#READ EBOOK µ Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art ¸ eBook or E-pub free

It took years to read a painting , said Tom Hess, to Steinberg upon this book It couldn t betrue Steinberg awoke art historians who were trapped in the doctrinal formalism and did not look at art itself closely This is an exemplary model of art writing as well as reading that ponders a variety of possibilites in the work of art itself before foraying into other historical and theoretical sources. #READ EBOOK ⚤ Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art ¸ Leo Steinberg s classic Other Criteria comprises eighteen essays on topics ranging from Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public and the flatbed picture plane to reflections on Picasso, Rauschenberg, Rodin, de Kooning, Pollock, Guston, and Jasper Johns The latter, which Francine du Plessix Gray called a tour de force of critical method, is widely regarded as the most eye opening analysis of the Johns s work ever written This edition includes a new preface and a handful of additional illustrations The art book of the year, if not of the decade and possibly of the century The significance of this volume lies not so much in the quality of its insights although the quality is very high and the insights are important as in the richness, precision, and elegance of its style A meeting with the mind of Leo Steinberg is one of the most enlightening experiences that contemporary criticism affords A thick collection of essays on modern art history by one of the 20th century s most prominent art historians may be expected to be incredibly dense, but Steinberg succeeds at being both insightful and accessible in nearly every essay Steinberg s sometimes literally conversational tone is engaging even when the art is less so his essay on Jasper Johns is an excellent example, wherein the analysis comes from the relatable position of a person who claims at one point to have really not gotten A thick collection of essays on modern art history by one of the 20th century s most prominent art historians may be expected to be incredibly dense, but Steinberg succeeds at being both insightful and accessible in nearly every essay Steinberg s sometimes literally conversational tone is engaging even when the art is less so his essay on Jasper Johns is an excellent example, wherein the analysis comes from the relatable position of a person who claims at one point to have really not gotten it either You feelas if you are making heads or tails of the work together, rather than starting miles behind as you may be if you are not a trained art historian.The lengthy essay on Picasso s Femmes d Algiers is likely my favorite in the collection, but it is hard to choose as each single essay made a memorable impression on how I view the particular works in question I highly suggest this book to anyone with a pension for modern art, especially as museums remain closed in the wake of the coronavirus Confrontations With Twentieth Century Art By Leo Steinberg Illustrated 436 p New York Oxford University PressI gladly share with you the New York Times review from April 8, 1973 by Hilton Kramer about this wonderful read The distinguishing characteristic of the art scene at the present moment is the collapse of modernist orthodoxy Though we lack neither artists nor critics who persist in upholding one or another version of the modernist faith, these votaries of an absolutist view of what Confrontations With Twentieth Century Art By Leo Steinberg Illustrated 436 p New York Oxford University PressI gladly share with you the New York Times review from April 8, 1973 by Hilton Kramer about this wonderful read The distinguishing characteristic of the art scene at the present moment is the collapse of modernist orthodoxy Though we lack neither artists nor critics who persist in upholding one or another version of the modernist faith, these votaries of an absolutist view of what is, and what is not, permissible for art to accomplish at a given historical moment tend to lookandsectarian Chastened by history and weary of doctrinaire imperatives, a new generation of artists and indeed, the art public itself no longer give an easy credence to exclusionary theories of the aesthetic enterprise The immediate result of this recoil from the absolute has been an increase in our consciousness of the sheer variety and multiplicity of artistic statement that the history of modern art contrary to the myths of modernism has actually harboured.This consciousness takes two forms Among artists, it is evident in the freedom they feel to pursue any course, no matter how reactionary and unhistorical it may be judged by the narrow tenets of the modernist faith, which their own tastes and sensibilities deem artistically viable And among critics and historians, it is beginning to express itself in aopen attempt to come to terms with precisely those elements of the art endeavour especially representation, and other hitherto despised expressions of content which the formalist criticism of the modernists had succeeded in relegating to the limbo of philistine gratification.We have, in other words, entered upon a period when the history of modern art is undergoing a drastic revision in the studio no less than in the seminar room and it is to this revisionist effort that Leo Steinberg s volume of essays belongs Toward the end of the essay from which Mr Steinberg has drawn the title of his book, he speaks of Robert Rauschenberg as an artist who invented above all a pictorial surface that let the world in again However we may feel about this statement as an account of Rauschenberg s importance I think myself that it borders on the absurd it nonetheless gives us an essential clue to the way Mr Steinberg conceives his own task as a writer on modern art For he comes before us, in Other Criteria as a critic determined to let the world in again so far as the discussion and appreciation of modern art is concerned, and he correctly perceives that this task cannot be effectively accomplished without first confronting those powerful theories responsible for keeping the world literally and figuratively out of the picture.His first attempt to demolish these theories goes back 20 years In an essay called The Eye Is a Part of the Mind, originally published in Partisan Review in 1953 and here reprinted in revised form, Mr Steinberg argued that modern art has not, after all, abandoned the imitation of nature, and that, in its most powerful expressions, representation is still an essential condition, not an expendable freight His overriding concern was to show that representation is a central aesthetic function in all art and that the formalist aesthetic, designed to champion the new abstract trend, was largely based on a misunderstanding and an underestimation of the art it set out to defend Twenty years ago, the theories under fire were Roger Fry s and Andre Malraux s, and no contemporary artist s work was invoked to support the case In therecent andambitious essay called Other Criteria, based on a lecture given at the Museum of Modern Art in 1968 and first published in part last year, the principal target is Clement Greenberg, and the artist whose work is invoked as an exemplary case is, alas, Rauschenberg.As Mr Steinberg puts it, Fry s position was to assert that representation has always been an adventitious element in art a concession to state, populace, or church Modern art, then, differs from historic art not in essence but in degree of purity In Mr Greenberg s subsequent refinement of the formalist position, according to Mr Steinberg, The one thing which painting can call its own is colour coincident with the flat ground, and its drive toward independence demands withdrawal from anything outside itself and single minded insistence of its unique property Although Mr Steinberg has scarcely been alone in this effort to expose the limitations of the formalist ideology, which is based on a radical and disfiguring simplification of both art and experience, he nonetheless marshals a good deal of evidence to support his argument, and he is especially persuasive in calling our attention to a Whole range of experience in the art of the past which formalist criticism is helpless to account for.But if Mr Steinberg succeeds, as I think he does, in reminding us of how much richer art really is both in its actuality and in its potentiality than formalist criticism can ever permit itself to recognize, he quite fails to establish his other criteria as anything but an exercise in sensibility The sensibility in question his own is a wonder to behold marvellously alert, informed, and wide ranging, at once patient and aggressive in Its quest for the revelatory nuance, and eager to make discriminations where others have been content to settle for received judgment Yet it is, in the end, an academic sensibility, which, for all its beguiling sensitivity and intelligence, only prospers in safe harbours.About the really difficult questions in the art of this century, these confrontations take a cautious, wait and see attitude Although condescending toward critics who write in the heat of a first encounter with a new work of art, Mr Steinberg nonetheless manages to swallow his distaste for the vulgarities of journalism, long enough to tuck in a few of his old review columns from the 1950 s The bulk of his book is devoted to three artists Rodin, Picasso and Jasper Johns Quite the best thing he has written is his long causerie on the sculpture of Rodin This is a literary tour de force that carries the reader into the inner recesses of a vast and powerful oeuvre with extraordinary skill and authority, focusing on its myriad details of representation with an almost cinematic clarity and a very moving eloquence Our perceptions are sharpened and our knowledge augmented, occasionally even our pulse beat may quicken, yet the effect of this brilliant essay is to deepen our sense of Rodin s fecundity without altering in any fundamental way our understanding of his art.The Picasso studies areproblematical Concerned for the most part with the artist s later work and mainly occupied with problems of iconography, they are attempts to elucidate what the author calls the symbolic content of Picasso s imagination Yet what are most illuminating in these essays are the discussions of form especially the discussion of Cubist form in the essay called The Algerian Women and Picasso at Large rather than the explications of content The trouble with Mr Steinberg s forays into symbolic content is that they tend to be most persuasive where the paintings under discussion are least compelling Thus, his protracted analysis of Picasso s series of variations on Delacroix s Women of Algiers, painted in 1954 55, is marvellous for its incidental observations but preposterous fore the implied claims it makes for a kind of painting that is as academic in its way which is to say, academic Cubism as Mr Steinberg is in his.The essay on Johns, which has already appeared as a separate monograph, isthan problematical it is a waste of time Out of this mountain of solemn commentary and second rate poetry, we are left with an observation the size of a mouse And then I saw that all of Johns s early pictures, in the passivity of their subjects and their slow lasting through time, imply a perpetual wafting Only man s chattels remain, overgrown by paint as by indifferent vegetation Etc This is bad fifties style art writing, and unworthy of a serious critic.As the essays on Rodin, Picasso and Johns suggest, Mr Steinberg is naturally drawn to works of art that satisfy his conviction that representation is a central aesthetic function in all art This leaves himor less silent on the crucial question of abstract art where, if representation is still an essential condition, not an expendable freight, it remains to be explained precisely how this condition is met in a form of art that is intended to depict nothing but itself.This failure to confront the problem of abstract art an oddity, surely, in a sizable volume subtitled Confrontations With Twentieth Century Art results in a certain forfeiture of the author s authority Having asserted some 20 years ago, in The Eye Is a Part of the Mind, that the formalist defence of abstract art was based on a misunderstanding and an underestimation, Mr Steinberg has been content to leave this large subject in the hands of the very critics he disbelieves, and he seems oblivious to what this implies about the cogency of his own position His own taste, in any case, seems to run in the direction of Rauschenberg, Johns and their Pop followers, and this is not, perhaps, very firm ground from which to examine the vicissitudes of abstraction All of which is a pity, for Mr Steinberg has already made an important contribution in theory if not in practice to the revision of history that is now upon us A mixed bag of art history essays Whenever Steinberg writes about art in general he is fascinating His account of how he had to learn to appreciate Jasper Johns, who displayed none of the aesthetic qualitites that Steinberg had learned to look out for and appreciate in art, is superb It is also a great argument against formalism, recognising that some art has the power to shift our perception about what art can be rather than expecting it to fit into a pre existing criteria Apart from anythi A mixed bag of art history essays Whenever Steinberg writes about art in general he is fascinating His account of how he had to learn to appreciate Jasper Johns, who displayed none of the aesthetic qualitites that Steinberg had learned to look out for and appreciate in art, is superb It is also a great argument against formalism, recognising that some art has the power to shift our perception about what art can be rather than expecting it to fit into a pre existing criteria Apart from anything else his writing shifts some power and authority from the hands of the critics to the hands of the artists He also writes a pretty devestating critique of Clement Greenberg s formalism, whilst acknowledging that Abstract Expressionism needed the advocacy of Greenberg to achieve the level of acclaim and recognition it eventually received When Steinberg writes about a particular artist I found it a bit less interesting and a bitdry I expect these sections to be of greater interest to art historians than the general reader The exception is the essay on Rodin which makes a pretty convincing case for his greatness