is beside the point." -- Clement Greenberg, from his essay The Experience of Value

For anyone interested in the arts and aesthetics, this collection of essays and university discussions is a breath of fresh air since Clement Greenberg grounds his observations relating to intuition, beauty, taste, creativity and the visual arts not on extensive scholarship (there are NO FOOTNOTES!) but on his own direct experience, having spent hours every day visiting museums and galleries and his fifty years as an art critic based in New York City. Here are several quotes from the book along with my comments:

“Esthetic intuition is never a means, but always an end in itself, contains its value in itself, and rests in itself.” ---------- Greenberg gives a simple example: if we look at the sky to see if it is going to rain, this is a practical consideration – we want to know if we should bring our umbrella; if we look at the sky to see the blue, this is esthetic – our looking has no other end or function beyond the simple pleasure of our seeing. Of course, the esthetic extends to works of art: if we view art with a practical aim, say, purchasing a painting as a financial investment, this is non-esthetic; if we look at the same painting totally for the pleasure of the viewing, this is esthetic.

My own observation: the esthetic requires a capacity to slow down and really become observant, trust our eyes, our ears, our feelings, our immediate connection with the present moment. With even a modest amount of practice, we can begin to take our time as we move through our day, making room for the esthetic, acting less and less like a chicken with its head cut off, constantly hankering after whatever comes next.


“A good, a large part of the satisfaction to be gotten from art over the course of time consists in overcoming newer and newer challenges to your taste, whether in art of the present or art of the past. To keep on doing this you have also – my experience says – to keep on learning from life apart from art.” --------- There is a rhythm here: the deeper our understanding of life, the greater chance we have to expand and refine our tastes in appreciating art; the more we open ourselves to the various periods and styles in the history of art, including contemporary art, the better chance we have of increasing our understanding of other peoples, societies and cultures.

From my own experience, I have a greater appreciation and empathy for the peoples living in the calamitous 14th century, with all its war, famine and plague after my acquaintance with the art and music of the period.


“In effect –to good and solid effect – the objectivity of taste is demonstrated in and through the presence of a consensus over time. That consensus makes itself evident in judgments of esthetic value that stand up under the ever-renewed testing of experience.” ---------- Greenberg acknowledges art does not lend itself to objectivity in the sense of exact formulas or precise calculations as in the fields of mathematics and science; rather objectivity transcending subjective appraisal results from a consensus of judgment, particularly learned judgment, over generations. Is Rembrandt a superior artist as a matter of objective truth? Yes he is, according to Greenberg, since generation after generation of art critics have judged him to be one of the great masters within the Western tradition.

“Art moves and lives by changing, by innovating. When expectations of art stop changing – which means in effect when surprise is no long wanted from art or in art – then a tradition sickens and begins to die or become paralyzed. For it is only through continued newness, continued originality and surprise that esthetic quality gets maintained – and the life of a tradition of art is its quality.” ---------- Very true, Clement! When any form of art begins to repeats itself, refusing infusions of fresh energy and interpretation, this is a sure-fire recipe for the death of that form.

As for a positive example of an art form welcoming novel shots of energy, think of all the modernized film and stage versions of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing – creating theater as lively and vital today as it was in Shakespeare’s time.

Joss Whedon’s modern film version of Much Ado About Nothing

“Experience also reveals that there is no such thing as intellectual art. For a work of art to be properly intellectual would require its proceeding from a universally accepted datum by as strictly logical a chain of inferences as that by which a truth of knowledge is arrived at.” ---------- There is something truly unique about each painting, print, sculpture or photo. Certainly, any art can be intellectual in tone - the painting of Piet Mondrian or sculpture of Donald Judd, for example - but each and every individual work must be seen with the eyes to be appreciated artistically and esthetically. This is the very nature of visual arts.

“The last thing I want to do is condemn a species of art as a species. When I keep on pointing at far-out art as deceptive that does not mean I take everything I consider far-out art and consign it to the same low level. I’d still want to go and see each work for itself, and I’m still talking only about the far-out art I’ve seen, and I’d still insist on value discriminations, even there.” --------- Clement Greenberg had the wisdom to know when it comes to art, even if he previously viewed nine works within a specific outlandish, far-out, shocking species, say, electronic instillation art or body paint art or political-earth art and all nine were appallingly bad art, he had to remain open and free from prejudgments when viewing number ten, since, well, who knows?

Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson
… (mer)
 
Flaggad
Glenn_Russell | 1 annan recension | Nov 13, 2018 |

"When art is under scrutiny as art and nothing but art, then the question of the relation of art to life, of esthetic to moral value, is beside the point." -- Clement Greenberg, from his essay The Experience of Value

For anyone interested in the arts and aesthetics, this collection of essays and university discussions is a breath of fresh air since Clement Greenberg grounds his observations relating to intuition, beauty, taste, creativity and the visual arts not on extensive scholarship (there are NO FOOTNOTES!) but on his own direct experience, having spent hours every day visiting museums and galleries and his fifty years as an art critic based in New York City. Here are several quotes from the book along with my comments:

“Esthetic intuition is never a means, but always an end in itself, contains its value in itself, and rests in itself.” ---------- Greenberg gives a simple example: if we look at the sky to see if it is going to rain, this is a practical consideration – we want to know if we should bring our umbrella; if we look at the sky to see the blue, this is esthetic – our looking has no other end or function beyond the simple pleasure of our seeing. Of course, the esthetic extends to works of art: if we view art with a practical aim, say, purchasing a painting as a financial investment, this is non-esthetic; if we look at the same painting totally for the pleasure of the viewing, this is esthetic.

My own observation: the esthetic requires a capacity to slow down and really become observant, trust our eyes, our ears, our feelings, our immediate connection with the present moment. With even a modest amount of practice, we can begin to take our time as we move through our day, making room for the esthetic, acting less and less like a chicken with its head cut off, constantly hankering after whatever comes next.


“A good, a large part of the satisfaction to be gotten from art over the course of time consists in overcoming newer and newer challenges to your taste, whether in art of the present or art of the past. To keep on doing this you have also – my experience says – to keep on learning from life apart from art.” --------- There is a rhythm here: the deeper our understanding of life, the greater chance we have to expand and refine our tastes in appreciating art; the more we open ourselves to the various periods and styles in the history of art, including contemporary art, the better chance we have of increasing our understanding of other peoples, societies and cultures.

From my own experience, I have a greater appreciation and empathy for the peoples living in the calamitous 14th century, with all its war, famine and plague after my acquaintance with the art and music of the period.


“In effect –to good and solid effect – the objectivity of taste is demonstrated in and through the presence of a consensus over time. That consensus makes itself evident in judgments of esthetic value that stand up under the ever-renewed testing of experience.” ---------- Greenberg acknowledges art does not lend itself to objectivity in the sense of exact formulas or precise calculations as in the fields of mathematics and science; rather objectivity transcending subjective appraisal results from a consensus of judgment, particularly learned judgment, over generations. Is Rembrandt a superior artist as a matter of objective truth? Yes he is, according to Greenberg, since generation after generation of art critics have judged him to be one of the great masters within the Western tradition.

“Art moves and lives by changing, by innovating. When expectations of art stop changing – which means in effect when surprise is no long wanted from art or in art – then a tradition sickens and begins to die or become paralyzed. For it is only through continued newness, continued originality and surprise that esthetic quality gets maintained – and the life of a tradition of art is its quality.” ---------- Very true, Clement! When any form of art begins to repeats itself, refusing infusions of fresh energy and interpretation, this is a sure-fire recipe for the death of that form.

As for a positive example of an art form welcoming novel shots of energy, think of all the modernized film and stage versions of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing – creating theater as lively and vital today as it was in Shakespeare’s time.

Joss Whedon’s modern film version of Much Ado About Nothing

“Experience also reveals that there is no such thing as intellectual art. For a work of art to be properly intellectual would require its proceeding from a universally accepted datum by as strictly logical a chain of inferences as that by which a truth of knowledge is arrived at.” ---------- There is something truly unique about each painting, print, sculpture or photo. Certainly, any art can be intellectual in tone - the painting of Piet Mondrian or sculpture of Donald Judd, for example - but each and every individual work must be seen with the eyes to be appreciated artistically and esthetically. This is the very nature of visual arts.

“The last thing I want to do is condemn a species of art as a species. When I keep on pointing at far-out art as deceptive that does not mean I take everything I consider far-out art and consign it to the same low level. I’d still want to go and see each work for itself, and I’m still talking only about the far-out art I’ve seen, and I’d still insist on value discriminations, even there.” --------- Clement Greenberg had the wisdom to know when it comes to art, even if he previously viewed nine works within a specific outlandish, far-out, shocking species, say, electronic instillation art or body paint art or political-earth art and all nine were appallingly bad art, he had to remain open and free from prejudgments when viewing number ten, since, well, who knows?

Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson
… (mer)
 
Flaggad
GlennRussell | 1 annan recension | Feb 16, 2017 |

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