Comments on: Vulgarity With A Vengeance: The Clement Greenberg Myth Machine http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Ken Carpenter http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-384762 Sun, 02 Feb 2014 04:51:20 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-384762 This is a carefully argued article making many valid points. Great criticism takes the scales from our eyes, as Walter Pater, Roger Fry, Adrian Stokes and Clement Greenberg have done. It’s useful to remember that Fry faced the same sort of opposition that Greenberg did. Upon his death Prof. Tonks asserted that it was “as if a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin had passed away.” Such are the ways of those who would rather read paintings than look at them contemplatively and who fear the judgments of those who see art more clearly than they do.

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-278500 Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:28:16 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-278500 Franklin, I have continued this conversation on my blog, taken further issue with Yau and mentioned your article. http://newabstraction.net/

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-255718 Fri, 27 Sep 2013 21:02:13 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-255718 Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Wallace Stevens

]]>
By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-255702 Fri, 27 Sep 2013 20:26:42 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-255702 Are we not back to the work ‘feeling’ spontaneous, rather than actually, literally (sorry Sam), ‘being’ or acting spontaneous(ly)? We are in deep here, are we not?

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-255632 Fri, 27 Sep 2013 18:13:36 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-255632 Sam, I’m glad you read the review. If I may quote myself from my blog, what struck me about the review was:

“Especially attractive is Bishop’s recognition that what matters about it is “character” and “atmosphere,” in other words feeling rather than meaning. It seems to be in the avant-garde of art, of exhibition design and of curating — but then all three are the same, in effect.”

You are bringing up matters relevant to curating outside of my expertise, but I think you’ve hit on something important with the observation that

“Perhaps…if the things they arrange were brought into too much certainty this would override its seriousness?”

You have here on the one hand a recipe for a comical incompetence (which some of the AbCrit crew would call pretentiousness – I wouldn’t describe it that way myself) and on the other hand a recognition that one of the most important formal problems in painting is also present in installation and conceptual art (and curating). If the parts of a painting fit together with too much certainty about what they mean the picture is dead, isn’t that so? Conscious contrivance of ambiguity is laughable, but if the parts go together by feel, then the pleasure the work gives, intellectual and otherwise, increases the looser they are.

]]>
By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-255352 Fri, 27 Sep 2013 11:15:20 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-255352 Hi Robert, For what its worth, it has often occurred to me in the past how much installation and curation as a contemporary art-form depends on visual effect (but, though I have v limited experience of it, I’m sure you are right that “serious” criticism of it as an artform would ignore this, and concentrate on “arguments” advanced). A friend of mine who studies philosophy but for a time was involved with contemporary art has complained a couple of times that when he spoke to artists they just wanted to discuss the visual or practical aspects of their work, and had little to say about the ideas they were supposedly engaged with. The Oscar Murillo exhibition we are just about to post a review of certainly provides an another eg of this, though one more directly situated in relation to painting.

I suppose the problem for Bishop (and criticism in general) would be how to make “moods” sufficiently serious, how to adequately deal with the visual elements – that is to do the work of Greenberg, which David describes above. The problem is perhaps that though the visual is clearly important there seems to me (again with my limited knowledge) often an unsatisfactory compromise between an intentional slackness and an over-refined, “interior decorators” tastefulness in installation art’s arrangements (or say in artists such as Alice Channer who sit somewhere between sculpture and installation). Perhaps because if the things they arrange were brought into too much certainty this would override its seriousness? To be honest I don’t have answers…

As an aside, though I didn’t see the pavilion Bishop discusses it struck me how poorly or even under curated the Encyclopedic Palace was – and I thought this was the big job within the contemporary artworld! This was my first time at Venice, so I’m not sure if this is always the case, or what restrictions the curator works under, but there seemed almost no coherence, particularly visual coherence; most of the time each artist had their own little section with almost no relation to the neighbouring work. When there was a obvious thematic relation (such as in the room with the model houses and the fantastical architectural schemes) it felt strangely out of place and heavy handed. This became less of a problem in the second half of the Arsenale, partly because Cindy Sherman’s exhibition was good and actually on a particular theme (you can probably guess) and partly because the curator seemed much more comfortable with moving image works. Where the painting and objects displayed were generally inertly or awkwardly displayed, the films either had their own cordoned off spaces (and so so to speak framed themselves) or were treated with much more drama so that they could visually dominate a space.

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-253504 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 12:43:45 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-253504 Let’s say it couldn’t have grown so large on painting and sculpture. The art economy is now larger and more diversified, but the newer forms are not by definition “unsuccessful,” even by Greenberg’s standards. One has to go on a case by case basis, as he would likely agree.

His way of seeing serves someone’s interests, but not everyone’s. See Claire Bishop’s review (http://artforum.com/inprint/issue=201307&id=42628) of the Lithuania/Cyprus pavilion at Venice in the Sept. Artforum. If the work (the whole pavilion) is successful it can only be so according to an intuitive judgment. It’s success might not be “visual” in the restricted (?) way approved by Greenberg, but the success of any conceptual art depends strongly on visual and painterly experiences, in ways criticism has yet to recognize.

]]>
By: Franklin Einspruch http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-253446 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:19:07 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-253446 His way of looking at art must represent a real threat to somebody’s interest.

I believe so. I’ve written elsewhere that the art world could never have grown as large as it has using Greenberg’s methods of evaluating art, via intuited judgment with an emphasis on visual success.

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-253412 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 10:42:34 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-253412 I would call post-modernism circa 1980 onwards politically conservative. I doubt that principles play much role in the evolution of aesthetics anyway, more important are objective changes in the material and ongoing history.

John is hinting at an argument for guilt by association – if the political right like it there must be a flaw in the argument. Logically that isn’t necessarily the case, but in the art world such rhetorical claims are an aspect of the operation of taste, or fashion or style. People got tired of Greenberg’s kind of abstraction, and why shouldn’t they? He might have been correct as far as he went, but that wasn’t far enough. I think I can add another chapter, and so can others, but there’s no defense against the wanderings of collective taste.

]]>
By: Franklin Einspruch http://abstractcritical.com/article/vulgarity-with-a-vengeance-the-clement-greenberg-myth-machine/#comment-253144 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 04:18:03 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7409#comment-253144 Greenberg’s understanding of the individual as the basic unit of taste was not so much regulatory as self-interested. It means having skin in the game when it comes to culture – one’s taste might be proven bad just as one’s financial wisdom might be proven unsound by the market. Likewise, just as a network of federalized (hence, collectivist) incentives, assurances, and guarantees ultimately caused the financial mayhem, so do the collectivist attitudes of accessibility and non-judgment result in the proliferation of mediocre taste.

]]>