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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mapping of the essay by Sana Shamim

Sana shamim
MEL 132 Western Aesthetics
July 15,2010

Modernist Painting by Clement Greenberg

Paragraph 1: Identification of Modernism
Modernism - art- literature- culture- historical novelty- self-critical tendency began with Kant- first real modernist

Paragraph 2: Criticizing the discipline in order to entrench it
Essence of Modernism- use of the characteristic methods of a discipline- criticize the discipline itself- entrench it- Kant used logic in order to establish limits of logic- make it more secure

Paragraph 3: Demands of self-criticism
Modernism- self-criticism- grows out of enlightenment which criticized from the outside- Kantian self-criticism first appeared in philosophy- it was called on to interpret areas far from philosophy

Paragraph 4: Assimilation of religion and art
Religion could not avail Kantian criticism- arts were denied serious tasks by the enlightenment- it was assimilated to entertainment- it had to prove that the experience provided was valuable in its own right

Paragraph 5: individual uniqueness
Each art exhibited effects which was unique and irreducible- exclusive to itself- it would narrow the area of competence but make its possession of the area more certain

Paragraph 6: self-criticism lead to self-definition
Competence of each art coincided with its medium- self-criticism eliminated any effect borrowed from or by the medium of any other art- art was rendered ‘pure’- guarantee of its standards of quality- leading to independence and self- criticism

Paragraph 7: medium of painting called attention to art in Modernism
Realistic, naturalistic art- dissembled the medium- medium of painting seen as negative factors by the Old Masters- Modernism regarded these as positive factors- Manet’s – first Modernist pictures- declared flat surfaces on which they were painted- Impressionist- abjured underpainting and glazes- brought attention to the colours used- made of paint from tubes or pots- C├ęzanne sacrificed correctness- fit his drawings and designs- to the rectangular shape of the canvas

Paragraph 8: Modernist painting oriented itself to flatness as it did to nothing else
Stressing of the ineluctable flatness of the surface- more fundamental- by which pictorial art criticized- defined itself under Modernism- enclosing shape of the picture – shared with theatre- colour shared with theatre and sculpture- flatness- condition painting shared with no other art- Modernist painting oriented itself to flatness

Paragraph 9: One sees Modernist picture as a picture first
The Old Masters sensed- necessity to preserve- integrity of the plane- endured presence of flatness underneath- above the most vivid illusion of three-dimensional space- Modernists reversed the terms- made aware of what the flatness contains- one sees a Modernist picture as a picture first- success of self-criticism

Paragraph 10: Modernist painting is abstract
Modernist painting- abandoned space that recognizable objects can inhabit- representation or illustration- does not attain uniqueness of pictorial art- all recognizable entities exist in three-dimensional space- barest suggestion- call up associations of that kind of space- by doing so alienated pictorial space from- literal two-dimensionality- guarantee of painting’s independence- three-dimensionality is the province of sculpture- achieve autonomy- divest itself of everything it might share with the sculpture- hence, painting made itself abstract

Paragraph 11: Modernist painting conforms to tradition by its anti-sculptural painting
Modernist painting- firmly attached to tradition- resistance to sculptural- greatest feats of the Western painting- rid itself of the sculptural- David- eighteenth century- tried to revive sculptural painting- to save pictorial art from the decorative flattening out- emphasis on colour seemed to induce- yet the strength of David’s own informal pictures is colour- by nineteenth century all ambitious painting converged in an anti-sculptural direction

Paragraph 12: optical experience
Manet and the Impressionists- question stopped being defined as- colour versus drawing- turned into optical experience against optical experience as revised by tactile associations- in the name of purely and literally optical- not colour- impressionists set themselves to undermining shading and modeling and everything else in painting that seemed to connote the sculptural- Cezanne and the cubists- reacted against impressionism- eventuated in a kind of painting flatterer than anything in western art- could hardly contain recognizable images

Paragraph 13: revision and re-revision of the norms of modernist paintings
Norm of the picture’s enclosing shape or frame loosened- tightened, isolated- by successive generations of modernist painters- norms of finish and paint texture- of value and colour contrast- revised and re-revised in order to exhibit them more clearly as norms- by being exhibited- tested for their indispensability- radical simplification to be seen in the latest abstract painting- radical complications also seen

Paragraph 14: The essential norms or conventions of painting are at the same time the limiting conditions with which a picture must comply in order to be experienced as a picture.
The more closely the norms of a discipline become defined- less freedom they permit in many directions- essential norms of painting are- limiting conditions with which a picture must comply in order to be experienced as a picture- the further back these limits are pushed- more explicitly they have to be observed- criss-cross black lines and coloured rectangles of a Mondrian painting- impose- a regulating norm with a new force and completeness by echoing that shape so closely- far from incurring the danger of arbitrariness Mondrian’s art proves- almost too disciplined- too tradition and convention bound in certain respects- more conservative in its colour- subservience to the frame- than the last paintings of Monet

Paragraph 15: Modernist painting must permit optical illusion
Modernist painting can never be an absolute flatness- picture plane- permit optical illusion- first mark made on canvas destroys its literal and utter flatness- artists like Mondrian suggest a kind of third dimension- Old Masters created an illusion of space- imagine oneself walking into- illusion created by the modernist painter can only be seen into- can be traveled through- literally or figuratively- only with the eye

Paragraph 16: Kantian self-criticism has found its fullest expression in science rather than in philosophy
Impressionists- neo-impressionists- were not altogether misguided when they flirted with science- Kantian self-criticism- found its fullest expression in science rather than philosophy- visual art should confine itself exclusively- to visual experience- make no reference to anything given in any other order of experience- justification lies in scientific consistency

Paragraph 17: The convergence of arts and science is a mere accident.
Science method asks- situation be resolved in – same terms- in which presented- this kind of consistency promises nothing in the was of aesthetic quality- best art of the last seventy or eighty years approaches closer to such consistency- art- its convergence with science happens to be a mere accident- neither art nor science assures the other of anything more than it ever did- convergence shows- degree to which Modernist art belongs to the same specific cultural tendency as modern science- highest significance as a historical fact

Paragraph 18: The immediate aim of a modernist is personal before anything else.
Modernist art- spontaneous and largely subliminal- question of practice- never a topic of theory- masters of modernism have no more fixed idea about art than Corot did- immediate aim of Modernists was and remains personal- truth and success of their work remains personal before anything else- decades of personal paintings reveal- general self-critical tendency of Modernist painting- no artist was or yet is, aware of it- nor could any artist work freely in awareness of it

Paragraph 19: The limiting conditions of art are altogether human conditions.
Modernism has never meant- a break with the past- may mean a devolution, an unraveling of tradition- also means its further evolution- Modernist art continues the past without a gap- making of pictures- controlled- Paleolithic painter- disregard norm of the frame- treat the surface in a literally sculptural way- limits and surface arbitrarily given by nature- the deliberate creating or choosing of a flat surface- deliberate circumscribing and limiting of it- Modernist painting harps on this deliberateness- that the limiting conditions of art are altogether human conditions

Paragraph 20: Modernist art puts theory into practice
Modernist art does not offer theoretical demonstrations- it happens to convert theoretical dimensions-it happens to convert theoretical possibilities into empirical ones- tests many theories about art for their relevance- certain factors assumed essential- Modernist painting has been able to dispense with- yet offers the experience of art in all its essentials- Modernism has shown- past did appreciate these masters justly- often gave wrong or irrelevant reasons for doing so

Paragraph 21: Art and Journalism
Most things written about Modernist art- belong to journalism- rather than to criticism or art history- each new modern art is expected to break away from the traditional- faces failure- Modernist art takes place in intelligible continuity of taste and tradition

Paragraph 22: Art is continuity
Art is continuity- lack of past would lead to lack of both substance and justification

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