The Laws of Nature

Friday, August 5, 2011

Art and Culture

Art and Culture: Critical Essays
By Clement Greenberg (1961, 1989)

Part 1: Culture in General, Section 1: Avant-Guarde and Kitsch

Image: Clement Greenberg, 1909-1994

A book discussion on this blog is long overdue! So, let’s begin another. I’ve chosen Art and Culture: Critical Essays (1961, 1989) by Clement Greenberg, the distinguished American art critic.

In this book, the author addresses the following topics:
Culture in General
Art in Paris
(various individual artists)
Art in General (primitive through modernist art)
Art in the United States (various individual artists and movements)
and, Literature (I probably won’t review this section)

A review by the Washington Post appears on the back of this book: “This book should be read by anyone who is interested in modern painting and is willing to look at its spectrum through the vision of a tough-minded, rightfully opinionated critic.”

Another review appears by the New York Times: “Clement Greenberg is, internationally, the best-known American art critic popularly considered to be the man who put American vanguard painting and sculpture on the world map … Jackson Pollock’s triumphant international recognition is also a triumph of this critic’s courage, eloquence and creative sense of action .. . An important book for everyone interested in modern painting and sculpture.”

And, so we’ll begin with Part 1: Culture in General, Section 1: Avant-Guarde and Kitsch.

According to Greenberg, the avant-guarde and kitsch are both on the order of culture and products of society. But, are they related? And, from what perspective can we view culture to see that relationship? Perhaps, he postulates, the answer is found through the examination of the relationship between aesthetic experience of the individual and the social and historical contexts in which that experience takes place. And, that’s where the author leads us … in my next post.

Are you interested?


Casey Klahn said...

The comparison (and maybe the unity thereof) of kitsch and the avant-garde is an interesting subject. It's one thing to see a spectrum, but their unity is a hoot.

One first thought I have is that it doesn't do me any good to imagine the superiority of culture and education in the evaluation of an avant-garde artwork. What interests me is the universal element of the art.

I can't get the image of Jeffrey Tambor as CG out of my mind, though. Too funny.

Celeste Bergin said...

I have to come back and read through your post "properly"..until then, just want to say Welcome back Katharine!

Dan Kent said...

I'm interested, of course! I love your book discussions.

Our culture guides everything (whether we know it or not), but if kitsch and avant-guarde are cousins, they are estranged.

Stan Kurth said...

Yes I'm interested!