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Breaking News: Greenberg cited without demonization

Post #1186 • June 2, 2008, 12:00 PM • 18 Comments

This just in: Roger Kimball, writing for a major newspaper, has used noted art critic Clement Greenberg as a literary foil without demonizing him personally or caricaturing his ideas, thus breaking ranks with colleagues.

Regarding the substance of the article, I have been freshly reminded by my recent stint at a classical realist art school that triumphs occur within the style at about an equal rate as any other. What's notable about it, rather, is that things don't fail as ridiculously. The mountain is just as high, but the valley is not as abysmal. In the end, I'm not sure how much that helps, but I do love the craft.

Unrelated: there are four degrees of separation between Clement Greenberg and Kurt Cobain.

Comment

1.

opie

June 2, 2008, 1:42 PM

Kimball has always given deference to Greenberg and he and the New Criterion have been quite straightforward in their critical attitude toward novelty art. Karen Wilkin, who is as good an art writer as we have, is their regular art critic.

I am not familiar with Mr. Collin's work but I have noticed that Kimball's enthusiasms occasionally veer toward the stodgy, in my oipinion - William Bailey, for exmple, whose work I find pallid and inert.

Nevertheless, your point is made, and it is refreshing indeed.

When did the word "fraught" become a verb?

2.

Chris Rywalt

June 2, 2008, 2:09 PM

Kimball uses "fraught" as an adjective. But m-w.com says "fraught" has been a verb since the 14th century.

3.

Chris Rywalt

June 2, 2008, 2:15 PM

Speaking of academic realism, a friend of mine has been pushing me to go to the New York Studio School this fall and take Graham Nickson's Marathon Drawing Course. It looks like it could be fun, but I'm honestly afraid of getting into anything that academically serious, because I'm not an academic draftsman and because I don't really want to become one. "Why do you think your style would annoy academics?" she asks. "It's a bit Matisse-like." Precisely!

4.

opie

June 2, 2008, 2:29 PM

Sorry, I meant since when is "fraught" used alone as "is fraught", meaning " troubling, upsetting". Kimball used it as an adjective in this sense.

I have always seen the word used in the old scots sense of "freighted with" followed by whatever it was freighted with, most typically "peril".

But lately I have noticed trendy literary types (NY Review of Books and the like) using "fraught" without the accompanying freight.

5.

Eric Gelber

June 2, 2008, 4:23 PM

It is too bad that Roger Kimball is a bad writer and not very smart.

This is out of our reach... and it's grown
This is getting to be... drone
I'm a Kantian and I'm stoned!

Daddy's little girl ain't a girl no more

This is out of our range... and it's crude
This is getting to be... like drone
I'm a Kantian and I'm stoned!

6.

Opie

June 2, 2008, 5:09 PM

Eric I think you are wring about Kimball. His writingis clear, and he is obviously not dumb. Maybe you just don't like his ideas, or his politics.

7.

Eric

June 2, 2008, 5:41 PM

I am basing my opinions about Kimball on what I have read of his, a fair number of reviews, and the one lecture I heard him give on Courbet at the NYSS. But if I took the time to read everything he has written my opinions might be swayed. I like other conservative critics so I do not think I hold my opinions about his writing style and intellect because of my feelings about his politics or the fact that he steers clear of academic jargon (except to mock it) in his rhetorical style.

8.

Eric

June 2, 2008, 5:57 PM

My first comment about Kimball might have been worded too strongly but I still do not think that he has a good "eye" as the saying goes. I often agree with his critical comments about specific contemporary artists, although his summary dismissals of all contemporary art get repetitive and unsurprising. Maybe it is unfair of me to compare Kimball to Baudelaire, Ruskin, Pater, Stokes, Greenberg, Rosenberg, Rose, Fried, and others I hold in high esteem, but I can be an elitist if I want to.

9.

Eric

June 2, 2008, 6:02 PM

I am open minded about this. Feel free to send me the URL for something by Kimball that you think is to die for and I will be happy to read it without being influenced by my opinions.

10.

swimmer

June 2, 2008, 6:13 PM

roger kimball: experiments against reality
against the grain (edited by kimball and kramer)

11.

Eric

June 2, 2008, 6:34 PM

I think Kramer's essays on Smith are excellent. I don't think anything I have read of Kimball's can live up to them. I think Wilkin's books on Davis, Cezanne, and Morandi are great. I think Kimball often allows the chip on his shoulder to get in the way of his analysis of specific works of art. I don't think Wilkin does this. She has a drier sense of humor.

12.

Eric

June 2, 2008, 6:36 PM

These are my opinions about art writers.

13.

Reginald

June 3, 2008, 11:30 AM

Kimbell would do best to just talk about why Collins' work amazes him, like he did towards the end of the article where he references the painters numerous studies for "The Hen Islands". I'm sure that after I view Collins' landscapes I would still agree with Greenberg's statement that "the very best painting, the major painting, of our age is almost exclusively abstract." All that stuff about Greenberg and Warhol in the beginning is just a subtle attempt to elevate the relevance of Classic Realism.

Naturally lit antique interiors and A+ quality figure studies and portraits (reminiscent of the the work produced at art schools across the country) just do not excite me the way large abstract paintings can.

14.

Reginald

June 3, 2008, 11:32 AM

Kimbell would do best to just talk about why Collins' work amazes him, like he did towards the end of the article where he references the painters numerous studies for "The Hen Islands". I'm sure that after I view Collins' landscapes I would still agree with Greenberg's statement that "the very best painting, the major painting, of our age is almost exclusively abstract." All that stuff about Greenberg and Warhol in the beginning is just a subtle attempt to elevate the relevance of Classic Realism.

Naturally lit antique interiors and A+ quality figure studies and portraits (reminiscent of the the work produced at art schools across the country) just do not excite me the way large abstract paintings can.

15.

Cedrc C

June 3, 2008, 12:19 PM

Wow! I just saw the 488 comments on the other thread.
Is this the highest this blog ever reached?


I don't have much comments unfortunately about Greenberg or any writer. I take what I want and leave the rest from any writer. In my opinion, art exists to address itself to every human being, and so trying to evaluate the quality of interpretations is not so much interesting to me as skimming through the chitchats of what a 100 idiots can bring when they talk together. I just don't believe in the power of a few to bring all the best ideas, it goes against my ideal of the universal field.


Cedric The C

16.

Eric

June 3, 2008, 1:02 PM

Classic Hilton Kramer.

17.

Eric

June 3, 2008, 1:23 PM

Although I do have to admit that I like his early writings a lot more than his later stuff. He was focusing entirely on the art in the 1950s.

18.

opie

June 3, 2008, 4:03 PM

Yes, Cedric, 480 was by far a record.

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