new-york

“Action/Abstraction”

The Jewish Museum

THE BATTLE OF THE “BERGS”—Clement Greenberg versus Harold Rosenberg—is a scenario that has begged for serious treatment since Tom Wolfe’s crude, witty satire of its more absurd extremes, The Painted Word, in 1975. Together, the critics personified the dialectic behind Abstract Expressionism: matter/spirit, objectivity/ subjectivity, the optical/the textual, abstract/representational, and so forth. What better curatorial drama than one in which Greenberg might play an august Apollo to Rosenberg’s ecstatic Dionysus? The Jewish Museum’s “Action /Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976” takes its subject seriously. It is a punchy show with some knockout blows and a few missed swings, and it never fails to entertain. Norman Kleeblatt, who organized the show in collaboration with Douglas Dreishpoon of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, merits applause for the tenacity

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