• The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

    Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions Of Capitalism, New York: Basic Books, 1976.

    COULD IT BE THAT MODERN art was a factor in the U.S. defeat in the Vietnam war? This question is not absurd in the context of the neo-conservative cultural critique of Daniel Bell. In his rambling but powerfully written study, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Bell seeks to analyze the current American malaise in the perspective of the history of ideas and to put forward a program for restoring “legitimacy” to the U.S. political and economic system. A great deal of the book’s analysis is devoted to “

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  • Seeing Through the Boxes

    Donald Judd: Complete Writings 1959–1975 (Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1975), 229 pages.

    Donald Judd, a catalogue of the exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and a catalogue raisonné, essay by Roberta Smith (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada for the Corporation of the National Museums of Canada, 1975), 320 pages.

    THESE TWO BOOKS (A COMPLETE catalogue and the complete writings) are, in effect, a semicompact way of increasing the importance of an oeuvre with immense amounts of supporting material reclaimed from a highly defined

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  • Topics in American Art Since 1945

    Lawrence Alloway, Topics in American Art Since 1945 (New York: Norton, 1975), 282 pages, 64 black and white illustrations.

    THE FIRST WORD IN Lawrence Alloway’s selected survey of American art since 1945 is “differentiation.” It is a key term, implying a wide range of subject matter. The jacket cover promises Abstract Expressionism, Hard Edge and Systems, Conceptual Art, Pop Art, Happenings, Earthworks, Public Sculpture, and finally, The Changing Role of the Critic. Indeed, we get all this plus Alloway on “highway culture,” photo-Realism, Radio City Music Hall and the chronology of an art gallery.

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  • An Ad for Ad as Ad

    Art-as-art: The Selected Writings Of Ad Reinhardt, ed. Barbara Rose (New York: Viking Press, 1975), 236 pages, illustrated.

    Since the 19th century almost every artist has thought of himself or herself as an outsider. Movements like Surrealism or Abstract Expressionism are as much the result of artists’ need to operate, however marginally, within a larger group, as they are a matter of shared esthetic goals. Isolation can be a numbing experience.

    Ad Reinhardt, the quintessential outsider, came into his separatist position gradually; once there, he guarded his outpost fiercely. He was originally

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  • Art History Textbooks: The Hidden Persuaders

    Frederick Hartt, Art: A History Of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture (New York: Prentice-Hall/Harry N. Abrams), 2 vols., 995 pages.

    The usual publisher’s fanfare has accompanied the recent arrival of Frederick Hartt’s two-volume Art: A History of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, advertised as “the most complete introduction to the history of Western art yet published.” The publishers are Harry N. Abrams and Prentice-Hall, Inc., who collaborated successfully on H. W. Janson’s History of Art, which appeared in 1962 to capture the market from Helen Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. An updated edition

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  • The Story of “A”

    Andy Warhol, The Philosophy Of Andy Warhol (From A To B And Back Again) (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), 241 Pages.

    If I were writing obituaries or 99-cent supermarket encyclopedias, my précis on WARHOL, ANDY (b. Warhola, 1930, att. Carnegie Institute) would run thusly:

    Effete former 5th-Avenue shoe illustrator who became, in the early ’60s, the definitive Pop artist, with silkscreen repetitions of Liz and Campbell’s soup cans and static films like Empire and Sleep. His total Pop lifestyle, however, is what finally distinguishes him from his contemporaries Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg,

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  • Ways of Seeing

    John Berger, Ways Of Seeing, based on a television series with John Berger (New York: The Viking Press, 160 pages), illustrated, hardbound.

    Judging from the praise accorded his criticism as well as the cries of outrage—“before John Berger manages to interpose himself again between us and the visible meaning of a good picture, may I point out . . .”1—John Berger is in danger of being condemned to a gadfly role. This would be greatly to underrate the depth and seriousness of his critical undertaking. Berger is one of the few marxist art critics in the English-speaking world (perhaps the only one

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  • Super Realism: A Critical Anthology

    Super Realism: A Critical Anthology, edited by Gregory Battcock (New York: Dutton Paperbacks), 322 pages, illustrated.

    For several weeks last summer I noted the daily progress of two huge figures being painted on the side of a building north of Times Square. One male and one female figure,each dressed in denim, they composed a cigarette ad. The painters moved about the wall on their pulleyed scaffold, never able to see more of the outlined figures than the area immediately in front of them.

    Now that the painting there is finished, you would think that the designer of the wall had been interested

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  • Early Modern Sculpture, and Origins of Modern Sculpture: Pioneers and Premises

    William Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture (New York, Oxford University Press, 1974).

    Albert E. Elsen, Origins of Modern Sculpture: Pioneers and Premises (New York, George Braziller, 1974).

    SCULPTURE, LONG THE NEGLECTED HANDMAIDEN of modernism, has commanded ever greater attention from artists, critics, and historians since the 1950s. Serious attempts to deal with 20th-century sculpture before the 1960s can be numbered almost on one hand; and of these early studies, many were limited either by concentration on a national school, usually France, or by a barely disguised set of prejudices and esthetic

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  • Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste

    Herbert Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste (New York, Basic Books, 1975), 179 pages.

    SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, SINCE THEY CAN’T handle all the variables of the real world, often employ all-encompassing theories of the world. To test out their theories they send out intelligence agents with their sampling techniques and questionnaires which contain the answers in the questions, and readjust their theories . . . minimally. On the one hand, cultural sociologists question the artist to find out how he or she does it; on the other hand they question the consumers of

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  • Jacqueline

    Ron Galella, Jacqueline (New York, Sheed And Ward, 1974), 200 pages, 290 black-and-white photographs.

    For the most part, the photojournalist is an anonymous function, a mere agent in a corporate representational enterprise. Our conviction that the news is fact depends on the seamless and transparent character of the medium, on the illusion that we are contemplating the product of an unbiased and uniform professionalism. Recently, however, a space has been cleared in the information industry for a kind of ritual celebration of the “creativity” of the photojournalist. Just as the television newscaster

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  • Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, and Politics

    Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, And Politics, Harold Rosenberg, edited by Michael Denneny. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1974, 335 pages.

    Rosenberg’s book consists of 35 articles which originally appeared elsewhere: in Art News, Art News Annual, Commentary, Dissent, Esquire, Jewish Frontier, Midstream, Nation, New Yorker, Partisan Review, Twentieth Century, View, Vogue, as well as in other collections, and, in one instance, an exhibition catalogue. The earliest appeared in 1943, the latest in 1972, with the majority published in the 1960s. The one previously

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