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Pop Art

Introduction

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 Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post. Kitsch, in Greenberg’s sense of the word, denoted a watering down of modernist innovations, a pilfering of the high by the low. But Pop reversed this flow, suggesting a redemption of the low by the high. In this respect, the absence of a sustained account of Pop

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