Anticipates Clement Greenberg's
emphases on media purity, the importance of the picture plane, and aesthetic unity.
writes, "On the Aims of Art," which is translated and published in Fortnightly
Hofmann's Artistic Purity
The Club was formed in 1929 by the Communist Party to expand its influence to liberal artists and intellectuals. The club sponsored several art exhibits between 1929 and 1935. It disbanded in 1936 and became the American Artists' Congress.
The John Reed Club of New York publishes their manifesto.
John Reed Club Manifesto
Reinforces idea that modern artists are intimately tied to their society. The American Artists’ Congress was part of the Communist movement, and was founded to unite graphic artists in fighting fascism.
writes, "The Social Bases of Art" for the First American Artists' Congress.
American Artists' Congress
Contains famous diagram mapping the progression of modern art, which highlights the importance of Cubism in early twentieth-century art, but ignores stylistic tendencies that do not fit the paradigm, notably Dada and Surrealism.
writes catalog for MoMA exhibit, "Cubism and Abstract Art."
Barr's Art Diagram
Identifies the term 'Abstract' as a set of values; anticipating the Abstract Expressionists as a group of artists united in their artistic and philosophical diversity.
The American Abstract Artists (AAA), led by Ad Reinhardt and Josef Albers
, issue their editorial statement.
American Abstract Artists
Establishes idea of the avant-garde as crucial in keeping high art separate from popular culture or “kitsch” as capitalism expands. Traces of Marxist art theory still remain in art criticism.
"Avant-Garde and Kitsch"
Theory breaks with formalist criticism; warns against establishment of a singular modern culture amidst a world in political turmoil; anticipates New York City becoming the new center of the avant-garde.
"The Fall of Paris"
Discusses the idea that all contemporary artists' work represents isolation and uncertainty because social conditions force them into that role.
delivers lecture at Mount Holyoke College, "The Modern Painter's World."
Motherwell and Existentialism
Combines German Expression with American ideal of individualism, giving a name to the art movement. The term, "abstract expressionism," was first used by Alfred Barr in 1929 in reference to Wassily Kandinsky.
The New Yorker's Robert M. Coates reviews Hofmann show, uses the term 'Abstract Expressionism' to describe his works.
"Abstract Expressionism" Named
Asserts the priority of the aesthetic form over the social significance of art; officially breaking with earlier Marxist thought.
Form Over Content
Offers dissenting views against growing tendency among artists to produce political art, shrouded in Cold War propaganda; stresses importance of individuality.
Sales of his work increase, but at the height of his fame, Pollock abandons the "drip method" in 1950.
Pollock's Life Interview
Offers the term 'Abstract' as something wholly subjective, without a set of definitive values or ideals.
Willem de Kooning
delivers symposium lecture at MoMA, "What Abstract Art Means to Me."
What is "Abstract"?
Provides counterpoint to Greenbergian formalism
; Rosenberg focuses on the informal modes of creation, the existential drama of painting, and its performative nature. 'Action Painting' becomes the preferred term of the time. The essay is often seen as providing a way to link Greenbergian formalism and postmodernism.
writes, "The American Action Painters" for ART News
"American Action Painters"
Rejects influence of Communism and accuses it of being tyrannical toward the arts. While avant-garde artists maintain a freedom of thought and expression,"those who equate modern art with totalitarianism are ignorant of the facts." Abstract Expressionist paintings were marketed abroad as indicative of American artistic freedom and individualism, despite the irony of McCarthyism in the early 1950s.
writes, "Is Modern Art Communistic?" for the New York Sunday Times Magazine
Barr Rejects Communism
Essay helps identify the formal and technical achievements of American abstract artists and the influence of their European predecessors with Greenberg emphasizing the historical precedents of the style and its purity. This was the first of many attacks on Rosenberg's
term "Action Painting," which Greenberg
accused him of "concocting."
writes, "'American-Type' Painting" for Partisan Review
Accuses Greenberg of failing to clearly define what constitutes 'American-Type"' also accuses him of misunderstanding the idea of 'value' in great artworks.
Porter vs. "American-Type"
Affirms a new way of viewing fine art, free from academic tyranny; connecting art and life, which puts his ideas in line with those of John Cage who was influential to Neo-Dada and early performance art.
publishes his essay collection, The Tradition of the New
Tradition of the New
Accuses Abstract Expressionism of being a movement that harbors "charlatans" and "fakes," posits that abstract art is a dated and overused style, provoking a fury from artists and critics.
writes, "Happy New Year" for The New York Times
"Charlatans" and "Fakes"
Highlights the work of several artists who clearly break from medium purity, including the collagist Joseph Cornell and 'combine' artist Robert Rauschenberg
. Hess is the first theorist to identify a rich ancestry of artistic pluralism.
Thomas B. Hess
writes review in ART News
for exhibit at Jackson Gallery, New Media - New Forms
New Media-New Forms
refers to Alfred Barr
as, "the most powerful tastemaker in American art today"; a tongue-in-cheek reference to Barr, who he believes is a dictator.
writes article in The New York Times
, panning the AbEx artists as an unoriginal group of followers.
Canaday vs. Barr
In his response, Barr writes, "At [MoMA] we propose a partial answer to the dilemma: we must show the many disparate, even contradictory, yet significant kinds of art our complex civilization [has] produced."
writes a letter to The Times
in response to Canaday's
Barr responds to "tastemaker"
Responds to Rosenberg's book and his own informal brand of critique. Greenberg is highly critical of those who view abstract artists as getting swept away in some "creative act."
publishes his own essay collection, Art and Culture
Art and Culture
Letter outlines Canaday's failure to offer specific examples in his negative critique of the AbEx movement and is signed by 49 artists and critics, including Hess, Hofmann, de Kooning, Newman, Rosenberg, and Motherwell.
"Letter to The New York Times" is sent in direct response to Canaday's
Response to Canaday
Continually frustrated by the popularity of the term 'Action Painting' and the followers of Rosenberg, Greenberg responded by accusing these critics of denying the concentrated judgment of the artist that is necessary to create an abstract painting.
In March, Greenberg
writes, "How Art Writing Earns Its Bad Name," for Second Coming
Greenberg vs. "Action Painting"
Discusses the transition of American painting from first generation AbEx painters to the next generation, which he dubs "Post-Painterly Abstraction," a new phase with a continued focus on medium purity.
writes, "After Abstract Expressionism," for Art International
Commemorates the 10th anniversary of his essay, "American Action Painters." He reaffirms the belief that the "American painter found a new function for art as the action that belonged to himself." He also taunts Greenberg's use of materialist vocabulary, his emphasis on superficial painterly qualities, and his lack of attention to subject matter.
In December, Rosenberg
writes, "Action Painting: A Decade of Distortion," for ART News
"Action Painting" Turns 10
Introduces the notion that it is the very nature of modern art to bewilder and confuse others; he takes Greenberg's claim that, "All truly original art looks ugly at first," then turns this ideal against Greenberg and Rosenberg for essentially rejecting new phases in modern art, such as Pop art.
three lectures, "Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public," appear in Harper's
Who is Art's "Public"?
writes, "Three American Painters," for an exhibit of the same name at the Fogg Art Museum.
Three American Painters
Once a disciple of Clement Greenberg
and Michael Fried
, Rosalind Krauss
becomes increasingly frustrated with Greenberg's inability to appreciate new and interesting forms of modern art. She also declares Rosenberg's informal Existentialist art theory a form of tyranny. She writes that modern criticism must no longer play into schemas of meaning and history, or try to dictate perspective; criticism should have humility and innocence.
New View on Modernism
Breaks with formal Greenbergian theory and Rosenberg's notion of "Action Painting;" derides both as too high-minded and philosophical. Steinberg offers new perspective on modern art: All great art is about art, whether the emphasis is on content, form, or neither. He was the first critic to openly praise the work of Jasper Johns
and Robert Rauschenberg
as a new phase in 'flatness.'
Steinberg's "Other Criteria"
Marking the end of John Canaday's
critical reign, John Russell
becomes a voice of praise for postmodern styles. Rather than rejecting ideas of "Action" or "American-Type," he introduces idea that postmodernism is an extension and intensification of modernism.
becomes the art critic for The New York Times
, becoming chief critic in 1980.
New Era at NYT
According to Hughes, AbEx officially died in 1970 when Mark Rothko
committed suicide. Following his death, the court case between Rothko's children and his estate's trustees over the monetary value of the paintings changed the dynamics of the art world.
posits the death of Abstract Expressionism in the New York Review of Books
"Death" of AbEx