There is fixed an account around Clement Greenberg that does not start with the phrases the emphasize the importance of this American art theorist and also critic. The many renowned art critic; an influential visual arts critic; or the biggest art doubter of the second fifty percent of the 20th century, are just some of the descriptive phrases attached come the Greenberg’s name. Born in a family of middle-class Jewish immigrants in 1909 in new York City, Greenberg expressed interest in literature and arts native childhood. He used to sketch nearly compulsively till he ended up being a young adult, once his attention turned to literature. After finishing Syracuse University v a level in English Literature, Greenberg functioned for dry-goods company that was held by his father. A turn in his career came in 1937 once he dedicated himself much more seriously to writing, and soon after came to be a published critic in a collection of smaller magazines and journals. This humble beginning is in stark contrast to the prominent critic and theorist Greenberg came to be later in his life, and also remains to be considered thus in the present as well. But what the did to end up being so famous and also respected, or an ext precisely, what he wrote?

Clement Greenberg speak in 1961. Photo via

Clement Greenberg Writings

Among the Greenberg’s most significant works, which he published largely in Partisan Review, the Nation, and Commentary, space Avant-Garde and Kitsch from 1939, Towards a newer Laocoon (1940), The situation of the Easel Picture (1948), Modernist Painting which was ceded initially together a radio transfer on The Voice the America Forum Lectures: The visual Arts (1960), After abstract Expressionism (1962), and ‘American-Type" Painting (1955). The affect of his theory impacted the renowned perception of modern arts the the period, yet also influenced the ways creatives thought around and created art. <1> Greenberg’s writings mostly dealt with non-objective art, abstract Expressionism, and other develops of formalist and abstract styles, such as shade field painting. The critical importance in a paint for him was in lines, shape and color, if emotional contents was considered secondary. Throughout his works his emphasis is on a formal purity and dissolution of a subject as the necessary qualities of modernism. Among the creatives he praised early was Hans Hofmann whose paints he witnessed as the highest possible level of modern art, executed in a “radical and uncompromising way.” <2> He additionally ‘discovered’ Jackson Pollock, and was the very first critic who mentioned the most famed figure of action painting in print. It remained in his essay because that the Nation in 1943. Greenberg described Pollock as “the an initial painter I know of to have actually got something optimistic from the muddiness the color that so profoundly characterizes a an excellent deal of American painting.” <3> Flatness that the picture plane came from the advancement of modernism which began with Manet, and was of utmost prominence to Greenberg, who observed it as the unique and also exclusive pictorial trait.

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Greenberg on Pop arts – that Minor!

Ideas that readjusted the art World

“The dissolved of the pictorial right into sheer texture, into apparently thin sensation, into an accumulation of repetitions, seems to speak for and also answer something extensive in modern-day sensibility.”

-Clement Greenberg, The crisis of the Easel Picture

Explanations of contemporary art Clement Greenberg offered in his works profoundly influenced and still influence the ways in i m sorry different imaginative styles and also artists are evaluated and contextualized. When he wrote around the avant-garde, he described it as a defender of the gradual ideas and also values that the bourgeoisie from repressive regimes such were those of the Nazis and Communists, and also as the just hope because that the survival the the high culture under those regimes. Abstraction additionally came together the outcome of a historical process of destruction of all illusions - "in a duration in i beg your pardon illusions of every kind are being destroyed, the illusionist approaches of art must likewise be renounced." <4> among the layouts from the beginning of the 20th century Greenberg an especially valued Cubism, but thought that it was in decline. Commenting on just how the key premises of western art moved to America, the again tackled the concern of Cubism stating the it was also conservative and supported for return to Paul Cézanne.

Perhaps the most necessary theory he introduced is about ‘all-over’ painting and also Abstract Expressionism. The hatchet ‘all-over’ was an initial used through Greenberg as soon as he defined the works of Pollock and also Barnett Newman. The emergence of all-over paintings is a consequence of an enhanced decentralization and polyphonic setting of making, where picture dissolves into pure sensation and also texture. The popularity of Harold Rosenberg and also his theory on action painting, prompted Greenberg to give his account of this works. For Greenberg they possess a radical that comes an ext from Impressionism 보다 Cubism, when his later dissatisfaction with increased mannerism of the Abstract Expressionist paintings led him to coin the ax Post-painterly Abstraction under i m sorry he included the novel tendencies in abstraction such together color field painting, hard-edge abstraction, and the Washington shade School. Through this new terminology Greenberg further differentiated the ar of summary art.

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

Greenberg’s art Collection

Besides gift a prolific writer Greenberg was likewise an avid collector of modern art. His arsenal was in 2001 obtained by the Portland arts Museum, which lugged Greenberg into the media spotlight when again. Comprised 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 enjoy of Greenberg’s creative interests, passions but also personal associations. Now available to be viewed online ~ above the main website of the Museum, the collection has the functions from creative styles Greenberg committed his life to compose about. His influence and authority as soon as criticism and evaluation of art are in concern is ideal seen in ~ auctions whereby the works by abstract Expressionists or shade Field painters with sky-high prices. Among the ten most expensive paintings ever sold space two by artists and styles Greenberg type of "discovered" – mark Rothko’s No.6 (Violet, Green and also Red) marketed for $186 million, and also 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 also the first to treat new York creatives as an elevation school. In the job-related of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and also sculptor David Smith, Greenberg witnessed a vitality absent from the art of postwar Europe. His writings aided transform the bohemian nest huddled roughly Manhattan"s grimy Eighth Street into the churning center of an global movement. Much less well-known is the reality that Greenberg was additionally a major collector; since of his insistence top top anonymity once loaning pieces to museums, the border of his personal collection surprises many. This extraordinary book illustrates, in color and also for the an initial time, the collection"s 155 works. Extending five years of American art, it functions some of the twentieth century"s best creatives.


Ibid.Ibid.Greenberg C., (1940), towards a newer Laocoon.

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