This assignment focuses on Modern Art as Self-Critical. There is also summarizing of  Clement Greenberg’s argument.What can you get rid of and still have “poetry”? Music? Film?

Modern Art as Self-Critical-summarizing Clement Greenberg’s argument

Modern Art as Self-Critical and the Shock of the New Modern art contains so many different and contradictory tendencies that it is often difficult to see what it all has in common. But one of the things that seems to tie it all together is a reflection on the very conditions of art and art making. This is famously described by Clement Greenberg: “The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence. Kant used logic to establish the limits of logic, and while he withdrew much from its old jurisdiction, logic was left all the more secure in what there remained to it.” Greenberg went on to focus on the idea of “medium.”

Modern Art as Self-Critical-summarizing Clement Greenberg’s argument

Modern art was not just a critical examination of its own conditions, but a critical examination of medium in particular. Each medium was engaged in experimenting with what is and is not necessary to remain what it is: what can you get rid of and still have a “painting”? What can you get rid of and still have “poetry”? Music? Film? And, once you have purified each medium, how can you explore the potential that is left over? This strikes me as a good starting point for understanding modern art, but it also seems too narrow, too programmatic. It doesn’t engage with the chaos that is modern art. And it doesn’t engage with some of the more philosophical or political dimensions to the art. Modernism isn’t just about making formal progress, but also about creating the “shock of the new.” 

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