PRINT Summer 1999


bad art

IT HAS BEEN SIXTY YEARS since Clement Greenberg denounced middlebrow culture in “Avant Garde and Kitsch,” and decades since a serious defense of Greenberg’s ultra-highbrow position didn’t meet with a certain amount of eye-rolling. Despite Greenberg’s current revival in upper reaches of academia (particularly in continental art-critical circles), the moral all-or-nothing of his critical vision increasingly seems to have been permanently consigned to the dustbins of art history. The “debate” that still goes on between defenders of high culture and partisans of pop, at least as it’s portrayed in the popular press, seems like something from a low-budget movie. The elitist bad guys are easy to spot—they’re a clutch of shrivelled, high-culture snobs, whose fingerwagging disapproval makes the pleasure-affirming adventures of our pro-Pop protagonists that much more compelling.

Of course, it hasn’t

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