Clement Greenberg

  • Pop Art


    James Meyer

    We do not often associate Clement Greenberg with Pop. The great champion of Abstract Expressionism never published an essay on the subject, and occasional remarks in interviews and texts in John O’Brian’s indispensable anthology of the critic’s writings suggest a definite disdain for the phenomenon (the early work of Jasper Johns being a decided exception). Yet the reasons for this distaste are not entirely clear. We know that the author of “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” was no fan of mass culture, nor of the “middlebrow” poetry and fiction published in journals like the New

  • Poetry of Vision

    A TEN DAY TRIP THROUGH IRELAND left the impression of something like visual understatement on the part of her inhabitants. They seem reluctant to adorn either their dwellings or themselves. The effect even of Dublin’s famed Georgian architecture, reflection though it is of Anglicizing tastes, is of a pared elegance, or else of discreetness amid pomp. The ruined castles and abbeys that strew the beautiful countryside are gray and dim. The ordinary house in small town or village tends to be low, flat-fronted and undecorated; often it is whitewashed. But this does not take away from the effect of

  • Picasso since 1945

    PICASSO’S PAINTING STARTED TO FALL off in quality after 1925, but it continued to count in the history of art for another dozen years or so. It continued to germinate during that time even if it could no longer fully realize. During that same time, in 1930 and 1931, his sculpture came to a climax, of realization as well as invention, in the wrought-iron constructions he did with Gonzalez’s technical help. (This climax might have been prolonged had he executed some of the sketches for sculpture he did in the year or two following—for example, the pencil drawings made in February 1933 that are

  • Problems of Criticism II: Complaints of an Art Critic


    ESTHETIC JUDGMENTS ARE GIVEN and contained in the immediate experience of art. They coincide with it; they are not arrived at afterwards through reflection or thought. Esthetic judgments are also involuntary: you can no more choose whether or not to like a work of art than you can choose to have sugar taste sweet or lemons sour. (Whether or not esthetic judgments are honestly reported is another matter.)

    Because esthetic judgments are immediate, intuitive, undeliberate, and involuntary, they leave no room for the conscious application of standards, criteria, rules, or precepts. That qualitative

  • Manet in Philadelphia

    MANET IS FAR FROM BEING the only master who doesn’t develop in a straight line, with one step following the other in readily intelligible order. Nor is he the only master whose total body of work doesn’t make a coherent impression. But he is exceptional in his inconsistency. I don’t mean the inconsistency of his quality. He is uneven, but less so than Renoir or Monet. I mean the inconsistency of his approach and of his direction. This is what struck me particularly at the large Manet show in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    In one and the same year, 1862, Manet painted a picture like Young Woman