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Warhol’s Respectability

Nicholas Penny, 19 March 1987

The Revenge of the Philistines 
by Hilton Kramer.
Secker, 445 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 436 23687 7
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Gilbert and George 
by Carter Ratcliff.
Thames and Hudson, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 500 27443 6
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British Art in the 20th Century 
edited by Susan Compton.
Prestel-Verlag (Munich), 460 pp., £16.90, January 1987, 3 7913 0798 3
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... In February 1976 Hilton Kramer gave his approval to Philip Pearlstein’s ‘remorseless articulation of the authentic’. In November of the following year he alerted his readers to the absence, in the art of David Hockney, of ‘the spiritual quest at the heart of modernism’. Several years later, in June 1981, he gave warning that the stained canvases of Morris Louis, the leading member of the ‘Washington Colour School’, did not represent the breakthrough that other critics had announced ...

In a flattened world

Richard Rorty, 8 April 1993

The Ethics of Authenticity 
by Charles Taylor.
Harvard, 142 pp., £13.95, November 1992, 0 674 26863 6
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... many American campuses, though it is neither so widespread nor so unchallenged as Camille Paglia, Hilton Kramer, Thomas Sowell and other viewers-with-alarm suggest. One of its products is the kind of wildly inconsistent rhetoric dissected by David Bromwich in Politics by Other Means: the insistence that you are only an authentic black if you identify ...

Tomorrow is here again

Anne Wagner: The First Pop Age, 11 October 2012

The First Pop Age 
by Hal Foster.
Princeton, 338 pp., £20.95, October 2011, 978 0 691 15138 0
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... rather than the anaesthetics it was initially thought to bring about. ‘Pop Art,’ the critic Hilton Kramer complained in 1962, ‘does not tell us what it feels like to be living through the present moment of civilisation – it is merely part of the evidence of that civilisation.’ ‘What is Pop art?’ G.R. Swenson asked in 1963. He pressed Andy ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... the Tate – defending, Michael Craig-Martin, leading light at Goldsmiths’ College; prosecuting, Hilton Kramer, editor of the New Criterion (it’s telling that there was no obvious British champion on this side). It was made a condition that the speakers should not address each other. Afterwards I went to look at Rachel Whiteread’s House by ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... just a space for a queer sensibility, but new life for the sensibility of superiority. In 1982, Hilton Kramer started a conservative pro-Modernist journal with the deferential title the New Criterion. Kramer was an art critic from the third-generation New York intellectual milieu; he had been writing exhibition ...

In the Wilderness

W.J.T. Mitchell, 8 April 1993

Culture and Imperialism 
by Edward Said.
Chatto, 444 pp., £20, February 1993, 0 7011 3808 4
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... engagement with them. Instead he settles for a rhetoric that sounds more like Lynne Cheney or Hilton Kramer than himself. The received idea that there are no more great public intellectuals, that academic professionalism has destroyed the critical vocation, is belied by a host of contemporary figures and movements, from Foucault to feminism, many of ...

Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... the show was a scandal. Many saw it as a betrayal, not only of abstract art but of high culture. Hilton Kramer in the New York Times doubted the authenticity of Guston’s clunky comic-strip images – ‘A mandarin pretending to be a stumblebum’ was the notorious title of his review. Guston was no stranger to doubts of this kind himself. Obsessed ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... embattlement is palpable in a recent anthology of articles from the New Criterion, whose editor, Hilton Kramer, gazes back on the founding of the magazine in 1982: The ‘long march through the institutions’ that had been promised by the radicals of the 1960s was nearing its completion. In the universities, in our leading arts institutions, in the ...

I was the Left Opposition

Stuart Middleton: Max Eastman, 22 March 2018

Max Eastman: A Life 
by Christoph Irmscher.
Yale, 434 pp., £35, August 2017, 978 0 300 22256 2
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... American radicalism​ , the art critic Hilton Kramer claimed in a review of Max Eastman’s autobiography in 1965, produced ‘not an intellectual tradition that illuminates current problems but a collection of case histories’, of which Eastman’s is ‘in some respects the most dismaying’. It isn’t difficult to see what he meant ...

Geraniums and the River

Nicholas Penny, 20 March 1986

The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers 
by T.J. Clark.
Thames and Hudson, 338 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 23417 5
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Cellini 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Macmillan, 324 pp., £85, October 1985, 0 333 40485 8
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Alessandro Algardi 
by Jennifer Montagu.
Yale in association with the J. Paul Getty Trust, 487 pp., £65, May 1985, 0 300 03173 4
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... and critics wish to believe. The New Criterion greeted this book with a pious funeral address by Hilton Kramer on the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University where Clark works. The Fogg, according to Kramer, once enjoyed a ‘high reputation among the cognoscenti of the art world as a citadel of humanistic scholarship ...

High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

The British Constitution Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 289 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 47994 2
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Constitutional Reform 
by Robert Brazier.
Oxford, 172 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 876257 7
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Anatomy of Thatcherism 
by Shirley Letwin.
Fontana, 364 pp., £6.99, October 1992, 0 00 686243 8
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... feature the talents of American neo-conservatism – Alan Bloom, Harvey Mansfield, Joseph Epstein, Hilton Kramer, Charles Murray, Paul Craig Roberts, Irving Kristol, even such names for the connoisseur as Richard Cornuelle – they are among the fruits of a mutually beneficial association. For on the one side, there are limits to local supply – the ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 17 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... to one of [the Podhoretzes’] parties when they lived on the Upper West Side,’ the art critic Hilton Kramer recalled, ‘to see the look on Norman’s face the moment Norman Mailer arrived was to me a profound embarrassment.’ But Podhoretz was more than a fan boy. He was also a dependable, standup guy. It was Podhoretz whom he leaned on for support ...

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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... Ghost, hers an oracular hooga-booga. The objections that Howe, Rahv, John Simon, the art critic Hilton Kramer and other keepers of the scrolls lodged against her were as much about the 1960s as they were about her, for no one in the Family (as Norman Podhoretz, a former Partisan Review-er, dubbed them) personified the 1960s more than Sontag, who would ...

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