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Hilton Kramer, 1928-2012

Post #1541 • March 28, 2012, 9:24 AM • 1 Comment

Hilton Kramer died yesterday morning. I wrote an essay for The New York Sun on my relatively recent exposure to his work. A line therein was quoted in this morning's Wall Street Journal, on page A6 if you have the print edition.

James Panero at Supreme Fiction, and my editor at The New Criterion, has been rounding up appreciations. The May issue of TNC will be devoted to Kramer's legacy.

When one walks among giants, one expects them to collide. In 2002, Kramer asked at length in The New Criterion, "Does abstract art have a future?" Walter Darby Bannard replied, and Kramer replied briefly in turn. That all discussions could take place at such a high level of erudition and expertise.

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1.

Walter Darby Bannard

March 28, 2012, 3:05 PM

In the case posted above Kramer seemed not to understand that I was basically agreeing with him, but the exchange was fun. He was a contentious character, and when he didn't like something he often got it right.

Not always, however. Jules Olitski and I had a "worst review" contest, wherein we competed over which of us, over a career, had the worst published critical review. Mine was written by Donald Kuspit; his was written by Hilton Kramer. Naturally we disagreed with the critic's opinions about our respective painting and with each other over the degree of severity of the review. The matter was never settled.

Hilton Kramer was a real critic who had guts and intelligence, wrote clear English and actually criticized. We need more of this.

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