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Critics Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg Photo

Clement Greenberg

Art Historian and Critic

Born: January 16, 1909 - New York, NY, USA

Died: May 7, 1994 - New York, NY, USA

Clement Greenberg Timeline

Quotes

"All profoundly original art looks ugly at first."
"You like it, that's all, whether it's a landscape or abstract. You like it. It hits you. You don't have to read it. The work of art-sculpture or painting-forces your eye."
"Where the Old Masters created an illusion of space into which one could imagine walking, the illusion created by a Modernist is one into which one can look, can travel through, only with the eye."
"I don't get into 'becauses.' When you come into a studio you see a number of works. My habit is to go to the one I like most. If you start to say 'because' you get into art jargon."
"An artist's successes are never compromised by his failures."
"I feel that works of art which genuinely puzzle us are almost always of ultimate consequence."
"Art criticism, I would say, is about the most ungrateful form of 'elevated' writing I know of. It may also be one of the most challenging.. if only because so few people have done it well enough to be remembered.. but I'm not sure the challenge is worth it."
"Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Miro, Kandinsky, Brancusi, even Klee, Matisse and C├ęzanne derive their chief inspiration from the medium they work in. The excitement of their art seems to lie most of all in its pure preoccupation with the invention and arrangement of spaces, surfaces, shapes, colors, etc., to the exclusion of whatever is not necessarily implicated in these factors."

"Where the Old Masters created an illusion of space into which one could imagine walking, the illusion created by a Modernist is one into which one can look, can travel through, only with the eye."

Synopsis

Clement Greenberg was probably the single most influential art critic in the 20th century. Although he is most closely associated with his support for Abstract Expressionism, and in particular Jackson Pollock, his views closely shaped the work of many other artists, including Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland. His attention to the formal properties of art - color, line, space and so forth - his rigorous approach to criticism, and his understanding of the development of modern art - although they have all been challenged - have influenced generations of critics and historians.

Key Ideas

Clement Greenberg introduced a wealth of ideas into discussion of 20th-century art, elaborating and refining notions such as "kitsch," the "easel picture," and pictorial "flatness," and inventing concepts such as that of the "allover" paint surface and "optical space."
Strongly associated with his support for Abstract Expressionism, Greenberg fervently believed in the necessity of abstract art as a means to resist the intrusion of politics and commerce into art.
Although he championed what is often regarded as avant-garde art, Greenberg saw modern art as an unfolding tradition, and by the end of his career he found himself attacking what many others saw as avant-garde art - Pop and Neo-Dada - against the values he held dear in earlier modern art.

Biography

Clement Greenberg Photo

Childhood

Greenberg was born in the Bronx, the eldest of four children. His parents were first-generation Jewish Lithuanian immigrants who lived briefly in Norfolk, Virginia, but kept New York City their permanent home.

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Clement Greenberg Biography Continues

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Critic Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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