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Greenberg: Modernism - Sharecom

We can see then that although from one point of view the personalphilistinism of Hitler and Stalin is not accidental to the rolesthey play, from another point of view it is only an incidentallycontributory factor in determining the cultural policies of theirrespective regimes. Their personal philistinism simply adds brutalityand double-darkness to policies they would be forced to supportanyhow by the pressure of all their other policies -- even werethey, personally, devotees of avant-garde culture. What the acceptanceof the isolation of the Russian Revolution forces Stalin to do,Hitler is compelled to do by his acceptance of the contradictionsof capitalism and his efforts to freeze them. As for Mussolini-- his case is a perfect example of the of a realist in these matters. For years he bent a benevolenteye on the Futurists and built modernistic railroad stations andgovernment-owned apartment houses. One can still see in the suburbsof Rome more modernistic apartments than almost anywhere elsein the world. Perhaps Fascism wanted to show its up-to-dateness,to conceal the fact that it was a retrogression; perhaps it wantedto conform to the tastes of the wealthy elite it served. At anyrate Mussolini seems to have realized lately that it would bemore useful to him to please the cultural tastes of the Italianmasses than those of their masters. The masses must be providedwith objects of admiration and wonder; the latter can dispensewith them. And so we find Mussolini announcing a "new Imperialstyle." Marinetti, Chirico, ., are sent intothe outer darkness, and the new railroad station in Rome willnot be modernistic. That Mussolini was late in coming to thisonly illustrates again the relative hesitance with which ItalianFascism has drawn the necessary implications of its role.

William Dobell Memorial Lecture, Sydney, Australia, Oct 31, 1979 Arts 54, No.6 (February 1980)

But to return to postmodern. A friend and colleague had beento a symposium about postmodern last spring. I asked him how theterm had gotten defined at that symposium. As art, he answered,that was no longer self-critical. I felt a pang. I myself hadwritten twenty years ago that self-criticism was a distinguishingtrait of Modernist art. My friend's answer made me realize asI hadn't before how inadequate that was as a conveying definitionof Modernism or the modern. (That I hadn't the presence of mindto ask my friend just how self-critical art could be told fromart that wasn't self-critical was only incidental. We both understood,in any case, that it hadn't to do with the difference betweenabstract and figurative, just as we also understood that the modernwasn't confined to particular styles, modes, or directions ofart.)

pomo-generator - Communications From Elsewhere

If the definition of Modernism or the modern that I now offerhas any validity, then the crucial word in "postmodernism"becomes "post." The real, the only real, question becomeswhat it is that's come after and superseded the modern; again,not in a temporal sense, but in a style-historical one. But it'sno use, as I said in the beginning, asking the critics and journalistswho talk "postmodern" (which includes my friend); theydisagree too much among themselves and resort too much to cloudygeneralizations. And anyhow there's nobody among them whose eyeI trust.

So I come at last to what I offer as an embracing and perdurabledefinition of Modernism: that it consists in the continuing endeavorto stem the decline of aesthetic standards threatened by the relativedemocratization of culture under industrialism; that the overridingand innermost logic of Modernism is to maintain the levels ofthe past in the face of an opposition that hadn't been presentin the past. Thus the whole enterprise of Modernism, for all itsoutward aspects, can be seen as backward-looking. That seems paradoxical,but reality is shot through with paradox, is practically constitutedby it.

Modernism: The Roots of Modernism - Art History …

These postmodern writers mingle and juxtapose realistic events with fantastic ones, or they experiment with shifts in time and setting, "labyrinthine narratives and plots" and "arcane erudition" (135), and often they combine myths and fairy stories with gritty Hemingway-esque detail.

There are reasons and reasons here. One possible reason isthe return to the foreground of figurative or representationalpictorial art. But there's been enough precedent, since De Chiricoand surrealism and neoromanticism, for including figurative artin the modern. There have to be other, less obvious, and at thesame time more general reasons for the currency of postmodernin talk about recent painting and sculpture. All the more becauseno critic or journalist I'm aware of who makes free with postmodernpoints to any specific body of work he or she feels really confidentin calling that.

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