The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World, 1987-2005

The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World, 1987-2005

by Hilton Kramer


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Widely acknowledged as the most authoritative art critic of his generation, Hilton Kramer advanced his comments and judgments largely in the form of essays and short pieces. Thus this first collection of his work to appear in twenty years is a signal event for the art world and for criticism generally.

The Triumph of Modernism not only traces the vicissitudes of the art scene but diagnoses the state of modernism and its vital legacy in the postmodern world. Mr. Kramer bracingly updates his incisive critique of the artists, critics, institutions, and movements that have formed the basis for modern art. Appearing for the first time in greatly expanded form is his consideration of the foundations of modern abstract painting and the future of abstraction.

The aesthetic intelligence that Mr. Kramer brings to bear on certain tired assumptions about modernism—many of them derived from methodologies and politics that have little to do with art—helps rescue the artwork itself and its appreciation from the very institutions, such as the art museum and the academy, that purport to foster it.

Always clear-eyed and vastly illuminating, Hilton Kramer’s art criticism remains among the very finest written in the past hundred years. Readers of The Triumph of Modernism will be treated to an exhilarating experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442223219
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/09/2013
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Hilton Kramer was co-editor and co-publisher of The New Criterion, which he founded in 1982. He had also been editor of Arts Magazine, art critic for The Nation, chief art critic for the New York Times, and art critic for the New York Observer. His other books include The Twilight of the Intellectuals, The Age of the Avant-Garde, and The Revenge of the Philistines. He died in 2012.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

I Modernism and Abstraction

Kandinsky and the Birth of Abstraction 5

Mondrian and Mysticism: "My Long Search Is Over" 13

Art, Revolution, and Kazimir Malevich 29

Abstraction and Utopia 34

Abstraction in America: The First Generation 53

Was Rothko an Abstract Painter? 65

Jackson Pollock and the New York School 72

II Modernism and Its Critics

Clement Greenberg in the Forties 93

Clement Greenberg and the Cold War 103

T.J. Clark and the Marxist Critique of Modern Painting 113

Rembrandt as Warhol: Svetlana Alpers's "Enterprise" 125

III Modernism and After


Richard Serra at MOMA 137

The Death of Andy Warhol 144

How Good Was Gauguin? 149

John Szarkowski's "History of Photographic Pictures" 155

Reflections on Matisse 161

Philip Johnson's Brilliant Career 168

Duchamp and His Legacy 185

Leger's Modernism 192

Bonnard and "the Stupidities" 199

A Gallery Chronicle

Mapplethorpe at the Whitney: Big, Glossy, Offensive 207

Kiefer at MOMA 210

Frankenthaler at the Whitney 213

The Citadel of Modernism Falls to Deconstructivists 218

Fairfield Porter, a Master Long Ignored 221

Hoving's Biteless Barking 225

A Wretched Nauman Show 230

How Long Will Curators Ignore the Great Nerdrum? 232

Best-kept Secret in Art? Stettheimer 235

Reintroducing Nadelman 238

Alex Katz Blossoms 241

Welcome, Professor Forge 243

The Somber Brilliance of Braque's Late Work 246

Richard Diebenkorn at the Whitney 249

Arthur Dove at the Phillips Collection 252

Richard Pousette-Dart at the Met 255

Gustave Courbet at Salander-O'Reilly 258

Jinny and Bagley Wright Collection at the Seattle Art Museum 260

Honore Daumier at the Phillips Collection 264

Thomas Eakins at the Philadelphia Museum 266

The Thaw Collection at the Met and the Morgan Gallery 269

Lois Dodd at Alexandre Gallery 272

Christopher Wilmarth at the Fogg Museum 274

Max Beckmann at MOMA 276

Manet at the Art Institute of Chicago 278

The Matisse Collection at the Met 280

John Walker at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art 282

R. B. Kitaj at Marlborough Gallery 284

Marvin Bileck and Emily Nelligan at Alexandre Gallery 286

Oscar Bluemner at the Whitney 288

IV Modernism and Its Institutions

Modernism and Its Institutions 293

Has Success Spoiled the Art Museum? 308

Tate Modern Inside and Out: The Museum as Culture Mall 320

The Man Who Created MOMA 328

Does Abstract Art Have a Future? 338

Index 345

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