PRINT September 1970

Problems of Criticism VIII: Notes from the Underground

UNTIL THE SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL success of Abstract Expressionism, the avant-garde American art world was underground. Vanguard American art never recovered its market after the disaster of the Armory Show and the pre-1913 market for American art had been one of short duration, limited to relatively few artists anyhow. There was no tradition in this country, as there was in Europe, of the intimate relationship between dealer and artist which, lasting through all the lean years of the artist’s early vanguard work, finally produced commercial success for both. From Impressionism on, the vanguard movements in Europe profited from this relationship, the dealer supporting the artist, drawing attention to his work through one-man shows and through group shows of closely related artists. The function of the critic, frequently if not usually a literary man of some reputation, as propagandist for

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