Homemade Esthetics: Observations on Art and Taste

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Oxford University Press, Oct 19, 2000 - Art - 256 pages
Thanks to his unsurpassed eye and his fearless willingness to take a stand, Clement Greenberg (1909 1994) became one of the giants of 20th century art criticism a writer who set the terms of critical discourse from the moment he burst onto the scene with his seminal essays Avant Garde and Kitsch (1939) and Towards a Newer Laocoon (1940). In this work, which gathers previously uncollected essays and a series of seminars delivered at Bennington in 1971, Greenberg provides his most expansive statement of his views on taste and quality in art, arguing for an esthetic that flies in the face of current art world fashions. Greenberg insists despite the attempts from Marcel Duchamp onwards to escape the jurisdiction of taste by producing an art so disjunctive that it cannot be judged that taste is inexorable. He argues that standards of quality in art, the artist's responsibility to seek out the hardest demands of a medium, and the critic's responsibility to discriminate, are essential conditions for great art. The obsession with innovation the epidemic of newness leads, in Greenbergs view, to the boringness of so much avant garde art. He discusses the interplay of expectation and surprise in aesthetic experience, and the exalted consciousness produced by great art. Homemade Esthetics allows us particularly in the transcribed seminar sessions, never before published to watch the critics mind at work, defending (and at times reconsidering) his theories. His views, often controversial, are the record of a lifetime of looking at and thinking about art as intensely as anyone ever has.
 

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Contents

The Bennington College Seminars April 622 1971
77
Appendix
196
Further Reading
204

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Page xvi - The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of the characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself— not in order to subvert it, but to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.
Page xvi - It quickly emerged that the unique and proper area of competence of each art coincided with all that was unique to the nature of its medium.
Page xvi - Purity" meant self-definition, and the enterprise of self-criticism in the arts became one of self-definition with a vengeance.

About the author (2000)

Clement Greenberg's books include Art and Culture and four volumes of collected essays and criticism. Charles T. Harrison of the Open University, co editor of Art in Theory 1900 1990 and one of the leading writers on modernism, has written an introduction placing Homemade Esthetics in the context of Greenbergs work and the evolution of 20th century critism.

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