Eric Banks on Frank Sinatra’s paintings

[Adolph Gottlieb] is Byron to Greenberg’s George Eliot—the most vulgar-minded genius that ever produced a great effect in oils. A Mantovani or a Lawrence Welk. Charlie Parker playing insolent variations on the theme of “I’d Like to Get You on a Slow Boat to China”—feeling for a way to retrieve, and make properly unbearable, the pop song’s contempt for the masses it aims to please.

—T.J. Clark, “In Defense of Abstract Expressionism” (1994)

HAS THERE EVER BEEN a less classy adjective than “classy”? The word squirms in its anachronistic embarrassment: Dames are classy, joints are classy, wheels are classy. In addition to this archaic element one might note the word’s utter instability, as it conjoins at once senses of “to the highest standard” and “ostentatiously slick.” One day the cultural history of the word “classy” will be written, and it will no doubt of necessity consider the uneasy

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