Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Modern Painting, April 28, 2011
This review is from: Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Paperback)
Clement Greenberg, who died in 1994, is still considered by many to have been the greatest American art critic of the 20th Century. Even today his work continues to be discussed, supported and attacked by many of the cognoscenti of the art world.

"Art and Culture" is a collection of his essays that he edited for publication in 1961. The book is divided into five parts: culture in general; art in Paris; art in general; art in the United States; and literature. Most of the essays are quite short and eminently readable. In an essay on T.S. Eliot, Greenberg praised the critical skills of the poet, noting that Eliot speaks of the facts of a work rather than an interpretation, and this was the same approach that Greenberg took.

Greenberg's basic thesis was that the essential quality of painting that distinguished it from other arts was the surface of the work, and that modern painting was moving more and more from looking into the depth of the image to a concern with the plane of the painting, citing among other things, the abandonment of perspective, cubism's attempt to reduce the subject to a single plane, and the disappearance of shading which gives depth to a picture. For those who have never considered this thesis, applying it to styles from cubism to abstract expressionism to color field painting should certainly provides new insights into such work.

Even if one doesn't agree with Greenberg's thesis, his writing is so clear and easy to follow that it is worth reading just for his style. After the convoluted writing of critics like Michael Fried, it is a relief to find that thought about art need not be obscure.

The essays include short pieces on artists from Renoir and Cezanne to Hans Hoffman and Milton Avery. There are also longer essays like the famous "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" that stirred up lengthy and famous continuing discussions by critics and art historians, like T.J. Clark's "Clement Greenberg's Theory of Art."

It may be that the battle ground has shifted in art criticism with the return to more representational forms of painting and post-modernism's attack on the purpose of art itself, but an understanding of these current skirmishes in the culture wars will certainly benefit from an understanding of modernism in painting, and no one has done that more clearly or succinctly than Clement Greenberg.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: New York, NY USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,101