Having recently been called a "crypto-formalist," a "new kind of Greenberg, one with hindsight," and a "nihilistic formalist," I feel it my duty, at this juncture of our discipline, to address the issue of formalism--of its uses and abuses.
Comparison chart of art critics Clement Greenberg vs Harold Rosenberg
Many modern art movements have been supported and promoted by critics who have sought to shape understandings of the artists' work in distinct ways. Abstract Expressionism is notable for the contributions of two critics, Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg, who put forward influential interpretations of the movement which were often starkly opposed. The following chart compares and contrasts their ideas.
The abstract paintings of the American artist Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) are among the highest achievements of 20th-century art. During an unparalleled period of creativity from the late 1940s to the early 50s, Pollock abandoned the conventional tools and methods of the painter, putting aside brushes, artist’s paint and traditional composition, and poured and flung house paint directly onto large canvases placed on the floor. Inspired by the work of earlier modern artists that he admired such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, Pollock’s painting has had an enormous impact on contemporary art up to the present day.
The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence. Kant used logic to establish the limits of logic, and while he withdrew much from its old jurisdiction, logic was left all the more secure in what there remained to it.
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