I have a hard time respecting you if you can’t carry on a conversation without such rhetoric. Curious how you’d see the Gurlesque, for instance, vis a vis such art, already fairly well assimilated, canonized, and so on, as it is. One can still see in the suburbs of Rome more modernistic apartments than almost anywhere else in the world. Avant-garde does not consist of accidental beauty but beauty in control of the incontrollable. I agree, it’s not the Peter Burger idea of avant-garde as a critique of the institutions of art — what Greenberg has in mind is abstract expressionism in painting, mostly. Leave a Reply Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment.

The former is a much more important reference point for much of our post-avant, so worth mentioning him in this context! The idea that “authorial experimentation” is the only thing that matters is an idea I’ve read in academic writings and heard said at an academic conference. Capitalism in decline finds that whatever of quality it is still capable of producing becomes almost invariably a threat to its own existence. And at such moments in history the masses are able to feel wonder and admiration for the culture, on no matter how high a plane, of its masters. This is possible only under democratic socialism where quality, cooperation, freedom of thought and action, and social criticism can flourish. Thus, the peasant is more likely seduced by the technique of convincing representation [ illusionism ], the self-evident narrative , and the heightened drama of the scene depicted. Maybe there’s a better term.

Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” Analysis | ART

Do you think because there was an MLA panel of your fake Japanese poet project, the book has lost its point, its value? But not in the way I read it.

No doubt a failure on my part: When tradition is challenged in a society, the artistic response has historically been to ossify by means of “academicism” the fine points of style and form, theme and variation. My primary interest in “kitsch” is not in some kind of stable notion of kitsch. The modern western response to clment crisis of avqnt in the modern age gave birth to a new approach — the avant-garde.


clement greenberg avant garde and kitsch essay

Garxe is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself. Thus the masses could still find in the art of their masters objects of admiration and wonder.

Because “there is no disconnectivity between art grewnberg life”. Capitalism in decline finds that whatever of quality it is still capable of producing becomes almost invariably a threat to its own existence. Haven’t had time to look for it yet, but not that big a deal, I guess. Is this problem endemic to avant-garde practice, or are there other factors involved?

clement greenberg avant garde and kitsch essay

Music, Aristotle said curiously enough, is the most imitative and vivid of all arts because it imitates its original — the state of the soul — with the greatest immediacy. I think for example Nathalie Djurberg and Kara Walker engage with a kind of kitsch in a way that is very different from say Hirst or whoever.

Statius, mandarin verse, Roman sculpture, Beaux-Arts painting, neo-republican architecture. So I guess I agree with you, Johannes, on this. However, if it were easier to define poetry, modern poetry would be much more “pure” and “abstract.

Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” Analysis

Therefore, avant-garde is associated with and funded by the bourgeois. Even then, however, the resentment the common man may feel is silenced by the awe in which he stands of the patrons of this art.

By not restraining their image-production, kitsch works “spares” the audience from having to engage with too much “effort. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times. And since art and literature are imitations [of what? I went through a few years when I couldn’t get my writing very similar to what it is now published in any journals, couldn’t get a teaching job, could pay a bum to read mypoems, had to work some exhausting blue collar jobs. It becomes difficult to assume anything.


Nevertheless, if the masses were conceivably to ask for avant-garde art and literature, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin would not hesitate long in attempting to satisfy such a demand. Naturally, machine-made kitsch can undersell the native handmade article, and the prestige of the West also helps; but why is kitsch a so much more profitable export article than Rembrandt? Eliot said something to the same effect in accounting for the shortcomings of English Romantic poetry.

Avant-garde best illustrates this era of ambiguity because it is the search of a new original.

Moreover, as Macdonald himself points out, around when the Soviet regime was encouraging avant- garde cinema, the Russian masses continued to prefer Hollywood movies. It’s a very nebulous term.

Avant-Garde and Kitsch

It is time we looked into its whys and wherefores. I was a real outsider. What the acceptance of the isolation of the Russian Revolution forces Stalin to do, Hitler is compelled to do by his acceptance of the contradictions sssay capitalism and his efforts to grenberg them.

Popular culture is characterized by insensitivity to “the values of genuine culture”. In point of fact, that is precisely what happened to the Soviet avant-garde which was deemed inarticulate. But it’s just a distillation, really, of what you’ve been arguing in posts on the Gurlesque.