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Clement Greenberg at 100: Part 3 March 30, 2009

Posted by jeffclef in Uncategorized.
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One conference out of the way. On to Greenberg. [Read CG at 100: Part 2]

I’m looking at the symposium schedule. I want to learn a little more about each of the participants and what kind of work they do so I don’t look stupid. The symposium kicks off with a roundtable discussion featuring experts on Greenberg’s art criticism: Yve-Alain Bois (heavyweight in 20th century European and American art), Thierry de Duve (specialist in the metaphysics of art, made Duchamp difficult), Serge Guilbaut (specialist in Franco-American art and politics during the Cold War), Rosalind Krauss (foremost champion of Greenberg, turned defector), John O’Brian (editor of the Collected Essays and Criticism). Benjamin Buchloch is the moderator. Holy Critics! How many more rock stars can you cram into a room? The only person missing from this esteemed company is Michael Fried. The University of British Columbia (John O’Brian and Serge Guilbaut) appears to be a happening place for art history.

Here’s the first panel:

Louis Menand (Harvard), on “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” Re-Revisited
Ann Reynolds (UT-Austin), on The Rhetoric of the Framing Edge: Clement Greenberg and Critic Parker Tyler
Michael Lobel (Purchase College, SUNY), on John Sloan According to Greenberg
Daniel Haxall (Penn. State U.), on Clement Greenberg’s Pastoral Mood: The New York School and the Bucolic Tradition

Louis Menand writes book reviews and Cold War related pieces for the New Yorker. He is also a Professor of English here at Harvard and specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His book The Metaphysical Club won a Pulitzer Prize. I have heard Luke speak on Greenberg in his undergraduate course on the Art and Thought of the Cold War. He’s a great lecturer, and  always manages to deliver with something nuanced and thought-provoking while being accessible and entertaining.

Ann Reynolds adds to her expertise in art history a specialty in gender and sexuality studies. Latest books are on Robert Smithson and Feminist Publics in the 1970s. Wikipedia tells me Parker Tyler was an American film critic who wrote extensively about the experimental and underground scene. That explains his relevance to the panel theme. Influences include Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein. First book length study of homosexuality in film (Screening the Sexes); co-edited the Surrealist magazine View. Tyler’s probably someone I need to learn more about for my own purposes.

Michael Lobel, Yale Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Purchase College, SUNY. He does postwar and contemporary art and theory with a specialty in the politics of Pop art and the Pictures Generation. Has a book out on Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art. Articles on Warhol. John Sloan? Is an Ashcan School artist. Who has nothing to do with Pop and whose urban realism Greenberg might label kitsch. Unless we are talking about another John Sloan. A paper on Sloan could be very interesting, especially in a panel on the avant-garde.

Daniel Haxall is, like me, another grad student fortunate enough to have his paper abstract approved. He was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the Smithsonian and is completing a dissertation on collage during the era of Abstract Expressionism. That sounds fascinating and dovetails with my own efforts to read around the primacy of the movement.  His paper is on the “Bucolic Tradition.” I hope cows are involved. Jackson Pollock did paint a bull (Pasiphae). I’m sure his paper will be excellent.

The second panel:

Darby English (U. Chicago), on Greenberg, The DeLuxe Edition
Stephen Melville (OSU), on Greenberg In Our Time
Jeff Nguyen (Harvard), on Frank O’Hara and the American Surreal

To Google we go. Darby English is an associate professor of art history at the University of Chicago. Two books in his corner along with a number of articles. Major work: How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness. Holy crap. He’s black, and an art historian. That is too awesome, more awesome than being Asian and pursuing a Ph.D. in English, anyway. He does work on Romare Bearden. We can talk about Ralph Ellison. I imagine his paper has to do with limited edition prints. Perhaps he will speak on the topic of collaboration and the market (making the collaboration between artists/poets the selling point of a limited edition book). It would challenge Greenberg’s insistence on the singularity of authorship and his notions of aesthetic autonomy.

As for Stephen Melville, he’s a professor of the History of Art at OSU. Serves on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. A bigshot. OSU needs to update their pages “(he is curating a major exhibition of contemporary painting to open at the Wexner Center for the Arts in May, 2001)”. To JSTOR. He has reviewed works by two of the roundtable participants (The Collected Essays and Criticism, ed. by John O’Brian; Kant after Duchamp and Clement Greenberg between the Lines, both by Thierry de Duve), which explains both his topic and his invitation. He has also reviewed a book on Salome and ekphrases, so he probably knows a lot about comparative art theory.  Conversation starters.

Read CG at 100: Part 4



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