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De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Below the Surface
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From: bobo_amargo Date: December 4th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Grief Shrift

Far be it from me to come, with overmuch enthusiasm, to the rescue of Clement Greenberg, but there's one suggestion in your depiction of the antithesis between abstraction and realism that I want to protest against a bit.

I think the idea of purity as it was reflected upon among modernists of the abstractionist vein isn't best juxtaposed against an idea of the "messiness" of the everyday world. The charge that naive realist painters dissembled the medium was meant to bring out the fact that pictorial representation, like perception itself, was a messier, more complicated business than anyone had hitherto imagined.

Compare the analogous charge that modern logic is purificatory. What someone like Frege was after, though, was a script by means of which the neat but misleading conflations of natural languages were painstakingly separated and spread out. Logical space is more not less cluttered than the spaces of everyday language. Of course, we have ways in the everyday of prizing things apart as well: pragmatics (mostly discovered, however, after the fact of modern logic).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 5th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Grief Shrift

That's a good point. I should have been more clear. When I wrote of purity I meant in the sense of art as gesture, that the work is an autonomous expression of the artist's mind and/or spirit, rather than something shaped in advance by the range of possible reception. I guess what I was trying to convey is that someone like Wyeth, who got slammed for pandering, was acknowledging the diversity in training and inclination in his audience insofar as he pursued abstraction within the context of realism instead of in opposition to realism.
From: bobo_amargo Date: December 14th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


I suppose your Lukácsist tendencies are showing themselves there, which is fine by me (though a certain version of my old modernist self might prefer to have his Wyeth and "eat it," too [by which I mean, of course, have my Wyeth and crash my BMX on that snow-covered, the-center-cannot-hold road]).

Puts me in mind of some at-the-time-shocking-seeming advice Michael Fried gave to CK when he was in Berkeley lecturing on Caravaggio and they had lunch together: abandon Benjamin for Lukács. Given his commitments, it's still hard to fathom what he was trying to convey by such a remark (was he being selfless?).

(FYI: it's a rainy San Francisco day, and I'm listening to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)

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