The outsized reputation of formalist art critic Greenberg, sometimes called the most influential art critic of the 20th century, rests largely on a body of mid-century writings around the work of Abstract Expressionism and the rise of hard-edge minimalism. This collection of essays brings to light the prolific work Greenberg produced after that time, in the 1970s and 80s, when the art world had begun moving away from his powerful, if proscriptive and tendentious, ideals. Among other topics, Greenberg deals with the rise of multimedia art, the state of the avant-garde and the standing of old favorites like Clyfford Still and Picasso. Also included are a handful of interviews he gave. For the most part, the essays and conversations show the critic staying the course on issues of taste and distinction, tinkering out his generally Kantian theory of aesthetic development, with its residually Marxist sense of dialectical improvement, phrased in dense, but always lucid, American prose. "Taste develops as a context of expectations based on experiences of previously surprised expectations"-that's not such a difficult idea, but it's full of big implications. Always assured, sometimes rebarbative, Greenberg's oeuvre has fallen on hard times in the wake of more semiotic models of visual interpretation. But perhaps this collection, with its sensitive and intelligent introduction by writer and curator Morgan, will go some ways in repairing it. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Gathered here for the first time are the late writings (1970-94) of one of the seminal thinkers about American abstract art. From the Thirties to the early Sixties, Greenberg, a friend of Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, and David Smith, among others, was art critic for Partisan Review, Commentary, and the Nation. Recoiling from social realism's attempt to propagandize art, he formulated a formalistic "art for art's sake" theory, which bases taste on observation and direct experience of the artwork. In this volume, Greenberg is seen expanding and refining his early ideas while taking swipes at the "middlebrow" quality of contemporary art criticism and artists he disapproved of. After Morgan's (Pratt Inst.) introduction, the book divides Greenberg's writings into three parts: "Avant-Garde," "States of Criticism," and "Art and Culture." A fourth and final part contains late interviews in which Greenberg defends the theories first outlined in Art and Culture, a 1961 compilation. The value of the current work is that it not only encapsulates Greenberg's thoughts of the Thirties to the Sixties but also comments on the art of the next four decades. This influential critic's opinions are recommended for academic, research, and museum libraries.-Ellen Bates, New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.