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Clement Greenberg, Late Writings

2007
Author:

Clement Greenberg
Robert C. Morgan, editor

Clement Greenberg, Late Writings

A publishing event: culminating works by a major figure in art history, collected here for the first time!

Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) was a colossus of twentieth-century American art and used his position of influence to establish the careers of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning. This essential volume is the first collection from the period 1970 to 1990 and includes five interviews in which Greenberg illuminates the progression of his thought.

Clement Greenberg rose to become the most important art critic the United States has produced. . . . He was a major chronicler of an extraordinary epoch in American cultural history.

Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) was a colossus of twentieth-century American art, achieving a degree of authority almost unimaginable for a critic today. For more than thirty years he was both lionized as a proponent of formalism and criticized for his perceived dogmatism. In the postwar period Greenberg used his position of influence to advocate the importance of abstract expressionism and color-field painting and to establish the careers of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning. With the coming of pop art, performance and conceptual art, and postmodernism, however, Greenberg found his position increasingly challenged.

Edited with an introduction by critic Robert C. Morgan, Clement Greenberg, Late Writings is the first collection from the period 1970 to 1990, and the only comprehensive resource for Greenberg’s thought during the last third of his life. While earlier works have covered Greenberg’s early and middle career, this volume spans his mature period, during which he reevaluates and refines many of his earlier tenets in some of his most carefully crafted and engaging work. Exploring a surprising breadth of issues and mediums and demonstrating a depth of aesthetic and philosophical insights, in these relatively unknown works Greenberg incites a new direction for modernism beyond the twentieth century.

This essential volume includes five interviews from the end of his life in which Greenberg revisits some of the concerns of his formative years, illuminating the progression of his thought. Late Writings is an integral resource as issues of quality and significance in the dynamic world of art continue to be redefined.


Clement Greenberg, Late Writings

Clement Greenberg was the most influential art critic of the postwar period. He was the author of numerous books, and his essays appeared in art magazines as well as such publications as Partisan Review, Commentary, and The Nation.

Robert C. Morgan is the author of The End of the Art World and of a monograph on the optical painter Vasarely. In addition to his work as a critic, artist, art historian, and curator, he is visiting professor of art at Hunter College in New York City.

Clement Greenberg, Late Writings

Clement Greenberg rose to become the most important art critic the United States has produced. . . . He was a major chronicler of an extraordinary epoch in American cultural history.

Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

I have no doubt that Greenberg will go down in history as the greatest art critic of his generation in America.

Hilton Kramer, Modern Painters

Greenberg wrote the abiding philosophy of art for the period in which he flourished, and he did so in language that embodied the virtues of the aesthetic it enjoined.

Arthur C. Danto, Artforum

Not many in the long history of art have looked as deeply into art’s mystery, or dreamed more deeply its purpose.

Jules Olitski

With sparkle, wisdom and energy Greenberg speaks to the present situation in art more pertinently and persuasively than any contemporary thinker.

David Cohen, New York Times Book Review

Greenberg’s presence was energizing. He never stopped engaging with art and ideas in what many of his younger interlocutors regarded as a feverish, rough-edged New-York-Jew-of-the-30s way. Whether you agreed with him or not, his vehemence left no room for nostalgia. . . . Greenberg produced dozens of the most beautifully shaped essays that any American has ever written about the arts.

Jed Perl, New Republic

In his reflective and informative introduction to Clement Greenberg, Late Writings, editor Robert C. Morgan attempts to provide a more balanced portrayal of Greenberg as critic than is generally available. Many of the essays discuss and reiterate Greenberg’s primary occupations: the role of the avant-garde, the significance of modernism and the centrality of aesthetic experience. Thought-provoking comments refute the characterization of Greenberg as overly simplistic.

Art Monthly

Clement Greenberg, Late Writings offers many new, useful and enlightening nuggets of his thought. It is the interviews which provide the most refreshing and illuminating segment of this book.

NYArts Magazine

The final section contains a series of interviews that are by turns perceptive, exasperating, and just plain hilarious.

Bookforum

Whether you agree or not with Greenberg’s aesthetic judgments, his commentaries are amongst the best ever written about visual art.

Artichoke

A worthy addition to the documentation on Greenberg. Highly recommended.

Choice

This excellent collection reveals the dynamic changes that Greenberg went through. However much you may resent his influence on the art world, reading the essays that Morgan includes in Late Writings, you will be reminded of a powerful and original mind, a mind worth arguing with.

Harvard Review

Clement Greenberg, Late Writings

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Crux of Modernism Robert C. Morgan

I. The Avant- Garde and Modernism Counter- Avant- Garde

Looking for the Avant- Garde
Modern and Postmodern
Beginnings of Modernism

II. States of Criticism

Necessity of “Formalism”
Can Taste Be Objective?
Abstract, Representational, and So Forth
Detached Observations
Seminar 6
States of Criticism
Intermedia
To Cope with Decadence

III. Art and Culture

Old India: Her Monuments
Influences of Matisse
Four Scottish Painters
Picasso
Clyfford Still
The Golden Floating World of Sotatsu
Glass as High Art
Art and Culture
Drawing
Response to “New York in the Eighties”

IV. Interviews

Clement Greenberg
James Faure Walker A Conversation with Clement Greenberg
in Three Parts Trish Evans and Charles Harrison
An Interview with Clement Greenberg Robert Kehlmann
Clement Greenberg: Modernism or Barbarism Karlheinz Lüdeking
Clement Greenberg: The Last Interview Saul Ostrow

Notes on Previous Publications