There is hardly an account about Clement Greenberg that does not begin with the phrases that emphasize the prominence of this American art theorist and critic. The most renowned arts critic; an prominent visual arts critic; or the greatest art movie critic of the second fifty percent of the 20th century, are simply some the the descriptive unit volume attached come the Greenberg’s name. Born in a family members of middle-class Jewish immigrants in 1909 in brand-new York City, Greenberg expressed attention in literature and also arts indigenous childhood. He provided to sketch virtually compulsively until he came to be a young adult, once his interest turned to literature. ~ finishing Syracuse University through a degree in English Literature, Greenberg operated for dry-goods organization that was organized by his father. A turn in his career come in 1937 as soon as he devoted himself much more seriously to writing, and soon after ended up being a published movie critic in a series of smaller magazines and journals. This humble beginning is in stark contrast to the prominent critic and theorist Greenberg ended up being later in his life, and also remains to be considered because of this in the current as well. But what he did to become so famous and also respected, or an ext precisely, what the wrote?

Clement Greenberg speaking in 1961. Picture via

Clement Greenberg Writings

Among the Greenberg’s most influential works, which that published mainly in Partisan Review, the Nation, and Commentary, room Avant-Garde and also Kitsch from 1939, Towards a newer Laocoon (1940), The crisis of the Easel Picture (1948), Modernist Painting i m sorry was yielded initially together a radio transfer on The Voice the America Forum Lectures: The intuitive Arts (1960), After abstract Expressionism (1962), and also ‘American-Type" Painting (1955). The influence of his theory impacted the famous perception of modern-day arts that the period, yet also affected the ways creatives thought about and developed art. <1> Greenberg’s writings mostly encountered non-objective art, summary Expressionism, and other develops of formalist and abstract styles, together as shade field painting. The an essential importance in a paint for him was in lines, shape and also color, while emotional content was taken into consideration secondary. Throughout his works his focus is ~ above a official purity and dissolution of a subject together the necessary characteristics of modernism. Amongst the creatives the praised beforehand was Hans Hofmann whose paintings he saw as the highest possible level of modern-day art, executed in a “radical and uncompromising way.” <2> He likewise ‘discovered’ Jackson Pollock, and also was the very first critic who pointed out the most well known figure of action painting in print. It remained in his essay because that the Nation in 1943. Greenberg defined Pollock as “the first painter I understand of to have got something confident from the muddiness of color the so profoundly characterizes a great deal of American painting.” <3> Flatness the the picture plane come from the development of modernism which started with Manet, and also was that utmost prominence to Greenberg, that observed it as the unique and exclusive photographic trait.

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Greenberg ~ above Pop arts – that Minor!

Ideas that readjusted the arts World

“The resolution of the pictorial right into sheer texture, right into apparently slim sensation, into an build-up of repetitions, appears to speak for and answer something extensive in modern sensibility.”

-Clement Greenberg, The crisis of the Easel Picture

Explanations of contemporary art Clement Greenberg provided in his writings profoundly influenced and also still affect the means in i beg your pardon different imaginative styles and artists are evaluated and also contextualized. Once he wrote around the avant-garde, he defined it as a defender that the gradual ideas and also values that the bourgeoisie from repressive regimes such were those of the Nazis and also Communists, and as the just hope because that the survival of the high culture under those regimes. Abstraction likewise came as the result of a historical process of destruction of every illusions - "in a period in which illusions of every type are being destroyed, the illusionist methods of art must also be renounced." <4> among the layouts from the beginning of the 20th century Greenberg an especially valued Cubism, but believed that it was in decline. Commenting on how the main premises of western art moved to America, the again tackled the problem of Cubism stating the it was too conservative and advocated for return to Paul Cézanne.

Perhaps the most important theory he introduced is about ‘all-over’ painting and Abstract Expressionism. The hatchet ‘all-over’ was first used by Greenberg once he explained the works of Pollock and Barnett Newman. The appearance of all-over paints is a an effect of an raised decentralization and also polyphonic setting of making, where snapshot dissolves into pure sensation and also texture. The popular of Harold Rosenberg and also his concept on activity painting, prompted Greenberg to give his account of these works. Because that Greenberg they possess a radical that comes much more from Impressionism 보다 Cubism, if his later on dissatisfaction with increased mannerism the the Abstract Expressionist paints led him to coin the ax Post-painterly Abstraction under i beg your pardon he consisted of the novel tendencies in abstraction such as color ar painting, hard-edge abstraction, and also the Washington shade School. With this new terminology Greenberg further identified the field of abstract art.

Left: note Rothko White center 1950 / Right: mark Rothko - Orange Red Yellow

Greenberg’s arts Collection

Besides being a prolific writer Greenberg was also an avid collector of modern-day art. His arsenal was in 2001 gained by the Portland arts Museum, which lugged Greenberg into the media spotlight once again. Consisted of of over 150 artworks by Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, Walter Darby Bannard, and also Larry Poons amongst others, the collection is a have fun of Greenberg’s creative interests, passions yet also personal associations. Now easily accessible to be watched online on the official website the the Museum, the collection has the works from imaginative styles Greenberg devoted his life to create about. His influence and authority when criticism and also evaluation of art room in question is ideal seen at auctions where the functions by summary Expressionists or color Field painters with sky-high prices. Among the ten most expensive paintings ever sold are two through artists and also styles Greenberg type of "discovered" – mark Rothko’s No.6 (Violet, Green and Red) sold for $186 million, and Jackson Pollock’s No. 5 offered for $165.4 million.<5>

Editors’ Tip: Clement Greenberg: A Critic"s Collection

Clement Greenberg (1909-1994) is the many renowned American art movie critic of the 20th C. And the first to treat brand-new York creatives as an independent school. In the work-related of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and also sculptor David Smith, Greenberg saw a vitality absent from the arts of postwar Europe. His writings assisted transform the bohemian colony huddled roughly Manhattan"s grimy Eighth Street into the churning center of an worldwide movement. Far less known is the fact that Greenberg was likewise a major collector; since of his insistence ~ above anonymity as soon as loaning piece to museums, the scope of his personal collection surprises many. This extraordinary publication illustrates, in color and also for the first time, the collection"s 155 works. Covering five decades of American art, it functions some of the twenty century"s finest creatives.


Ibid.Ibid.Greenberg C., (1940), in the direction of a more recent Laocoon.

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Featured images: Clement Greenberg. Photo via; Jackson Pollock - Number 1 (Lavender Mist), 1950, detail. Photo via; Barnett Newman – Voice that Fire. Image via; Kenneth Noland - Sarah"s reach. Image via All pictures used for illustrative purposes only.