Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Sensesby Caroline A. Jones
Even a decade after his death, Clement Greenberg remains controversial. One of the most influential art writers of the twentieth century, Greenberg propelled Abstract Expressionist painting-in particular the monumental work of Jackson Pollock-to a leading position in an international postwar art world. On radio and in print, Greenberg was the voice of "the new
Even a decade after his death, Clement Greenberg remains controversial. One of the most influential art writers of the twentieth century, Greenberg propelled Abstract Expressionist painting-in particular the monumental work of Jackson Pollock-to a leading position in an international postwar art world. 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.
Caroline Jones's magisterial study widens Greenberg's fundamental tenet of "opticality"-the idea that modernist art is apprehended through "eyesight alone"-to a broader arena, examining how the critic's emphasis on the specular resonated with a society increasingly invested in positivist approaches to the world. Greenberg's modernist discourse, Jones argues, developed in relation to the rationalized procedures that gained wide currency in the United States at midcentury, in fields ranging from the sense-data protocols theorized by scientific philosophy to the development of cultural forms, such as hi-fi, that targeted specific senses, one by one. Greenberg's attempt to isolate and celebrate the visual was one manifestation of a large-scale segmentation-or bureaucratization-of the body's senses. Working through these historical developments, Jones brings Greenberg's theories into contemporary philosophical debates about agency and subjectivity.
Eyesight Alone offers artists, art historians, philosophers, and all those interested in the arts a critical history of this generative figure, bringing his work fully into dialogue with the ideas that shape contemporary critical discourse and shedding light not only on Clement Greenberg but also on the contested history of modernism itself.
"Rewarding . . . . The hundred pages Jones spends analyzing Greenberg's writings on Pollock—minutely shifting the critic's words through her own searching re-examination of the paintings he had in view—are alone worth the price of the ticket."—Barry Schwabsky, Nation
"An impressive account of . . .the 'Greenberg Effect.' . . . Jones's fundamental argument is that art is a type of thinking that not only engenders a certain type of looking but also constitutes a certain type of subject."—Francis Halsall, Art Book
"The close readings Jones makes here are invaluable. . . . This detailed research enables Greenberg's text to come alive, making one aware of the suggestiveness and sensuality of his writing in the 1940s. . . . Eyesight Alone shows that it is . . . possible to both make an archaeology of Greenberg's ideas, and use them as a springboard to discuss newer themes."
- University of Chicago Press
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- 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Meet the Author
Caroline A. Jones is professor of the history of art, and director of the History, Theory, and Criticism section in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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