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To hell with the lyrics

Peter Campbell, 25 March 1993

The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell 
edited by Stephanie Terenzio.
Oxford, 325 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 19 507700 8
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... something much deeper and blacker, that we all respected’. In an obituary of the sculptor David Smith he describes the good times they had and adds: ‘we both knew damned well the black abyss in each of us that the sun and the daughters’ skin and the bounty and the drink could alleviate but not begin to fill, a certain kind, I suppose of ...

In a Dark Mode

Lawrence Rainey: Grim Modernism, 20 January 2000

Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism 
by T.J. Clark.
Yale, 451 pp., £30, April 1999, 0 300 07532 4
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... debates that opened up in Picasso’s day and they recur in the classical formulations of Clement Greenberg. But their most systematic exponent in recent years has been Yve-Alain Bois, who has argued that Picasso’s development from 1907 to 1913 represents a coherent and unified evolution, marching briskly forward from an interest in African masks around ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... Israeli officials, for a man detained as a suspect in the killings of two Palestinians. The man, David Axelrod, is not related to Leon Trotsky. A man with the same name, who is a descendant of Trotsky, was questioned briefly by the police in a case of mistaken identity. The arcane character of this item, which was at the top of that day’s menu, might make ...

Many Andies

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 October 1997

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 35 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2319 4
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Style, Style, Style 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 30 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2320 8
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Who is Andy Warhol? 
edited by Colin MacCabe, Mark Francis and Peter Wollen.
BFI, 162 pp., £40, May 1997, 9780851705880
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: Billy Name’s Photographs of Andy Warhol’s Factory 
by Billy Name.
frieze, 144 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 9527414 1 5
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The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night 
by Anthony Haden-Guest.
Morrow, 404 pp., $25, April 1996, 9780688141516
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... The Factory, and the role he came to assume there as Svengali-producer and artist-voyeur. Clement Greenberg ‘saw painting as an activity which existed within the limits of its own world, self-validated and self-contained’, says Wollen. Warhol, more than anyone else, broke open this enclosed world of ‘ambitious art’, a world in which art had become a ...

Jews’ Harps

Gabriel Josipovici, 4 February 1982

Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse 
by T. Carmi.
Penguin, 608 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 14 042197 1
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... Israeli poet), Yehuda Amichai, Leah Goldberg, Moshe Dor, Shlomo Viner, Dahlia Ravikovitch and David Vogel; Oxford have published Amichai and Carcanet Pagis; Tony Rudolf and Howard Schwarz have recently edited an enormous volume of modern Jewish poetry, which includes a 300-page section on Hebrew poetry.* All these, of course, are in English only. But some ...

Makeshiftness

Barry Schwabsky: Who is Menzel?, 17 April 2003

Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment in 19th-Century Berlin 
by Michael Fried.
Yale, 313 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 300 09219 9
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... art criticism when Fried was a young man, Harold Rosenberg and Fried’s own mentor Clement Greenberg, started out wanting to be all-round literati before becoming specialists in the fine arts; but Fried, who was one of the first wave of art critics to have a PhD in art history, seems to have been the only one of that group to have been tempted, however ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... as Shaw and Mencken and Edmund Wilson were interested, and as his colleagues at the Nation Clement Greenberg and B.H. Haggin were. He does not drive home an argument and avoids underlining the implications of a perception. Rather, he will broadly sketch a chosen compliment, travesty, explosive summary or elaboration. The one-liners come as fast and sure as ...

Top Brands Today

Nicholas Penny: The Art World, 14 December 2017

The Auctioneer: A Memoir of Great Art, Legendary Collectors and Record-Breaking Auctions 
by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem.
Allen and Unwin, 312 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 1 76011 350 6
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Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and Its Dealers 
by Philip Hook.
Profile, 282 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78125 570 4
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Donald Judd: Writings 
edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray.
David Zwirner, 1054 pp., £28, November 2016, 978 1 941701 35 5
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... point, of an artist’s work and then describing the impression that art makes on an open mind. (David Sylvester was especially good at this.) It has seldom generated a productive debate because it tends to be defensive, but also because there is such a fear of encouraging philistinism or of being mistaken for a philistine. Artists themselves have not always ...

Look Me in the Eye

Julian Bell: Art and the Brain, 8 October 2009

Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity and the Quest for Human Happiness 
by Semir Zeki.
Wiley-Blackwell, 234 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 4051 8557 8
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Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki 
by John Onians.
Yale, 225 pp., £18.99, February 2008, 978 0 300 12677 8
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Echo Objects: The Cognitive Work of Images 
by Barbara Maria Stafford.
Chicago, 281 pp., £20.50, November 2008, 978 0 226 77052 9
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... and natural history within a ‘big history’ such as those outlined by the American writers David Christian and Cynthia Stokes Brown – or, in the terminology of Edward O. Wilson, in a ‘consilience’, a convergence of intellectual disciplines, humanities with science. Ultimately, all teaching in the fine arts department pays a kind of homage to ...

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

... about Clinton are always the same joke. ‘When he comes to a fork in the road,’ writes Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ‘he takes it.’ He wants to have his dozen Big Macs and eat them too. And so forth. (I myself have contributed a one-liner: ‘Why did Bill Clinton cross the road? Because he wanted to get to the middle.’) In ...

Thatcher’s Artists

Peter Wollen, 30 October 1997

Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection 
by Norman Rosenthal.
Thames and Hudson, 222 pp., £29.95, September 1997, 0 500 23752 2
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... be justified by reference back to Bosch or Goya, or the D’Este court or even to Francis Bacon or David Hockney. It stands on its own feet as a marker of the tension felt in the art world between the legacy of a lost Modernism and the ascendant culture of the spectacle, the transformed and triumphal forces of everything which Clement ...

Which red is the real red?

Hal Foster, 2 December 2021

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror 
Whitney Museum of American Art/Philadelphia Museum of Art, until 13 February 2022Show More
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... dominated as it then was by the formalist model of ‘modernist painting’ used by Clement Greenberg to champion Abstract Expressionism, and deftly deflected its discourse towards what Leo Steinberg would term ‘other criteria’. ‘The subjects which Jasper Johns chose to paint up to 1958,’ Steinberg wrote in ‘Jasper Johns: The First Seven Years ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... Upper West Side or Greenwich Village where Dwight Macdonald, Alfred Kazin, Philip Rahv, Clement Greenberg and a supporting cast of kibitzers engaged in rhetorical (and, in Greenberg’s case, actual) fisticuffs. Like many men of ideas with impossibly high standards of intellectual probity, they could also be snarly little ...

Open in a Scream

Colm Tóibín, 4 March 2021

Francis Bacon: Revelations 
by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.
William Collins, 869 pp., £30, January, 978 0 00 729841 9
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... to be done to explain that his paintings were not just garish expressions of his own neuroses. David Sylvester and Michel Leiris, who both wrote perceptively about his work, emerged as friends and champions. As early as 1951, Sylvester asserted that Bacon was ‘the major English artist of his time’. He soon had access to Bacon’s studio and saw ...

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