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Collected Essays and Criticism, Volume IV: Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957-1969

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Clement Greenberg is widely recognized as the most influential and articulate champion of modernism during its American ascendency after World War II, the period largely covered by these highly acclaimed volumes of The Collected Essays and Criticism. Volume 3: Affirmations and Refusals presents Greenberg's writings from the period between 1950 and 1956, while Volume 4: Modernism with a Vengeance gathers essays and criticism of the years 1957 to 1969. The 120 works range from little-known pieces originally appearing Vogue and Harper's Bazaar to such celebrated essays as "The Plight of Our Culture" (1953), "Modernist Painting" (1960), and "Post Painterly Abstraction" (1964). Preserved in their original form, these writings allow readers to witness the development and direction of Greenberg's criticism, from his advocacy of abstract expressionism to his enthusiasm for color-field painting.

With the inclusion of critical exchanges between Greenberg and F. R. Leavis, Fairfield Porter, Thomas B. Hess, Herbert Read, Max Kozloff, and Robert Goldwater, these volumes are essential sources in the ongoing debate over modern art. For each volume, John O'Brian has furnished an introduction, a selected bibliography, and a brief summary of events that places the criticism in its artistic and historical context.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Criterion
With the publication of the first two volumes of Clement Greenberg's Collected Essays and Criticism, we are at last on our way to having a comprehensive edition of the most important body of art criticism produced by an American writer in this century. The two volumes now available—Perceptions and Judgments, 1939-1944 and Arrogant Purpose, 1945-1949—bring together for the first time Mr. Greenberg's critical writings from the decade in which he emerged as the most informed and articulate champion of the New York School as well as one of our most trenchant analysts of the modern cultural scene.

— Hilton Kramer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226306247
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 358
  • Sales rank: 1,154,503
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Clement Greenberg (1909–1994), champion of abstract expressionism and modernism—of Pollock, Miró, and Matisse—has been esteemed by many as the greatest art critic of the second half of the twentieth century, and possibly the greatest art critic of all time. On radio and in print, Greenberg was the voice of "the new American painting," and a central figure in the postwar cultural history of the United States.

Greenberg first established his reputation writing for the Partisan Review, which he joined as an editor in 1940. He became art critic for The Nation in 1942, and was associate editor of Commentary from 1945 until 1957. His seminal essay, "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" set the terms for the ongoing debate about the relationship of modern high art to popular culture. Though many of his ideas have been challenged, Greenberg has influenced generations of critics, historians, and artists, and he remains influential to this day.

John O’Brian is professor of art history at the University of British Colombia.

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Table of Contents


1 Observation

1.1 Two main forms of observation
1.2 Conceptual grasp of the objects of observation
1.3 On the manifest qualities of things
1.4 Our understanding of the process of observation
1.5 Personal versus impersonal observation
1.6 On the relation between observed objects and receiver states

2 Concepts

2.1 Explaining and conceiving
2.2 Examples from Newton
2.3 Questions raised by conceptual innovation
2.4 Are there limits to conceptual innovation in science?
2.4.1 Self-classifying sense impressions
2.4.2 Kant's forms and categories
2.4.3 Carnap's observable predicates
2.5 Conceptual criticism as a catalyzer of scientific change
2.6 Reference without sense
2.6.1 Denoting and connoting
2.6.2 Putnam's attack on intensions
2.6.3 The meaning of natural kind terms
2.6.4 Speaking of quantities
2.6.5 'Mass' in classical and relativistic dynamics
2.6.6 Putnam's progress
2.7 Conceptual schemes
2.8 Appendix: Mathematical structures
2.8.1 Sets
2.8.2 Mappings
2.8.3 Echelon sets over a collection of sets
2.8.4 Structures
2.8.5 Isomorphism
2.8.6 Alternative typifications
2.8.7 Axiomatic set theory
2.8.8 Categories

3 Theories

3.1 The theory of free fall in Galileo's Discorsi
3.2 Mathematical constructs for natural philosophy
3.3 A structuralist view of physical theories
3.4 T-theoretical terms
3.5 To spell the phenomena
3.6 Approximation and idealization
3.7 On relations between theories
3.8 Intertheoretic reduction
3.9 Recapitulation and preview

4 Probability

4.1 Probability and the probable
4.2 Probability spaces
4.3 Chance setups
4.4 Probability as a limiting frequency
4.5 Probability as prevision
4.6 Probability as a physical propensity
4.7 Ideal chances

5 Necessity

5.1 Forms of necessity
5.2 Geometry
5.3 Mathematical physics
5.4 Cause and law


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