Nattering nabobs of... wait, that was someone else
Post #1043 • August 30, 2007, 3:11 PM • 12 Comments
While I was unpacking books, Brushes With History fell open to a 1945 review by Clement Greenberg that begins thusly:
Academicism shows itself nowhere more nakedly than in painting and sculpture, being much more immediately depressing there than in literature. One brief glance at the recent annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design was enough to fill the visitor with gloom. Van Wyck Brooks's resentment of advanced literature's lack of "affirmation" would find greater justification if it were directed to backward art. These painters of purple and emerald landscapes, of glazed figurines and wax flowers, these nigglers, these picklers of nudes and bakers of mud pies plumb depths of negation and pessimism T.S. Eliot or Joyce, much less Picasso, could never remotely reach. But it is in the very nature of academicism to be pessimistic, for it believes history to be a repetitious and monotonous decline from a former golden age. The avant-garde, on the other hand, believes that history is creative, always evolving novelty out of itself. And where there is novelty there is hope.
Ah, to still be excited by novelty.a