Learning from the Ancients

I think we should look at ancient history not so much to learn about peoples of the past but to study ourselves.

Ancient history in this case meaning 1930 to 1960. I’ve just finished reading “Clement Greenberg, A Life” by Florence Rubenfeld . Greenberg’s personal, political and social skills aside and acknowledging that he was something of a misogynistic, arrogant bastard, my interest in his theories is piqued enough that I have taken out two of his collections of essays on art and culture. “Perceptions and Judgements, vol 1 of Clement Greenberg Essays and Criticism” edited by John O’Brian and “Homemade Esthetics” by Greenberg.c greenberg

Although he has plenty of detractors (easy target actually) I think I need to know more about the “Great Clem” and his own words may fill in more depth than second hand quotes. Several things struck me and need answering: How did he meld the analytical aspects of his criticism with the very personal dance that he did with each painting he reviewed? How did he “see” art? And what did he really mean when he said that current art (at that time, Pop and Minimalism) were less ambitious?

I have had no pretentions while opening A Small Art Gallery. It has been borne of an interest and deep desire to remain within an Art environment rather than from a deep deep foundation in art theory, academic rigor or slick art commerce. I also believe there is a need to make available additional options to the art presented in my city. To fill in the holes in my art education I can only believe that I will be well served by understanding Greenberg, Hughes, Rosenburg and others.  Any other suggested reading?


  1. Ron Miller
    Ron Miller
    September 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm Reply

    Any information as to whether Clement Greenberg promoted “Modern Art” for the CIA? Sounds far fetched but the promotion of this “American form of art” during the cold war was actually done by the US. See the link. Ron

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