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Art criticism in the 20th century Critical response to early avant-garde art In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many critics continued to grapple with the newness of the generation of artists inspired by Impressionism. A Study of His Developmentof his painting made clear.
Writing is clearly not the only means open to an art critic. Bell famously dismissed representational content as incidental anecdoteirrelevant to visual experience.
His assertion was the final stamp of approval on what might be called abstract primitivism in art and on the new School of Paris led by Picasso. The early 20th-century manifestos—in effect, critical statements—of the Constructivist and De Stijl movements on the one hand and Dadaism and Surrealism on the other grounded art on conceptual rather than formal concerns.
Although they professed conceptual aims, these movements in fact helped broaden expression. Despite the conceptual nature of their critical statements, therefore, these movements resisted being easily categorized as purely formal or conceptual. The dual paths these movements embodied—art oriented toward formal innovation and expression versus art oriented toward conceptual aims—would remain central to the major approaches to critical practice and art making throughout the 20th century.
Avant-garde art comes to America As the century progressed, art criticism grew in part because of the explosive growth of avant-garde art but also because the new art became newsworthy enough to be covered by the media, especially when big money invested in it.
The New York Armory Show of made a big public splash—President Theodore Roosevelt visited it and remarked that he preferred the Navajo rugs he collected he was ahead of his time to the abstract art on display. Reaction to the work was generally mixed. Major private collections of avant-garde art emerged—perhaps most noteworthily that of Albert C.
Barnes —further legitimating it. The founding of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in under the auspices of the Rockefeller family was the consummate sign of the social and economic success of avant-garde art. Under the leadership of Alfred H. This became the orthodox formal high line.
German Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism are shunted to the side, falsifying their influence and significance. Again, the power of an institution to dictate and legislate art history is clear: Barr was in effect a modern Le Brun, and the Museum of Modern Art became the avant-garde academy, seeming to have more authority than the art itself.
The formal abstraction initiated by Picasso and the Cubists reached its extreme in the emergence of the avant-garde American art, Abstract Expressionismin the s.
Abstract artists themselves became critics in an attempt to clarify and justify their work. The issue of this exchange is not whether Canaday was right or wrong but rather the seriousness with which his views were taken, indicating that criticism had become an indispensable part of the art scene and as controversial as the art with which it dealt.
Clement Greenberg However, just as the newness of Cubism was accepted and then canonized by Barr and the Museum of Modern Art, so the revolutionary abstraction of Abstract Expressionism was quickly codified and accepted—and elevated above Picasso and the School of Paris—through the efforts of the American critic Clement Greenberg.
No figure so dominated the art criticism scene at mid-century as Greenberg, who was the standard-bearer of formalism in the United States and who developed the most sophisticated rationalization of it since Roger Fry and Clive Bell. In the essays collected in Art and CultureGreenberg argued that what mattered most in a work was its articulation of the medium, more particularly, its finessing of the terms of the material medium, and the progressive elimination of those elements that were beside its point.
For Greenberg, a consummately formal, purely material, nonsymbolic work—for example, a painting finessing its flatness in the act of acknowledging it—was an exemplification of positivism, which he saw as the reigning ideology of the modern world.Greenberg, the most influential art critic in the 20th century, supported Abstract Expressionism and the formal properties of color, line, form, and space.
New Criticism. A literary movement that started in the late s and s and originated in reaction to traditional criticism that new critics saw as largely concerned with matters extraneous to the text, e.g., with the biography or psychology of the author or the work's relationship to literary history.
Links to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror authors' home pages with last names starting 'C'; additional biographies and bibliographies; total links, names, pseudonyms, and descriptions. Greenberg, the most influential art critic in the 20th century, supported Abstract Expressionism and the formal properties of color, line, form, and space.
In the essay “Other Criteria” (), the American scholar and critic Leo Steinberg criticized Greenberg from an art-historical point of view, stating that in Greenberg’s “formalist ethic, the ideal critic remains unmoved by the artist’s expressive intention, uninfluenced by his culture.
Art criticism - Art criticism in the 20th century: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many critics continued to grapple with the newness of the generation of artists inspired by Impressionism. The work of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne made the avant-garde problem become even more explicit to critics, as the British critic Roger Fry’s eloquent analysis and defense, in.