writings

 

 

 

a series of writings on various topics related to art, aesthetics and art history derived from research, lectures delivered during my university teaching career – plus the occasional new [stray] thought.

 

 

 

 

CLEMENT GREENBERG

 

 

 

 

AVANT-GARDE AND KITSCH

 

Greenberg’s essay written for the Partisan Review - As relevant today as when originally written in 1938

 

Perhaps the most important art critic of the Twentieth Century, Clement Greenberg served as the editor of Partisan Review and as art critic for The Nation. The author of many influential essays, he drew a sharp distinction between the deliberate difficulty and contentious innovations of contemporary art and the degraded yet accessible products of mass culture, most particularly in the piece "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" published here.

 

Greenberg championed Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting for their inspired marriage of content to form, and was influential in the careers of a number of major artists, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Kenneth Noland, as well as Barnett Newman, David Smith, Jules Olitski, and Friedel Dzubas.  

 

Laboring to explain the aesthetics of these new movements, he coined the phrase “post-painterly abstraction,” where "painterly" is defined as the blurry and imprecise. He emphasized the pure formal elements of abstract painting, such as its flat space, monumental scale, and patches of undiluted color.