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Cotton duck canvas and the gray flannel suit : the material dialectics of American formalism Steiner, Shep 1991

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C O T T O N D U C K C A N V A S A N D T H E G R A Y F L A N N E L SUIT: THE  M A T E R I A L DIALECTICS  OF A M E R I C A N  FORMALISM  By S H E P H E R D F. S T E I N E R B . A . , The University of Alberta, 1985  A THESIS SUBMITTED I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F THE REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Fine Arts)  W e accept this thesis as to the  required  conforming  standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A April (g>  1991  Shepherd F . Steiner,  1991  In  presenting  degree  this  thesis  in  at the University of  partial  fulfilment  British Columbia,  freely available for reference and study. copying  of  department  this or  thesis by  for scholarly  his  publication of this thesis  or  her  Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  the  requirements  for  advanced  1^ agree that the Library shall make it  I further agree that permission  purposes  an  may  representatives.  It  be is  granted  for extensive  by the head  understood  that  for financial gain shall not be allowed without  permission.  Date  of  of  copying  my. or  my written  A B S T R A C T  This 1948 o f  thesis is concerned  to  1955,  primarily  m o d e r n i s m  w h i c h  Louis.  The  purpose  v a l u e s  w h i c h  w o u l d  new of  paradigm, change  a b s t r a c t  to  this thesis  p r o m o t e is to  its  formal  culture in  shift in t h e  a  is to  wider  the  trace a n d  from  aesthetic  the  practice  o f  M o r r i s  shift in  cultural  d e v e l o p m e n t  social  and  upon  a  articulation  America  s t a i n p a i n t i n g  t h e e m e r g e n c e  link  f o r m a l  o f  cultural highly  larger  become  the  t h i s  progenesis aestheticized  that  indeed  specifically  Louis'  1954  at that time The  reconcile  and  w h i c h on  project  himself;  culture  their implication  h e  the  a  formal  generative  "Veil"  of  the  prospering of  to the  stylistics  series, is coupled  crucial.  a n d  w e r e  new  order.  anonymity, kind  m o m e n t  properties  related  is  r e s o n a t e d  particular  f e l t t h e  closely a  being  of  of  united potential,  p o s s e s s e d . of  T h i s  stain painting  politics of for  stain  to a distinct  as  Greenberg painting, political  elaborated.  historically specific framework some  negotiations  a vital and  signification  a  these  cultural field of  investigation will focus of  in  s t a i n p a i n t i n g  o p t i m i s m ,  elements  position  q u a l i t i e s o f  color, "openness",  t r a n s l a t e d a s  the  bound  r e s u l t i n  Greenberg's  t h e  to the  Intense to  of  art and  c a n v a s .  h i m ,  linked  period  w o u l d  that  Clement F o r  a  with  inconsistencies  of  this  thesis attempts  in  the  reception  of  to stain  p a i n t i n g - - i t sl a c kt h e r e o f i n t h e e a r l y 1 9 5 0 s , a n d i t s u l t i m a a c c e p t a n c e  a n d  c r i t i c a l a c c l a i m  b y  t h e  ii  1 9 6 0 s .  This  thesis contends  vection  for  involved m  e  a  n  the  in  an  i  n  that the  politics of  formal a  core  affirmative g —  a  n  qualities of  d h  group  project  for  e  e t  n  c  of  stain painting Cold  War  o w  i  d  a  intellectuals  capitalism. o  were  That e  r s  is u  any c  c  e  s  s —  i m p e r s o n a l i t y m i g h t h a v e h a d , g a i n e d r e s o n a n c e o n l y a s t h e o f  t h i s c o r e  investigate k e y  o f  these  i n t e l l e c t u a l s t h e m s e l v e s  g a i n e d  issues  the  p o s i t i o n i n t h e  d e b a t e  h e i g h t e n e d c o n s u m m e r i s m c r u c i a l i s a and  of  modernity  this study o n a n d  probes p o p u l a r  C o l d  W a r  i n  p o w e r .  complexities  c u l t u r e .  I n  a n  t e n s i o n s w h a t  T o and  the  A m e r i c a  o f  e m e r g e s  a s  r e c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l , o f a v a n t g a r d e p r a c itself.  iii  T A B L E O F  C O N T E N T S  A B S T R A C T LIST  OF  i i ILLUSTRATIONS  v  A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T  v i  INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER  1 T h e  13 M i d d l e - C l a s s  G r e e n b e r g ,  s u b u r b i a a n d  R i e s m a n  A n t i - C o m m u n i s m CHAPTER  a n d a n d  T h e  C o n f o r m i t y  2 2  V i t a l C e n t e r  3 3  t h e A C C F  4 3  2 " T h e  50 P l i g h t o f O u r  A v a n t - G a r d e CHAPTER  C u l t u r e "  S t r a t e g i e s a n d  5 4 t h e I n v a l i d a t i o n o f  3  7 4 80  " M a s t e r Kafka:  M a r g i n a l i t y  L e g e r " : E x p r e s s i o n Sources  "'American-Type'  a n d  " I x i o n ' s W h e e l "  for a Particular  Vision  8 8 105  Painting": Veiled Politics and  C u l t u r a l C l o s u r e  1 1 2  C O N C L U S I O N  1 3 1  I L L U S T R A T I O N S  1 3 5  S E L E C T E D  1 4 6  B I B L I O G R A P H Y  iv  L I S T O F  1 .  I L L U S T R A T I O N S  Trellis , 1 9 5 3  M o r r i s L o u i s ,  p . 1 3  2 . M o r r i s L o u i s , Salient , 1 9 5 4 3  .  H  e  l  4  .  J  a  c  5  . M  o  r  e k  n F  r  a  n  k  e  o  n P  o  l  l  o  s r  i  s L  o  u  i  n c  t k  h  p .1 a  l  e  , Number 1, 1  9  , Terrain of Joy, 1  s  , Mountains and Sea  r  9  4 5  9  p  4  p  6 . M o r r i s L o u i s , Spreading , 1 9 5 4  .  p .1 4  7 . M o r r i s L o u i s , Iris , 1 9 5 4 8  .M  o  r  r  i  s L  o  9  . M  o  r  r  i  s L  1  0  M  .  11. Morris  o  r  r  i  u  s L  i  s  , Intrigue , 1  o  u  i  s  o  u  i  s  ,  p .1 9  5  4  p  Atomic Crest , 1  , Longitude , 1  Louis  9  9 5  5  .  1  4  4  4  p p  p. 145.  v  1  2  . .  1 1  A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T I D s s p m g t s a a  am grateful for the oppurtunity of having been a student in the e p a r t m e n t o f F i n e A r t s , a t T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . T h e u p p o r t a n d e n c o u r a g e m e n t o f F a c u l t y m e m b e r s , t h e c a m a r a d e r i e o f t u d e n t s , a n d t h e e x c e l l e n t l i b r a r y f a c i l i t i e sc o m b i n e d t o m a k e m y eriod of study a most enriching one. My special thanks to the only an I call coach, Professor Serge Guilbaut. He was at all times e n e r o u s w i t hh i s a d v i c e , e x a c t i n g i n h i s c r i t i c a l a c u m e n , a n d i n t ransposition of this knowledge I was the benefactor. His unfailing upport and direction remained constant throughout. I also wish to c k n o w l e d g e m y d e b t t o P r o f e s s o r J o h n O ' B r i a n w h o e n c o u r a g e d n d c a r e f u l l y s c r u t i n i z e d e v e r y a s p e c t o f m y w o r k . I would like to thank Alex Alberro and Carolyn Johnston for c r i t i c i z i n g s e c t i o n s o f t h i s t h e s i s a n d a l s o D a v i d H o w a r d w h o s h a r e d h i s k n o w l e d g e o f t h e p e r i o d w i t h m e . A n d f i n a l l y m y t h a n k s t o T u z o , R a c h e l , a n d t h e B a n k o fD o r o t h y .  vi  INTRODUCTION  In  early June of 1954 the Washington D . C artist M o r r i s L o u i s sent 9  rolled  canvases  of his latest  New  York.  It was  Greenberg  1  w o r k to the Pierre M a t i s s e G a l l e r y i n  on the  suggestion of the  that M a t i s s e consider representing  art  critic  Clement  L o u i s . Included among  the paintings , a l l of w h i c h were made by a staining technique, were a  number  presumably the  of L o u i s ' intended  first to  "Veil"  precede  series. the  In  a letter  paintings  dated  to June  Greenberg 6,  1954,  artist writes. Just finished r o l l i n g & wrapping ptgs to go to Matisse. It was the usual struggle w i t h m y n o r m a l doubts re the stuff c o n t i n u a l l y rising & then concluding that they were, after a l l , ptgs I'd done & I'd have to let it stand at that this time. I r e a l i z e I'd gone overboard on the later stuff, none of w h i c h you'd seen. B y your arrangement w i t h me y o u ' l l get to see them & I want that above a l l . A n d this w i l l be the best way to let you k n o w what I'm doing. There are 9 ptgs i n the r o l l w h i c h R'way Express is supposed to come get tomorrow. A l l are about the same large size but i n m y m i n d two o f them are different than the c o n t i n u i t y of s i m p l e pattern & s l o w m o t i o n of the majority. These two are the rougher ones w i t h lots of black & white areas. M a y b e these are lousy enough to interest me now & make me want to explore this further. T h e others I feel I've about done a l l I feel l i k e d o i n g about that episode. F o r a moment I looked at Trellis (fig. 1) and a couple of others you'd seen before. Just couldn't bring m y s e l f to  ^See Diane Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1985), p. 15. And Kenworth Moffett, Morris Louis. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,1979, p.31  2  include them & with all the doubts I ever had about anything I've ever chosen alone I submit this group. 2  Louis'  hesitation  was  not  unfounded.  The majority  paintings he had sent to Matisse , possessed of a "... simple  pattern  & slow motion" , were  not  like  of  the  continuity of  anything  being  produced in New York at that time. Salient  (fig. 2), among them is exemplary of an altogether  technique  employing a method  of staining canvas  stain. In this image an unbroken and  new  with washes  of  continuous field of color is  created by pouring highly diluted hues of Magna acrylic paint from the top edge of a streched canvas. These colors are  allowed  and  very  spread  slowly  downward , soaking into the  to seep  thread-bare  nature of the cotton duck canvas. The effect achieved is one in which the  delicate washes of seeping stain blend and thinly overlap as i f  unaided .  Any explanation of, or inherent meaning in the paintings  seems itself productive  always circumscribed to a redelineation of this simple process.  Perhaps engendered  by  3  it was a  precisely this  seemingly  acute vacuity  of meaning  undisciplined compositional  --  approach  which negated the "rough" handling and signifiers so characteristic of a  then dominant abstract expressionism — which forced Matisse to  Morris Louis, letter to Clement Greenberg, 6 June 1954, Clement Greenberg Correspondence, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Diane Upright thusly notes " He worked with his canvas tacked to a work strecher; variation in the angled placement of the strecher, the tautness or slackness of the canvas, the viscosity and hue of the paint, the amount of paint poured, and the direction of the pour became his creative means". Diane Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc.,1985), p. 16. 2  3  reject the paintings. For three years thereafter in  Greenberg's  apartment,  rolled  they were to remain  and tied. Yet in retrospect  these  paintings of the first "Veil" series are considered, by all concerned, to be among the great masterpieces of American modernism. Indeed by the late 1950s and early 1960s they represented for some the most original and advanced international painting. "Veil" field  Why would Louis' first  series be rejected in 1954 by Matisse and a larger cultural only to be celebrated and acclaimed with the coming of the  1960s?  How could  these first "mature" paintings of one of the  luminaries of the modernist cannon; a powerful example for 1960s color field painting; post-  an integral force in what would later be called  painterly abstraction, remain for  3 years  forgotten  as  the  excessive and blind vision of a suburban painter whose dining room, removed of its carpet and cleared of its furniture, served as a modest studio.  The mysterious circumstances surrounding the "Veils" gain in  cultural credibility and resonance is just one of the riveting subjects of this thesis.  Primarily this thesis is concerned with American art and culture in the early and mid 1950s ; and  more specifically with the emergence  development of stain painting.  abstract  expressionism,  modernism,  began  the  4  In a period of roughly ten years  central  paradigm  of  American  breaking down, ultimately to collapse and  be  I deal specifically with Morris Louis and his first "Veil" series of 1954. For reasons of historical specificity I omit Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski who would together with Louis comprise what Greenberg in 1964 would name "postpainterly abstraction". Of course my exploration of a generative stylistics for stain painting in the early years of the 1950s, preceeding later works by as much as 10 years, is still informing.  4  s u c c e e d e d forms.  b y  t h i s h y b r i d  The  large, color  series  are  particularly  thread  to continue  s t r a i n o f  a b s t r a c t i o n , P o p  stained canvases  important,  of Morris  emphasizing  the modernist  a r t  Louis'  medium  paradigm.  a n d  o t h e r  first "Veil"  and  style  Superseding  as a  abstract  e x p r e s s i o n i s m ,t h ef o r m a l p e c u l i a r i t i e s o f s t a i n p a i f o r The  s o m e ,  t h e  purpose  w h i c h  m o s t of  w o u l d  paradigm  this  thesis  p r o m o t e  for  progenesis  s i g n i f i c a n t is  t h e  to  trace  to  link  its formal  t h e  m o d e r n  shift in  a n d  that is to  change  the  e m e r g e n c e  modernism; of  a r t i c u l a t i o n o f  m o m e n t .  cultural  d e v e l o p m e n t  a wider  o f  social  articulation upon  values a  n e w  and  cultural  the  abstract  c a n v a s . The  principle focus  aesthetic  practice  dominant  stylistics of  of this paper  beginning  in  the  is the  early  shift which 1950s.  abstract expressionism  which  occurs  It had  in  seems  the  gained  its  t e n u o u s a s c e n d e n c y , a s A m e r i c a n v a r i a n t o f t h em o d e r n i garde  in  critical  the  late  force  and  1940s,  w a s  with  s o m e h o w  in  this succeeding  resonance.  a l i e n a t i o n , w h o o l y consistent  had  a n d  the  Its  a n x i e t y  r i d d e n  political and  decade  strident f o r m  dissidence, o f  a m i d s t  t h e  of  the  m o u n t i n g  their  intrinsic  a b s t r a c t i o n ,  cultural temper  a l t o g e t h e r d a t e d  lost  w h e r e a s  late  1940s,  n e w  m o o d  e m b r a c i n g A m e r i c a i n t h ed e c a d e a f t e r m i d - c e n t u r y . Greenberg, m o s t  the  a d v a n c e d  formal  qualities of  a r t i c u l a t i o n o f  h i s t o r i c a l e x p e r i e n c e  w a s  m o s t  Louis' t h i s  stain paintings  A m e r i c a n  m o m e n t ,  were  the w h e r e  a u t h e n t i c a l l y p r e s e r v e d . 5  See Clement Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol. 15 , (June-July, 1953), p. 566. Though the reference is not made specifically to Louis' work or indeed any visual format, I extrapolate upon this very point in chapter 2. 5  F o r C  5 What absolute  lack  1 9 5 7  e v e n  o r  is important of  exposure  1 9 5 8 .  to  and  W h i l e  note  at the  outset  critical success L o u i s  h a d  is stain  in the  c o m p l e t e d  paintings  art world  until  h i s f i r s t  " V e i l "  s e r i e s i n 1 9 5 4 , i t ss u c c e s s w a s e x t r e m e l y l i m i t e d a n d r e g i Those  factors which  d u r i n g  t h e  m y given  e a r l y  a n d  account m i d  for this lack  1 9 5 0 s  w i l l b e  of  success  e x p l o r e d .  and  exclusion  F u n d a m e n t a l  t o  t h e s i s a r e t h e s e e a r l y f o r m a t i v e y e a r s , w h e n a s t y l i s t i c s w a s f genesis.  7  To  pursue  this  aim  Ifirst engage  in  the  critical  Of only the few exhibition reviews on Louis duringl954 and 1955, none make specific reference to the "Veil" series. See Stuart Preston, "Gallery Variety", The New York Times, Sunday, Jan. 17, 1954. James Fitzsimmons "A Critic Picks Some Promising Painters", Art Digest, vol.28, no. 8, 1954, p.10. Leslie Judd Portner's "Art in Washington", Washington Post and Herald Tribune, Washington D.C.June 5, p. E.7. Leslie Judd Portner's "Art in Washington", Washington Post and Herald Tribune, Washington D . C , Oct. 16, p.E7. 1 use the term "stylistics" here very carefully, and in the sense delineated by Mikhail Bakhtin. "Form and content in discourse are one, once we understand that verbal discourse is a social phenomenon — social throughout its entire range and in each and every of its factors, from the sound image to the furthest reaches of abstract meaning. It is this idea that has motivated our emphasis on "the stylistics of genre." The separation of style and language from the question of genre has been largely responsible for a situation in which only individual and period-bound overtones of a style are the privileged subjects of study, while its basic social tone is ignored. The great historical destinies of genres are overshadowed by the petty vicissitudes of stylistic modifications, which in their turn are linked with individual artists and artistic movements. For this reason, stylistics has been deprived of an authentic philosophical and sociological approach to its problems; it has become bogged down in stylistic trivia; it is not able to sense behind the individual and period-bound shifts the great and anonymous destinies of artistic discourse itself. More often than not, stylistics defines itself as a stylistics of "private craftsmanship" and ignores the social life of discourse outside the artist's study, discourse in the open spaces of public squares, streets, cities and villages, of social groups, generations and epochs. Stylistics is concerned not with living discourse but with a histological specimen made from it, with abstract linguistic discourse in the service of an artist's individual creative powers. But these individual and tendentious overtones of style, cut off from the fundamentally social modes in which discourse lives, inevitably come across as flat and abstract in such a formulation and cannot therefore be studied in organic unity with a work's semantic components." M . Bakhtin "Discourse in the Novel" inThe Dialogic 6  7  Imagination, edited by M.Holquist, trans. C.Emerson and M . Holquist (Austin:Univ. of Texas Press, 1981), p. 259.  w r i t i n g s o f C l e m e n t G r e e n b e r g ,t h e c e n t r a l a p o l o g i s t f o r t w h o s e  p o s i t i o n o f f e r s t h e  s u r r o u n d i n g  t h i s  shifting  i n v e s t i g a t i o n ,  a s  Greenberg N e w  t h e  d i p l o m a c y .  n e w  be  h i s  negotiations.  Throughout  t o w a r d  f o r m a l  p i c k e d  M o r r i s  L o u i s  a d v a n c e d , means  linked  e n t r a n c e a s  cultural o f  t h e  w e l l  c e n t r a l  b e  a slow  s e i z e d b e c a u s e  b y t h e y  vastly  t h e  n e w  t h e  a s  1 9 4 8 of  the a n d  international e x p r e s s i o n i s t  s t a i n shifting  p a i n t i n g s of  focus  t r a c k e d w i t h i n h i s w r i t i n g s .  H e l e n  u p o n  i n t o  c o m p l e x  a b s t r a c t t o  o f this  landscape  a r t w a s  w i t h  1950s  d e b a t e s  to  e a r l y  cultural politics of  early  b y  crucial  F r a n k e n t h a l e r  a b s t r a c t e x p r e s s i o n i s m  moment  r e a l i z e d  a s  t o  f r o m  a r e  a modern  to the  the  p o i n t e d  p r e c i s e l y  G r e e n b e r g  w a s  is  E v e n  the  i n t o  u n d e r s t a n d i n g  i n i t i a l  in  the  p r i o r i t i e sc a n  u p  a n  a s s o c i a t e d  v o i c e  d e p a r t u r e s  f e a t u r e s  in  e n t r a n c e  modernism  position  pivotal  m o v e m e n t  f o r m a l  of  h i s p a r t i c u l a r t h e o r y  C l o s e l y  n e w  A n  a b s t r a c t i d i o m .  acentral  to  8  s h i f t .  o f f e r i n g  a r t s c e n e ;  proving  a n d  theory  w e l l  occupied  Y o r k  mature  o f  p e r s p e c t i v e  p a r a d i g m a l  Greenberg's  c o m p l e x i t i e s  k e y  G r e e n b e r g  a n d  a n d  a s  s e l e c t i v e  p u r s u e d  r e s o n a n c e s  larger cultural field and  t h e  to those  b y  p r o g r e s s i v e  r e - a r t i c u l a t e d t h r o u g h  different from  K e y  the  a n d f o r m a l  preceding  one.  c a r r i e d  w e r e  altered political  needs  i m a g e s  s e e k i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , w h i c h a b s t r a c t e x p r practice could  no The  longer terms  incorporate or sustain. of  Greenberg's  formalist criticism assert  the  m e d i u m s p e c i f i c u n i q u e n e s s o f p a i n t i n g ,a s b e i n g g i v e n t o  a n d i n t e n s i t y o f c o l o r , b o t ho f w h i c ha r e s u b o r d i n a t e d t o t h e h i g h See Serge Guilbaut , "How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art",trans. A. Goldhammer,(Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1983). 8  stylistic unity  of  the  work  as  a  whole.  While  the  order  of  aesthetic  e x p e r i e n c e w a s a u t o n o m o u s , t h ei m p l i c a t i o n o f o u t s i d e i the  teleological progression  c a r e f u l l y v e i l e d .  of  modernist  A d v a n c i n g  f r o m  art toward  t h e  g e s t u r e d  formal  a n d  purity  t h i c k l y  is  f o r m e d  " p a i n t e r l i n e s s " o f a b s t r a c t e x p r e s s i o n i s m , G would  seemingly  form  in  the  c o n t r i b u t e them,  "Veil t o  of  reach  a  stage  paintings"  t h e  k e y  and  openness.  investigate  as  the  qualities  e m e r g e n c e  o f  w i t h i n  l i m i t s  t h e  p u r i f i c a t i o n , t h e m u c h  m o r e  climate  n e w  t o t h e  during  Louis'  early  n e w  o f  of  f o r m a l  color  t h i s  in  Louis.  It is these of  a  s u c h  a l t e r e d 1950s;  "Veil"  series  n a t u r e  elaborated  practice,  and  that  success  large  due  to  part  will  w h i c h  p r e c i p i t a t e t h e  be  settled  v a l u e s  broach  c u l t u r e  properties project.  m o d e r n i s m  upon  a n d  was  c o n c e i v e d that  a s  w e  s h a l l  p o l i t i c a l a n d  an  contained  b e n e a t h later  therein.  particular constellation  of  t e l e o l o g i c a l o f  which  ideological  movement's  and  q u a l i t i e s e x e m p l a r y  s e e ,  imperative to  o n  c u l t u r a l  the  s u c h  the  i n t e n t  v e i l e d  n e c e s s i t y o f  will  f o l l o w s  s u r r e p t i t i o u s l y  the  I  Although  i n e x o r a b l y  coupled  work's  facture  n e a t l y  formal  a resonance  these issues I take up  w i t h i n  a n  e l i t e  a n d  i n t e l l e c t u a l s , l o o s e l y Greenberg  formal  the  terminal  This forces m o v e m e n t  t h e i d i o m  w o u l d  upon. To  a n d  focus  a n d  investigation  f o r m a l  G r e e n b e r g  A m e r i c a ' s  that is,  aestheticized  w h y  a s  d i s c o u r s e ,  o f  a  these, stain and  wider f o r  toward  a e s t h e t i c r e c o n c i l i a t i o n o w e s ,  c o n s c i o u s l y  a n d  much  f o r m a l i s t  c o n t i n g e n c y  w o u l d  In  p r e r o g a t i v e s ,  p a r a d i g m  the  is in  its impulsion  was  a  part. The  debates  r a r i f i e d  circulating around g r o u p  o f  art  A m e r i c a n  i d e n t i f i e d w i t h t h e" n e wl i b e r a  intellectual position  represented,  though  participating w a s  in  a  d i s t i n c t f r o m  w h i c h  s e e m s  m o m e n t u m ,  mounting  t h a t s a m e  t o  s o  unsettled period  f o r  broad  power  p o s i t i o n .  f a c t i o n w i t h i n  A s s o c i a t e d  w i t h  t h e  a n d  U t o p i a n  p r o j e c t w h i c h  F. Kennedy's  "new  S u c h a  circulating.  t h o s e kept  e m e r g e d  a s  L i b e r a l i s m D u r i n g  liberalism  gained  l a r g e r m o v e m e n t D a v i d  t h e  r a l l i e d  R i e s m a n  a n d  v e r s i o n o f t h e i r p o l i t i c a l p l a  d o m i n a n t  frontier" of the early  a n d  c e n t r a l t o  J o h n  1960s.  l i m i t e d f o c u s c a n b e d e b i l i t a t i n g , e s p e c i a l l y a m i d  h e t e r o g e n e o u s  attempts  as  p o s i t i o n s o f  A r t h u r S c h l e s i n g e r , i t w o u l db e a  culture,  p e r i o d .  1950s t h e  American  A m e r i c a n  c h a r a c t e r i z e t h e  struggle in the  t h i s d i s t i n c t  in  m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f  p e r v a s i v e l y  of  optimism  c o n f i g u r a t i o n Yet,  to define o t h e r  I feel a  o f such  particular  m o d e l s  i n  intact. Through  the  crystallize threatening  a l w a y s  a  valid,  focus  vision  s o c i a l f o r m a t i o n  m o b i l i z e d  b y  my  emerging b y  r e c r e a t i n g  f r a g m e n t e d ,  e m e r g i n g for  America  T h i s  specificity of and/or  is  of  c i r c u l a t i o n .  f i e l d a n d  t h i s o n e  d i s c o u r s e s ,  these  were  in  i m p o r t a n t  I hope  constructions  of  t h o u g h  specific  reaction  t e n s i o n  approach,  t h e  a n d  w i l l to  the  t e n s i o n  a n d  p e r h a p s  a l s o  to b e  better cultural  r e s i s t a n c e d o m i n a n t  a r t i c u l a t i o n o f t h e h i s t o r i c a l m o m e n t . . . a  m o m e n t i n w h i c h  d y n a m i c s  t h r e a t  this  o f  s o c i a l a n d  hybrid  bubble  of  p o l i t i c a l c h a n g e intellectual  p o s e d  discourse,  a n a  e n o r m o u s faction  within  t o  which  w a s f a c i l i t a t e d b y h i g h m o d e r n i s m . The p l a c e d s i g n i f i c a n c e  critical writings  w i t h i n a n d  of this shifting intellectual constellation,  t h e i r  f a r - r a n g i n g  h i s t o r i c a l r a m i f i c a t i o n s  o f  c o n t e x t  d e b a t e s  ,  r e v e a  o s c i l l a t i n g  a r o u n d a  c e n t r a l c o r eo f s e e m i n g l y r a r i f i e d i d e a s a n d i s s u e s .  very  stakes  high  involved  in  the  struggle  for  aesthetic  supremacy  s t a n d  o u t .  M y  a t t e m p t  cultural moment  w i l l b e  t o  u n r a v e l  as the hotly contested  t h e  u t t e r u r g e n c y  struggle it was.  The  o f  t h e  voice  of  h i g h m o d e r n i s ma n d i t sf a c i l i t a t o r s , t h e d o m i n a n t v o i c ef o r a t i m e , I b e l i e v e ,  e m e r g e s  a s  h a v i n g  v e r y  m u c h  c a p i t a l i s t f o r m a t i o n  w h i c h  d e m o c r a t i c  a n d  There  nevertheless  was  provided  a  e m e r g i n g  A m e r i c a n  structured  by  the  the  emergence  class of  stronger  of  a  this  a n d  and  s i m i l a r  a s  so, too, p r o j e c t  Greenberg's between  e c o n o m i c  s y s t e m ,  f o r  c o m p o n e n t  t o  l i g h t .  T h e  base  of  hope  to  h e l d  the  t h e  the  and  its  discourse  s o c i a l t o n e  a n d  is  middle  top  echelon streamlined focussed,  p r o m i s e  o f  the qualities of  r e s t o r i n g bring  the  h i e r a r c h i c l y  this  encapsulated B y  which  prosperous  to  o u t p u t  of Louis  visual  p r o m i s e .  that intellectual interests  G r e e n b e r g .  abstract  a  was  t o  this discussion  constituted It  i m a g i n a t i v e  I  to  within  sphere.  negotiations, an  from  l e v e l l e d  possibility at the  Linked  corporate  the images  t h e  i . e . c a p i t a l i s m  elite who  t h e i r  of  located  mega-model.  capitalism  i n  s e e m e d  mode  was  managerial  American  i n a s m u c h  possibility  This  consolidation  American of  optimism.  l o s e  e v e n t s  countervailing  corporate  powerful  hierarchy  a  t o  t h e  c o n t e x t  ineluctable elitist  m o d e  o f links  ideological  e x p r e s s e d  i n  k e y  b o o k s a n d a r t i c l e s o f t h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l c i r c l e — o w n p o s i t i o n c a n b e i d e n t i f i e d  —  unveil  the  Negotiating  larger  circle, and  stylistics of  s o c i o l o g i s t D a v i d and  Daniel  veiled o f  Bell,  metaphoric  A m e r i c a ' s  stain painting.  most R i e s m a n  closely a n d  associated  code  e m e r g i n g  aimed  aesthetic at  m a n a g e r i a l  a  w i t h w h i c h  w i l l b e u s e da s a s e m a n t i c g u i d e t o a  with  t h e i d e o l o g u e s  Greenberg's  a  the A r t h u r  prescription  particular e l i t e . T h e  space  within  positions  of  the  S c h l e s i n g e r , J r . , operates  constituency, n e w  this  v a l u e  as  a  consisting s y s t e m  i n  h i g h  m o d e r n i s m ,  a s  e x p r e s s e d  b y  G r e e n b e r g ,  s e e m s  t o  p o i n t  a t  a n  a t t e m p t t o r e a c t i v a t e a c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n a n a f f i r m a t i v e garde  and  this new  elite, posited  as an  ideal public  for modernist  art.  F o r t h e s e e a r l y C o l d W a r i n t e l l e c t u a l s ,a n a t i o n w h e r e f r o n t i e r s o f  d e m o c r a c y  a n d  c a p i t a l i s m t o g e t h e r m e r g e d  h a r m o n i o u s l y  i n s o c i a l e x p e r i m e n t ,o f f e r e d t h e s o l e a l t e r n a t i v e t o t h e e v i l n e s s "  o f  t o t a l i t a r i a n s o c i e t y ,  A m e r i c a n  s o c i e t y w a s  p e r c e i v e d  t h r e a t t h a t t h i s e m e r g i n g  n e c e s s i t a t e d .  d i s m i s s e d .  W i t h  war  that is, the  period,  a n  t h e m a s s i v e  a s s e n t i n g A t  t h e  r e l a t i o n s h i p  s a m e  f o r m a t i o n  e x p a n s i o n  colonization  o f  by  t o w a r d  t i m e , h o w e v e r , p o s e d  c o u l d  c o n s u m e r i s m  capitalism  of  i n  n o t t h e  areas  t h e  of  b e p o s t -  social  a n d c u l t u r a l p r a c t i c e o n c e t h o u g h t e x e m p t f r o mm a r k e t i l e i s u r e ,  p r i v a t e  f r e e d o m ,  l i f e ,  c h o i c e ,  a n d  p e r h a p s  a n d  m o s t  e x p r e s s i o n  i m p o r t a n t l y ,  - - w h a t  i n d i v i d u a l i t y — w e r e c o n s i d e r e d the  individual  was  a necessity.  distinction  and  which  machinations  the  c o n f o r m i t y  difference,  p i t t e d  individualism  It  a space of  a g a i n s t  for  in  f r e e the  to  retain  i n d i v i d u a l . T h e of  the  a space  freedom  instrumental  face  c o n s t i t u t e  u n d e r s i e g e . A n e w c o n s t r  personal  a growing t h e  necessitated  had  m i g h t  p e r s o n a l  and  for choice  rationality  and  r e - n e g o t i a t i o n  choiceless  o f  "Totalitarian  m a n " a b r o a d ,a n d t h eh e i g h t e n e d c o n f o r m i t y a n d a b s o r p t i o n individual consumption essential in  in  a culture at  home,  defining  hinging is  upon  integral  Greenberg's  middle-class to  this  position.  conformity  intellectual  circle,  and and  9  1 will attempt to balance his position between others, hinging on several crucial issues , and operating on a number of dimensions. Greenberg's articles , appearing mainly in the journal Commentary will be historically relocated and placed once again within their original context. Set against the 9  C e r t a i n l y , p r i n c i p a l a m o n g Greenbergian the  implications  muted  and  r e s p o n s e b e  modernism's of  t o  t r u e  t h e  b e c a m e  of  reified  solidifying  e m e r g e n c e  a n d  o r i e n t e d  i m p e t u s  d i f f e r e n c e  o f  r e s p o n d i n g  t o  opposition,  stain  important a last  c o n s u m p t i o n  m o s t  t h e  a n d  degree  a s s o c i a t i o n s  t h e  M o r r i s  s u c c e s s  o t h e r w i s e  L o u i s .  painting of  defence o r i e n t e d  in  cultural against  o n the  w i t h  the  of  w h i c h  realm  later  incursions  new  style  the  c u l t u r e , i t s  c o n s t r u c t e d  was  It further an  is  c o n s u m e r i s t  e x i s t e n c e  of  a m o n g  i t s  a g a i n s t  1950s  itself  P a r a m o u n t  a e s t h e t i c i z e d  i t s  a b s t r a c t  aesthetic  p r o d u c t i v e  o f f  t o  a p p r o p r i a t e d  the  m a s s  part a  q u i c k l y  a r t . W i t h  o f  credibility. the  c l a i m e d  p o p  T e n s i o n e d  d e p e n d i n g  w a s  in  i m p o r t a n t  The  f o r w h a t  b e c a m e  w i t h  precisely  in  h e i g h t e n e d .  o f  to  was  e a s e  struggle a n d  a reaction  f o s t e r e d  elaborated  s p a c e  g r i m  w h i c h  the capitalist market.  cultural importance  a n d  t o  of  i n d i v i d u a l i s m  s u b s e q u e n t  m e a n i n g  p r o d u c t i o n  as  t h e  style, the  the  o f f e r e d  was  was  b r e a t h i n g  A f t e r  c h a r g e d  which  i n c r e d i b l y m a g n i f i e d  factors  l e n t  form  d i m i n i s h e d  c u l t u r e .  gesture  paradigm  internal extension  aestheticized  e x p r e s s i o n i s m ' s as  an  new  c o n d i t i o n s  t e n s i o n s a n d p o p a n d to  i n s c r u t a b l e a r t ,  i n d e e d  s t r e n g t h  o f  gain  an  entrenched  increasingly  w h i c h  in  itself pervasive  s o c i e t y .  backdrop of the Cold War, and within the framework of a historical and economic background, they will be placed within the intellectual orbit in which they were originally conceived; the continued influence generated by Arthur Schlesinger's 1948 book The Vital Center ; the new cultural introversion and interest in the American paradigm of social practice as exemplified in David Riesman's highly influential 1948 book The Lonely Crowd : A Study of the Changing American Character ; and the critical writings of Daniel Bell, later collected in The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (1960).  In turning t h e  p o s s i b i l i t y  s t r u c t u r e d  t h e  to specific readings  o f  d e f i n i n g  h i g h l y  c o n s i d e r e d s i m u l t a n e o u s l y  t h e  a n x i e t y  Iw a n t  o f  r e s o n a n t c o n t r o l  s e c o n d a r y  g e n e r a t i o n  o f  m e a n i n g  public.  Taking  up  and  w h i c h  w i t hm o d e r n i t y  t o  a n d  c i r c u m s c r i b e  t o  a n  s u r r o u n d i n g  open  up  to  G r e e n b e r g  ... a f o r m a l a n d  i d i o m  t h e  c o n s t r u c t e d the  t h e s e  w h i c h  r e c e p t i o n  i d e a l l y  contributing  to  a p p r o p r i a t i o n  a e s t h e t i c i z e d a b s t r a c t f o r m  s o u g h t  d e b a t e  of images,  a r t  historiographical  i m a g e s  I s k e t c h  i n t  c u l t u r a l p r o b l e m a t i c p e r s i s t e n t l y l e f t v a c a n t i n t h el i t e a  k e y f u n c t i o n o f t h e m o d e r n i s t e p i s t e m e — s i n g u l a r l y e n f o r c  the  poetic  mode  of  stain painting  artist is lost amidst  atangle  of  1  1  .  In the process  relationships  in  of argument,  which  the  the  expectation  o f m e a n i n g , a c c e s s e d t h r o u g h t a s t e , i s p r i v i l e g e d .I b e l i e v e t h i s of  agency  is rightly posed.  n e g o t i a t i o n s enforced was  and  A m e r i c a  i n  G r e e n b e r g trace g a r d e  or  t h e a n d  as  h i s  s e n s e ,  t h e  of  t h e  context  s p a c e  of  nature  or  structuring  h a d  t h e  complex  newly  facing  , " h a n d  what  the  altered conditions  of  f o r  c r e a t i v e  s o  n e c e s s a r i l y  particularity  i n s t e a d  a n o n y m o u s ,  creative and  In  to the  d i s e m b o d i e d  a society  r e q u i r e d  c i r c l e t h o u g h t ,  p o s i t i n g a n d  as  the  as metaphor  L o u i s '  utter conformity.  1 9 5 0 s  contingency  m u l t i t u d e history  of  it serves  w h i c h  entailed, in  conceived  For  f r e e d o m ,  e v a c u a t e d  a n y  in a traditional  d i s g u i s e d  i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e  t a p e s t r y  avanto f  t h e  p r o c e s s e s  o f  mechanism.  ^See Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari , Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, trans. D. Polan, foreword by R. Bensmaia, (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1986). ^Michael Fried intimates at this reading in his book Morris Louis, (New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. 1971)  1 3  CHAPTER  1  O n  t h e w e e k e n d  o f A p r i l 3 ,  L o u i s  a c c o m p a n i e d  b y  C l e m e n t  H e l e n  F r a n k e n t h a l e r  o n  2 3 r d  w o u l d  b e  1 9 5 3  K e n n e t h  G r e e n b e r g ,  s t . a n d  L o u i s ' s f i r s t t r i p t o N e w  7 t h  Y o r k  N o l a n d  a n d  v i s i t e d t h e a v e n u e  a n d  i n  s t u d i o  o f  Y o r k .  I t  N e w  t h e f i r s t t i m e  h e  m e e ti n p e r s o n t h e c r i t i c C l e m e n t G r e e n b e r g t h e  s u m m e r  o f  G r e e n b e r g ' s  1 9 5 0 ,  w o u l d  h a n d  e x p o s u r e  guiding  vision  b e e n  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  M o u n t a i nC o l l e g e w h a t  h a d  1  l a t e r b e  o f  e x p o s e d m o d e r n  c a l l e d  America's  consequence  for the  of Washington  D.C.  p o s t - p a i n t e r l y N e w  foremost  two was  a r t  t h e  w o u l d 1  . T h o u g h N o l a  2  p a r t i c u l a r i t i e s o f  a t  V e r m o n t ' s  B l a c k  , i tw o u l d b e t h ef i r s t t i m e t h ec o r e p a i n t e r s o f  3  t o t h e c o n t e m p o r a r y of  t o  M o r r i s  a b s t r a c t i o n  Y o r k  formalist  g a i n e d  a r t s c e n e  t h r o u g h  t h e  art critic. Especially  of  relatively isolated artists from the profound  f i r s t -  effect, even  the  suburbs  "revelation"  (or  t h e o f t e n r e p e a t e d s t o r y g o e s ) , a f f o r d e d b y P o l l o c k s  a n d  H  e  e  m o m e n t ,  l  a n d  " . . . a l a r g e a n d n F t h e  r  a  n  e x t r a o r d i n a r y p a i n t i n g d o n e k  e  n  t  e n t h u s i a s t i c r e s p o n s e  h  a  l  e  e n g e n d e r e d ,  r c h a s  i n  so t h e m i d d l e p  1 9 5 2 a  b e e n  l  b y l  e  t a k e n  See Michael Fried, Morris Louis, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971), p. 11. Also John Elderfield, The Paintings of Morris Louis, (New York: Little Brown and Co., 1987 ). Diane Upright, Morris Louis : The Complete Paintings, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 198?), p. 60. Kenworth Moffett, Morris Louis .-Museum of Fine Arts Boston, (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1979), p.3. Greenberg was giving a session devoted to Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgement Clement Greenberg, "Louis and Noland", Art International, vol.IV.no.5, May 25, 1960. 12  13  14  d  Mount  faithfully  in  art  transition  point  historical  for  b u t o n l y  both  p r e d i s p o s i t i o n  line on  was,  b y  H a r o l d for  surface  t h e  autonomous  nature  of  t h e  develop  o f  h i s  which for  Greenberg, t h e  as  given o f  u n i q u e n e s s o f p a i n t i n g . on  the furthest extremites  the  any  of  t e r m s  of modernity,  y e a r s 1  taste.  p u r s u e d  5  .  a n d The  a s  to  t e n u o u s l y  flatness and  f o r m a l  aesthetics of  r e s p o n s e  or  potential  p r e s c r i p t i o n  to  the  t o  and  the  the existentialist o f  G r e e n b e r g i a n l e g a c y  o f  t h e  a r t a n d  t h e  The  history  of  itself related  to  a n  a u t o n o m o u s  its  greatest  b a l a n c e s  t h e  a n  action a b s t r a c t  object  s p e c i f i c l o g i c o f  n e c e s s a r i l y  dialectical image  t e r m s  specific  c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n a n d  e a r l i e r a n t i - S t a l i n i s t L e f t merge  t h r o u g h  a e s t h e t i c  marked  a very  T h e  to the idea  sphere  G r e e n b e r g ' s  a  with  articulating  aesthetic experience  to  dispute,  s t y l i s t i c  priorizes  m e d i u m  b u t  culture  not  a n d  i n  r e a d i n g .  t h e  homologous  and  m e d i u m  contrast to  Greenberg  s o c i e t a l m o d e r n i z a t i o n , of  1950s,  In  f o r m e r s  e m p h a s i z i n g  art was  o f  R o s e n b e r g  w i t h i n  juncture  Iwould  art,  aesthetic entity, denying  c o n t i n u e  E n l i g h t e n m e n t ,  modern  as  modern  early  instance,  i m p l i c i t i n  m o d e r n i s m  the  This  m e c h a n i c s  modernism.  expressionism, painted  of  f o r m a l  during  American  f o r e f r o n t e d  f e r v o r  t h e  a critical  i n t e n s e l y .  theory  f o r  as  artists' works.  q u a l i f y  Greenberg's  influences  criticism  a d v a n c e d  extent. d i a l e c t i c s f o r m a l i s m  pursuit of art's inner logic,  intensity of  color,  c r i t i c i s m a s s e r t i n g t h e  is  expressed  m e d i u m  s p e c i f i c  L o u i s ' f i r s t " V e i l " s e r i e s o c c u p i e d a  of this discursive and  teleological field.  As  A s late as the early 1940s Alan Wald situates Greenberg's politic's in the sphere of influence of the Shachtman Group, a Trotskyist splinter organization. The notion of dialectical image will be more fully delineated and explored in chapter 3. 1 5  s u c h  o p e n n e s s  destinies of to the  a n d  easel  p u r e  painting  c o l o r , are  t h e  in the  e l e m e n t a l  "Veils"  c o n s t i t u e n t s  identified  as  a n d  immanent  medium. J a c k s o n  P o l l o c k ,  f r o m  1 9 4 8  t o  1 9 5 1 ,  w a s  t h e  p a i n t e r i n G r e e n b e r g ' s a e s t h e t i c  p r e - e m i n e n t  h i e r a r c h y o f A m e r i  G r e e n b e r g w r i t e s :" I h a v e a t t i m e sp o i n t e d o u t w h a t I b e l i e v e a r e s o m e o f ( P o l l o c k ' s ) s h o r t c o m i n g s — n o t a b l y i nr t h e w e i g h t o f t h e e v i d e n c e s t i l l c o n v i n c e s m e class by  himself.  Others  may  have  greater gifts and  ... t h a t P o l l o c k i s i n a maintain  a  more  e v e n l e v e l o f s u c c e s s ,b u t n o o n e i n t h i s p e r i o d r e a l i z e s a s m u c h a n d as  strongly  and  that  of  and  as truly."  the  first generation  f o r w a r d  m o d e r n i s m ' s  beyond  a cubist  A m e r i c a n  1  6  For  Greenberg, of  abstract  t e l e o l o g i c a l q u e s t infrastructure.  a b s t r a c t i o n  p r e d e c e s s o r , G r e e n b e r g  w i t h k e y e d  p u r i t y  Emphasizing  the  o f  u p o n  i t s  great  expressionists,  f o r  t h a t i n  Pollock's  b y  was  to  a d v a n c i n g  continuity  E u r o p e a n  t h e f o r m a l  legacy,  a v a n t  of g a r d e  p r o g r e s s i o n s  w h i c h  h e f e l t p a i n t e r l y a b s t r a c t i o n -- h i s p r e f e r r e d l a b e l f o r t h e e x p r e s s i o n i s t s t y l e -- h a d a c h i e v e d . T h e a d v a n c e m e n w a s t h e d e c e n t r a l i z i n g a n d " a l l o v e r" q u a l i t y t h a t p a i n afforded  the compositional  field.  Pollock,  above  all, had  achieved  and  w a s s u s t a i n i n g f o r a p e r i o d t h i s a s p e c t o f a l l o v e r n e s s i n h i s w o r k "... a  kind  of  density  orthodox  easel  painting  has  not  known  before"  1  7  ( f i g . 4 ) . I t w a s , G r e e n b e r g c o n t i n u e s , "... n o t a n a f f a i r o f p a c k i n g a c r o w d i n g , b u t o f e m b o d i m e n t ; e v e r y s q u a r e i n c ho f t h e c a n Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicler'Feeling is All'", Partisan Review, vol.XIX, no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p. 102. Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicle:'Feeling is All'", Partisan Review, vol.XIX, no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p. 102. 16  17  receives a maximum of charge at the cost of a minimum of physical means  "  1 8  .  Apparently the centralized object of  replaced or its  means  cubism was being  altered by an invisible cubist  grid work of  paint occupying equally all areas of the pictorial space . At his height Pollock was,  in effect, pushing  was unconsciously "  acceptance  and  the limits of abstract  identifying form and feeling exploitation  of  the  very  with a  painting; he simultaneous  circumstances  of  the  medium of painting that limit such identification" . In Greenberg's 19  mind Pollock was posing aesthetic experience  and the pictorial space  as more distinctly autonomous in a Kantian sense, thus undercutting collective  interpretations  of experience  and priorizing  the  personal  ramifications of sophistication and taste lodged in the individual. At a time when the implications and success of the tenth street artists, centering around William de Kooning, only "regression" offered  the only legitimate  pervading limited  entirely based in cubism, Pollock  direction. Yet the mood of "gothicness"  the paintings of Pollock would embrasure: it was  perspective criticism which  into a stylistics  his  on  American  sought to focus painterliness  offered for Greenberg  allow Greenberg  somehow  inconsistent  modernity.  Even  only a  with Greenberg's  though  Greenberg's  on the cool unities of style and medium  enabled  but  disguised  , Pollock  was  still  working within a loosely based cubist grid stucture, a stylistics more appropriate to the  1930s and 1940s rather than the optimistic mood  of America at mid-century.  For Greenberg, abstract  Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicle:'Feeling is All'", Partisan no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p. 102. Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicle.'Feeling is All"', Partisan no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p. 102.  expressionism  18  Review, vol.XIX,  19  Review, vol.XIX,  was  facing  a deadlock  d e p e n d e n c e " c u b i s t  o n  and  if  it  t h e c u b i s t p a s t h a d  t r a u m a " ,  a n d  t o  was  to  t o b e  a c h i e v e  be  solved,  o v e r c o m e .  a n y  the  T o  slavish  o v e r c o m e  b r e a k t h r o u g h  t h e  t h e  n e x t  g e n e r a t i o n w o u l d h a v e t ot u r n t oM a t i s s e . o f  p u r e  c o l o r  a s  t h e  m e a n s  t o  f o r m ,  s h o w e d  w h a t  c o u l d  ". . . H e , t h  s t i l l b e  a c h i e v e d b y m o d e l i n g w i t h d a r k a n d l i g h t ,a n d h o w t h i s m o d e c o u l d c o n t r i b u t e t o t h et i g h t n e s s d e s i r e d o f m o d e r n c o m p black  and  gray  T h r o u g h o u t  could  t h e  approximate  e a r l y  1 9 5 0 s  the effect of flat primary G r e e n b e r g ' s  t a s t e s  colors."  w e r e  2  0  e n t i r e l y  s u p p l i c a n t t o t h ew o r k s o f H e n r i M a t i s s e .  T h e s t y l i s t i c s o f M a  h i s p u r ec o l o r ,t h e o p e n e s s t h i s e m b o d i e d ,  t h ec o r p o r e a l w e i g h  dispelled,  spoke  m o d e r n i t y l i n k  w i t h  F o r  a  b r i d g e G  r  e  as  encapsulating  a new  stage  of  a v e n u en e e d e d t o b e p u r s u e d t h a t w o u l d p r o v i d e a  h e d o n i s m  a n d  a f t e r k  e  b e t w e e n e  . A n  L o u i s  n  Greenberg  o f  m o o d  i n  M a t i s s e  v i a  t h e  p r o g r e s s i o n  t h e  c o n t i n u a n c e  o f  p r o v i d e d  b y  P o l l o c k .  m o d e r n i s m r  1  t h e  o f f e r e d b y  F  2  to  n  n  N o l a n d a b s t r a c t  t  h  P o l l o c k b  e  t h a t  r  g  a  l a n d  a v e n u e  f o r  e x p r e s s i o n i s m e  r  w h a t  '  s w a s  w a s  Mountains and Sea . I p o s s i b l e "  , Mountains and Sea  w  2  a  2  .  C e r t a i n l y s a d  e  c  t w  21  22  s  , i  f o r i  Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicle:'Feeling is All'", Partisan Review, vol.XIX, no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p.98. See John O'brian, "Greenberg's Matisse and the Problem of Avant-Garde Hedonism", in Reconstructing Modernism:Art in New York, Paris, and Montreal 1945-1964, (Cambridge:MIT Press,1989) John Elderfield, Morris Louis :The Museum of Modern Art New York. (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1987), p.31. Noland, too, would acknowledge the debt: "We were interested in Pollock but could gain no lead from him. He was too personal. But Frankenthaler showed us a way — a way to think about and use color". James Truitt, "Art - Arid D.C. Harbors Touted 'New' Painters", Washington Post, Dec.21,1961. 20  a  s  i  v  e t  t h e f u t u r e p o s s i b i l i t y o f m o d e r n i s m .I n h i s m i n d i t h a d j e l l e d t personal  potential  relating the  the  modern  entirely  of  nature  and  moment.  integral  both  about  Louis'  conditions  Its use  of  it,  pointing  and of  color to  Noland's  art,  their personal in  metaphorically contribution  a landscape  natural  had  G r e e n b e r g  d o c u m e n t s  t h e  something  harmonies  a p p r e h e n d i b l e o n l y t o a w o m a n .  to  apparently 2  3  I n1 9 6 0 , i n A  m o m e n t :  L o u i s w h o i s n o w i n h i s l a t e 4 0 ' s , f o u n d h i m s e l f o n l y s o m e s e v e n or eight years ago. Until then he had been doing abstract pictures in a Late Cubist vein that belonged more to the 1930s than the 1 9 4 0 s ; t h e e n o r m o u s a c c o m p l i s h e d n e s s o f t h e s e p i c t u r e s d i d n o t make them any the less provincial. His first sight of the middle period Pollocks and of a large and extraordinary painting done in 1 9 5 2 b y F r a n k e n t h a l e r , c a l l e change his direction abruptly. Abandoning Cubism with a c o m p l e t e n e s s f o r w h i c h t h e r e w a s n o p r e c e d e n t i n e i t h e r i n f l u e n c e , h e b e g a n t o f e e l , t h i n k ,a n d c o n c e i v e a l e x c l u s i v e l y i n t e r m s o f o p e n c o l o u r . T h e r e v e l a t i o n h e r e c e i v e d b e c a m e a n I m p r e s s i o n i s t r e v e l a t i o n , a n d b e f o r e h e s o m u c h a s caught aglimpse of anything by Still, Newman, or Rothko, he had alligned his art with theirs. His revulsion against Cubism was a r e v u l s i o n a g a i n s t t h e s c u l p t u r a l . C u b i s m m e a n t s h a p e s , a n d s h a p e s m e a n t a r m a t u r e s o f l i g h t a n d d a r k . C o l o u r m e a n t a r e a s a n d z o a n d t h e i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n o f t h e s e , w h i c h c o u l d b e a c h i e v e d b e t t e r by variations of hue than by variations of value. Recognitions like these liberated Louis's originality along with his hitherto dormant gift for colour. 2  4  T h e gendered reference is of course intended, for it highlights an entire dimension of debate villifying the natural and embracing its dialectical opposite the cultural, and more specifically in the American context ofthe 1950s, the strategies of the corporate machine. Clement Greenberg,"Louis and Noland", Art International 4 ,May 1960, pp. 27-28. I am careful in using this quotation, as my project is to historically situate the production of Morris Louis between 1948 -1955, in order not to fall prey to the large shifts in Greenberg's politics between 1950-1960. 2 3  24  G r e e n b e r g ' s s h i f t o f color  c l o s e d ,  m o d e r n i s m ' s  in  a moment  i n t e l l e c t u a l h o p e s s u c h  terms. p r o j e c t  terms,  vastly w e r e  h a d  Still, it would  be  t o  different o n  b e e n  w h i c h  d i a l o g u e s  t h e  e x c l u s i v e  d e p e n d e n c e  o n  much. from  w h a t  Written  in  early  1950s  the  A m e r i c a  w a s  same  v i s u a l  early  w h i c h  optimism  w o u l d  s o  1960,  it when  b e c o m i n g .  l a r g e l y r e a l i z e d , t h o u g h  the  t h e  a n  obscures  p i n n e d  s p e c u l a t i o n  t r a n s c r i b e d  m o d e l ,  p l a s t i c s t y l e t o w a r d  entirely formal  documents  1 9 6 0  s e l f - r e f l e c t i v e  i n  a l t e r e d  invested d e e p l y  B y  in a  i n f o r m  t h e  l a t e r a e s t h e t i c p r o d u c t i o n o f p o s t - p a i n t e r l y a b s t r a 1 9 6 0  i t c o u l d  guarded o n  o n l y  terms.  t h e s e  b e  d i s c u s s e d  i n a l t e r e d a n d  Unfortunately,  r e t r o s p e c t i v e  all too  often  w r i t i n g s  m y s t e r i e s  a n d  s u b t l e t i e s  abstracting  from  these  o f  o f  s t a i n  m u c h  art history  G r e e n b e r g  p a i n t i n g .  later writings,  m o r e  c r y p t i c a l l y has  t o  focussed  u n r a v e l  t h e  G e n e r a l i z i n g  Greenberg's  position  a n d  is  twisted  a n d a l w a y s t o oe a s i l y d i s m i s s e d a s p u r e f o r m a l i s t a r t h i s t o r y i s  n e v e r t h e l e s s  a s s e r t i o n ,  t h a t  a n  i m p o r t a n t  p l a c e s  c o m p o n e n t .  G r e e n b e r g ' s  T h o m a s  c o n c e p t i o n s  o f  C r o w ' s  b o l d  m o d e r n i s t  a r t  o u t s i d e o f a n d "... o t h e r w i s e u n a f f e c t e d b y i t s o r i g i n s i n t h e c a p i t a l i s t c r u c i b l e " reading  of  Greenberg  Greenbergian with when  in the  formalism  It is my  evolution intent  of to  w h e r e a s p e r h a p s a s a l i e n t c o m p o n e n t o  1960s  actively  historical circumstance. the  2 5  It was  glosses over invited in  a stylistics for focus  on  precisely  a  the period conciliatory  this period stain painting the  in  of  the early is given  which interface 1950s genesis.  late capitalist crucible  ^Thomas Crow ."Modernism and Mass Culture in the Visual Arts", Pollock and After: The Critical Debate, ed. F Frascina, (New York: Harper and Row, 1985), fn45, p.263.  of  1948-1955 , the evolution of a stylistics from within that crucible , and this crucibled evolution as consciously negotiated by Greenberg. It  is my contention  that  Greenberg's  interest  and  limited  advocacy of Pollock's and Frankenthaler's work and, by inference, Louis'  epiphany  of style, was  discourse of stylistic progression. in the early 1950s supports  shaped 26  by more than  simply  That, indeed, Greenberg's position  a program encoding a formal stylistics  inextricably related to his own political intoxication with the Center's  notion  the  of freedom  and  the  more  complex  and  Vital  useable  delineation of this in David Riesman's conception of individualism and taste in the American character. early  conciliatory movements  indelibly  marked  by  the  Greenberg's project,  toward  negotiations  stain  painting  necessitated  which could only find hope for artistic practice  this  framework society  chapter,  then,  in the  the  would  of historical transformations postwar  period, which  were positioned against. B y in  I  the 1950s  like  to  are,  by  indeed,  a position  27  set  up  taking hold  the  of  intellectuals like these  the  in the cultural and  political parameters advocated by such a p o l i t i c s . In  and  larger  American Greenberg  tangible developments  democratic formation and political process  sustained  some  promise, but also posed critical threats to key intellectual groups . With  a  view  to  placing  their  already  conceived-of  projects  structured for democratic rule by elites within these developments,  I deal with Louis specifically and exclude Noland who arrived at a complementary style much later. It will be one of my primary intentions in this thesis to connect up Greenberg's critical writings from 1948 -1955 with Riesman's methodological framework. 2 6  2 7  a n d i n t h e c o n t e x t o f t h e C o l d W a r , I w o u l df o r e f r o n t i m m e d i a t e l y t h o s e  c h a n g e s  order.  Most  f a c t o r s  w h i c h  importantly,  p a r a l l e l i n g  i n d u s t r i a l i s m a n d these  would  f a c e  future h e r e t h e  for  America  t a k e n  u p .  T h e i r  a  in  which  s u c h  p r o g r e s s  w h i l e  critical posture  a n d  and  a n d  intellectual  1 9 5 0 s ,  s h a p e d  a n d  as  liberal confrere,  his  o n e  w h o s e  he  b u i l t u p o n  l i n k a g e .  t h e s a m e  c o n t i n g e n t t r y i n g  r e s h a p i n g  the  o n l y  also  contained  pioneered o f  and  c o n f i r m  p a i n t i n g  v i s i o n o f  of  visually  p r e c i s e l y  A m e r i c a ' s  early  on  their Morris was  t h i s  n e w  G r e e n b e r g ' s p o f u t u r e  r u l e b y  this formal  a  w a s  e l i t e s  potential  for  the  p o s i t i o n i n g i n t h es u b u r b s o f W a s h i n g t o n D  t h a t w i t h i n larger  t h e i r i m p e c c a b l e  constraints  n e w s e n s i b i l i t y , s t a i n  t o  A m e r i c a n  paintings  p r e c e p t s o f D e m o c r a t i c  realized  u p o n  N o l a n d ' s a r t e d u c a t i o n , a s a p r o d u c t o f t h e G .  b o t h h i sa n d L o u i s ' c o u l d  a n d  b r i g h t  distance.  h a r n e s s i n g  i d e a l i s m  i n  positions  A m e r i c a n m o d e r n i t y a n d i t s p o s s i b i l i t y . e a r l y  was  o p a q u e  s i m u l t a n e o u s l y  to intimately inform  a t t e m p t e d  h a p p i l y  w e r e  o f  structure  intellectual negotiations  experimentation  those  T o g e t h e r ,  d o m i n a n t  the  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s  co-dependent  structuring visions, were formal  T h i s to  and  e f f i c i e n c y  class  r e n d e r e d  threat  p o s t - w a r  c o n s u m p t i o n .  p o l i t i c a l m a n e u v e r i n g s  with  r e p r e s e n t a t i o n  e n h a n c e d  b e i n g  great  f o r e m e n t i o n e d  The  nation  i n d e e d ,  posed  it a  society, along  t h e  p a t t e r n s o f  a  n e w  middle-class  i d e o l o g i c a l u n c e r t i t u d e .  o f  from T h e  Louis.  to  s u c c i n c t l y t h e  expanded  c h a n g e :  a l t o g e t h e r n e w  g l o b a l  e m b r a s u r e  vastly  t h i s  t r a n s f o r m i n g ; o f  maintain  a  contribute  c o m p l e t e l y t h e  d e l i n e a t e d m o s t  e x e m p l i f i e d  and  e r a ,  r e s o n a t e d  p r i v a t e v i s i o n s  potential  of  an  entirely  a n d n a t i o n . d e e p l y  w i t h  t h e  w e r e  S o m e h o w  p o s s i b i l i t y  l i b e r a l i n t e l l e c t u a l s c u l l e d promesse form  a n  e x t r e m e l y  w e a k  h o r i z o n .  T h e  o r f o r e t a s t e o f U t o p i a c o n t a i n e d w i t h i n t h e m  and  content  liberal  f r o m  in  painting  was  analogous  to afuture  imagined  by  ideologues. M y  c o n t i n u e d f o r w a r d  a t t e m p t p o s i t i o n  b y  i n  t h i s c h a p t e r  w i t h i n  S c h l e s i n g e r  t h e  a n d  w i l l  s p h e r e  R i e s m a n ,  b e  o f a n d  t o  l o c a t e  i n f l u e n c e  G r e e n b e r g ' s  o f  n o t i o n s  t o l o c a t e t h i s c o r e  p u t  o f  i d e a s  w i t h i n i t s p a r t i c u l a r c o n t e x t o f t h e e a r l y 1 9 5 0 s .A t t h e s a m e t this  format  will  Greenberg's  highly  which  he  sets  serve  to  important  out  the  preface  chapter  article, "The  parameters  of  2,  a discussion  Plight of his  Our  of  Culture",  pictorial vision  in  for  the  c o n t i n u a n c e o f m o d e r n i s m . C o n c e i v e d p r i o r t o a n d d u r i n g t h o f L o u i s ' a n d N o l a n d ' s v i s i t t o N e w sense,  aprogram  politics. The  keyed  formal  us Salient (  1  to  this  c o n c e p t u a l  intellectual positioning  stylistics of 9  5  4  ( f i g . 5 ) , a n d Iris encode  the  same  Y o r k ,i t a r t i c u l a t e s , i n a w i d  Louis'  )  ,  first "Veil"  of  the  series, works  Terrain of Joy (  1  9  ( 1 9 5 4 ) ( f i g . 6 ) ,  Utopian  project  and  are  groups'  here  such  5  4  ) (  Intrigue  first  given  f  i  ( 1 9 5 4 a  f r a m i n g .  The Middle-Class, Suburbia, and Conformity  V a n c e  P a c k a r d ' s  r e t r o s p e c t i v e  s e t s t h e s t a g e f o r m y diploma  was  millions  of  prestige  a ticket of American  attached  to  s u m m a t i o n  o f  t h e  d e c a d e  b e s t  d i s c u s s i o n :" I n t h e p a s t , t h e h i g h s c h o o admission  youngsters putting  on  to have  awhite-collar the  a white-collar.  job.  ticket, so Actually,  Now  many  there  is  the  color  less of  the  collar  is  losing  much  s t e e l w o r k e r s d o n ' t w e a r s p o r t s  b l u e  s h i r t s . A n d  s o  e n g i n e e r s . " n  a  t  i  o  n  its  significance  c o l l a r s a n y  d o  m o r e  s u p p o s e d l y  as  o n  a label.  Many  t h e j o b , t h e y  w h i t e -  c o l l a r e d  w e a r m i s s i l e  W i t h a n u n r e m a r k a b l e d e g r e e o f h i n d s i  2 8  a  l b  s a l i e n t a n d  t o p i c a l t h e m e s  a l l u d e s  t h e  t o  of  s i n g l e  e  o f  s  t  s  e  l  t h e f i r s t d e c a d e  m o s t  i m p o r t a n t  o f  l  e  t h e  r  C o l d  d e v e l o p m e n t  ,  The Status Se  W a r .  o f  H e  A m e r i c a ' s  p o s t w a r c o n d i t i o n ,o n e s t r a t e g i c a l l y a n d s e l e c t i v e l order  to  u n d e r  c a p i t a l i s m , s t a g e d  A m e r i c a w a s  combat  t h e  b e i n g  w h i c h  the  frontal b y  t h e  r e v o l u t i o n a r y d i f f u s e d  e n c o u r a g e d  ideological  a n d  r a t h e r  assault  C o m m u n i s t  on  class  m e n a c e .  E v i d e n t l y ,  i m p e t u s  o f  t h e  s o c i a l l y  s u b d u e d  b y  a n  i n s t i t u t i o n a l  t h a n  d e n i e d  structure i n  d i s e n f r a n c h i s e d  s o c i a l m o b i l i t y .  f r a m e w o r k I n d e e d ,  t h e  s p o r t s h i r t , t h e c o l l e g e g r a d u a t e , a n d t h e m a n i n t h e g r e yf l a n n e l s u w e r e  a l l r e c o g n i z e d  condition By  a s  at  mid-century.  the  late  1940s  A m e r i c a n  c o n d i t i o n ,  m o b i l i t y ,  a n d  w i d e s p r e a d i n g More  than  w a s  s u b u r b i a . W i t h hours,  28  the  vast  Vance Packard,  l i n k e d  n e w  b e s t t h e  was t o  w a s  p o s s e s s e d  c a p t u r e d w o r k  majority  w e e k of  a g e b y  a n d  o f  the s o c i a l a n d  i n t e n s e p o s s i b i l i t y . affluent middle  T h e  p h e n o m e n o n  s l i m m e d  d o w n were  that  u n l i m i t e d  a n  t h e  Americans  A m e r i c a n  p r o s p e r i t y  rise of an o f p l e n t y .  t h e  a sense  u n p r e c e d e n t e d  else, the meteoric A u g u s t a n  o f  emerging  e d u c a t i o n  w i t h  c o n s u m e r i s m ,  anything  e m b l e m a t i c  there  a s s o c i a t e d  e x e m p l i f i e d t h i s m o m e n t  s o m e h o w  n e w  m o o d  a n d  class o f  t h e  l i f e s t y l e o f  t o  a n  u n h e a r d  seen  as  members  o f  4 0 of a  The Status Seekers, ( New York: David McKay,1959), p.34.  n e w  l e i s u r e c l a s s .  2  F o r  9  m a n y ,  t h e  d e m o c r a t i z i n g  d i r e c t i o n o f f e r e d  b y t h e L e v i t t o w n -l i k e s u b u r b s w a s t h e p r o m i s e o f a g r e a t f u t u r e ; however a  to liberal intellectuals  levelled  of  arestructured  as well m o o d  future,  e m b r a c i n g amuch  a select  aim  formation  the notion  behind by  democratic  group  in direct  w a s  rule by  wield  opposition for  high  it was  It was  its potential.  t h e  3  early  a s  mounting  optimistic  city  become  and  t h e j e w e l  e f f i c i e n t c o r p o r a t e social  space  o f  A m e r i c a n  spirit of the a n d  presented  new  tangible  t e c h n o l o g i c a l was  widely  war  period,  benefactor s o c i e t y . T h e held  and  later this  new  m e c h a n i s m  and  studied prescient  0  c a p i t a l i s m a n d  the post-  idea  culture  at first only  their  and  their  d r i v i n g  F o r t h i s g r o u p , s u b u r b i a , e v e n b y e m e r g i n g  to  elites. Though  c a p t u r e d b y  intellectuals.  cultural uniformity  a space  political machinery,  of and  threat of  retained  of democratic  larger  to harness  was  which  A m e r i c a  the  to  t h e l a t e 1 9 4 0 s ,w a s  d e m o c r a c y . it had  of  I n  t h e  eclipsed  the  a progressive p r o m i s e  contain,  in  w h i c h its  and t h i s  particular  David Riesman was perhaps the first to write extensively on America as a leisure society, indeed it occupies a pivotal position in his own theoretical framework during the early 1950s. Much of the optimism Riesman's work exudes is contingent upon the positive functioning aspect, for mobility, leisure time will provide American society. He speaks of suburbia in terms of the frontiers of taste — the pioneer being the wife who adds a touch of oregano to her casserole — thus conveying the sense of an aspiring aristocracy of leisure.("Some Observations on the Changes in leisure Habits", in Individualism Reconsidered , (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), pp.202-218. This is in opposition to Greenberg's 1953 position, where Riesman is in fact critiqued for an overly naive optimism in the drive for the good life. Only by 1957 does Riesman rescind upon his earlier position. 29  W h i l e it was the liberal intellectuals who realized the leisured orientation of America already by the late 1940s, it would not be until the middle and late 1950s that the mass media, in conjunction with the Eisenhower administration, would take it up as a cause celebre . Most interesting is LIFE Magazine's, (Dec.28, 1959) double issue on "the Good Life" the cover of which is subscripted by theblurb "zestful Americans enjoy their new leisure" . Check out Russell Lynes "How do You Rate in the New Leisure" , a telling commentary borrowing heavily from Riesmanesque inquiry, pp.85-89. 30  egalitarian and classless essence, the larger direction  of  America's  democratic formation. Family capitalism and private property, the two pillars of bourgeois society which sustained class structure, were considered all but eclipsed by the new economic and social conditions which were fostering  the  suburban middle class . 31  forefront of the social experiment, to a  larger extent America,  affluent  and prospering  community life in suburbia and,  was  markers of the social formation — stratum  On the very  eradicating those traditional ideological and class strife. The  which  populated  the manicured  streets of modern ranch- style homes were considered at the core of a new frontier order and hailed as the purveyors and benefactors of the American dream. These were the new middle class, distinct from their forebears in that this burgeoning broad strata was by and large salaried, white-collar employees . In his book,  White Collar : The  See Daniel Bell's , "The Prospects of American Capitalism", Commentary, Dec. 1952, p.610. Also William H. Whyte, in The Organization Man . Whyte's analysis offers the suburban community as pitched on the cutting edge of the Democratic constellation, the marxist community, and better, the close-knit kinship of the old West frontier settlement is evoked and homologous. Private property itself had seemingly begun to lose its market value amidst the commune-like closeness. "To hoard possessions is frowned upon: books, silverware , and tea services are constantly rotated, and the children feel free to use one anothers bikes and toys without asking." W.H. Whyte,T/te Organization Man (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956) , p.210. The reception of Whyte's book is a perfect analogy for the fate of the liberal intellectual position as a whole ,in the context of the two Cold War terms of Eisenhower's presidency. While delineating a position similar, though updated, to that of the new liberalism first put forward by Schlesinger, Whytes tempered appeal to stake out a qualified ground specifically for the opposition through a dialectical embrasure of suburbia, -consumerism, and the corporate sphere, fails entirely. For Whyte, a country where the pink lamp shade dominates the front room windows of the suburban home as a signifier of culture — integrity , individual choice, and freedom were sorely lacking. The qualified position of Whyte and other liberal intellectuals who had embraced a progressively industrialized economy and the relative autonomy of a corporate sector , during the Truman coalition , was easily misconstrued and conflated, proving indistinguishable from a more encompassing Republican armature. 3 1  26 American Middle Classes  (1951), C. Wright Mills characterizes and  statistically documents their unprecedented rise in American society. For them, as for wage-workers, America has become a nation of employees for whom independent property is out of range. Labor markets, not control of property, determine their chances to receive income, exercise power, enjoy prestige, learn and use skills ... Of the three broad strata composing modern society, only the new middle class has steadily grown in proportion to the whole. Eighty years ago, there were three-quarters of a million middle-class employees; by 1940, there were over twelve and a half million. In that period the old middle class increased 135%; wage-workers, 225%; and the new middle class, 1600%. 32  The suburban and American phenomenon was directly linked to this new species of American society. Its existence , the shear weight of its spectacular material ascendency and power, constituted more than anything else the new majority within the social arena. Its dominant presence in the cultural fabric of American life captivated social  commentary  , and within the  strictures  and representative  of the  role  for  Cold War  assumed  a stereotypical  the  social  totality.  America's classless nature was not only consciously linked  to the circumscribed terrain of suburbia, however , but further , to a social and institutional order which encouraged and celebrated  social  mobility and an ever attendant increasing prosperity . Unlike more traditional  social  orders,  always  seeking  stability  through  the  maintenance of more traditional class lines, the American model had a social dynamic built in. As such, the new middle class did not constitute  a single  horizontal and monolithic  stratum, rather an  C . Wright Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classes, (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1951), pp. 63-64. 3 2  entirely  new  ascending  surreptitious hierarchy.  pyramidal formation  of  increasing  and  Mills writes: " The great bulk of the new  middle class are of the lower middle income brackets, but regardless of how social stature is measured, types of white-collar men and women range from almost the top to almost the bottom of modern society".  33  Mills attributed this  occultation of class lines in the  evolution and the progressive  social formation to the peculiarities of  American bureaucracy and corporate capitalism which had colonized a new axis for stratification hinging on occupation. Mills' intellectual perspective during the 1950s offered one of the loosely oppositional voices left  among the  American intelligensia;  other  those upon whom this paper focuses, formulated  intellectuals,  somewhat  less  traditional class critiques , more overtly sanguine and assenting  in  their  treatment  of  the  American  criticality of a different order.  condition , 34  while  retaining  It is their particular positionings,  which are so appropriate for an entrance to Stain painting , and  give  such terrific mileage for cultural analysis in the 1950s. Such is the case with the core of ideas shared by Riesman , Arthur Schlesinger , and Daniel Bell, whose Greenberg  shadows in various  American situation  ways.  forms  positions viewed  the  with power collecting at a dew point — which he  would later posit as The Power Elite insidious  Whereas Mills  David  of  domination,  -- as breeding ever more  these  intellectuals  generally  maintained that power as a function of newly solidifying elites was C . Wright Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classes, p.64. C . Wright Mills, Lionel Trilling.all hold onto a model lossely based in class analysis, wheras these intellectuals especially Bell and Riesman, and later Dwight Macdonald incorporate a social hierarchy based in consumption. 3 3  3 4  ultimately  benevolent.  The danger they conceived  was of power  diffusing  amidst the new pressure and weight of a middle class  majority.  For present purposes, most influential is the sociologically  grounded work of Riesman, which provided intellectuals  with the  tools to negotiate the manacheist choices proferred by Stalinist and Democratic systems. His reconception of intellectual critique  hinges  upon the notion of a critical conformity ... a methodological function using a dialectical consciousness operating  on the premise of  differentiation, rather than on the nexus of class.  35  taste  Difference, once a  quotient of class and at variance with America's democratic destiny, is  shifted  into generally  affirmative  terms which cash in on the  potential for mobility housed in the ascending pyramidal formation of the American white collar. This formulation was as well  equitable  and homologous to a politics at variance with any form of populism, and ameliorative to a process of democratic rule by elites. With a theater of operations the entire mutable and amorphous ground of American culture, Riesman focusses in on the middle class individual  and  on  the  type  of  conformity  institutional framework of advanced  being  bred  by  the  capitalism. For Riesman, the  mode of conformity in a society is the fundamental building block for that totality's cohesion.  36  He thus offers a revisionary model of the  T h e slow process of demarxification of the so-called "New York intellectuals" had transformed a Marxist conception of "historical consciousness" , hinging on class "self-knowledge" into a parallel model, where the same key issue of "historical consciousness" realizable again only through dialectics, had as its lynchpin taste. Certain Malthusian principles of population growth and decline play a role in determining the mode of conformity. Riesman's construction of American "other-directed" conformity(see text) is contingent upon low population growth and massive increases in wealth for the entirety of the population. This model proposed in the late 1940s had necessarily to be rejected in part by 3 5  36  social relationship in its totality throughout history focussing on the vague disquietude of lonely individuals" , a universal  constant  37  affecting  all  human relationships,  which  he  translates  in  the  American situation especially into an illusory drive for belongingness and group participation. In distinction to the character type of innerdirection shaped by the strictures of an earlier stage of capitalism when  the  entrepreneurial  function  possibilities,  American  productive management  coordinated  rationalization  denying  creativity,  diffusing  i.e.,  was  capitalism  efficiency the  need  central  , for  individualism,  a  to  its  continued  hinging  upon  a  built-in  functional  self-motivated  individual  was  producing  "other-  directed" character types. Contemporary society, especially in America, no longer requires and rewards the old enterprise and zeal. This does not mean the economic system itself is slowing down: total production may continue to rise; but it can be achieved by institutionalizing technological and organizational advance, for instance in research departments, management counsel, and corporate planning staffs. The invention and adoption of new improvements can be routinized, built into the system, so to speak, rather than into men who run the system. Therefore, the energies of management turn to industrial and public relations, to oiling the frictions not of machines but of men. 38  1960 with the "baby boomer" generation. See "Foreword: Ten Years Later", in The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character,(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1960), pp xi-xlviii. D a v i d Riesman, "Individualism Reconsidered",first pub. 1951. Reprinted in Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p.31. D a v i d Riesman,"The Saving Remnant: An Examination of Character Structure", first pub. 1949. Reprinted in Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p. 104. 37  38  Intimately tied to the conditions of advanced industrialism the character and talents of the "other-directed" individual were molded to fit  the contingencies of a consumption oriented society . Daniel  Bell's position is similar , preferring however different terminology to describe the same phenomenon. His notion of an internalized panopticon is analogous to Riesman's radar  sensing  functionalism  device . society  of  Both acknowledge  39  of  notion  and greatly  delimited  an  internalized  the  progressive  possibilities  for  individual freedom. Riesman continues: With the growth of monopolistic competition, the way to get ahead is not so much to make a better mouse trap but rather to package an old mousetrap in a new way, and then to sell it by selling oneself first. People feel they must be able to adapt themselves to other people, both to manipulate them and be manipulated by them. This requires the ability to manipulate oneself, to become "a good package", to use a phrase current among personnel men. These pressures are, of course, not confined to business, but operate also in the professions, in government, and in academic life. *) 4  Riesman's  "radar  sensitive  types"  such  as  the  typical  organization man of the new middle class gains value and direction in life from the ever changing whims of the peer-group, passively responding surround  through approbation to them.  Despairing  of  the  the  psychological  dominant  social  forces  that  ethos  , a  S e e Daniel Bell,"Work and its Discontents: The Cult of Efficiency in America", in The End of Ideology.On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the FiftiesX Cambidge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1960),pp.228-229. Also David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character, (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press). Riesman, "The Saving Remnant: An Examination of Character Structure", p.104. 39  4u  pessimistic  tone  lingers  within  Riesman's  position,  hinting  that  potential individuality was being trained out of the individual by the acquiescent stage  of  pressures of the group, a function of the consumerist capitalism.  conformity  in  "Other-direction", the  America,  was  beguiling  the  dominant ultimate  integrity of the individual. For Riesman, a dependence  mode  of  productive on external  authority denies and sublimates the creativity of the individual self which carried within it the only chance for improvement , progress, and Utopian thinking. Among liberal intellectuals, appeal was that his sociological methodology  Riesman's great  found strategies for the  sustaining of a kind of individualism and Utopian thinking amidst the pervasive and oppressive conformity of a vastly more powerful and visible middle class dispossessed of choice, and hence integrity and freedom as well. It sustained a fundamental notion of a dialectics of history in its conception of autonomy, and linked to this echoed an earlier faith in elitism and a distrust of populism, a legacy of a key group in the American anti-Stalinist Left. space opposite specifically  to the ideological  Stalinism,  which  groupism  over  41  It also sought to define a  stance of communism or more  asserted  community  and  the  framework  in which the vast majority  an  altruistic  individual. Within  belief a  in  social  valued the manifestations of  collectivity and conformity, only the distanced critical perspective of the intellectual , "aware of the problems of choice ", could keep alive Both Greenberg and Bell were actively involved in the anti-Stalinist Left. Alan Wald links -both men to the activities of the Shachtman group (a Trotskyist cell), as late as 1946. The journal Commentary itself and its editors Greenberg, Nathan Glazer, and Robert Warshow held the Shachtman Group as allies as late as 1947. Greenberg was the "central link" . Alan Wald, The New York Intellectuals, ( Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carloina, 1987), p. 276. 4 1  moral insight and an individualist ethics .  As a minority faced with  42  the governing social ethic of middle class other- direction, Riesman provides a strategy  for retaining  moral hegemony  amongst "a  saving remnant", in the face of a majority "who have power" . For Greenberg , 43  the reality of  Riesman's vital contribution was to offer a  rationalized politics which preserved a space for creative freedom. The characterological specifics  of integrity and choice, necessary to  pursue advanced art, were equated to a "saving remnant". In American society , a society proportedly all middle , the organized force of other-directed conformity was utterly oppressive . The  status quo was affirmed on a public level through "other-  directed"  contentment  on  a  very  personal  level.  The happy  44  quietism  of consumer prosperity and peer-group approbation was  denying  creativity  and  transgression,  i.e.,  the  possibility  for  progress. Riesman's model sustained the possibility and potential for Utopian thinking through a re-evaluation of the individual and the priorizing of personal experience over collective interpretations. His model grapples with the historical complex of America's Cold War positioning  ,  the  increased  institutional  framework,  functional  rationality  an increasingly  of  consumption  America's oriented  D a v i d Riesman.'The Ethics of We Happy Few", first pub. 1948. Reprinted in Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p.52. D a v i d Riesman, "A Philosophy for Minority Living: The Jewish Situation and the 'Nerve of Failure", Commentary, vol.6, no.5, Nov. 1948, p.414. Riesman writes:"... the feeling of helplessness of modern man results from both the vastly enhanced power of the social group and the incorporation of its authority into his very character . The point is that the individual is psychologically dependent on others for clues to the meaning of life. He thus fails to resist authority or fears to exercise freedom of choice even when he might safely do so. Riesman, "The Saving Remnant",1 ndividualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954) p. 106. 42  43  4  4  society , and the moral hegemony posed by a middle class majority to accommodate freedom and  choice  as a function of taste within  the individual. The priorizing  of these terms will be crucial to my  discussion of Greenberg and the aesthetics of stain painting; it also links Riesmans position, and subsequently Greenberg's as well, to developments of a larger order in the political arena in the late 1940s. Greenberg,  Riesman,  and The Vital  Center  Riesman's specific model is linked to the historical positioning and ideological perspective of the "new liberalism". His theories are largely the result of a position which was formulated  as analogous to  this rising political star. Its program was jelled in the wake of the 1948 Truman presidency, the crushing defeat of Wallace , and the 45  constant reminder of the threat from the authoritarian Right.  The  keynote of the "new liberalism" was set by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in his book The  delineated  Vital  a  Center:  changed  The Politics  political  of Freedom  climate  repudiation of communism and fascism Truman's Fair Deal policies government  structured  Liberal  45  and  climate  Center  program of the  a  ranks.  intellectuals  was seemingly coterminous with  of opinion, galvanizing  Democratic  around  Roughly analogous to  political direction, and hence rife with possibility. It and diverse  which  and the political balance his coalition  struck, the position and  orbiting around The Vital  .  (1948),  Schlesinger  captured a wide  much strength pinpointed  Wallace allied himself with the Communist party in 1948.  within freedom  equidistant  from both  extremes  of  the  political  spectrum  on a  circular model. The virtues of the political center were 180 degrees from  the  false and illusory values claimed  conflation of both communism and fascism. the  center  of  Schlesinger  the  defined  American political tenuously  by totalitarianism, a  46  Attempting to secure  consensus,  the  position  balanced the political spectrum of  American politics. Both 'doughface' liberals to the left of center, and American conservatives  drifting to the right of center, were equally  untrustworthy in their easily excitable  extremism . Only the Vital  Center, in its rigid rejection of totalitarianism and its Cold War realism, could maintain an open and free society. Whereas  mounting McCarthyism saw only the singular threat  of communism , the politics of The Vital Center  saw communism as  well as the right wing extremism of McCarthy as one and the same manifestation characterized  of totalitarianism. Both fascism and communism were by  a blind faith  which  undermined  thought . The only alternative to the "radical evil",  47  independent  and the fanatical  grip on the individual that totalitarianism posed, was a critical and distanced  perspective, one which advocated a sort of individualism  very similar to that posited by Riesman, which was analogous  to  a party position  in the  simultaneously  political epicenter  of  the  This was the equation which Hannah Arendt proposed in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism. One reason the book enjoyed such a popularity amongst these intellectuals was the way this model fit Schlesingers model and tried to villify and pose the right wing anti-communism of McCarthy as equally dangerous. These are the terms in which Hannah Arendt speaks of totalitarianism. She implies both Communism and Fascism are somehow linked by the fact that both are so radically evil. Hannah Arendt ,The Origins of Totalitarianism, (New York: The Free Press, 1951).  4 6  47  American spectrum.  4 8  Both Riesman's and Schlesinger's models were  structured by a rigid anti-populism, in part engendered by a distrust of consumerism and as illegitimate heirs of the Frankfurt School's cultural  criticism.  49  This distrust, formulated in the face of the  historical lessons offered by German fascism and proletarian support for  communism, denigrated  McCarthy-type  anti-communism  as a  manifestation of "other-directed" conformity ... An anti-communism not born of the individual for freedom but rather the pressures of the group upon the individual.  Its historical perspective  saw the  rise of Nazism for instance as fueled solely by the irrational yearning of  the  masses,  entirely  dispelling  the  role  and  complicity  conservative elites disenchanted with the Weimar Republic. Advocating a free market in a mixed economy,  of  50  Schlesinger's  thesis was conceived of as a continuation of Roosevelt's New Deal. However, it embraced the corporate sector as constructive, in abject  deference  to the centralizing , socializing tendencies of the New Deal. The process  of  de-marxification  of  former  leftist  intellectuals  slow had  ^Commentary 's assistant editor, Irving Kristol, tries to capture the mood of anti communism, relating it to the double threat of right wing populism in the past: "Unfortunately it is quite impossible to tell the citizens of Oshkosh, some of whom have suffered personal loss as a result of the war in Korea, that there is no harm in having their children taught the three R's by a communist, as it would have been to persuade the citizens of Flatbush in 1939 that there was no cause for excitement in their children being taught by a Nazi."Irving Kristol, "Civil Liberties , 1952" Commentary, 1952. p.238. S e e Nathan Glazer's glowing review of The Authoritarian Personality, in "New Light on 'The Authoritarian Personality'", Commentary, vol. 17., no.4, Mar. 1954,pp. 289-297. 49  S e e Ingo Muller's The Courts of the Third Reich, trans. D.L. Schneider,(Cambrige: Harvard Univ. Press, 1991) , for a discussion of the juridicial system and legal practice in the Third Reich, and the complicity in the Nazi ethos of the legal profession. 50  mitigated an embrasure of capitalism and democratic direction in society as  the sole alternative for progress . Largely culled from the 51  left wing of American politics, the intellectuals grouped around The Vital  Center  eschewed the Leninist strategies  upon which they had  placed hope in the late 1930s and early 1940s . Their once dissenting and critical posture relationship  with  had gradually entered into a critically the  principles  and  institutions  of  assenting capitalism.  Riesman's position parallels this general tendency; writing in Lonely  Crowd  The  , his embrasure of the superstucture is clear.  Any sufficiently large society will throw up a slate of psychological types varied enough to suggest possibilities in many different directions; if America is not fascist, for example, it is not for want of sadists or authoritarians. There are plenty of these to staff the more benighted jails and mental hospitals, or to compete for the post of sheriff in many Southern communities; it is the institutional and juridical forms -- and their own limitations — that make it difficult for these men to coalesce into a political movement. To be sure these protections for liberty would collapse in the absence of men of appropriate character to run them ; but our point is that , within wide limits, in a large society institutions evoke within individuals the appropriate character. 52  As in The Vital  Center  , the existing institutions which made up  American democracy and capitalism are considered light.  Above all else the  business community  was  in a positive seen  as an  especially constructive force, one which could provide a system of checks  and balances  to stem the tendency  toward  ruling class  See Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art. D a v i d Riesman The Lonely Crowd ; A Study of the Changing American Character, p.xxii. 5 1  52  oppression forged.  when  alliance  between government  and industry was  53  In every system, as history has finally taught us, the tendency of the ruling class toward oppression can be checked only by the capacity of the other classes for resistance. And resistance requires essentially an independent base from which to operate. It requires privacy, funds, time, newsprint, gasoline, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear; it requires resources to which its own access is secure and which remain relatively inaccessible to the ruling class. Resistance is possible, in short, only when the base is clearly separate from the state. Under a system of total state ownership, the sinews of resistance are doled out to the opposition only by the charity of the ruling class. 54  For Schlesinger, the representative nature of the pluralism of social interests , i.e., the direction in which freedom  in some form  could be sustained, could only be assured when the economic base was separate from the specifically political power of the state. Since the middle class was in a material position to accede to power, its moral or political hegemony had to be stripped. American system  Luckily for the  — so these intellectuals theorized -- checks and  A model tending toward a completely free market with the autonomy of the corporate sector assured, as backed by some Republican ideologues, was an inadequate solution for an economic system which in Schlesinger's mind was not self-regulating and adjusting. For Schlesinger and other Vital Center liberals, the "fabulous invalid , American capitalism"(E. Cohen, editor, Commentary, Dec. 1952, p.603.), needed initial and indirect ground rules to run productively and smoothly . This suggested a loosely regulated system subject to and allowing for federal intervention for social and welfare legislation. In this model the function of the state apparatus "... should aim at establishing conditions for economic decisions , not at making all the decisions. It should create an economic environment favorable to business policies which increase production and then let the free market carry the ball as far as it can. "Schlesinger , The Vital Center : The Politics of Freedom, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1949), p. 182. 5  3  Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1949), pp. 150-15.  5  4  balances were built in to the very nature of American capitalism. was a social order built on mobility, which  It  stemmed any ruling class  potential for oppression simply by its fluid and dynamic nature. This was a crucial quality in the context of the Cold War , as the solidifying  of  hierarchy and especially  a bureaucratic  class in  Stalinist Russia had proved decisive in the original split between the Popular Front and American Trotsky ist organizations in 1939.  The  path to socialism was only open to a system which protected and guaranteed permanent revolution, and hence stopped the formation of any powerful class group.  This would be precisely the shared  theoretical objective of Schlesinger's and Riesman's politics, directed at conservatizing attempts to stem the moral , economic and political power of the American middle class.  55  For both Riesman and Schlesinger only within the framework of the democratic totality, could the  benevolent  in the grip of objective social processes,  direction of progress  be ascertained. The  impetus for that change and political direction was structured against populist inclinations and interests led and planned  was activated through a plurality of social by elite groups of specialists , brain  Ideologically the two have identical political projects, it is only in their approach that they formulate the crisis of a middle-class society differently,i.e. Schlesinger's more rigid economic approach and Riesman's sociological perspective are in essence equivalent and share in one anothers strengths and weaknesses. Riesman writes " little more than a dilettante ... the other-directed person is not able to judge the work of others ... He must constantly depend on specialists and experts whom he cannot evaluate with any assurance. That dependence is an inevitable and indeed a valuable fruit of the division of labour in modern society; but the inability even to dare to pass personal judgement is a defect rooted in the character of the other-directed person." David Riesman, "The Saving Remnant", Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p. 110 5  5  trusters , or managers. Whereas superficially the class  appeared  the natural resource from which  affluent middle truly unrestricted  decision making and direction might be plumbed, its real political power was diffused . The pluralism of the Vital Center, while locating a new central dynamic guiding late capitalism , buried its long-range objectives in an ultimately conservatizing  attempt to retain power  and govern through elites. In  1950  Greenberg outlines  an argument  shadowing  this  project in many ways . More specifically, it deals with the forces alligned against individual freedom in the minority situation, though its repercussions  stretch much further.  As part of a continuing  dialogue with David Riesman , the article situates Greenberg very much  in  the  sphere  of  Published in the journal intellectuals  Riesman's Commentary  of which Greenberg was  and  Schlesinger's  thought.  , a key organ of liberal associate editor, the article  "Self Hatred and Jewish Chauvinism" not surprisingly advocated a minority program shot through with Vital Centrist notions.  56  individual  the  is  manifestations  constructed  in  rigid  opposition  to  The free mass  and illusory loyalties of totalitarianism.  ^^Commentary's editorial policies are exemplary of the affirmative and assenting relationship with the principles and institutions of capitalism which the Vital Center intellectuals advocated. On the editorial staff were Elliot Cohen, Clement Greenberg, Nathan Glazer, Irving Kristol and Robert Warshow. In a short Time Magazine article entitled "Magazine of Quality" the editor writes: "Among its readers in 66 countries, none scan it more closely than the State Department. Again and again the department has picked up articles for distribution around the world, either because they have so ably stated the position of the democratic world, or so clearly exposed the fallacies of totalitarianism." {TIME Magazine Jan. 29, 1951) .  Jewishness , insofar as it has to be asserted in a predominately Gentile world , should be a personal rather than mass manifestation, and more a matter of individual self reliance . This does not mean overlooking one's fellow responsibility to one's fellow Jews, but it does mean making Jewishness something other than a product of herd warmth and an occasion for that herd conformity out of which arise the ugliest manifestations of nationalism—as we saw in the German case. 5 7  The threat facing the middle class individual was roughly analogous to the problems facing the individual of the Jewish minority in its enthusiasms  for  Zionism.  By  its  association  with  communal  tendencies gone awry, the suburban middle class and the zealous group moves toward Zionism or its corollary anti-Zionism had taken on a threatening posture for the indelible sense of individuality Greenberg  valued  most  highly;  5 8  it snatched  the individuals  prerogative of choice away and offered up decision making to the group.  Choice was the essential  component constituting Riesman's  form of individualism; it had to be faced head on not given up to the Clement Greenberg, "Self Hatred and Jewish Chauvinism" , Commentary, Oct. 1950,vol.l0, p.431. William H. Whyte echoes this position later in The Organization Man . He redelineates the arguments of liberals clustered around the Vital Center for a more popular audience and nation consumed with self analysis in 1956. The suburbs " ... have become the second great melting pot ... As the newcomers to the middle class enter suburbia , they must discard old values , and their sensitivity to those of the Organization man is almost statistically demonstrable. Figures rather clearly show that people from big , urban Democratic wards tend to become Republican and, if anything , more conservative than those whose outlook they are unconsciously adopting ... something does happen to Democrats when they get to suburbia".(William H. Whyte, The Organization Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), p.300. While the Chicago Tribune attributed the large Republican vote in the suburb of Park Forest " ...to the beneficial influence of fresh air on erstwhile Democrats"(Whyte, p.300.), for Vital Center liberals the statistics revealed a clear warning. Whatever the case for those of the middle class who had reached the suburbs after the prolonged economic recessions and political turmoil of the the 1930s and 1940s "the good life" and the status quo were interminably wrapped up in a society intoxicated by consumption 57  58  machinations of the group.  In the United States, above all, where  popular culture offered its enjoyment in such variety, the choice of high culture was a difficult one.  5  9  That Greenberg would advocate Jewishness " focussed directly in the individual Jew and discussed terms" self,  6 0  in personal , not communal  , that it was a "spontaneuos expression" of a most personal  links his statements closely  to Riesman's  and Schlesinger's  concepts of political economy and freedom. Echoing Riesman , the particular pragmatic vision offered by the minority legacy— in this case the Messianic hope — is considered vitally important. It enabled one to access a moral code unsubservient to the majorities' social ethic . From the vantage point of a minority ethic distance of critical 61  insight could be gained by the intellectual or individual. In this way a kind of historical consciousness  of the moment could be grasped,  one which had some comprehension of larger ideological or social forces , while simultaneously being in the grip of them. Riesman's "autonomous individual" was simultaneously conscious of himself as D w i g h t Macdonald comments on this later in 1953. " A statistically significant part of the population, I venture to guess, is chronically confronted with a choice between going to the movies or to a concert, between reading Tolstoy or a detective story, between looking at old masters or at a T V show; i.e., the pattern of their cultural lives is open to the point of being porous. Good art competes with Kitsch, serious ideas compete with commercialized formulae — and the advantage lies all on one side.""A Theory of Mass Culture", Diogenes , no.3., Summer 1953,p.4. G r e e n b e r g , "Self Hatred and Jeweish Chauvinism", p.431. 6 Greenberg would use a similar premise in his article "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka" (1955). Riesman advocates such a tactic too, on the grounds of a character weakness in the other-directed individual. He writes: "the feeling of helplessness of modern man results from both the vastly enhanced power of the social group and the incorporation of its authority into his very character 5 9  60  the individual is psychologically dependent on others for clues to the meaning of life. He thus fails to resist authority or fears to exercise freedom of choice even where he might safely do so.", "The Saving Remnant", Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954),p.l06.  subject and object of the historical process.  All that was required  was Riesman's "nerve of failure", the crucial concept of this liberal politics. It was a strategy to introduce original or Utopian thinking ~ thinking unsubservient to the majorities social ethic which condoned only  stale  and uninventive  'givens'  -- in face  of  the crushing  pressures of conformity.  The "nerve of failure" is the courage to face aloneness and the possibility of defeat in ones personal life or ones work without being morally destroyed. It is, in a larger sense, simply the nerve to be oneself when that self is not approved of by the dominant ethic of society ... (It) is needed only for really heretical conduct: when one renounces even the company of misery and takes the greater risk of isolation — that is, the risk of never rejoining the company 62  The "essential strength of Democracy ", Schlesinger writes in 1948, "as against totalitarianism lies in its startling insight into the value of the individual" . It was this 63  strength that Greenberg was  attempting to tap, believing — as did Riesman -- only the individual to possess an aptitude for freedom, when that individual's insight, originality , or creativity challenged the prevailing social ethic or posited difference.  64  Riesman's particular inflection on freedom and  Riesman, "A Philosophy for Minority Living: The Jewish Situation and the 'Nerve of Failure", Commentary, vol.6, no. 5, Nov.1948, p.413. Schlesinger, The Vital Center , p.155. A s Riesman notes the intellectual "...can focus on those very elements which differentiate him from the majority. Do I prefer Bach to Schumann? ... Do I fail to thrill to mass ceremonials in Sanders Theatre? ... What is really differentiating and most valuable in the intellectual is his gift of sharply and critically seeing through many conventional values, 'democratic' as well as fascist, 'wholesome' as well as treacherous. Since he cannot help , given his originality, having a critical attitude toward the dominant culture, he either represses those insights which detach him from that culture, or mixes them, as we have just now seen, with penances of 'affirmation". Riesman, "The Ethics of 62  63  6 4  individualism  openly invited the dizzying complex of choice and  accepted " the burden of being one's own arbiter of taste" . 65  Anti-Communism  and the  ACCF  It was in a very public way, in March of 1951, that Clement Greenberg would enter into the ugly political quagmire that was anti-communism Left" , TIME  66  .  In an article entitled  Magazine recounts  communist sedition levelled  "Soul Searching on the  events surrounding charges  at The Nation  of  and its foreign editor, J.  Alvarez del Vayo, by Greenberg, the journal's former art critic. The allegations  centered around the consistently  pro-soviet line of the  magazine and del Vayo's use of his column as a medium for that Stalinist regime. Greenberg's letter was refused publication in Nation  and in late March appeared in the liberal- labor New  The  Leader.  Since he began writing in The Nation about a decade ago, Mr. del Vayo has defended every step in Soviet policy and, just as unfailingly , criticized or evaded every argument and step opposed to that policy ... To be sure, Mr. del Vayo says , Russia is not always blameless, yet somehow he always calls upon the West to take the first step — and make the first concession — to assure peace . ... evidence furnished by his own words show that his We Happy Few", Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p. 48. Riesman, "The Ethics of We Happy Few", Individualism Reconsidered, (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1954), p. 50. With the publishing of The Authoritarian Personality in America in 1952 — a celebrated event, at least within the pages of Commentary — the variable of taste or sophistication or intellectuality was reinforced as the prime stumbling block to authoritarianism. 65  Though his position on totalitarianism is firmly entrenched in the article on Jewishness the rigid anti-communism characteristic of his peers is subdued. 6  6  c o l u m n h a s b e c o m e remarkably like those transmitted in amore  a m e d i u m t h r o u g h w h i c h a r g u m e n t s which the Stalin regime itself advances are plausible form to the American public. 6  7  J u s t e x a c t l y w h a tw a s a n a r t c r i t i c d o i n g ,e x p o s i n g c o n s and  sedition in the press?  An  art critic whose  other writings of  1 9 5 1, o n e e n t i t l e d " F e e l i n g i s A H " ,a n o t h e r of  Modern  Art",  o f  i n t e r e s t .W h a t  c o n c e r n s  f o r  constitute w e r e  h i g h  a singularly  and  t h e i n s i d i o u s c o n n e c t i o n s  c u l t u r e ,  a n d  p a i n t i n g , a n d  t h e s e p r o v o c a t i v e  are  and  complex  aesthetic  muti-  m o r e  " C e z a n n e a n d t h e U n  focussed  b e t w e e n  sphere  G r e e n b e r g ' s  s p e c i f i c a l l y m o d e r n i s m  r e d - b a i t i n g a c c u s a t i o n s ? T h e  faceted  but  circa  again  relate back  to  i n  a n s w e r s a kind  of  p o l i t i c s b e i n g e n u n c i a t e d b y t h e V i t a l C e n t e r ,a p o l i t i c s t ow h Greenberg  was  G r e e n b e r g ,  a party  t h e  and  d i s t i n c t l y  was  attempting  p o p u l i s t  to  e l e m e n t  o f  elaborate.  For  M c C a r t h y ' s  a n t i -  c o m m u n i s m w a r r a n t e d d i s t a n c i n g .S i m i l a r "fellow  travellers" were  o f  V i t a l  t h e  sweeping  critically diluting  C e n t e r ' s p o s i t i o n .  rightward  drift  l i b e r a l i n t e l l i g e n s i a i n t o p o s i t i o n . T h u s , c o m m u n i s m , w a s  a m i d s t a n d  a t t e m p t i n g  t h e t o  a r t i s t i c f r e e d o m . f r a m e w o r k p r i o r i z e d  o f  of  t h e  country  e x t r e m e l y s m o t h e r i n g  i n t a c t  I m p o r t a n t l y , t h e  i n d i v i d u a l  V i t a l  C e n t e r .  f r e e d o m  t o  t h e s e as  t h e  o n l y  t h i s  w a s  I t s  credibility  f a c t o r s w a s  v o c a l  a t m o s p h e r e o f  the  a whole,  n o n  c e l e b r a t o r y m o o d k e e p  dulling  C o m p o u n d i n g the  a n  and  forcing a n d  o f  p o p u l i s t  r a t i o n a l i z e  a n t i -  G r e e n b e r g  r e s o u r c e  f o r  w i t h i n  t h e  c o n t a i n e d  t h e o r e t i c a l  the  d i s a r m e d  n a t i o n a l i s m , r e m a i n i n g  t h e  p r e m i s e ,  p o l i t i c a l  w h i c h d i r e c t i o n  p r o v i d e d , a s w e l l , a s p a c e f o r a r t i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n . . . a n 67  New Leader , Febuary  , 1951  u n m e d  individual  response  aesthetic. This was necessary  absolutely  necessary  for  an  avant-garde  a space retained for freedom and absolutely  to realize "as much and as strongly and as truly"  68  as  Pollock. For intellectuals circulating within the orbit of the Vital Center, cultural freedom was the overriding prerogative  and this, above all  else, was most seriously threatened by events taking place in the political and social arena. Anti-communism and civil liberties were at the heart of the issue, and it was here in this most sensitive of areas that Greenberg directs his attack and positions charges function on a number of levels,  himself. The  the most important being  an acting out and delineation of a narrow political mandate  to  sustain political and cultural diversity. It was in conjunction with this circumscribed  platform that  Greenberg had joined  the  American  Committee for Cultural Freedom as a founding member on December 14, 1950.  In its wide spectrum of intellectual positions  Greenberg ,  Riesman, Nathan Glazer , Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, Sydney Hook and Schlesinger  formed a close knit group around a number of core  issues. Key among them was  anti-communism revolving around a  crucial hingepin centered on the institutions of American capitalism. As  well,  the  attack  stakes out  a ground ameliorative  to  the  Americans for Democratic Action, the "linchpin" of the Vital Center liberals . 69  was  68  69  closely  As one of the key organs for the group, The New Leader aligned  with  the  hard  line  anti-communism  Greenberg, "Feeling is All" , Partisan Review, vol.XIX, no.l, Jan-Feb. 1952, p.102. Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, p. 190.  of  46 Greenberg's invectives front  of  the  "new  7 0  .  With an election on the horizon, a unified  liberalism" was  necessary, distinct  from and  condemnatory toward the positions of the "dough faced" liberal soft on  communism  and  the  "gangster"  71  like  anti-communism  McCarthy . Greenberg's letter, taken in conjunction appearing the same month in Commentary  with an article  entitled  Who Haven't Learned" by Granville Hicks, roughly  "The Liberals  frames a domestic  program for anti-communism distinctive to key intellectuals Vital Center and homologous interest  in  the  formation  of  of the  to a political economy with a vested and  elements of American capitalism.  potential  of  the  superstuctural  72  Denouncing communists as complicit "in a tissue of lies"  73  with  the intent of subverting the consensus upon which democracy and  The New Leader was familiar with the journalistic policy of The Nation and the political split within liberal ranks. It had indeed earlier defined the parameters of the debate in "The Hards and the Softs".The New Leader , May 20, 1950. T h e terms are commonly used by the Vital Center's advocates. See Granville Hicks, "The Liberals Who Havent Learned", Commentary, Mar. 1951. 7  0  7 1  T h e crux of both Greenberg's and Hick's argument lay in an attempt to reveal The Nation as veiling a distinctly pro-Soviet bias beneath specious coverage of American/Soviet relations. Granville Hicks' writes: "If the proSoviet front has any strength in America today, it is because there are still liberals who provide the verbal cloak of 'social betterment' that hides the nakedness of the brutal revolutionary totalitarianism that is the communist aim." Granville Hicks, "The Liberals Who Havent Learned", Commentary, Mar. 1951,p.328. The same implications are read by Greenberg into del Vayos' column. As such, not as forum for ideas but rather as a medium for a concealed line of pro Soviet policy, del Vayo's position was attacked. Like Hook, Kristol, and Schlesinger , Greenberg would seemingly distinguish between ideas as ideological heresy and ideas as politico-military conspiracy. This position allowed for the holding and free exchange of ideas , in order to maintain a healthy cultural dialogue , even when heretical, but challenged the insidious dispersal of the idea when, as with communism, the political movement was rooted in conspiracy. 7 2  Irving Kristol, "Civil Liberties; 1952 — A Study in Confusion", Commentary, Mar. 1952, p.228-236. 73  freedom were based  the civil liberties of any and all communists  had rightly to be usurped. Political diversity, from whence came the democratic consensus , was threatened thought.  by its base uniformity of  The communist presence in any American institution,  74  from the American Civil Liberties Union "... to innumerable other institutions,  including schools , colleges, trade unions, ethnic and  religious associations, even the post office"  75  constituted a clear and  present danger to the specific purposes for which these offices were organized and to the freedom and integrity of the nation.  76  As Riesman had earlier posited, it was the existing institutions of American capitalism and democracy which naturally selected the best possible character and filtered out those unwanted authoritarian traits.  7 7  Hence  the  danger  of  domestic  communists  was  small  "Communism is an idea, beyond question. Indeed, it is an idea, and it is of the essence of this Idea that it is also a conspiracy to subvert every social and political order it does not dominate. It is, furthermore, an Idea that has ceased to have any intellectual status but has become incarnate in the Soviet Union and the official Communist parties, to whose infallible directives unflinching devotion is owed. A person who is captive to this Idea, at any time, in any place, can be called upon to do whatever the Idea , i.e., the Party, thinks necessary. Since this is so, it is of considerably more than private interest if a person is held by the Idea — he is, all appearances to the contrary, a person with different loyalties , and with different canons of scrupulousness, from ours. To grant him an "immunity by silence" is to concede the right to conspiracy, a concession no government ever has made or ever will make." Irving Kristol,"Civil Liberties; 1952 - A Study in Confusion", Commentary, Mar. 1952, p. 235. 74  Irving Kristol, "Liberty and The Communists", Partisan Review, Jul-Aug. 1952, vol.19, no.4.,p.494. 6Central to the civil libertarian opposition of the new liberalism was the Principal and right of the communist to hold a job in any American institution except those involving national security, i.e., posing a clear and present danger to the security of the nation. Richard Rovere, a leading spokesman of the position, was in direct opposition to the positions of The New Leader and Commentary — Greenberg held the post of associate editor, the journal shared close ties with the liberal anti-communism of the Vital Center and The New Leader. F o r the liberal intellectuals clustered around the ideas of the Vital Center, anti-communism had to be pursued with vehemence focussed on the cultural 75  7  7 7  because of an institutional personality.  If the  framework thwarting the authoritarian  mechanisms  for divining freedom  were to be  sustained, a cleansing of even submerged totalitarian tendencies had to be effected, especially  within the institutional framework, that  most revered and sacred protector of freedoms. Greenberg's  invectives,  directed  at the  The  Nation  as a  cultural medium and ancillary for Soviet propaganda , his activity on the editorial board of Commentary  , and his participation in the ACCF,  are all inextricably linked to the solutions for the survival of freedom he and a larger group had to negotiate . His attack on del Vayo and 78  the media should, I think, be seen in light of the institutional focus of anti-communism  pursued  cultural massification divested  it  of  homogeneity,  by  these  intellectuals  as  well  as  the  which abbreviated the cultural spectrum and  diversity.  which was  The  political  consequences  of  such  the perceived and hidden threat of del  Vayo's politics, pointed toward the delimiting of naturally occurring mechanisms  of American culture to provide freedom. Within this  framework  high modernist  culture was  an important signifier  difference;  the differential  gap it provided in the cultural sphere  acted as an important sounding board in defining a politics  of  for the  sphere. In the minutes of the Executive Committee, Daniel Bell voices precisely this position, " The ACCF's proper concerns were the political consequences of cultural events , not the cultural consequences of political events". Daniel Bell, ( Executive Committee minutes, Oct. 19, 1954.C-39, ACCF Papers), pp. 2-3. The institutional critique occupied the central position of liberal anticommunisms attack: Clement Greenberg, Arthur Schlesinger , David Riesman, Daniel Bell, Robert Warshow, Irving Kristol, Nathan Glazer all shared in a close knit core of ideas. Though, of course, they differed on other issues their distinct position on anti-communism acted as a crucial hingepin in the the early 1950s. 7 8  group. In support of Greenberg's action Rienhold Niebuhr, an early theorist of the "new liberalisms" middle way, resigned from Nation  The  as contributing editor, and Arthur Schlesinger would write:  "As an occasional contributor to The Nation, myself with the  I would like to associate  sentiments expressed by Clement Greenberg" . 79  Though later, as the 1950s progressed, the close knit positions of the group would widen, during the early 1950s their greatly delimited possibilities coalesced disparate positions and a circumscribed brand of  anti-communism,  specific  to  the  anti-Stalinist  equated with cultural freedom.  79  letter to Freda Kirchway, Mar.26, 1951, box C-28, ACCF Papers.  Left,  became  50 CHAPTER 2  Clearly, the early 1950s intellectuals.  were a tenuous period for these  The salvaging projects they had conceived  to harness  the social forces of the emerging democratic formation, in the late 1940s, were slowly disintegrating .  The middle class,  whom they  had strategically placed in a pivotal position, a conservatizing move in order to retain the possibility of democratic rule by elites, fulfilled  their  favor of the  darkest prophesies,  swinging the  1952  Republican Right. The political forces  had  election in  they had set in  motion had, in the form of McCarthyism, overtaken them entirely and in effect rendered their politics  impotent. The moderate centrist  position the new liberalism once occupied was, by the early 1950s, marginalized and displaced by the Republican party, as America slid en masse toward the Right . It was, indeed, a landslide Republican majority in the suburbs -- 66% in Levittown, Long Island, and over 69% in Park Forest, Illinois — that gave Eisenhower his first term in office in 1952.  The  1  championing of the suburbs and its "wise" middle class as the ideal direction of American society policies of  was typical of the domestic Cold War  the Republican party under Eisenhower.  of widespreading consumerism , affluence, for leisure, focussed utterly  around the television  uncomplicated.  administration,  American  and the suburban model set,  was complete and  As a general tendency activities  Their embrasure  seemingly  in Eisenhower's focussed  upon  William H.Whyte, The Organization Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), p.300.  1  domestic the  consumerism  purposes  American ready  as a weapon  against  of cultural brinksmanship  dream  under  Eisenhower  anti-communism.  on the  was  home  constructed  For  front  as  ,  the  fulfilled  ,  for export, and potentially damning to communist subversion.  This was to render the manachiest choices of the Third World nations and the communist countries advanced  industrial  lifestyle of suburbia converged offering  with  themselves  capitalism 2  the  sensational  affluence  and  . The modern corporate and industrial complex  middle-class  nationalism  and  incapable of turning down  prosperity  structured  in  a  exclusively  benevolent  toward  the  accord healthy  economic life of the individual. The  benevolent  egalitarian  and  developments over  the  in  two  overly the  optimistic  social  construction  formation,  terms of Eisenhower's  whether  of pre-  election  or  presidency,  was  clearly  in opposition to the qualified embrasure and pragmatism the  liberal intelligensia perceived of as valid in a progressive sense . suburban  middle  theoretical foreign  class  had  rationalization  been  and  neatly  Republican Cold War policies.  implicated as moral and the American way. threat and pervasiveness the  late  concerned  1940s, with  that  as  the  domestic  and  Rampant consumerism  was  legitimation  appropriated of  both  It was in response to the  of this construction, from as early the  positioned  largely and  The  Democratic  repositioned  intellectuals themselves.  on as I  am  To  the  This would reach its climax with Vice-President Richard Nixon, extolling the virtues of American consumerism and technology at the famous face off with Totalitarianism against Nikita Khrushchev at the Moscow "Kitchen Debate" in 1959. 2  liberal  groups  Center,  clustered  around the  new  National policy and sentiment,  manifest itself as especially  liberalism of  the  Vital  more than anything else,  an uncritical embracing of the domestic situation,  consumerism and mass society, a too soft  position on  international communism, and a misunderstanding of its ideological nature. All told, this amounted to an all too obvious signal to the world  that  American  domestic  and  foreign  policy  presaged  individual and cultural genocide.  3  The Republican victory in the 1952 election carried to the fore many  of  the  worst  fears  these intellectuals  had teethed.  The  momentum and resonance of domestic anti- communism in its more populist manifestations proved to be central. their own  theoretical  model,  As a key constituent of  and complicated  political forces activated by the Cold War,  by the  growing  these intellectual groups  were placed in an extremely tenuous and limited framework.  It was,  in fact, part of the greater strategy of the Eisenhower camp during the latter part of the elections of 1952  to cultivate precisely the  populist, anti- intellectual tone of McCarthyism, in order to capture the  middle  class  consensus.  As  the  election  drew  near,  the  sometimes strict sectarianism of intellectual third party politics  4  was wildly swinging in favor of Stevenson. Key intellectual defections The ACCF was in part a functionig cog in a political machinery to combat exactly such speculations. At every possible opportunity their projects affirm the possibility of high culture in mass society. See for instance Daniel Bell's "America as a Mass Society" read as a paper presented at the conference "The Future of Freedom", sponsored by the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Milan, Italy, September, 1955 and reprinted in The End of Ideology. Arthur H. Schlesinger, "The Highbrow in American Politics", Partisan Review, March - April 1953, p.159. 3  4  to the Stevenson position late in the campaign media to portray the new tone  had prompted the  of the Stevenson Democrat camp with  the intellectual overtones of the Ivy League— as the "egghead" vote. This characterization struck deep within the American psyche , and perhaps  above all else was contingent upon the hard right faction of  Senator McCarthy, whose wide-ranging populist support , especially in the suburbs, constituted  a clear majority.  In the  months  following the sedition trials of Alger Hiss and Coplon , and in the wake of the Owen Lattimore case, the "red menace", initially the baby of liberal intellectuals,  had become  the monster  powerful political tool for the extreme right . 5  before the election, a McCarthyite Republican the threat and repercussions of a Stevenson would be  "...  child and  As a grim prophesy  spelled out how great  "bleeding heart"  victory  the eggheads will come back into power and off again  we will go on the scenic railway of muddled economics, Socialism, Communism,  crookedness  and  psychopathic  instability."  6  By  conflating intellectualism and brands of liberalism with socialist or communistic tendencies, intelligentsia, sweeping much  too  had  the  little  urbane Stevenson,  hope  against  surrounded by the  anti-communist  sentiment  the country. The sinister threat of authoritarianism was dangerous  a future  for the  freedom-loving  American,  Daniel Bell, "What Next For McCarthy" The New Leader , Nov. 24,1952, p. 21. See also Robert G. Spivack, "Why Stevenson Lost" The New Leader , Nov. 17 ,1952, pp. 2-5 . Louis Bromfield , quoted in Arthur Schlesinger , Jr. "The highbrow in American Politics",  5  6  protective and proud of his  Buick station wagon, her family and  suburban home , and their matching towels and leisure suits.  "The Plight of Our Culture" 1952 in particular, with the defeat of  Stevenson and  the onset  of the Eisenhower administration, presented the positions of the Vital Center with a bleak  situation and horizon .  Time  Magazine captured  the mood at election and ushered in the new era with grim delight : " The final victory discloses an alarming fact , long suspected: there is a wide and unhealthy gap between the American intellectuals and the people" . In seeming response to such accusations portent tone of Schlesinger's Liberal Dilemma", intellectuals  retained  article, "Stevenson  ,and to the  and the American  directed toward the future of liberalism , liberal a substantial degree of optimism, channeling  this into an updated set of solutions  7  . Their dialectically structured  thought , still embracing the historically situated materialism of their earlier leftist years , kept  possibility alive through a continual and  renewed incorporation of the changing modern circumstance. Even  Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr,. "Stevenson and the American Liberal Dilemma", Twentieth Century, Jan. 1953, p.59. The pragmatic imperative that "... only the strength and vitality which will come from a willingness to respond directly to the imperatives of the 1950s can bring salvation and regeneration" stuctures Schlesingers article. Alexander Bloom in Prodigal Sons : The New York Intellectuals and Their World , (New York, Oxford University Press, 1986), misinterprets the optimism of this moment. The sense of affirmation he garners from the "Our Country and Our Culture" symposium is not simply a product of the coalescing and unification of intellectual forces behind their country— this had occurred much earlier— rather it was more a sense of possibility gained from the fact that they had found a strategy to pursue their elitist conception of democracy. 7  8  with the crushing political defeat of the liberal program in 1952 , many intellectuals  had reason to retain  future. This is witnessed in affirmative Lionel  symposium,  Trilling's  Partisan  pictures. His position incisively  built  's  overwhelmingly  was later  , outlined  to appear  one of the  8  in an  more hopeful  takes apart the Stevenson  campaign  promise in the fact that his limited success was  around a positive  democratic  which  Perspectives  and defeat , finding  Review  "Our Country and Our Culture", of 1952.  contribution,  expanded form in  hope in the Vital Center's  formation's  intellectual  outlook.  overwhelming  Though the American  tendency  was to  manifest  itself as a levelled populism, Trilling locates a countervailing mode of promise emerging . This he identifies of  social elites  This  that  the American  new emerging  evidently  professional  trying to consolidate  as an entirely  corporate  new hierarchy  system was breeding.  or incorporated  intellectual was  a position within the social  totality.  The pyrrhic victory of the Stevenson campaign was that it had linked up with  and revealed  a peculiarly promising manifestation  monopoly capitalism ... a class  moved by the power of ideas.  It was in this same complex  to the reverberations  9  historical scenario that Greenberg  would submit "The Plight of Our Culture". synchronous  of late  As highly and closely  of liberal notions  of freedom as  Trilling's hopeful position, Greenberg's article delineates in a broad format  the altered  cultural landscape,  a wide-ranging prescription  for its internal re-ordering, and the necessity for an altogether new  Lionel Trilling , "The Situation of the American Intellectual at the Present Time ", Perspectives , no.3., Spring 1953, p.33. 9  strategy  for  avant-garde  practice.  The influence  carefully veiled, but nonetheless fundamental.  of  Riesman  is  In America at mid-  century not culture but work occupied the positive and central ends of life. That is to say, the functionalization of the working sphere is one of the key premises  of ' Greenberg's critique to alter culture,  which was being forced into a negative and recuperative stance for the maintenance  of labour oriented drudgery. Leisure had become  another function or convention for self-improvement group  approbation.  It  was  Greenberg's  intent  based in peer  to  remedy  predicament and reinstil culture as epicenter and centripetal To  this  end,  he  traces the  immanent  this focus.  rhythm and promise  of  American civilization back to its capitalist formation, and ultimately to the fact of corporate industrialism's all-pervading efficiency, anxiety  to sustain  making  this efficiency  , and the imaginative  upon which this hinges.  Riesman's  notions  the  decisionof  "other-  direction" and its inflection on American work and leisure, structured toward a lingering interpersonal  anxiety  of  approbation, are the  underlying and central causes of a predicament possibly  solvable  through a realliance  productive efficiency,  self-purpose,  Greenberg sees as  of work and leisure  with  and individual self-awareness.  It would be these saving features of life under American capitalism  i.e.,  reinfused into profound  those  countering  on  modernism Greenberg so  transcending  impetus  toward  groupism,  culture, that would metaphorically inform and have  ramifications  model which  the  the  formal  fervently  shift  championed.  incorporated and assimilated hierarchy  of  taste  ,  and  within  American  Riesman's  early  social mobility into a  presciently  claimed  the  possibility for an elite of taste to tenuously consolidate amidst first  pervasive conformity, is implicit to  a position  Greenberg's article — the  important attempt to reconcile a visual stylistics with projects  inscribed and framed by the ideologies of the "new liberalism" . 10  The shift from authority to manipulation Riesman notes in relation to character  structure,  psychologized  and  Bell  panopticon,  i.e.  metaphorically the  refers  functionalization  to of  as  a  working  method and industrial corporate strategy, is theoretically overturned by the imputing of motivation to the self. Wherein motivation and direction are gained productive impetus  only  of the  from the self  group rather than from the  -- all satisfaction  is  subsequently  gained extracurricularly. In 1953 "just as work" ... Greenberg writes ... " had become more concentratedly and actively work -- that is more strictly controlled by its purposes , more efficient"  11  so the next  phase in the teleological progression of modernism in painting would be a more concentrated distillation of the medium's purposes through a stricter emperical logic.  1 2  I would argue it was just such a focus  Although Greenberg does not explicitly mention the visual in "The Plight of Our Culture", it can quite rightly be read into the article. Clement Greenberg , "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, July 1953, p.58. 1 0  1 1  This is indeed what Greenberg proposes 7 years later . In "Modernist Painting" (1960) he writes modernism had through its self critical tendency exhibited " not only that which was unique and irreducible in each particular art ... (but) had ... to determine through its own operations and works , the effects exclusive to itself". Clement Greenberg, "Modernist Painting", Arts Yearbook , vol.4, 1961, p. 102. Greenberg's position in 1953 is a far cry from the Eliotic Trotskyism to which T.J. Clark ascribes him in 1939. It is partly the result of a conscious distancing from this former politics that Greenberg's attack take such a vehemence. Eliot quoted by Greeberg in "The Plight of Our Culture", p.58. 1 2  1 3  1 4  in stain painting, and more specifically a focus in Louis' first "Veils", a focus on the purity of color and openness this mitigated, a focus on form and content reconciled, and the accessing  of these qualities  through the peculiar conglomerate of individualism , freedom , and autonomy of character exemplified by  Morris Louis , that placed the  stylistics of the mode so in touch with America's global hegemony at a moment when that was nearing its zenith. Using T.S. Eliot's book,  as  a departure  romanticism  ,  Notes Toward  Greenberg sounds  off  "culture in decline"  Increased  the  stance of  capitalism.  of  Culture  pessimistic the literary  For Greenberg,  13  did not sufficiently capture the intricacies of  14  modern condition, especially  example.  against  and traditionally conservative  critic in the face of change wrought by  the  the Definition  as  manifest  prosperity, higher levels  in of  the  American  education, and  aspirant levels of cultural appreciation among a broad populace had to be acknowledged  as positive progress in any cultural construct.  Perhaps the most sustained attack on the  literary critic's position  was Greenberg's focus on the latter's failure to deal with the specifics of the American cultural and economic situation. and Riesman , Greenberg makes claims from European models warrants  Like Daniel Bell  for America's distinctness  and, importantly, affirmatively claims this  an acknowledgement  entirely new stage of capitalism.  of  the  American  condition as an  The upper classes can no longer say to the rest of society: "Work - that& your fate, not ours." Status and prestige are not derived so implicitly as before from social origin , and are conferred more and more preponderantly on achievement, and sustained achievement at that. Old fashioned , complete leisure is now felt by the rich, too, as idleness, as remoteness from reality, and therefore the way to demoralization, thus no longer presupposed as the natural and positive condition of the realization of the highest values — much less as the end for which one strives in youth as well as old age." 15  Echoing elements of both Riesman's and Daniel Bell's critique of American  culture  Greenberg shifted  -- which  are useful  here  for extrapolation —  reiterates that the fulcrum of power and status had  from the two fundamental pillars of bourgeois  capitalism,  property, and the family to achievement , itself placed within a new set  of  parameters  corporate  mega  unprecedented  established  model  16  by  industrialism  built  upon  the  . With intimations to Bell's notions of the  breakdown of  entrepreneurial and family  forms of  capitalism,"corporate giantism" is accepted as the solitary means to chart a future for technological cultural  and economic  progress  prosperity.  , and hence,  The shift  away  enduring  from family  capitalism, from the dynasties of "Ford ,Swift, Grace , and du Pont"  17  to a new class of managers, "... recruited from the general grab bag of middle class life, (who) lack the assured sense of justification which  Greenberg , "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, July 1953, p.59. Daniel Bell, "The Prospects of American Capitalism", Commentary, vol.14, no.6, Dec.1952, pp. 603, 610. 1 5  1 6  1 7  Bell, "The Prospects of American Capitalism", p. 610.  the older class rooted system provided" , found its corrolary in a 18  system providing unlimited potential for social mobility and perhaps as well to a form, or better veneer, of freedom. analyses of American culture, while  Greenberg's  borrowing heavily  upon the  mediations of Riesman's characterological work on conformity, would deny the mechanistic optimism Riesman imputes to the anxiety for more  sophisticated  mobility.  and cultured forms  of  leisure  as  means  for  In order to reconcile a position for high cultural production  and reception he  can only accept pessimistically the possibility for  elites existing in the social formation while denying the possibility for those elites emerging from the "general grab bag of middle class life".  19  Bell figures that with an investment only in success for its own sake, rather than in that of the company , insecurity and anxiety among the managerial class was at a premium. B e l l , ibid. Mills notes in The Power Elite that this corporate elite and specifically "the sophisticated conservative", are, despite the myth of corporate mobility, actually descendents of wealthy families from the turn of the century. "The business liberals or sophisticated conservatives ... are sophisticated because they are more flexible in adjusting to such political facts of life as the New Deal and big labour, because they have taken over and used the dominant liberal rhetoric for their own purposes, and because they have, in general, attempted to get on top of, or even slightly ahead of, the trend of these developments, rather than to fight it as practical conservatives are want to do." Mills, The Power Elite, (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1956), p. 122. He continues " Socially the men and women of the great American fortunes have taken their places as leaders of the several metropolitan 400's. Of the ninety members of the 1900 very rich, only nine were included in Ward McAllister's 1892 list, but roughly half of the families in our 1900 listing have descendants who in 1940 were listed in the social registers of Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, or New York ... Twelve of the fifteen sons of the ten men out of the 1900 very rich whom Fred Allen selected as the leading financiers of 1905, went to either Harvard or Yale: the other three to Amherst, Brown, and Columbia" Mills, The Power Elite, (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1956), p. 117. 1 8  19  It is along such lines of argument that Greenberg forefronts middle-brow culture, it forming a critical aspect of the distance between his own and Riesman's position and as well that between he and Eliot.  A qualified acceptance of it was natural, if the pragmatic  element and long-range projects of kept alive .  liberal ideologues were to be  Organically linked as it was to the benevolence of  American democracy, and as one of the most visible  manifestations  of the American dream, it was indelibly linked and frought with the same possibility as the larger American situation.  Mid -cult had to  be taken up within a larger cultural model, if only tenuously and qualifiedly,  and if only to refute Eliot's romantic misconceptions as  to the generative framework of diversity necessary The  to high culture.  seriousness of the situation and mid-cults pivotal position in the  cultural arena occupies  Greenberg at length.  Its utter weight in  American culture, it seems, had capped off a century of gathering momentum. To the extent that through the efficiency  of American  industrialism the middle class material position, its political power, and its optimism were peaked, its culture , middlebrow culture, had become the crucial culture decided" associated  20  "... where the fate of the whole is  . In concurrence with the  larger liberal program, loosely  with the core intellectuals, its populist and consumption  orientation was denigrated by Greenberg. The new American middle classes have in this situation been able to ask with more confidence and success than any upstart class before them that high culture be delivered to them by a compromise, precisely , with their limitations . Hence , above all,  2  0  Greenberg, " T h e P l i g h t o f O u r C u l t u r e " , Commentary,  vol.16, July 1953, p.55.  middlebrow culture. The liberal and fine arts of tradition, as well as scholarship, have been "democratized" -- simplified, streamlined, purged of whatever cannot be made accessible, and this is in large measure by the same rationalizing, "processing", and "packaging" methods by which industrialism has already made lowbrow culture a distinctive product of itself. Almost all types of knowledge and almost all forms of art are stripped, digested, synopsized, "surveyed", or abridged. The result achieved in those who patronize this kind of capsulated culture is, perhaps, a respect for culture as such, and a kind of knowingness, but it has very little to do with higher culture as something lived 21  Certainly, the mystification of class, and the massive expansion of  the  media,  undifferentiated were  spoke  to  precisely  construction  indicators  emerging,  Eliot's  kind  of  mass,  of America, but simultaneously or so  the  "new  liberalism"  there  fervently  maintained — and it had a large corpus of sociological statistics to prove it — that bonding  new systems of and for social organization and  were coalescing.  The inclusion  cultural model furnished the sanctioned  diversity,  essential  of mid-cult in a larger  liberal ethos with a schema for  liberalism to  conceive  which of  the  possibility for the "dizzying choice of freedom", thus legitimating a social hierarchy of taste as natural. Italy, entitled  In his address for the ACCF in  "America as a Mass Society",  Daniel Bell uses the  burgeoning middle levels of culture to dispel criticism of America as mass society, and instead  posits it as a healthy forum for an open  society providing for diversity: In the United States, more dollars are spent on concerts of classical music than on baseball. Sales of books have doubled in a Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, 565-566.  2 1  vol.15, Je. 1953, pp.  decade. There are over a thousand symphony orchestras, and several hundred museums , institutes and colleges are purchasing art in the United States today. Various other indexes can be cited to show the growth of a vast middlebrow society. And in coming years, with steadily increasing productivity and leisure, the United States will become an even more active "consumer" of culture. 22  Similarly, Greenberg offers the growth and infinite gradations of middlebrow culture as evidence, and following Riesman, implicates its  infinite  gradings  of  taste  as  the  graspable  translation  of  differentiating publics, or at least as evidence of popular culture as having an active or participatory element — the possibility of closing the gap between high culture and mid-cult. There is a vast distance between high culture and lowbrow — vaster, perhaps, than anything similar in the past -- but it is covered without apparent break by the infinite shadings and gradings of middlebrow culture, which is defined roughly by the fact that, though its audience shrinks from the trials of highbrow culture, it nonetheless refuses to let its culture be simply a matter of entertainment and diversion on the lowbrow order. 23  With distinction renegotiated in terms of the infinite shadings of taste, what better conditions  for the fostering of high culture,  even in Eliot's terms, could be found than the stunning diversity and pervasiveness  of mid-cult.  Indeed the European intellectual community's main point of criticism of American potential was its massified characteristics which would discount the validity of claims for any avant garde cultural progeny. Thus Bell's address focussed precisely on the heart of the matter. See "America as a Mass Society", first delivered Sept. 1955. Reprinted in The End of Ideology, (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1960), p.33. Greenberg.'The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.15, Je. 1953, p. 564. 2  2  2 3  With high culture and mid-cult equally and intimately related to  their  generative  framework  in  a  society  of  accelerated  consumption, the implied model of cultural analysis situated both on the same continuum of heightening personal choice . It focussed in on the  element  of  taste  the  consumer  possessed,  and  keyed  an  ascending scale of taste and hence freedom and moral certitude to the  ever  heightened  realm  of  modernist  culture.  Unlike the  233  Frankfurt School, especially Adorno and Horkheimer's in Dialectic The Enlightenment  of  (1947), which relates consumerism directly to the  mechanisms of a culture industry, Greenberg's model, based in the sanguine theoretical practice of Riesman, allowed for the possibility of a transcendent consumption oriented individual. Outmanoeuvering loyalties of an ideological nature and group belongingness in terms of consumption patterns, the possibility for autonomous culture and its pursuit is given  legitimation by a real historical subject located in  the field of American culture ... a culture synced to social mobility and the possibility for a heightening sensitivity to taste. image whose  of the autonomous intellectual  democratic intellectuality  freedom  American individual was  conceptions of  choice  and  decisions  while  grounded  or sophistication as constitutive  The new  a consumer  encompassed in  taste  a and  of that choice. The  individual being forwarded was the agent for an ideal public of modernist art and necessarily of a dynamic and fluid economic elite of managerial status. Again, this was  a  corroborative of  the political  This reading of popular culture theory in the 1950s is in opposition to current literature on which fails to grasp the importance of mid-cult in the context of the Cold War. See for instance the superficial nature of Andrew Ross' recently published book No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture. 2  3  a  economy envisioned by the projects of the "new liberalism" . In fact, it fully embraced the potential for "status seeking" locked inside large  corporate economy  delineation  translated  of the taste group and  as  homologous  to  the  Riesman's  Greenberg's use of taste as  necessary for the continuance of modernism. The new image of the American individual, positioned in an ever increasing hierarchy of taste ,  was  intimately linked to the Vital Center's notions of  democratic rule by elites, only  social and class distinction are  cloaked beneath notions of individual taste . 24  The  consumer  whose intellectual  conceptions  and  decisions  encompassed a democratic freedom of choice while grounded in taste as constitutive  of that choice was made possible by a benevolent  corporate and, in a larger sense, institutional framework structured for social mobility and enfranchisement.  Daniel Bell comments on  this in 1953: The most salient fact about modern life -- capitalist and communist — is the ideological commitment to social change. And by change is meant the striving for material and economic betterment, greater opportunity for individuals to exercise their talents, and an appreciation of culture by wider masses of people. Can any society deny these aspirations? ... Social and cultural change is probably greater and more rapid today in the United William H. Whyte notes in The Organization Man , that an average crosssection of the new suburban middle class has a mean educational level of 2.5 years of college life, and that college- educated wives are not uncommon; indeed, it is their taste for cardigans, slacks, and pearls which sets the standard for suburban fashion. Education and relative sucess are conflated and priorized to such an extent that the educated girls waistline becomes a signification of income. "Average income is tranlated into palpable differences in what has come to be called lifestyles. Even the degree of wives' slenderaess, as incomes rise waistlines go down, so that in the $5,000 - $7,000 income group, 59% of the women wear the small misses sizes" Whyte, The Organization Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), p. 317. 2 4  States than in any other country, but the assumption that social disorder and anomie inevitably attend such change is not borne out in this case. This may be due to the singular fact that the United States is probably the first large society in history to have change and innovation "built into" its culture. " 2 5  While capturing the spirit of democratization ,i.e., change , this position,  through  gestures  simultaneously retained Class  distinctions,  only  on  the  surface  liberalizing  ,  its elitist conceptions of political economy.  surreptitiously re-evaluated  in terms  of taste,  legitimated an embrasure — or perhaps more succinctly a cooptation --  of  the  democratic  impetus,  while  retaining  difference  and  marginality ... the essence of the Vital Center's pluralism of choice. Whether it would be Trilling's intellectual class or A . C . Spectorsky's "ideas  men"  26  coalescing  in a rarified  corporate hierarchy and  geography, or simply the propensity for Bridge over Canasta and Poker in the suburban middle class  27  , difference  and distinction  were being established and re-solidified. Trilling's emerging culture,  class,  "saving  moved  by  remnant" ,  are all prospects  not,  the  power  of  ideas,  Riesman's  and Greenberg's restructuring of ironically, unlinked. These issues  framed by intellectuals, which Jurgen Habermas locates at the roots of the new conservatism  28  , intimately associated with the politics of  Bell, "America as a Mass Society", in, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties, (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988), p.35. A . C . Spectorsky, The Exurbanites, (New York: Berkley Publishing Corp., 1955), p. 12. See Whyte, The Organization Man., especially Part VII, pp. 267-392. Jurgen Habermas, The New Consevatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians' Debate, (Cambridge: The MIT Press,1989), see especially chapter 1. Trilling , "The Situation of the American Intellectual at the Present Time ", Perspectives, no. 3, Spring 1953, p.35. 2 5  2  6  2 7  2 8  2  9  the ACCF,  with a marked taste for high culture and cosmopolitanism,  and an adopted responsibility for the survival of high modernist culture , all boded well for the cultural life of America. Despite their disparate positions, all felt helplessly levelling  which the  presented.  prehensile  threatened by the democratic  quality of  the  new  middle class  The identification of a social elite and what made them  tick somewhat allayed those fears. Trilling writes: "This group will not be — is not — content with mass culture as we now have it, because for its very existence it requires new ideas , or at least the simulacra of new ideas." economically  sustain  29  This organic intellectual could perhaps  imaginative  or Utopian thinking  3 0  . Their  existence provided the possibility for a lengthening of the spectrum of  cultural  diversity  by  underwriting  the  symbiotic  relations  between an avant-garde of aesthetic and intellectual pursuits and a progressive and economically powerful elite. Despite the fact that the liberal intellectual's alliance with the rising star of corporate America had been adumbrated in the late 1940s, it was not until the early and mid 1950s, when concrete evidence as to its potential power was manifest, that this prescient knowledge became more readily accepted or widely dispersed. In his  Even C.Wright Mill in his book The Power Elite (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1956) which offers perhaps one of the few critically dissenting analysis' of the American situation at mid-1950's falls prey to a certain misguided and not entirely unawed appreciation of the corporate and military complex. A . C . Spectorsky, The Exurbanites, ( New York, Berkeley Publishing Corp., 1955), pp.10-12. See also David Riesman's "The Executive as Hero", Fortune, Jan. 1955, pp. 108-110. The popularity of the films The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Executive Suite is not unrelated to this mounting optimism in American culture. 3 0  3 1  1955  best-seller,  The Exurbanites  spotlights precisely this  , for instance,  A . C . Spectorsky  elite fraction of the corporate sector . " The  exurbanite, at his most typical , is an idea man — as we have called him, a symbol manipulator ... these people God save us all, set the styles , mold the fashions , and populate the dreams of the rest of the country ... they are our nation's movers and shakers for ideas and opinions, for what is fashionable, and what is fun."  Constructed as a  31  kind of new avant - garde of taste makers the managerial elite of the corporate sector  , and evidently  popular myth, followed  parameters  of a "saving remnant".  possessed  of  keys  for  the  Such a  executive  in  the  corporate elite --  washroom  --  would  undoubtedly have provided the requisite "umbilical cord of gold" for  Greenberg's  still  persistent  dictum. In  dominant class which exemplified and  altogether  heightened  this  fraction  America's potential  form of  modernity,  the  of  of  a managerial  elite  might  undersign  rigors  the  the  efficiency  austere and autonomous aesthetic practice might not be lost. existence  32  of an 33  The  economic  viability of a painting aesthetically refined to the last degree , and whose values  importantly spoke  to  the  sensibility  particular fraction of the social order. Greenberg's  of  that very  attempts to affix  Greenberg, "Avant-Garde and Kitsch", in Pollock and After: The Critical Debate, ed. Fraschina, (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), p. 24. See Fortunes yearlong editorial supplement, "The American Breakthrough" beginning in January 1955. Also Maurer Herryman's "The Age of Manager's", Fortune, Jan.1955, pp. 84- 88. Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole The Idea of Modern Art, trans. A. Goldhammer (Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1983) see especially chapters 4 and 5. 3  2  3  3  3  4  and focus  the social responsibility for the continuance of high  modernist culture on such an individual of corporate connection were contingent  especially  on earlier factors extensively  worked and  integrated into Riesman's new delineation of the American social formation focussed in upon and hinging on taste.  As a functioning  aspect of freedom of choice this was only potentially housed within Riesman's self-possessed autonomous individual. The reconciliation of avant - garde ideology with the ideology of  postwar  liberalism  through  Expressionism,  from  documented.  Avant-garde ideology  34  as  early  groups on  as  surrounding Abstract 1948,  allied itself with  affirmative vision of an open democratic society shibboleth, freedom.  has  been  well  Schlesinger's  and its prehensile  In the face of the grim threat of totalitarianism,  liberal culture and politics sustained a program especially tailored to discourses  surrounding avant-garde practice.  insight into the value of the individual"  35  accessing  With its "startling  , predicated by an incisive  of freedom, postwar liberalism provided a powerfully  resonating avenue to pursue the peculiar American variant of avantgarde modernism.  Freedom was  of the modern individual. levers.  In his often  closely implicated in this redefining  Anxiety and alienation were its crucial  quoted passage, Schlesinger reveals how  decisively important and closely  linked the concepts are in the  liberal model.  3 5  3 6  Schlesinger, The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom, p. 248 Schlesinger, The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom, p. 56.  The final triumph of totalitarianism has been the creation of man without anxiety — of "totalitarian man". Totalitarianism sets out to liquidate the tragic insights which gave man a sense of his limitations. In their place it has spawned a new man, ruthless , determined, extroverted, free from doubts or humility, capable of infallibility, and on the higher echelons of the party, infallible . Against totalitarian certitude, free society can only offer modern man devoured by alienation and fallibility. 36  Riesman's  particular  contribution  to  this  perspective  assimilated and informing Greenberg's position during the years of abstract expressionism's  rise,  came slowly out of dormancy with its  decline. Having gained momentum through a vastly delimited set of possibilities in a social sense and hence more graspable in a formally aestheticized way, it is this threading vision which gains priority in Greenberg's negotiations. lynchpin  the  alienation  dizzying  an  Riesman's problematic  altogether  conception  of taste with its  of  lent  affirmative  choice flavour  --  anxiety an  and  inflection  particularly ameliorable to any mediation upon the modern moment. Alienation  and  anxiety  had  been  propelled  circumstance into a constructive force for freedom too,  of  Abstract Expressionism  However, the anxiety necessarily  postwar  and in the case, into  creativity  37  .  ridden style of Abstract Expressionism had potential  America  possessed. The fuller adoption of Riesman's methodology  gave the  stylistic  fallen  transfigured  by  short  progression  and  of  the  stage  affirmative  of  avant-garde  negation  the  affirmative political potential inured of an elite of taste. Freedom for  3 7  Guilbaut, How New York Stole The Idea of Modern Art.  p. 202.  both Schlesinger  and Riesman -- though each definition  subtly — was an illusive and intangible quality, only the foretaste of a future society. the  risk  choices.  differed immanent  Its essence had to be hunted after via  inured in decision-making  amidst  a vast  multitude  of  Riesman's "nerve of failure", especially resonant within the  progressively  functionalized  bureaucratic conformity  was one crucial delineation of this process.  of the  1950s,  To tap the resources of  freedom , which were corequisite with the progress of society, was to structure  choice  and  decision-making  always/ever  toward  the  Utopian future. The future of liberalism and the American avant garde placed its hopes in these subtle negotiations made by the free and autonomous individual. By  the late 1940s and early 1950s the  freedom , given  constructive space for  to anxiety and alienation, though  had gained a potential social dimension. thinking  were emerging  as  a central  confined  to an elite of managers  responsibility was insuring efficiency Wholly responsible  entirely delimited,  Utopian and imaginative aspect  in the  of  late capitalism,  corporate sector whose  and profit in the next quarter.  for the gains made by American civilization,  advanced  industrialism and the fact of its guiding ethos — an ever  increasing  efficiency  unprecedented  level  keyed  management  of foresight.  38  decision  making to  an  As the new liberalism had kept  See John McDonald's "Hoe Business Men Make Decisions", Fortune, Aug. 1955, pp. 84, 87, 130-137. The president of Dow Chemical offered this (perhaps) definitive composite of the managerial elite and its grave responsibility: "An executive is a relatively high level member of the management family whose work is largely in the area of decision making and policy- formulation. His capacity is such that his judgement , perspective , and skill in properly delegating responsibility will weigh heavily in the long term success or failure of the 3 8  3  9  alive the political dimension of imaginative direction in the wake of Truman , so the corporate elite in the 1950s structured policy for an imagined  future  39  .  Torqued for imaginative ideas, the corporate  manager functioned in a position where risk taking was a fact of life and corporate giantism held the promise of a Utopian future. Indeed, in his article "The limits of Totalitarian Power ", Riesman maintains contained curtail  the managerial post even in the Soviet Union  "dangerous responsibilities" totalitarian certitude,  freedom"  41  40  , i.e., choices which might  thereby instilling the  "dizzyness  of  . In the American situation, amidst the bland "yes men"  of the corporate environment , where the ambivalent response was a creed all its own,  Riesman hailed the "nerve of failure ", possessed  and valued only by the managerial elite. Structured for distinction amidst conformity , Riesman's "nerve of failure"  encompassed  sociological  of  terrain  of  Schlesinger's  ideology  risk  the and  individualism. It validated the image of a corporate sphere in a larger landscape devoid of difference  and anxiety,  given as Bell  would later assert to "the exhaustion of political ideas".  42  business." Perrin Stryker , "Who Are the Executives", in The Executive Life, editors of Fortune Magazine, (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc. , 1956), p. 15-43. David Riesman, "Some Observations on the Limits of Totalitarian Power", The Antioch Review, June 1952, vol. XII, no. 2., p.163. Kierkegaard quoted by Schlesinger in The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom. 4  0  4 1  This is in fact the sub-title of Daniel Bell's book. The End Of Ideology: On The Exhastian of Political Ideas in the Fifties 4  2  By 1953 it is clear that Greenberg had adopted the "nerve of failure" as a modus  operandi  for avant - garde strategies. The steel  executive who might say "instead of relaxing at night with a mystery story, you keep at it until 11:00 and finally you say to your self ... The devil with it bed"  43  ,  primarily  ... I'm going to have a highball or two and go to  had become ironically the focus of intellectuals concerned with the territorialization of risk  and anxiety.  These  absolutely crucial agents for freedom plucked from the American scene —among other things by the quietism inured of consumerism -  are refurbished with a constituency  managerial corporate  elite.  Only  boardroom  in the were  consisting  high pressure  intellectual  and  of  a corporate  atmosphere creative  of  the  impetus  structured by anxiety and big risk taking . To access this new terrain of freedom was an absolute necessity if the  modernist artists were  to retain integrity and originality in their production. The process of decision-making for streamlining and efficiency , absolutely essential to the corporate function, served modernist endgame.  Riesman's  as a choice  "nerve  of  metaphor for the  failure" ,the  manager's  courage to take risks, shadows the analogous procedures followed by the artist in furthering and challenging taste, through originality in artistic practice.  William H. Whyte, "How Hard do Executives Work", The Executive Life , p. 63. It is interesting to note that Dwight Macdonald takes up the detective novel as the only legitimate mid-cult form, for its inducement to intellectualizing. 4  3  Avant-Garde Stategies and the Invalidation of Marginality The  conditions  and  stratification  of  mid-cult  not  only  threatened the survival of high culture, it also provided the terms for strategies of improvement achievements, through its  its  simulation  44  of  . The most devastating of mid-cults' avant-garde  "conciliatory overtures"  45  content  and  attitude  , had placed the standards of  truth offered by the avant-garde as no longer credible, i.e., no longer capturing modernity. "With less and less to say of the truth about life under the industrial system — a truth which therefore goes unsaid"... Greenberg writes ... "the avant-garde grows crabbed and half-baked, given over to the cannonizing , codifying, and imitating of itself, to the  conning  of  a  limited  repertory  of  dissident  attitudes."  4  6  Apparently to empower mid-cult within a cultural model , that is to say,  validate  it  as  a reservoir for  diversity  and openness in  American society — allowing of course for the possibility of high culture -- the cadre of traditional avant-garde practice had to be rejected.  Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, no.l, p. 62. He concludes his essay as follows: "Reality is what we are concerned with in discussing the plight of our times, not in order to praise it, but for the sake of truth, the lack of which will do genuine culture more harm than any number of jukeboxes". This sentence marks a significant shift in position since his 1939 article "Avant Garde and Kitsch"where the only hope for life and art under capitalism was the prospect of socialism. In a sense by 1953 American capitalism had become socialism's closest approximation. Clement Greenberg,"The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, no.l, p. 55. Clement Greenberg,"The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, no.l, p. 55. 4  4  4  5  4  6  It was the very model of  political economy of America at mid  century which necessitated this. An order built upon the fundament of change  , flux,  continually  ate  social  up the  mobility, etc... It was  margins, whether  an order which  offering  prosperity and  education to the disenfranchised masses, or co-opting and usurping avant-garde middle  strategies for  class  had  the  embraced  middle the  class.  By implication  avant-garde;  a  critical  the non-  conformity was, as Riesman had foretold, defunct. Daniel Bell notes it too: In Hollywood, where Pickfair society in the twenties counterfeited a European monarchy, "non-conformity", according to Life magazine, "is now the key to social importance and that Angry Middle-Aged man ,Frank Sinatra, is its prophet and reigning social monarch". The Sinatra set , Life points out, deliberately mocks the old Hollywood taboos and is imitated by a host of other sets that eagerly want to be non-conformist as well. Significantly - a fact that Life failed to mention - the reigning social set and its leaders, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., are all from minority groups and from the wrong side of the tracks. Sinatra and Martin are Italian, Davis a Negro. In earlier times in American life a minority group, having bullied its way to the top, would usually ape the style and manners of the established status community. In Hollywood, the old status hierarchies have been fragmented, the new sets celebrate their triumph by jeering at the pompous ways of the old ... The additional sardonic fact is that the man in the gray flannel suit, the presumed target of the beatniks, is ... especially if he is in advertising, or the entertainment media, an upper bohemian himself. The job is accepted as a means of obtaining an income in order to sport and flaunt his presumed, idiosyncratic tastes in dress, food, travel, and the like. The problem for all these multiple sets is not conformity but added novelty 4 7  Bell, "America as a Mass Society", p.36. Bell also quotes Time, Feb.9,1959. "In the richly appointed Lake Shore Drive apartment of Chicago Financier Albert Newman , the guests chatted animatedly, gazed at the original Picasso on the wall, and the' Monet, the Jackson Pollock. On tables and shelves stood Peruvian  4 7  With marginality effectively invalidated as such , critical nonconformity, the militant isolationist ethos of the avant-garde  toward  the bourgeoisie, was called entirely into question. Legitimated in the social  order, Greenberg writes  "... the avant-garde will  have to  acquire a new content for itself if it is to stay cogent and not degenerate  into Alexandrianism".  48  Greenberg's solution is to adapt  culture in an organic synthesis to the  industrial environment.  With  dissidence and the flight of the avant-garde worn old, a reversal of strategies to a tactics of engagement  with the middle and central  tenets of American society, conformity in the social sphere, blended with the efficiency and rationality of  the corporate sector, seemed  timely . Remember, taste was seen as a quotient of sophistication and intellectuality, thus providing an excellent  homology.  Conformity,  the new social cement of America , as theorized by Riesman, had become  a critical  strategy,  as  had the  increasing rationality of  advanced industrialism, itself the legacy of the Enlightenment.  This  addressed both the question of the culture gap in the mind of liberal theoreticians and  suggested means for the continuance of an avant-  garde . The new  strategy  for the avant-garde was  Riesman's autonomy, which was to be  conflated with  derived from and in part  fertility symbols, jade bracelets... (the guests) had come to meet 32 year old Allen Ginsberg... author of Howl, At length poet Ginsberg arrived wearing blue jeans and a checked black and red lumberjacking shirt with black patches ... with the crashing madness of a Marx brothers scene run in reverse, the Beatniks read their poetry, made their pitch for money for a new Beatnik magazine and then stalked out. Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", Commentary, vol.16, no.l, p. 55. 4  8  determined by the lifestyle exemplified in suburbia.  of conformity seen in America and  The "true natural self", it seems, could only  be discovered when faced by the ultimate similarity and conformity of middle-classness. Precariously balanced on the razor sharp hedge of  the  suburban lawn where  individuality seems only  a formal  freedom amidst the standardized lawns , houses ,and lifestyles American society  of  ,the autonomous creative artist must make very  particular decisions to guard and stay true  to the integrity of his/her  inner life. The ever present fear of being the same focuses the individual identity so that the autonomous individual must "choose themselves" out of a collective claustrophobia. The "nerve of failure" would allow this tenuous engaging with the center. Through it moral hegemony  which the  middle class only possessed in appearence  could be retained and usurped by elite factions. William H. Whyte offers the classic delineation of this only surface conformity which disguised beneath a renegotiated transgressing  individual with the possibility of  authority.  The man who drives a Buick Special and lives in a ranch type house, just like thousands of other ranch type houses, can assert himself as effectively and courageously against his particular society as the bohemian against his particular society. He usually does not , it is true ... but if he does, the surface uniformities can serve quite well as protective coloration. The organization people who are best able to control their environment, rather than be controlled by it, are well aware that they are not too easily distinguishable from the others in the outward obeisances paid to the good opinions of others. And that is one of the reasons they do control . They disarm society. 49  William H. Whyte, The Organization Man , (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), p. 11.  4  9  For Greenberg, Morris Louis was confronted as such. Living and working in the most bureaucratized of cities, he could realize this potential autonomy.  Positioned within this new dynamic of America,  the objective social processes of a society, on the whole benevolent , could  be consciously  tapped, and its processes codified on the  canvas. Again this was to be achieved through a tenuous dialectical engagement with the Center, rationalization.  and a  complicity in its social ethic of  Accessing the "nerve of failure", the artist could  "sustain illusions and assuage doubt"  50  permiting original and critical  activity the resonance of moral insight,  and seemingly affirmative in  a larger sense. For Louis, and as well for Noland, like Greenberg's Kafka , the fence against history — that is, to negotiate modernist autonomy — was to be built out of  "...  middle-class orderliness ,  prudence, sedentary stability ... (and further) ... out of the treadmill of routine, permanence , and pattern with scrupulous thought as its constituent coloration  and of  enabling  middle-class  principle" conformity,  51  . i.e.  Under the protective cloaked  beneath  the  anonymity provided by the gray flannel suit, the artist possessed the ability to pursue a line of Utopian and original -- sophisticated — thinking , and hence a continued critical practice .  Riesman,"A Philosophy for Minority Living The Jewish Situation and the 'Nerve of Failure", Commentary, vol.6, no.5, Nov. 1948,", p. 413. Clement Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", Commentary, vol.19, Apr. 1955, p.322. In chapter 3, I use this article and Greenberg's construction of Kafka to show that Riesamn's vision of autonomy — and hence Greenberg's renewed avant-garde project — is fundamentally a dialectical notion of historical consciousness, with the individual aware of both his/her position as simultaneously subject and object of the historical process. 5  0  5 1  The question, however, of how stain painting formally conveys a Utopian project in commiseration with the programs set out by Riesman , Bell , and Schlesinger cannot simply be answered through a re-delineation  of  intellectual  circumstance used as template , coterminous  and  interlocked  somewhere  locked  within  negotiations  and  historical  but has further to be pursued with  the  plastic  tension  style.  between  as  Somehow  and  the  and  base  rationalized reading I offer , and the intensity and impeccable nature of hedonistic color on surface, lies a polysemic meaning Greenberg valued. This will be explored in  the next chapter.  CHAPTER 3 In the preceding chapters a social, historical, and conceptual framework has been constructed in order to situate the politics of Clement Greenberg .  Particular to those of his intellectual milieu was  an attempt to seize the direction of American society and  pinpoint  the ideological forces which were driving the Cold War and fueling the economy. It would be missing the point preceding discussion and Greenberg's recanonizing or valorizing maintenance of  strategy  to conceive of the  central position in it as a to position  him or for the  his particular aesthetic. Greenberg and his politics  exist as a sign for something else;  they are only important as part of  a larger manifestation encompassing all facets of what America was becoming in the decade of the 1950s.  Only Greenberg, Bell, Riesman ,  and Schlesinger studied this gathering momentum before the rest of the country. In this third chapter, the recouping of Greenberg's politics and its incumbent reconception of modernity, the individual, freedom, and avant-garde practice, cryptic attempts  works of to  will be used as an entrance into the  high modernist stain painting.  historicize  the  gap  between  the  This chapter abstractions  of  ideological contingency which situate Greenberg in the early and mid 1950s, and the equally  abstract problematics which constitute  the  formal and stylistic concerns of high modernist stain painting. Louis' early "Veils" and the aesthetic theory backing them were an attempt to transpose into visual terms one response to the mounting ferment and  optimism in America at this moment.  It was  a  time  of limited but growing optimism when  Greenberg was  formulating a poetics of the visual. His articulation flatness  was  a desire  for  prescience,  of  color and  or rather an undertaking  involving an investigation into the historical process of form. This process  of "becoming" in the internal history of modern art was  especially highlighted in the early 1950s when American capitalism itself  was  "becoming"  articulation cultural  of  something  formal values  other  was  than before.  closely  transformation, though justified  synced  only  to  Greenberg's this larger  later by a surging  historical continuum which matched the surfeit of optimism his circle had only  arrived at through study. I will argue that the subtle push  and pull  of  high  modernism's  stylistic  unbounded color, serve as a vection intellectual position  unities,  delineated  immanently  utopic  of  speculative  of an  attempting to negotiate a critical space for a  intellectuals  impulse  intense and  for the complexities  dialectical notion of history. The speculative  totality, is encoded  its  project of the core  in the first chapters, a meditation on the  forces  and contradictions  and given  modernism  is  of  the  abstract reference. charged  with  the  new  social  The Utopian simultaneously  and political desire of Greenberg's intellectual position,  aligned with the prospects  of American capitalism.  Early on Greenberg's intellectual circle grasped the hints of transformation  in American culture; it would be a very particular  formal stylistics which could series, produced in  1954  fulfill this course.  though not successfully  1957, are contiguous with the historical prescience The works in this  series,  Louis' first "Veil" exhibited until of this position.  employing acrylic Magna paint poured  down from the edges of a streched  canvas, are much more than  simply "veils" ; they are as representative of the new modernity and America's global position as were Greenberg's, Riesman's, and Bell's writings and theoretical practice  of the period. The paintings are as  much blueprints for a new society; they analyze that society like the critical texts of this intellectual circle and they propose a possible future. They are as much a promise, too, of progress.  To  complete  an otherwise inadequate cultural armory which America would hold up to the world,  the new generation of American painters would  brandish openness and color as their "secret weapon" . 1  All this becomes readily apparent in the period following  the  publication of "The Plight of Our Culture" (1953). In the two years subsequent Greenberg  expands on an aesthetic prescription already  firmly in place. Looking at key texts after the "The Plight of Our Culture"  and bracketed  by "'American-Type' Painting " and "The  Jewishness of Franz Kafka: Some Sources of His Particular Vision", both published in the spring of dialectically becomes  balancing  readily  1955,  formalist  apparent.  Of  a  and the  two  theory  of modernism  materialist disparate  tendencies logics  one  acknowledges a philosophical debt to Kant via a theory of expression lodged within taste; fashion  the other acknowledges Hegel in its attempts to  dialectical transcendence from the whole to the particular.  Greenberg's writing finds new enthusiasm visual qualities  in its defence of  which respond with freshness and vitality to the  Clement Greenberg, "Master Leger", Partisan Review , Vol. XXI, no. 1, p. 96. Though Leger is not related directly to American painting as such, the implication of Leger's use of color is meant as historical lesson. 1  modern moment. It is in this  period of time that both Louis and  Noland begin experimentation in staining technique.  It is also the  period during which Louis produces his first "Veil" series, including Salient  (fig. 2), and Atomic Crest  among his first "mature" works.  (fig. 8) considered by Greenberg  This is  fact and before the group receives  a period almost before the  any wider exposure, when the  fluid hedonistic color in which Louis' images languished anachronistic  in  predominated.  2  a  New  York  where  abstract  It is this period when a  seemed  expressionism  sign is being built,  when  the plastic style of stain painting, even as practiced in the early 1960s, would be given genesis. One positioned Marxist  might and to  definition  ask  then  why  be understood of  the  paintings,  in relative  superstructure  opposition to their political vocation ? ...  3  theoretically  autonomy  from  a  , seem so perpetually in Why more than 30 years of  art historical literature can only offer overworked and bogus formal readings, or palid investigations into working method , intended 4  a jingus  audience  for  of specialists and connoisseurs? The answer to  Remember in June of 1954 Louis sent 9 paintings to the Pierre Matisse Gallery for consideration. Upon rejection he returned to a more orthodox style in line with Abstract Expressionism. It would not be until 1957 that these early "Veils" would be shown, or indeed a new series would be produced. See Elderfield, Morris Louis The Museum of Modern Art, p. 178. See Greenberg's "Plight of Our Culture", p. 561. The large Veils have an existence far outstretching the physical parameters imposed by the Louis' breakfast nook, for instance. Certainly "the nook" in question, a room of only 14' X 12' 2" placed certain restrictions on production but to priorize such triviality as decisive and profound productivist revelation is stupid and defies understanding, as in Kenworth Moffett's reading. "I am quite sure that these physical limitations contributed to the creation of the Unfurleds, where paint is applied only at the two ends of what is often a very large peice of canvas." Morris Louis : Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 1979, p.6. Diane Upright's catalogue raisonne is similar, wherein a chapter on technique occupies the culmination of a rehashed reading. 2  3  4  both questions, a matter of reception, lies that is a  simply in a lack of taste  fundamental misunderstanding of the moment. I would  suggest that following upon the argument forwarded in the first and second chapters  that an open and  as a functioning aspect  of style,  polysemic nature and that its  is forefronted  decrypting mechanism  is triggered to the  sophistication of taste, a sensibility keyed to the  "nerve of failure".  If stain painting as style and as mode of formal  experimentation  is  reconnected  to  Greenberg's  construction of the ideal constituency,  realigns  itself  with  Riesman's  functioning around  group, a stylistics defiantly asserting the immediately  and  a  autonomy of modernism political  articulation by those same intellectuals.  the taste  This  economy  given  impulsion, enunciated  as gestus , immanently political and charged with the historical and social, is centrally  directed toward a conception in  the  liberal  project  for  of elitism  democracy  which  under  figures  corporate  capitalism in the period roughly spanning 1950 to 1960. This  visual  project seeking equivalence  to the  theoretical  practice of the core liberal intellectuals is revealed most fruitfully in Greenberg's articles from late 1953 to 1955. otherwise centrifugally driven avenues  for  artistic  complex  production  and  In these writings, an  of strategies focuses more  specifically  on  on the  processes of encoding, or better, on the lack thereof, that is, on a "structure of expectation" which delimits the generation of meaning in modernism's production and in its reception.  This delimiting of  meaning depends on the one hand on a dual territorialization of the raw materials of painting  by the ideological contradiction of the  moment, and on the other hand by unmediated feeling or expressive  effect.  In Greenberg's equation,  engendered  by  a response  to  because the  formal particularity  dialectical  processes  of  is the  historical moment and thus has the capacity to escape its "alien associations",  indeed, any and all signification,  it could thus be  relatable to the experience one has in front of art. He writes:  In his Critique  of  Aesthetic  Judgement  Kant  demonstrated  that one cannot prove an aesthetic judgement in discourse ... Kant holds that one can appeal only to the other person's taste as exercised through experience of the work of art under discussion ... Art, in my view, explains to us what we already feel, but it does not do so discursively or rationally; rather, it acts out an explanation in the sense of working on our feelings at a remove sufficient to protect us from the consequences of the decisions made by our feelings in response to the work of art. Thus it relieves us of the pressure of feeling. I agree with Aristotle that art is catharsis, but the catharsis leaves us no wiser than before. 5  By  1954  successful  limited to that which  art, in Greenbergian terms heightened  feeling  necessarily  or sense alone,  is  correspondingly delimited by the fluid processes of content which stained color on canvas explores and describes  6  . The idiom of stain  painting — and this is locked into Greenberg's criticism on art — envisaged a future very much of misuse and misinterpretation. the example  With  of abstract expressionism fresh in Greenberg's mind,  the secondary production of meaning, i.e., its reception, had to be  C. Greenberg, Greenberg/Leavis correspondence. Commentary, vol. 20, Aug. 1955, p. 177. In a response to F.R. Leavis , Greenberg writes: "Successful art heightens our sense of the possibilities of life, but I would say it works on that sense as a sense alone without indicating superior or inferior possibilities as such" Commentary , vol.19, 1955, p. 595.  5  6  completely stemmed.  The anxiety over secondary meaning becomes  in a sense a productive motor of form, therein constantly challenging taste.  Difficulty or crypticness may be investigated as the promise of  desire which the speculative politics of the intellectuals explored. The open and polysemic nature of meaning in the images  situates a  meaning  in the "force field" between subject and object; it becomes a  function  of the  same processes of thought,  dialectical thinking  sophistication, and  the politics of freedom necessitated in the early  and mid 1950s. Signification is wholly circumscribed to an audience possessed of enough taste to apprehend the critical choices involved in the maintenance of aesthetic purity.  Dialectics is here treated  as  that probing of the "force field" between subject and object — this mediation is crucial, for no meaning is absolute in the open work. Similarly  the promise of desire is not inherent to the image but  located in the process of diologizing - in the thought process as a quotient  of the intellectualizing processes of taste.  7  The extremes of aestheticism which Louis' first "Veils" explore were to place the images in a completly altered relationship to the world.  They were to inhabit a new space.  Yet the order of  experience they offered was somehow contingent upon an advanced  This is discussed further in the section , "Kafka Sources of a Particular Vision" Indeed this does appear to be the case. With Greenberg's internal history of modern art inescapably inscribed and dialectically bonded to its conditions of production, and further and very importantly, the conditions of consciousness of its producers, the look and content of art production becomes a forthright concern. In their negotiation of the complex modern moment and the problem of representation itself , the images belayed an affirmative politics allied with an ideological enunciation of the moment poised to take dominion. 7  8  stage of capitalism.  8  I will trace in Greenberg's key writings the  sense of sign which begins to emerge in this  formative period. The  resonance of color and openness is crucial and so too is a continued and intensified forefronting of process. The stylistic qualities in the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still,  all integral to the teleological  pursuit of modernist  destiny  Greenberg would champion, will inversely  provide  the  means  to distill qualities in relation to that which he is defending.  9  To approach these issues I will use the locus of color and openness, the optimism this encoded,  and  the broader issue of aesthetic value.  It is an exhibition review in January access these questions and voice  1954  which will allow us to  which gave Greenberg the opportunity to  his fully matured aesthetic insight.  These artists are introduced in Greenberg's article "American Type Painting" (1955). This follows Christie and Orton's view on what they see as Greenberg's avant-garde project: "Back in 1940, in 'Towards a Newer Laocoon', Greenberg considered what he saw as the internal history of avant-garde painting ... The first variant is a restatement of what he had earlier written about the medium: the avant-garde inverted the relative status of subject matter and medium and concentrated on the problems and character of the medium particular to painting. The second project or variant was a tendency to investigate the medium particular to painting for its expressive effects: "There is a common effort in each of the arts to expand the expressive resources of the medium, not in order to express ideas and notions, but to express with greater imediacy sensations, the irreducible elements of experience". Christie and Orton, "Writing on a Text of the Life", Art History, vol. 11, no. 4, Dec. 1988, p. 548. 9  1 0  "Master Ledger":  Expression and "Ixion's Wheel"  The Museum of Modern Art's Leger retrospective offered the pretext for an enunciation of Greenberg's own brand of dialectically faceted formalism  by engaging in Leger's enthusiasms for color, his  relation to Cubism, and the historical moment of 1910 to Greenberg takes up  1914.  Leger's work for a number of reasons. Serving  as an anterior link to avant-garde history and development  it  reaffirmed and clarified two variants of the avant-garde project as Greenberg had earlier defined it. concentration secondly,  on  This amounted, firstly, to a  medium rather  to an investigation  expressive effects.  10  than  on  subject  matter;  and  and expansion upon that medium's  In Greenberg's sketch of Leger's production,  color emerges as a key functioning aspect in the internal history of modernist painting's concentration on medium and as well to  contribute  Simultaneously,  to  the  expressive  effects  of  the  appears medium.  Leger's work made specific its historical debt to  the modern period.  It would be  the interface  of these two  responses which so appealed to Greenberg in the early 1950s. Indeed, it was  for reasons  similar to his own justifications earlier  in conceiving of "The Plight of Our Culture" , a mood of optimism originating from the  therein responding to  contradictory impulses of  modern industrialism and "a vaulting modernity" . 11  Clement Greenberg, "Master Leger", Feb., 1954, p.91. 1 1  Partisan Review, Vol.XXI, No.l, Jan.-  Whatever the reason, it came about that one of the greatest of all moments in painting arrived on the crest of a mood of "materialistic optimism". And of all the optimists, materialists , and yea-sayers, none was, or has remained, more wholeheartedly one than Ferdinand Leger. He has told us about, and we see, his enthusiasm for machine forms. And we also seem to see in his art all the qualities conventionally associated with "materialism"; weight, excessive looseness or else excessive rigidity of form, crassness, simplicity, cheerfulness, complacency, even a certain obtuseness. But what a mistake it would be not to see how much else there is in this art, which has succeeded better, I daresay, than any other in making the rawness of matter wholly relevant to human feeling. 12  It is  not only the picture of the naive socialist which Greenberg  draws , but one which uncovers in Leger's work an optimism or a mood ~ enacted far and above the  crude and simplistic renderings  of worker and machine — that is a vection on the level of mechanics  formal  which explores the nonrepresentational experience  color and flatness  as containing the possibilities  Leger's work succeeds for Greenberg because  of  of modernity.  the material use of  surface is made " wholly relevant to human feeling". In Louis' first "Veil" series of 1954 the raw materials of painting, that is , its sole content, would be allied in formal synthesis with the structures of painting's expression. Though Leger's work could only intimate  this,  being contained on a specific dimension and concealed by layers of associations, it nevertheless held in germinal form what the destiny, exclusive  content,  and significance  Politically, it was the deradicalized vestiges  Greenberg, "Master Leger", p. 91.  was to be  of stain painting.  of Greenberg's dialectical  thinking , after 15 years of demarxification . 13  This was the interface  where the homologies of historical process and form connected. Along  with Picasso  and Braque, Leger was  1 4  to pursue the  problems inherited from the first modernists, the Impressionists and Cezanne.  This "threesome", which made up  avant-garde expressive  project  15  .  Attempting  to  Cubism, continued the expand  the  medium's  resources, it carried the Impressionist threat of flatness,  the questionning of  the three dimensionality of the painted object  itself, to its extreme form ... sublimated  to  surface.  a point where color is almost entirely  In the process,  Greenberg writes,  though  cubism had solved the problem "... as Marx would say — only by destroying it:  willingly or unwillingly,  they sacrificed the integrity  of the object almost entirely to that of the surface. had, however nothing intrinsic  This — which  to do with aesthetic value — is why  Cubism constituted a turning point in the history of painting"  1 6  .  For Greenberg the integrity of the object apparently meant maintenance  of  medium-specific  unities  of color and flatness.  Cubism had overstepped the bounds of the discursive field. legacy to modernism lay in its definition of discursive flatness,  field  of  modernism in painting  the  lack. in  Its great  By pushing extremis  the  toward  color, one of two relatively autonomous and subordinate  This is in contrast to Lukacs article "What is Orthodox Marxism", which makes a claim for a dialectical methodology as the fundamental constituent of orthodoxy. It is here, as Jameson would write in Marxism and Form "In its framework (that) the essentially abstract character of the ideological phenomenon suddenly touches earth, takes on something of the density and significance of an act in the real world of things and material production". Frederic Jameson, Marxism and Form , (Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1971), p. 8. See footnote 12 for Greenberg's conception of this. Clement Greenberg, "Master Leger", p.92. 1 3  1 4  1 5  1 6  unities which constituted the stylistic uniqueness was identified.  17  Leger's contribution, though  of easel painting  unintentional, was the  maintenance of the medium's integrity through a continued reliance on color, a construction of color  which vented a material and  empirical use of surface, as mood, or expressive of  feeling.  It was Leger alone of the three master Cubists who drove analytical cubism to its conclusion. Not that he arrived at the flat picture, as Mondrian ... or that he even approached the flatness of Picasso's and Braque's collages ... But he did accept, as Picasso and Braque did not, the full implication of the method of analytical Cubism: namely, that once objects are broken up into more or less interchangeable units they themselves are no longer necessary as entities — no longer necessary to the decisive effect — and the artist is free to work with the units alone, since these alone retain aesthetic pertinence. As it happened , the units into which Cubism resolved the object were planear units, but they could conceivably have been the chromatic units of the Impressionists and NeoImpressionists. 18  While characteristic  Leger's  paintings  worked  in  the  broad flat  areas  of cubism, the formal unity of his work at once  retained the possibility for  a space  where the chromatic unit was  left engaged. It was an unconsciously negotiated  space  where the  medium specific unities of painting were to dialectically congregate  M . M . Bakhtin writes: " ... heterogeneous stylistic unities, upon entering the novel, combine to form a structured artistic system, and are subordinated to the higher artistic unity of the work as a whole, a unity that cannot be identified with any single one of the unities subordinated to it. The stylistic uniqueness of the novel as a genre consists precisely in the combination of these subordinated, yet still relatively autonomous, unities (even at times comprised of different languages) into the higher unity of the work as a whole: the style of a novel is to be found in the combination of its styles; the language of a novel is the system of its languages", "Discourse in the Novel", The Dialogic Imagination, (Austin: Univ. Texas Press, 1981), p. 262. Clement Greenberg, "Master Leger", p.94. 1 7  1 8  and  merge.  For Greenberg this was  the site of expressive quality,  aesthetic effect and, most basically, of absolute content, which are all conflated  19  .  This use of color and surface as historical form becomes  for Greenberg a sign not simply  for a personal  optimism in  industrialism, "an enthusiasm for machine forms" — most obviously apparent in the representational  subject  grander and essential manifestation the driving forces behind the century France.  matter  —  but a much  of desire or fantasy  entire social totality  structure,  in early 20th  Leger's unconscious working and insistence on color  and flatness was giving  the dialectic of the historical process a visual  format. It  is  significance  to  this  historical  form  that  Greenberg  attaches  20  and upon which he judges whether a work of art fails  or succeeds .  The formal signification of aesthetic value was a  function  of  autonomous  the  dialectical  and at once  play  of  formal  signifiers  linked to the contradictory  at  once  ideological  J.R.R. Christie and Fred Orton approach the problem of aesthetic value in Greenbergian criticism from the viewpoint of a theory of expression. Though they refer to articles from 1940 and 1967 respectively, a timespan during which Greenberg's position on this particular subject is consistent, they fail to come to terms with the varied historical nature of that consistency. In the period 1948 to 1955 their own conclusions require an addendum acknowledging the dialectical nature of Greenberg's position. They write: "We can isolate two things from these fragments from "Complaints of an Art Critic" and "Towards a Newer Laocoon". Greenberg is pointing out that you can say anything you want to about what you feel a painting expresses and not be corrected, and that for him ... 'content' or 'effect' or 'expressive quality' (which is in all paintings modern and pre-modern) is to be located neither in the subject matter of the painting nor in the problems of the medium; it is not what the artist intended his or her painting to be about; it is not in the medium used metaphorically, because metaphors are representations. The 'expressive quality' is unintended and carried in the medium as it is used to make the surface.", (Art History , vol.11, no. 4, Dec. 1988), p. 549. 1 9  This is in distinction to the work of art which possessed of aesthetic value or quality. 2  0  Greenberg would find as  forces of the social totality. In Greenberg's advanced criticism the actualizing forces of the social moment are themselves projected the object of aesthetic criticism or value. dialectical  treatment  of  It is no accident  stylistics, contingent upon the  framework of liberal intellectual politics in the  as  that this contextual  1950s in America,  should pick up Leger's particular contribution.  Cubism had resolved  prematurely the contradictory nature of the ideological, tapping into  the  revolutionary  modernist  acts  of  repudiation  given  only  metaphor  by  flatness; it had neglected the affirmative and optimistic  hope of color, encapsulated in the notions of a dialectic of history. Leger's contribution was for  the  countervailing  distinct. His paintings dynamic  of  the  maintained a space  ideological  forces  of  the  modern. In 1953 the play of formal signifiers,  the  the aesthetic medium, had as its sine qua non which constituted  empiricist object of the dialectical forces  the social crucible of "American capitalism .  The  11  optimism and mood of promise, though heavily veiled and recently given life in  Leger's work, is the same optimism which emerges in  stain painting as self-consciously manipulated Leger's production representational expression  the elements of expression  subject  matter,  that  only exist undistilled within  is,  that  color.  Whereas in  are obfuscated the  by a  structures  of  content , in stain painting  expressive quality and content  become indisolubly fused  focussed upon to the exclusion  of all else. While the dialectical  contradiction of  and are  social forces in the period 1910 -1914 assumes an  uneasy formal balance, with the coming of age of  the American  paradigm of capitalism a dominant and intense open color reaches its apotheosis. Greenberg's conception of the avant-garde project after cubism is  one  of  a progressive  increasing fetishization course all  hinging  awaiting exploration.  spectacularization  of  of the material usage of  content  21  , of an  surface,  and of  on the uncolonized reservoir of color silently 22  Thus these three could for three or four years execute a well-nigh unbroken series of works that were flawless in unity and abundant in matter, works achieving that optimum which consists in a fusion of elegance and power that abates neither. Then the matter, for them, was exhausted, and the rule lapsed. Henceforth neither they or any other artist could expand taste by these means, and to cling to them any longer would mean to depend on taste instead of creating i t . 23  With modernist negation through flatness "exhausted  and the  rule lapsed", the use of color on surface acquires a germinal impetus as means to aesthetic or expressive  quality; thus a new field for  expanding taste. Herein the post-cubist,  avant-garde project is re-  evaluated: the locus of color and the nexus of taste are conceived of  By content I refer to the raw materials of paintings medium, color and surface. This or Greenberg's model would of course not dismiss the history of painting before this point. Indeed in a New York Times Magazine (May 16, 1954) article entitled "The Very Old Masters", on prehistoric cave painting Greenberg affirms Jameson's characterization of dialectical process in Adorno. "In one of those paradoxical reversals that characterize the dialectical process, it is precisely this primitive, regressive starting point that determines the development of the most complex of the arts". Frederic Jameson, Marxism and Form:20th Century Dialectical theories of Literature (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1974), p. 13. 2 1  2 2  2 3  Clement Greenberg, "Art Chronicle: Master Leger", p. 95  as parallel constructions each expanding in homology. The acts of the avant-garde  are  conceived  affirmation.  Their  new  of  anew  alignment,  as  acts  offering  of  prescience  promise  faith for avant-garde practice rather than posing  and  and  renewed  act of negation in  opposition to capitalism, pits the challenge of individual originality against  the dominant social ethic of conformity.  The  speculative  project of Vital Center intellectuals, a conservatizing proposition for political  economy,  begins reconciling an ideal constituency  amidst  the collective and transindividual forces of the modern. It establishes a historical constituency possessed of taste and the "nerve of failure" to legitimitize a contemporary constituency for advanced art. Only an ideal public with the ability to decrypt ever advancing color as a quotient  of a continuing historical development  of medium could  apprehend quality as such. Avant-garde history and development read in light of a theory of expression hinging on taste and the expansion of taste brings that history and development clearly within the sphere of Riesman's and Greenberg's reconception of individuality and freedom. The project of Vital Center intellectuals, in its attempts to predict and harness the social forces of corporate capitalism, in its attempts to keep original, free and individual thought alive in face of increasing functionalism, passive consumerism and conformity, structurally corresponds  to a  dialectical model for history being built into the historical form of stain painting. It is what Greenberg tries  to uncover in Leger's  production as "quality" and what is singularly focussed painting like Salient  upon in a  by Louis, i.e., where pure color and plastic style  merge and become evocative of feeling or expressive effect.  In both  Leger's and Louis' case the use of color on surface is flagged and will be flagged for its potential vection as in the  politics of  the hedonistic impulse  speculative imagination.  replete  In the case of Louis'  painting, Salient , specifically, the absolute forefronting of an intense and open color possesses all the optimism the prospects of American capitalism held for those partial to a conception of democratic rule by elites and suspicious of populism. Salient' s fetishization  of raw material, and the manner in  which this is so literally presented in order to convey experience or expression with the utmost efficiency possible to the medium, tempts one to conceive of the image in a machinic sense. As exclusively a "machine  producing  expression.  effects"  24  or more precisely a machine for  In the historical development  of form, Louis' first "Veil"  series seem driven by the same anxiety for efficiency  which first  drove the mythic Ixion to endlessly turn his wheel, the crank and hub of some unknown machine.  Both having seemingly internalized  "the anxiety that the rule of efficiency seems to provoke" , in one 25  instance  "weighs like a sense of sin"  26  on the shoulders of Ixion,  driving him on despite the rhythms of seasons and of days; and in the other instance  2  4  enervates authentic  Deleuze and Guarttari, Kafka  and high culture with  : Toward a Minor Literature,  the  p.xv. I of course  recognize the methodological baggage which comes along with this poaching exercise, but would maintain the terminology is sufficiently predetermined in the discourse of the core intellectuals I take up. Clement Greenberg, "Plight of Our Culture", p. 59. ibid. p.59. fn. reads :"Once efficiency becomes a matter of conscience, the failure to be completely efficient — or even to be able to imagine what the perfection of efficiency is — weighs like a sense of sin. For no one is ever efficient enough." 2 5  2 6  burden of choice inured by the delimiting of content to achieve ever purer  expression. The internalization of efficiency as a matter of conscience is for  Greenberg the key factor for the future if "industrialism is really to function".  27  fundamental individual. either.  The notion to  28  weaves through Bell's  Riesman's  conception  the  "other  directed"  The classical allusion to Ixion is not far-stretched  For the  American free enterprise system, a happier version  of Jeremy Bentham's perfectly efficient perfect  of  writing and is  model of a socialist  29  and "almost a  30  was the mythic Ixion of  Daniel Bell's 1955 article, "Ixion's Wheel".  The metaphor was not, I  think, lost on Greenberg; he model  and  approximation.  American 31  economy"  panopticon  too points to capitalism  Further, and  as  socialism as the perfect its  closest  classical  integral to his strategies delineated  in "The Plight of Our Culture", for  avant-garde practice to survive it  had necessarily to engage in the central tenet of capitalism, its ever increasing efficiency.  Rather than advocate  an outworn  militant  isolationism, his prolegomena for authentic culture is identical to his characterization  for  work.  "And as  work  has  become  more  concentratedly and actively work -- that is, more strictly controlled  ibid. See Bells The End of Ideology especially pp. 227- 272. Also see earlier discussion on Riesman. See Daniel Bell's "Work and its Discontents: The Cult of Efficiency in America", esp. pp. 227-229. in The End Of Ideology, 1960. Daniel Bell, "Ixion's Wheel", The New Leader, July 18, 1955. p. 19. See "The Plight of Our Culture", p. 59. 2 7  2 8  2 9  3 0  3 1  by its purposes, more efficient"  32  , so too would high modernism. He  writes: Five thousand years of urban history have gradually separated these activities, with their implicit ends, and sealed them off from each other, so that we at last have art or culture for its own sake, religion for the sake of things knowable only outside life ( or, like art to some degree, for the sake of pure and simple states of mind), and work for the sake of exclusively practical, "objective" aims. The problem now is to restore intimate relations between the three, or ~ with religion, as I think, ruling itself out as social form — between the two. For if culture cannot be again closely related to work, it cannot be related closely enough to that reality which has again become fundamental for all of society. 33  This entire schema, structured only by a theoretical armature intent on the efficiency  of expression, i.e. on the purpose of the  medium, has no place for the "instinctual" or "automatic" in its creative attainable  processes.  34  An ever clearer enunciation of expression ,  only through a deterritorialization of content,  could only  be realized via a pathway of rigorous thought and sophistication. As in Louis' Terrain  of Joy (fig. 4), and Longitude  and  displayed  content  extremist and  is  nearing its  (1954) (fig. 9)  inexorable  destiny  most arid distillation; ironically its most  form ,  its  materially  Clement Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", p. 58. Clement Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", p. 61. Kenworth Moffett's reading is exemplary of this position'The first step of the creative act s one of taste, but taste that is willing to be challenged without at the same time abnegating its responsibility to itself. Maybe one should call this instinct instead of taste, an instinct or sense of where radical painting is at, where possibilites really lie"p. 3. and "Louis' ouvre takes us back to the work of the great modern painters of the later 19th and 20th century who one way or another always began with or depended on nature." p. 5. Morris Louis : Museum of fine Arts Boston , 1979. 3  2  3 3  3  4  intense  expression  hedonistic fashion,  35  .  Color floods  these canvases in a most  intensity and saturation of hues becomes a sole  preoccupation in order that  expression  might  be  more clearly  delimited. Freedom and individuality, earlier located as a managerial prerogative  of  the  habituate  anxiety  inured of  the  problem of  executive decision making, enters the dialogue of artistic practice as modernist endgame. The fetishization of raw material in these works links up to the promise of desire, contained within efficiency, that was located as  the fundamental logic driving industrialism and the  corporate model. The  polarities  of  nature  approximation cultured efficiency, Louis' mature work from those before his breakthrough. Greenberg  viewed  were  its  dialectically  is apparently what  opposite  distinguishes  paintings of lesser "quality" from  Take the approximately 30 or so pictures  in January 1954,  Gallery's Emerging Talent Show pictures  and  made after  in selection  for the Kootz  in Washington D.C.  Greenberg, Louis,  While all the  and Noland's first  meeting in New York, Greenberg recalled in slight disappointment that most contained floral motifs and those few others were still too obviously dependant on Pollock. Among those works by Louis chosen for  the  show,  Frankenthaler's  Trellis  (fig.  and Pollock's  1)  is  unmistakably  production, pregnant  as  aligned it is  to with  nature in both textual and visual reference. It was later in the same year that Louis'  fully  matured painting would be realized. The  paintings of the first "Veil" series are a repudiation of his previous See Deleuze and Guarrtari's discussion of "What is a Minor Literature", in Kafka : Toward a Minor Literature . esp. pp. 18 -19. 3 5  tendencies and experiments.  They are the product in Greenberg's  mind of a dialectical progression of form from a basis in nature entirely new  synthesis, not  to an  organic, but rather a superstructural  imagining of America's corporate culture.  36  Such resonances contained in this nature / culture debate integral  to  the  images.  Their  importance  was  not  limited  are to  Greenberg alone; indeed, in a letter written by Louis to Greenberg in June of 1954 , artistic agency can  be perceived as well as a decisive  factor. Diane Upright mistakenly reads the letter as a vacillating admission of futility in the staining project encapsulated in the first "Veil"  series  37  .  Its meaning lies on another dimension however.  Louis writes: I don't care a great deal about the positive accomplishments in their (other painters) work or my own since that leads to an end. I look at paintings from the negative side, what is left out is useful only as that leads to the next try and the next. In this sense the positive accomplishments of Pollack [sic] or anyone else has little meaning for me and I acknowledge a debt to bad, but not indifferent, paintings and to students who so ineptly paint an intervention of what they feel, what little they know. The art experience in these often surpass Picasso and the muscular painters. I doubt that this backing-in approach is new either for, with all this, the painting seems to establish some bond with art; historically it becomes engulfed. Too, I can't help but wish, right or wrong, to take issue with those whose fetish is promoting painting from the stomach, orgasm or This line of questioning is pursued further and in a formal sense in the next section under the sub-heading "Kafka Sources for a Particular Vision". See diane Upright's catalogue raisonne Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, (New York: Harry N. Abrams inc. 1981), . "In his moment of vacillation ... " This statement seems to imply that Louis thought the Veils represented an end, and that the "next try" lay more in the direction of the vigorous, compressed space he had introduced into his work in 1953 rather than in the Veils"simple pattern and slow motion", pp. 15-16. 3  6  3 7  mouth. The psychology becomes a conformity to a mode of bad taste which rivals the good Anglo Saxons and the difference adds up to the sameness of focus. A school of non-conformists exists waiting for the next to negate it in turn. 38  Much is revealed in this letter written by Louis, especially in view of the preceding argument's attempt to fashion the import and weight of Greenberg's politics, and in turn his intellectual circles, in the conceiving of a stylistics practice. Consciousness  and the reconceiving of avant-garde  fundamentally structured in response to the  modern moment is revealed and, too, strategies for the negotiation of artistic practice when  marginality -- or traditional avant-gardist  means — was invalidated.  But in response to Upright's reading , I  would not call the letter a submission of  "negative accomplishment",  but rather a commentary circling around a i.e.,  core issue of self-doubt,  the "nerve of failure". In this sense  a Riesmanesque  self-  reflection on the nature and moral anxiety of originality assailing the artist as intellectual cum This is one of the  autonomous individual. crucial concepts of Riesman's theories,  keeping alive the possibility for individual, original, Utopian thinking amidst the crushing pressures of conformity . It is worth requoting Riesman's passage on the "nerve of failure" in full, while considering also the dominant construction of the artist in over thirty years of historiography.  Louis the  supremely  private  man  39  , inward , a 40  Morris Loius letter to Clement Greenberg, 6 June 1954, Clement Greenberg correspondence, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Clement Greenberg, "Louis and Noland", Art International , vol.IV, no.5, May 25, 1960. Greenberg's quotation is especially relevant."Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, who both live in Washington D . C , which fact is not unrelated to the quality of their work. From Washington you can keep in steady contact 3 8  3  9  102 loner  41  ,  Washington  secretive of his work D.C.  4 3  , isolated  in the  suburbs of  , permitting no one access to his studio while  working ( not even his wife) remarkable integrity  42  45  .  44  , and for all these reasons a man of  All become rhetorical tropes for  a new kind  with the New York art scene without being as subjected as constantly to its pressures to conform as would be if you lived and worked in New York ... Louis and Noland are curious about what goes on in New York; they show there, and have learned alot there ... When they return to Washington to paint it is to challenge the fashions and successes of New York, and also its worldly machine ... (their painting carries with it a moral decision) — a decision not eased in their case by the fact that 250 miles separate them from the new Babylon of art. Those miles also isolate them, and insofar as they accept the consequences of their isolation they make all the more of a moral decision." p. 27. Dora Ashton, New York Times , Thur. Mar.31. 1960, EA Carmean, Jr, Morris Louis : Major Themes and Variations , (Washington D . C : National Gallery of Art, 1976), p. v. Diane Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, (New York:Harry N. Abrams inc. 1981), p. 35. John Elderfield, Morris Louis: Museum of Modern Art,New York , ( New York: Mus. Modern Art, 1986), p. 9. Diane Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, (New York: Harry N. Abrams inc. 1981), p. 35. 4  0  4 1  4  2  4  3  4  4  Michael Fried, Morris Louis , (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1970), cat. p. 9. Fried's conception of integrity is important, it incorporates the dominant theory of expression, i.e. "natural expression" and "corresspondence", as does Greenbergs in order to circumscribe a communicative constituency."Among those who knew him there is universal agreement that Louis' integrity was remarkable. This integrity -- which, not suprisingly, appears to have made itself felt from time to time as something harsh , secretive even ungenerous — went hand in hand with a deep confidence in his powers..." p. 7. In reference to Louis' first Veil series he writes: "In pictures like Intrigue, Salient, and Iris Louis broke through (made count) his own powers, originality, vision, experience, and integrity", p. 12. Here integrity as a condition or quality of being pure, a state of freedom from corrupting influence or practice , carries with it an illusion to the fall of man and that divided nature reconciled. In an extremely cryptic way Fried seems to be intimating too, at a reconciling of the Kantian irreconcilability of subject object duality. Whether , in his work, this can be traced back to the material context and social forces of the 1950s as in Greenbergs case, is another question. Fried's position is somehow linked to the later manifestations — mid and late 1960s — of this same intellectual milieu. Probably close to the position of Norman Podhoretz for instance, who took over Eliot Cohens position as editor of Commentary in 1957. Podheretz's statement"the real adventure of existence was to be found not in radical politics in Bohemia, but in the moral life for adults", is exemplary.("The Young 4 5  of artist , a far cry from the woolly Bohemianism of Greenwich Village and Pollock. The "nerve of failure" is the courage to face aloneness and the possibility of defeat in ones personal life or ones work without being morally destroyed. It is, in a larger sense, simply the nerve to be oneself when that self is not approved of by the dominant ethic of society ... (It) is needed only for really heretical conduct: when one renounces even the company of misery and takes the greater risk of isolation — that is, the risk of never rejoining the company 46  In Riesman's model the moral anxiety placed on the artist or intellectual as individual  is critical.  So, too, is the displacement of  moral content from art in Greenberg's model . Both movements are 47  related and  contingent on the same factors, they share a common  ground in a political economy  suspicious  of populism, favoring  democratic rule by elite groups and with all trust falling upon the individual.  As in the corporate hierarchy where a capacity for  decision making and an eager acceptance of the burden of choice was the kernel of the managerial stratum , so possibility and potential lay in the society at large with those attempting to define themselves  Generation", in Doings and Undoings , New York: Farrar, Straw's and Giroux, 1964, p.108.). Riesman, "A Philosophy for Minority Living: The Jewish Situation and the 'Nerve of Failure", Commentary, vol. 6, no. 5, Nov. 1948, p. 413. This assures the subject /object duality which Greenberg maintains is a result of trying to reconcile them. Especially revealing in this respect are Greenbergs correspondences with F.R. Leavis in the wake of Greenberg's article on "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka". Leavis suggests that art, following D.H. Lawrence, contains potentially explosive effects for living, it provides the model for modern progress.Whereas Greenberg would suggest the inscrutable future is housed only as dialectical contradiction in the formal nature of art , and this relatable only as experience, "leaves us no wiser than before". Commentary, Vol. 19, Jun 1955. pp. 595- 596. and Vol.20, Aug. 1955, pp.178- 179.  4  6  4  7  104 through  choices  consumerism.  made  against  a  backdrop  Within the framework of  the  of  conformity  Cold  and  War it is a  construction which allowed the absolute moralness of every citizen  48  . This, through Riesman's continuum of taste, which established an active  consumer on every  level  of cultural activity  in America,  privileged however the sophisticated taste of only a few. What was conceivably picked up by those few image like Salient  for instance was consciousness  structured by, and formulated in response advanced  corporate  capitalism.  80  to  It's stylistic's,  in an  fundamentally  the conditions of which posit the  curious and troubling equation of efficiency with hedonism, access a state of human integrity  and of freedom,  the possibility  for an  intellectual response free of any corrupting influence, that could only be explored when done so consciously and in response to  a psychic  The commodity, posited by Marx as the source of social man's alienation in America; was offering the terms of his liberation. Consumerism and conformity themselves — built into a cultural model hinging on a continuum of taste and amending the duality of high culture and popular culture in order to legitimate the most visible aspect of the American phenomenon — become essential means of achieving autonomy and individual integrity. For Greenberg's purposes, it was this complex of issues which Louis the individual was struggling with and which his art accessed through sensibility. Remember, Noland's art education, as a product of the G.I. Bill, and both he and Louis' suburban lifestyles, could only confirm that within their impeccable private visions were contained the constraints and potential of an entirely new sensibility, era, and nation.Whyte sums up the historical forces involved in the new climate and focussed on the suburban landscape in The Organization Man (1955). Here he locates amidst countervailing tendencies theevidence of as well the modern individual of integrity and merit, possesed of intellectual and moral virtues. Greenberg's new avant-garde possesed of the "nerve of failure" and situated in the suburbs of Washington D.C. was similarly responding to the social ferment and optimism America as a whole was generating however only earlier. Whyte writes: "For the Organization Man society has in fact been good — for this has been a sucession of fairly benevolent environments: college, the paternalistic if not always pleasant military life, then perhaps graduate work through the G.I. Bill, a corporate apprenticeship and high prosperity ... The system they instinctively conclude is essentially benevolent"(Whyte, p. 395.)  4  80  8  reality  defined  corporatism.  by the  social  machine  Above all, Salient  product of decision making.  given  is  the  functional  form by  self-conscious rational  Like a sonorous figure responding to the  abstraction of monotonous sound it was but rather from the sophistications  produced not from nature,  and abstractive processes of a  monotonous and machinic origin.  Kafka: Sources for a Particular Vision  Throughout this thesis I have attempted to assert the parallel and  unified  interpretive  political projects  culture stem,  from  while  which  Greenberg's  simultaneously  maintain the independence and integrity of each. point  various  attempting  to  As a last anchoring  before entering into the fluid and open sea of  Louis' vision, I  would touch on a few issues brought up by Greenberg in his article "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka: Some Sources  of his Particular  Vision". Written concurrently with "'American-Type' Painting" in the spring of 1955,  it provides a means for approaching the stylistics of  form in stain painting through what Greenberg valued in Kafka's fiction,  i.e., "what makes it  succeed"  49  . Again, these are issues  brought up previously and relate back to the politics I have explored. Importantly in this article, however, Greenberg galvanizes as  contiguous  with  form  and  in  doing  so  dialectics  characterizes  the  responsibility of the autonomous individual as artist or writer.  By  Clement Greenberg, "The Jewisness of Franz Kafka: Some Sources of his Particular Vision", Commentary, vol. 19, April, 1955. p. 323.  4  9  integrating the issues explored herewith and above in conjunction with Greenberg's article "'American-Type' Painting", formal quality separate from and integral to pure  openness a  color and together  the composite of plastic style may be branded with the political. In the framework of a history where the trend of reality itself is fundamentally incomprehensible , its processes as anonymous, it may or may not be perceived Greenberg's Kafka  as  ironic  should be so penetrated  that the project of by the  same politics  which were giving form to Morris Louis' artistic project; or that the two projects should be so intricately associated.  Greenberg writes.  Kafka seems to write with the aim of resolving the portents given him by his sensibility. He intends to be transparent, to deflate every mystery. The result is successful art precisely because he fails. Fictive reality remains throughout what it started out as in his sensibility: a tissue of figures, likenesses, parables. Yet without the sustained effort he makes to thread the tissue and rationalize it away — that is, if he were simply satisfied with his own "poetry" — Kafka would be no more than a fantasist, a kind of Jean Paul Richter: a writer of originality, no doubt, but one who would not move us deeply. 50  Kafka, as intellectual, as dialectician, as sophisticated formalist, is constructed in terms of  historical positioning, consciousness, and  practice, as autonomous individual in a "claustrophobic" world, "all middle"  51  . Like Louis, a certain distancing from the ebb and flow of  transindividual forces, hegemony  5  0  5 1  together,  those tarring a  majorities  seeming moral  appear crystalline and fractured, enabling an  Clement Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 320. Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 323  opaque historical foresight, a glimpse of some altogether sublime reality, a modernist foretaste of Utopia. extends  from  individual  subject/object duality.  attempts  52  to  This their shared tendency reconcile  representation's  The genesis of form and the stylistics of each  one's genre is consciously unified with social life.  sought and considered as organically  Herein lies the capacity for their work to  "move us", for it is an expression of sensibility tempered by the historical moment and its downward focussing of forces of which the individual serves as crucible. Like Louis, manipulative,  as conscious  of the problems of form , content or raw materials struggle for autonomy , for an existence tensioned between  material fact and  ideological fantasm. Though through their sophisticated attempts to reconcile  an abstract poetics  with its  dialectical component of  historical process they fail, and expression succeeds; they realize or objectify a counterpart and just as inscrutable a missing link, that of dialectical process or thought  5 3  .  Thus Greenberg writes, while "states of being are what are conclusive here" , he can simultaneously forward that ... 54  Processes of logical thought constitute much of the "action" in Kafka, and the story is often that of the inefficacy of thought, and nothing more. No one has ever made thought so vivid as an object rather than subject. And no one has succeeded so well in capturing its processes for the ends of imaginative literature. 55  The allusion is to Wyndam Lewis's fascistic Utopia in Tarr. Thus Louis' project is distinct from the pure aestheticism or art for art sake of Jean Paul Richter for he attempts to link pure form with aestheticism. Clement Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 323. Greenberg, "The Jewisness of Franz Kafka", p. 321.  5  2  5  3  5  4  5 5  A parallel structure of thought  as "action" exists in Louis'  paintings . Just as Kafka's heroes are manipulative representations of Kafka's  own  criticism  attempting  to  rationalizing his/their own existence,  come  to  through his medium "Veil",  Louis seeks  a formal  dispossessed  of reality and a function of experience.  of  this insight  conscious  which  counterpart of rationalizing self-knowledge  implies  that  both Kafka  of themselves as social beings,  guide their work toward  and reproduction of real life"  57  ,  It is by virtue and Louis were  "...as simultaneously  subject and object of the socio-historical process" each artist to  consciousness,  56  the  which enables  capturing "... the production  or "logical thought" as "action".  Thus,  Greenberg writes the criticism of Kafka's heroes : ... embodies the anonymous, inscrutable yet somehow coherent trend of reality itself. And as the narrative unfolds, inside as well as outside his mind, he begins to see that it is not merely his settled way of life that is endangered by realities trend, but his very existence or his very reality — which can be interpreted, too, as his rationality or sanity insofar as the attack upon himself is delivered by those agents of reality which are imbedded in his own personality. 58  Georg Lukacs, "What is Orthodox Marxism", History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics, trans. R. Livingstone, ( Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1971), p. 19. F. Engels, letter to J. Bloch, Sept. 1890, quoted in Lukacs,"What is Orthodox Marxism", p. 18. Lukacs adds: " ...the production and reproduction of a particular economic totality, which science hopes to understand, is necessarily transformed into the process of production and reproduction of a particular social totality: in the course of this transformation, 'pure' economics are naturally transcended, though this does not mean that we must appeal to any transcendental forces. Marx often insisted upon this aspect of dialectics. For instance:"Capitalist production, therefore, under its aspect of a continuous connected process or as a process of reproduction produces not only commodities, not only surplus value, but it also produces and reproduces the capitalist relation itself, on the one hand the capitalist and on the other, the labourer." p. 14. Clement Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 321. 5 6  5 7  5  8  109  The quotation underlines Greenberg's and Louis' position.  It is  in essence a redelineation of Marx's notions of consciousness, wherein the "production and reproduction"  59  of an economic reality  or "capitalist relation" is transcended and simultaneously reproduced in the processes of conceptualization. Where Marx and Greenberg part company is where Marx had earlier parted from the Kantian vestiges of Hegel. Greenberg's slow reactionary drift backward from the radical critique of Marx and his advancement over Hegel's false inner dialectic, lays to rest at the essential unresolvable duality between subject and object.  60  In an America of vaulting prosperity,  the 'effacement' of class lines, and the threat of populism and consumption trends, Marx's  radical potential, i.e. class or proletarian  consciousness of itself as simultaneously object and subject of historical process, was  diffused  and  deradicalized to such an extent  that only an emerging intellectual elite had the capacity for such consciousness.  61  Georg Lukacs, History and class Consciousness , p. 15. This was the point for Greenberg where aesthetic value lay. The duality of spirit and matter, theory and praxis, etc., had to be sustained for knowledge about art was "knowledge about an essentially alien material"(Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, p. 16.)It was an altogether different knowledge however, by which Americas intellectual class comes to know itself in the years 1948-1955. This was a peculiar conflation of Hegelian notions limited to the intellectual, however possessed of Marx's historical dialectic. Marx writes. " Already with Hegel, the absolute spirit of history has its material in the masses, but only finds adequate expression in philosophy. But the philosopher appears merely as the instrument by which absolute spirit, which makes history, arrives at self-consciousness after the historical movement has been completed. The philosophers role in history is thus limited to this subsequent consciousness, for the real movement is executed unconsciously by the absolute spirit. Thus the philosopher arrives post festum ." Karl Marx, (The Holy Family, ch. 6., p. 187.). Greenberg and Riesman priorize the intellectual as 5 9  6  0  6 1  This intellectual consciousness is part of the dialectic of the historical process being built into the sign of Louis' work, as openness.  As opposed  Frankenthatler's Mountains  to the  line  enunciated  or edge as contour in  and Sea , which delimit color areas and  posit a reality in a natural objective sense, in a work like  Salient  Louis uses the effect of running stain and countless covering washes to efface line or such as  "cutting edge" as a compositional tool.  Openness as  explores a reality of an altogether different order, one positing reality  the  reproducing  abstractive  process  itself,  i.e.  "producing and  oneself" . In Louis' attempts to reconcile, through form 62  and content, a more pure and machined quality of expression, he realizes the object process of dialectics as contiguous with  that  arts  form. For Greenberg it was Frankenthaler's regressive bounding of color by "wiry line" bridge from Pollock to the future ,  6 3  almost overzealous and which provided Louis the  As a "negative accomplishment"  her art permitted access to Pollock's "all-over" period from 1947-50. In Greenberg's teleology it was in this period, the height of Pollock's career, that his dripped, all-over line disobeyed its historical function and was  no longer  experienced  as perforce  figurative  edge or  bounding element. It was much more than the tangible cubist grid which Pollock was exploring; it was the dialectical opposite, that of facture, for it could only be grasped color  assumes the agency of  optically.  In Salient  spreading  this facture , not only in its unbounded  possessed of self-knowledge prior to the historical movements completing via the nexus of conformity. Georg Lukacs, History and class Consciousness-,^. 15. Here I owe a debt to Michael Frieds reading in Morris Louis cat. p. 19. 6  2  6  3  quality but as well in the propensity for diluted paint to stain the cotton duck canvas rather than to tangibily cover  the surface.  64  Despite the implacable look of chance and ambiguous effect implicit to the fluid processes of technique, provides  a  strict  compositional  in Salient , color as  armature,  concealed and cryptic logic of construction.  carrying  with  it a  Its logic is dialectics  which progresses through contradiction and contingency and form of openness,  surface  in the  a stylistic equivalent to the ambiguousness  of  surface has been hesitantly assimilated. In  Salient  the "more purely optical" , a function of color as  openness not in any way relatable to life experience, is  relatable to  expression and to the "anonymous and inscrutable trend of history" .  65  A function of the material use of surface, of facture, opposed to line  and drawing it was not the result of  rigid causality, but of the  Despite the loss of historical specificity, I quote Greenberg writing in 1960, confident that on this empirical level his position though shifting wildly on other dimensions remains here constant. He writes. "The crucial relevation he (Louis) got from Pollock and Frankenthaler had to do with facture as much as anything else. The more closely color could be identified with its ground, the freer would it be from the interference of tactile associations; the way to achieve this closer identification was by adapting water color technique to oil and using thin paint on an absorbent surface. Louis spills his paint on unsized and unprimed cotton duck canvas, leaving the pigment almost everywhere thin enough, no matter how many different veils of it are superimposed, for the eye to sense the threadbareness and woveness of the fabric underneath. But underneath is the wrong word. The fabric, being soaked in paint rather than merely covered by it, becomes paint in itself, color in itself, like a dyed cloth: the threadness and woveness are in the color . Louis usually contrives to leave certain areas of the canvas bare ... It is a gray-white or white-gray bareness that functions as a color in its own right and on a parity with other colors; by this parity the other colors are levelled down as it were, to become identified with the raw cotton surface as much as the bareness is. The effect conveys a sense not only of color as somehow disembodied, and therefore more purely optical, but also of color as a thing that opens and expands the picture plane.Clement Greenberg, ("Louis and Noland", Art International, vol.IV, no .5. May 25, 1960), p.28. 6  4  This is a phrase Greenberg uses to suggest the dialectic of the historical process. Clement Greenberg, "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 321. 6  5  inscrutable working of mind edging toward  self-knowledge  through  a producing and reproducing of the social relationship, and hence in a state  of  flux  and  slow  monotonous  repetition.  66  The dialectic  operating within the image is a projection of the corporate reality outside , a projection itself constituting the consciousness of artist. The object is in a sense an immanent visualization of  abstractive  processes coming to terms with consciousness , coming to terms with its medium of representation.  With the social form of the advanced  capitalist relationship built in, the reception of image thus becomes a socially  mediated  phenomenon  dependant  on  the  degree  of  sophistication allowed by perception. The "more purely optical" built into  the material usage of surface is conflated with the hierarchial  ordering of the corporate and institutional superstructure.  "'American-Type' Painting": Veiled Politics and Cultural Closure  Greenberg's article and  built  ideological  around closure.  a  "'American-Type' Painting" is structured  conscious Despite  the  manipulation contiguity  of  dialectics  between  aesthetic's and Louis' first "Veil" seires, Louis' production  and  Greenberg's is written  out of the text, it is consciously evacuated and expelled from history.  Greenberg intimates at the Halachic order of Judaism, its ethical tradition, as a fence against history and as strategy for originality in the face of crushing conformity. As in his and Riesman's earlier articles on the Jewish problem, an invisible minority ethics is employed as a stepping stone to distanciation and hence criticality.  6  6  The article is important in the framework of the period for precisely this reason.  It crystallizes the position of the key intellectuals I take  up within a wider socio-ideological field, that is, dramatizing the time lag and the disparity of  consciousness  they had necessarily to  construct between themselves and the rest of the nation. Specifically, in the wake of Louis' unrealized exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery the year before,  it provided Greenberg a material instance of  the advanced degree of Louis' experimentation. displaced  metaphor for the  ideological  The article exists  uncertitude  as  which first  greeted Louis' "Veil" series and hence as well, the prescience of the liberal project itself.  Louis' exclusion from the in some ways suspect  acolade an "American-Type" painter is related to the metaphorical gap  or truth which  his  paintings  openness in a larger cultural sense ,  expressed 6 7  through color and  Louis' 1954 paintings were a  premature cultural anomaly, permissable only because of a superior consciousness  of history and modernity.  Louis' "Veils" and Greenberg's text belong to the same network of power, are nodes within that system, and share a gnostic set of truths  and integrity  68  . In regard to this particular text,  the first  "Veil" series exist at the same epicentral position as Greenberg's  See T.J. Clark's most excellent disscussion of ideology in The Painting of Modern Life:Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, (London: Thames and Hudson.1985), p. 8. Said writes of Foucaultian project that his "... whole enterprise has, he has argued retrospectively, taken it for a fact that if the text hides something, or if something about the text is invisible, these things can be revealed and stated, albeit in some other form, mainly because the text is part of a network of power whose textual form is a purposeful obscuring of power beneath textuality and knowledge." Edward Said, "Criticism between Culture and System", The World, the Text, and the Critic. (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1984), p. 184.  6  7  6  8  aesthetic absolute;  they are central to this invisible infrastructure,  acting as the unutterable  cog in a much, much broader practice of  exclusion. This is built into the article via a survey and surreptitious trashing of America's avant-garde.  Greenberg carefully leaves out  the identification of Louis' first "Veil" series for the future reader, to be read  post-festum  he well knew  as the inexpressible ideological certainty which  in 1955  was  methodologically  impossible  to  cite.  Between the coyly dressed sentences offering the achievement of the abstract expressionists,  Louis' "Veils"  vision upon the whole shimmering evocation  textual  form;  cast a fantastic their presence  and paling as  much a  of optimism as the gray flannel suit which  would pulse America into the next decade. Greenberg begins his survey of abstract expressionism  by a  delineation of those most exemplary of its underlying tendency.  This  he  would  categorize  as  an exploratory recapitulation  of  the  technical resource of value contrasts first initiated by the cubists. The works of Arshile Gorky, William de Kooning, Hans Hofmann , Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock,  Mark Tobey,  and Franz Kline are all indicative of this direction. In their works an emphasis on black and white, used as a locus for form and structure reaches,  as  apotheoses"  Greenberg 69  .  writes,  highest  "exaggeration  or  He intimates that this implicit factor of Western  painting, re-emphasized  in  cubism, is  abstract expressionism, and that if  6 9  its  presented  as  explicit in  art intends to survive in modern  Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 189.  society it will them as well.  have to not only isolate such conventions, but "detach" 70  The abstract-expressionists emphasis on black and white ... represents one of those exaggerations or apotheoses which betray a fear for their objects. Value contrast, the opposition and modulation of dark and light, has been the basis of Western pictorial art, its chief means, much more important to perspective, to a convincing illusion of depth and volume; and it has also been its chief agent of structure and unity. This is why the old masters almost always laid in their darks and lights —their shading —first. The eye automatically orients itself by the value contrasts in dealing with an object that is presented to it as a picture, and in the absence of such contrasts it tends to feel almost, if not quite as much, at loss as in the absence of a recognizable image ... Black and white is the extreme statement of value contrast, and to harp on it as many of the abstract-expressionists do — and not only abstract expressionists — seems to me to be an effort to preserve by extreme measures a technical resource whose capacity to yield convincing form and unity is nearing exhaustion. 71  Primarily, of course, the fundamental drawback in the works of this  first  group of abstract expressionists was  their inability to  "shake loose" or "detach" themselves, as Greenberg would say, from the cubist legacy of drawing and line.  In these works value contrasts  were still the basis of form and structure, and hence following the cubists, color was discredited as a  means to form.  7 2  In Salient , as  Greenberg writes : "Though it (easel painting) started on its modernization earlier perhaps than the other arts, it turned out to have a greater number of expendable conventions imbedded in it or these at least have proven harder to isolate and detatch. As long as such conventions survive and can be isolated they continue to be attacked, in all the arts that intend to survive in modern society". Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 179. 7  0  C. Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 189. Greenberg's disdain for de Kooning's work is telling. Like Picasso, he belongs to another sensibility and era. De Kooning epitomizes the discordance Greenberg sees existing in abstract expressionism, his "hankering for terribilita" , a nostalgia for tradition in painting, a reluctancy to let go of the 7 1  7  2  we have seen, Louis boldly inverts this equation. in brilliant color. offer  The image bathes  Symmetries of green, pink, and yellow seemingly  an internal structure to an otherwise  amorphous form.  A  subtle black wash, diluted in the extreme with turpentine, can only leave the vanquished  granular trace of its perpendicular flow.  In  the first "Veil" series modalities of dark and light — the last great shiboleth of Modernism in painting — across  the  surface  presence of color.  of  the canvas  are pulverized and dispersed by the  luminous structuring  Such a burst of insight as extrapolated above is of  course only contingent on the space of blindness which Greenberg writes into the text, a space which exists in the negative and is predicated by a perfect and prior opposition, but which nevertheless exists  as  a loaded  space  carrying the  burden  of  Greenberg's  speculative vision. In  spite  of  the  subsequent lack of force  abstract  expressionists  Greenberg does find  work, namely, a decorativeness  inadequacies  and  solace in some of their  , an "all-over" aspect resulting from  the use of extreme value contrasts on large canvases. The functioning of line is herewith redefined, and as in the middle period Pollocks, it is set free of its traditional usage as delimiting or bounding element  American cultural heritage and hence a forestalling of the future, all signal a refusal to accept the benificence and future potential of America. "He, too, hankers after terribilita, prompted by a similar kind of culture and by a similar nostalgia for tradition. No more than Picasso can he tear himself away from the human figure, and from the modelling of it, for which his gifts for line and shading so richly equip him. And it would seem that there was even more Luciferian pride behind de Kooning's ambition: were he to realize it, all other ambitious painting would have to stop for a while because he would have set its forward as well as backward limits for a generation to come." Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 188.  and gains a degree of opticality. For Greenberg, Mark Tobey's, Robert Motherwell's, and Franz Klines'  achievement  are at moments  as  clear: ... compelled to do huge canvases by the fact that they had increasingly renounced an illusion of depth within which they could develop pictorial incident without crowding; the flattening surfaces of their canvases compelled them to move along the picture plane laterally and seek in its sheer physical size the space necessary for the telling of their kind of pictorial story. 73  Greenberg's interest here is in "openness", or in what would later function, in an altogether  altered form, as "opticality". Not  surprisingly, this  of  was a function  ideological resonance The masterpieces  wherein  historical form, contingent upon  expressive  of abstract expressionism  quality was contained. had approached  this  quality — a quality more given to the suppression of value contrasts as  in the  late  Monet and other  Impressionists  -- despite  its  continued reliance on the hard edge of line and shading of drawing. The decorative or open, as in the case of Pollock and Tobey was achieved,  "unconsciously"  74  , through a spidery interlacing of line.  For Greenberg this was a response to a shift in American culture at large — a shift registering as a change or expansion in sensibility or taste.  In a gallery going public  this is noted  as the "sudden"  Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p.188. Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting". "One of the unconscious motives for Pollocks "all over " departure was the desire to achieve a more immediate, denser, and more decorative impact than his late cubist manner had permitted", p. 187. 7  3  7  4  propensity  for the  late Monet and Impressionists.  75  A late 19th  century quality of openness achieved from the standpoint of close valued  color,  somehow  which  was  tweeking  a contemporary  public  was  linked to the "all-over" quality being explored by a few of  these abstract expressionists. Though the allusions are heavily veiled, it is possible to link the  "unconscious  motive"  which  76  propelled  these  abstract  expressionists toward their version of an "all-over" style, with phenomenon  of an  emerging national consciousness.  the  Greenberg  realized this slight shift in aesthetic practice was an encapsulation of larger cultural respond  entirely  resonant form. its  forces. Although  achievement  as  he  thought  — as we shall see ~ it did not appropriate,  it was  a kind of  The tendency toward openness was a correct one, but was  attained  through the  wrong  devices.  In  Pollock's case, line was the mechanism of openness. It had been disenfranchised from its orthodox use to such an extent that it gave color an opportunity for agency. effect registered  Pollock's and Tobey's  new historical forces;  however,  "all-over"  their uncertainty  about what to do with open color sacrificed the nature of those same forces and its relation to the American moment to the seeming moral hegemony of the middle class. For  Greenberg, Pollock's  and Tobey's  "unconscious"  move  toward openness was being achieved by an undermined pursuit of decorativeness.  The problematic relationship and inversion between  Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 190. Again later whose works had "suddenly (stood) forth as more advanced in some respects than cubism". "'American-Type' Painting", p. 191. Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 186. 7 5  7  6  119 high culture and middlebrow culture which left  middlebrow  crucial level where "the fate of the whole ... may be decided"  77  the was  surreptitiously misleading the destiny of modernism. Greenberg had, of course,  delineated  the problem earlier in "The Plight of Our  Culture" It would seem therefore that it is middlebrow, not lowbrow, culture that does most nowadays to cut the social ground from under high culture. The middlebrow aspect is taken more and more for culture as such, for representative culture, even by educated people who still regard culture as a matter of personal parts instead of as a means merely of asserting status. Active high culture is left increasingly to specialists, and the middlebrow becomes the highest form to which the amateur, or dilettante, can aspire. There have almost always been specialists of culture, but their interests and concerns used to merge intimately with those of the educated and socially powerful amateur. Today, however, there is a growing estrangement. And since the socially powerful amateur, whether he be few or many, still controls our kind of culture, the middlebrow level tends to become its crucial one, where the fate of the whole of our culture may be decided. 78  For Greenberg, the dilettante , or "socially powerful amateur", while possessed of a sensibility for painting,  had only the capacity or  mechanisms for utilizing received taste. It is of a second within  tendency  the first generation of abstract expressionists — so named the  "Still school" by Greenberg— in which the aesthetic momentum of middle-brow taste first perceived in Pollock gains a more complete ascendency.  81  In 1955, the "Still school" composed of Clyfford Still,  Clement Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", p. 55. Clement Greenberg, "The Plight of Our Culture", p. 55. Greenberg writes: "I was impressed as never before by how estranging and upsetting genuine originality in art can be, and how the greater the pressure 7 7  7 8  8  Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, was exploring an  originality, and  expanding taste, through an extreme form of decorativeness.  This  most advanced tendency in American painting had resumed the late Monet and exposed the value contrast as only one more expendable convention in the medium of painting. tight value contrasts,  Allowing only  these painters had made the  condensed and unprecedented  first step of replacing color as a structuring or building element. Importantly, it was this fertile concentration on the use of color as surface which drew Greenberg to their works. suggestion  that  theirs  is  only  an  Even so, there is the  "experimental  quirk" , a 82  misleading project, bound ultimately by hindsight for as "prophetic a venture "  8 3  contingent qualities:  as Malevich's White on White . Above all else this was upon a populist  first,  that  their  base manifesting  advancement  was  decorative, and carrying this to an extreme; exemplified  itself  through  a function and secondly,  two  of  the  theirs  "buckeye painting" which carried a particular kind of  optimism. Concerning the former Greenberg would write: A concomitant of the fact that Still, Newman, and Rothko suppress value contrasts and favor warm hues is the more emphatic flatness of their paintings. Because it is not broken by sharp differences of value or by more than a few incidents of drawing or design, color breathes from the canvas with an enveloping effect, which is intensified by the largeness itself of the picture. The spectator tends to react to this more in terms of decor or environment than in those usually associated with a picture hung upon a wall. The crucial issue raised by the work of these three  on taste, the more stubbornly taste will resist adjusting to it." Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 190. Though the reference is not made directly the association is clear, p. 190. Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 190. 82  8  3  artists is where the pictorial stops and decoration begins. In effect, their art asserts decorative elements and ideas in a pictorial context. (Whether this has anything to do with the artiness that afflicts all three of them at times, I don't know. But artiness is the great liability of the Still school.) 84  The prospect of a convergence of the aesthetic realm with the purely decorative  is  direction pursued  by the "Still" school, for Greenberg a school of  "decorators"  86  anything but hopeful for Greenberg.  , could only mean the ultimate  for so long the medium had  85  The  loss of integrity which  worked to distill. But , as is invariably  the case with the internal and dialectical history of modern art, it would be precisely  this  "negative accomplishment"  which would  affirmatively realign advanced art. What is crucial in the work of these three artists, Greenberg would claim, was the extent to which they had unconsciously pushed, exaggerated, discursive  field  of  the  or even exceeded  pictorial and entered  decorative. The resulting "enveloping effect"  87  into  that  of  the the  of color, accentuated  by the size of the picture itself, mitigated a reception "more in terms  Clement Grennberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 194. At first glance it appears Greenberg posits the aesthetic convergence of easel painting with that of the enjoyment of Persian carpets as a gleeful prospect. This would be however anything but hopeful for Greenberg. It would be a dark and forbidding future indeed. He concludes: "The limits of the easel painting are in greater danger of- being destroyed because several generations of great artists have already worked to expand them. But if they are destroyed this will not necessarily mean the extinction of pictorial art as such. Painting may be on its way toward a new kind of genre, but perhaps not an unprecedented one — since we are now able to look at, and enjoy, Persian carpets as pictures — and what we now consider to be merely decorative may become capable of holding our eyes and moving us much as the easel picture does."'American-Type' Painting", p. 196. 84  8 5  86  87  Clement Clement  Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p.  194. 184.  of decor or environment"  88  than of integrous object. Certainly for  Greenbergian modernism the object's integrity had to remain sacred and intact. Louis' first "Veils" are exemplary of this. In both Salient and Terrain of Joy  the centrality and singular unity of the image is  affirmed. Muted variations in pastel colors prevent the "enveloping" or "jumping" effect that contrasting warm and cold colors are prone. This in conjunction with the replacement of the geometrical echoes of cubism  rectilinear and  by arcing and curving symmetries  reduces the dramatic push and pull of abstract expressionism to the most subtle dimension.  Consciously building with color for the  purpose  rather  of  openness  than  the  decorative  content  unforgivingly pursues facture. In Salient, muted color without jarring contrasts the picture surface in an unbroken manner.  spreads over  The stained edge does  not exist as such, but rather as a diffuse and ambiguous interface, wherein the hue  changes while simultaneously retaining continuity  and an unbroken quality across the picture surface. degree of facture  paint thinned with turpentine  This, and the  allowed for, best  facilitated the ambiguous flatness, i.e., the formal integrity of surface which openness demanded. In Salient, the qualities of openness and color,  each mutually contingent on the other, were a sign not only of  the contradictions of the historical moment, but of the optimism Greenberg's intellectual circle saw as expressive of the moment. The Still school had, in essence, pointed to openness as the domain of color, and edging in that direction their art carried with it  88  Clement  Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p.  184.  123 an  essentially  affirmative  optimism.  Nevertheless,  since  conception and manipulation of raw materials had not  their  consciously  sought this program and instead followed a mid-cultish desire for the decorative,  the  historical  form  which  resulted  was  anachronistic, the optimism intimated of the wrong sort. to  Greenberg's  reconception  incorporate  the  autonomous  individual, such  of  self-knowledge  avant-garde and  practice  to  of  and the conscious  which  Riesman's  consider  conception and production the altogether new constellation  core  In respect  strategies,  prescience failed  at  in  its  of order  manipulation of that order required for artistic  practice. The notion of "buckeye" painting — which characterized the Still  school's  problematic  production  for  Greenberg  --  is  central  to  their  negotiation.  Greenberg roundabout way  uses of  the  concept  accessing the  of  "buckeye"  issue of  painting  89  as a  a prevailing national  " I seem to detect its beginnings in Old Cromes oils and the Barbizon School, but it has spread only since the popularization of Impressionism ... Its practioners can draw with a certain amount of academic correctness, but their command of shading, and of dark and light values in general, is not sufficient to control their color — either because they are simply inept in this department, or because they are naively intent on a more vivid naturalism of color than the studio born principles of value contrast will allow. 'Buckeye' painters, as far as I am aware, do landscapes exclusively and work more or less directly from nature. By piling dry paint — though not exactly impasto — they try to capture the brilliance of daylight, and the process of painting becomes a race between hot shadows and hot lights whose invariable outcome is a livid, dry, sour picture with a warm brittle surface that intensifies the acid fire of the generally predominating reds, browns, greens, and yellows. "Buckeye" landscapes can be seen in Greenwich Village restaurants (Eddie's Aurora on West Fourth Street used to collect them)' Sixth Avenue picture stores (there is one near Eighth Street) and in the Washington square outdoor shows ... Still at any rate , is the first to have put "buckeye" effects into serious art ... it represents the conquest by high art of one more area of experience, and its liberation from Kitsch". Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 192. 8 9  consciousness in America. He exposes the sudden turn and expansion in an art publics sensibility for the late Monet and Impressionists read as a further "feat of naturalism" — as a misguided impetus for 90  a frontier looking  past and nature, rather than the pragmatic forward-  vision  America required;  consciousness but a stunted,  new  in sensibility ; 91  kind of  other  underdeveloped  openness through the decorative change"  in  had  words one.  a  Still's  historical shift  to  registered an "underground  it was affiliated to "...the emergence of a  taste which,  though  running counter  to  the  high  traditions of our art and possessed by people with little grasp of these..." , had linked up to a mounting mood of optimism in the 92  American way.  "Buckeye" painting was the vector of this mood.  Still's is the first really Whitmanesque kind of painting we have had, not only because it makes large, loose gestures, or because it breaks the hold of value contrast as Whitman's verse line broke the equally traditional hold of meter; but just as much because, as Whitman's poetry assimilated, with varying success, large quantities of stale journalistic and oratorical prose, so Still's painting is infused with that stale, prosaic kind of painting to which Barnett Newman has given the name of "buckeye." Though little attention has been paid to it in print, "buckeye" is probably the most widely practiced and homogeneous kind of painting seen in the Western world today. 93  The allusion important  Clement Element Clement Clement  90  9  92  93  to Whitman is  and damning.  Greenberg, Greenberg, Greenberg, Greenberg,  at the  same time both vitally  Though "buckeye"  "'American-Type' "'American-Type' "'American-Type' "'American-Type'  Painting", Painting", Painting", Painting",  p. p. p. p.  in its  191. 191. 191. 192.  Whitmanesque  appropriation of popular culture offered an affirmative and original way  of  conceiving  the  new  modernity, it  failed  completely  in  understanding the complex and altered project that the avant-garde must pursue under conditions of advanced capitalism. Certainly at the turn of the century in Walt Whitman's America and earlier in the France of the late Impressionists'  optimism in technological progress,  the mass media and the workings of the state would not have been considered crude or naive. However, for Greenberg these issues were incredibly pressing, especially so when an entire nation felt closer to the sentiments of this former period.  The swing in the publics'  sensibility for the late Monet, the Impressionists, and indeed the Still schools own priorizing of the decorative and of landscape in the "buckeye"  mode was sadly, despite  its capturing of a mood of  optimism,  all for the wrong reasons, grounded as it was in an  inadequate grasp of the historical moment, by a majority bound by the hegemonic forces of conformity. The  first  generation  were  wholly  unsuited  to  meet  the  requirements of the speculative project of Greenberg and the Vital Center intellectuals. ambitious  "Advanced art — which is the same thing as  art today"  94  as Greenberg wrote, carried with it a rider  that denied the abstract-expressionists'  entrance to or any resonance  in America's heightened form of modernity. unconscious  Their privileging of the  natural self -- the ethos of an earlier avant-garde —  only vilified their project in light of the sophisticated intellectualism and self-conscious  94  Clement  rational practice which the  Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p.  196.  historical moment  126 necessitated. Working from the landscape, more or less  from nature,  they belonged to a transitional and isolationist America, an America of  the  WPA Art projects  and the  New  Deal .  Ambitious  95  individualism alone was insufficient to break away from this past; it could offer advanced art but only within circumscribed limits. Thus, even while Still, Newman, and Rothko  96  had affiliated  themselves with a new sensibility, it was an optimism which was not in tune with the corporate industrial machine.  Rather it was a  misguided retrograde optimism, the product of populist inclinations, unable to escape its own history of isolationism and provincialism. With  an avant-garde  directed  cowboy"  sensibility  than his  more  akin to Riesman's  "other-directed  advertising  "inner-  man", the  pragmatism of the Vital Centers' position was lost to a hopeless romanticism.  For what hope could an outworn non-conformity offer  from this perspective, especially  when the "nerve of failure", itself  contingent on Hegel's notion of historically conscious self-knowledge, It is tempting to link up Greenberg's remarks on the ambitious and individualist character of the first generation to that of Riesman's innerdirected character type. More prone to channel personal choice through a "rigid though highly individualized character"(Riesman, The Lonely Crowd , pp. 13- 17) the source of direction or goals in life are implanted early by parents and remain fixed and inescapable. The inner-directed person characteristic of a transitional growth society — like that of the American pre-war period — could not cope in a society of accelerated capital and otherdirection like that of the American model. Change built into this system occurs so quickly that pragmatism, flexible direction, and hence conformity is an utter necessity.  9 5  Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting", p. 195. "The abstractexpressionists started out in the '40s with a diffidence they could not help feeling as American artists. They were very much aware of the provincial fate around them. This country had had good painters in the past, but none with enough sustained originality or power to enter the mainstream of American art ... But aside from their culture as painters and the fact that their art was all more or less abstract, what they had in common from the first was an ambition — or rather the will to it ~ to break out of provinciality." Greenberg, p. 195. 96  was  the  frontier in  only pathway  to originality?  For Greenberg, Whitman's  optimism, translated into visual form by the Still school, did  no way fulfil  the  cultural needs of an emergent  super  power  engaged in the Cold War. All  this  adds up to a fairly  pessimistic opinion of artistic  practice and the publics of art  in the United States ... that is, i f not  for  and  Greenberg's  purposeful  gratuitous  forefronting  of  ideological limits of his text, which leave a space open for possibility. Involving a structuring the  text  offers  circulate  the  future  of knowledge and empirical fact,  or pushes an overprescribed visual  syntax  to ever  around but never touch upon the constructed absolutes of  color and openness which, as I have indicated, surface at points in the  text. In the  mythology  of  implacable workings of Greenberg's painting,  Louis'  production  was  universe the  and  invisible  expression of ideological circumstance; it had the capacity to contact the  speculative future  of corporatism. His production of the  gap  'succeeded'  precisely because it was  a projection  and  silence of  ideological contradiction ,  expressive of truth and aesthetic quality.  In distinction to the limited and rigid vocabulary which driving abstract expressionism Louis, like  Greenberg, valued taste  as a function of its dynamics and challenge. structuring  element  expansion. In the structural "promising  9  7  Clement  incorporated "Veils"  of  Greenberg,  chaos"  His use of color as a  principle  radical eliding  integrity, questions kind  this  of  tapped.  "'American-Type'  challenge  of orthodox  of disciplinary logic 97  was  Painting",  p.  185.  formal and  were  The oleaginous  or  raised, a and  fluid  qualities of thinned color in Salient beyond  compositional  means,  appear accidental; they appear  despite  the  fact  the  strictest  of  compositional rules are employed. Greenberg writes that " what is good  in abstract expressionism  owes its  discipline than can be found elsewhere"  98  and ambiguous  realization to a  severer  . It is precisely the chaotic  which is the outcome of this rigorous rationale; it  involves the use of color as surface as a pathway to pure color and openness.  Accessing the nexus of taste  the chaotic or ambiguous i.e.,  the pushing of the discursive limit beyond its contiguous framework, revealed the original. Morris Louis' first "Veil" series priorities for Greenberg, while Helen  fulfilled a  set of aesthetic  Frankenthaler's works and  those others mentioned in "'American-Type' Painting" approximate this standard.  could only  The latter production was more prone to  exhaustion and poverty than the new mode of stain painting . speculative potential and vections  of one form, and the sterility  The of  the others, was bound up in a new definition of modernity Greenberg held and demanded painting to encode. Pollock, in his claim as nature; Newman, Rothko, "buckeye" ties to landscape; and to  the  organic,  technologically  become  Still, in their  Frankenthaler in her gendered link  anachronistic  in  the  rational  and  intensive reality of consumer America. They assume  the threatening characteristics  of the social formation itself. Their  material processes and use of surface did not  answer  the pragmatic  call for freedom and truth negotiated via the burden of choice, so  9  8  Clement Greenberg, "'American-Type' Paionting", p.  180.  integral to Greenberg's and Riesman's strategies in the early 1950s." In Louis' work, rigorous intellectualizing  processes of dialectical  thinking territorialize the realm of signification;  the coming to  consciousness of their terms is blocked by the delimited form of stain painting itself.  100  Anonymous process is consciously manipulated to  reveal the dialectic linking historical process and intentionality of production  101  .  Such historical consciousness is a far cry from the  positioning of the abstract expressionists indelibly linked to an populist sensibility. This is the basis of the closure and disclosure"  102  which renders  awry  discursive "structure of Louis' "Veils" unutterable  and the abstract expressionists work possible  in a larger cultural  sense. Louis' first "Veil" series were not historically valid  in the early  and mid 1950s as such, indeed unthinkable , because  their own  prescience  speculative  as historical form matched the foresight  imagination possessed by achievement  was  Greenberg's  of  intellectual circle.  Their  culturally premature or unrealizable in America,  that is, until that social formation itself had caught up to the stage of  In "The Plight of Culture" he writes "Reality is what we are concerned with in discussing the plight of our times, not in order to prise it, but for the sake of truth, the lack of which will do genuine culture more harm than any number of jukeboxes." Greenberg, p. 62. Kafka's fiction operates in a similar manner Greenberg writes:" It would be wrong to pin Kafka down to specific allegorical meanings. There is allegory in his fiction — the most sucessful allegory in a century and more of literature — but what makes it suceed when it does is that it transcends all final interpretation by virtue of its form" "The Jewishness of Franz Kafka", p. 323. For Greenberg, Louis' images struck a dialectical balance between the blind and anonymous forces of history and the individual subjects voluntary will. 9  9  1  0  0  1  0  1  T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life:Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers. (London:Thames and Hudson, 1985), p. 8. 1  0  2  self-consciousness which only this select band of intellectuals had attained. It was their's and Louis' particular brand of criticism most visibly tensioned against a popularizing of cultural phenomenon but equally formulated in careful response  to emerging social forces,  retuned for an accelerating and colonizing capitalist economy, and closely  synched to a Riesmanesque conception of autonomy which  allowed both a textual and visual expression of actualizing forces.  CONCLUSION  In an age  when  objecthood  ultimately  had no hope,  of  remaining uncolonized by the forces of capitalism, or even the traps of signification, the gestured brush stroke of abstract expressionism fell  hopelessly  production  short of the carefully manipulated intellectualized of  Riesman's  autonomous  individual.  What  is  fundamental was the realization, by critic and artist alike, that the last and only possibility for art was as passive medium, celebrating outward  anonymity  and  given  over  to  a  visualization  of  the  impossible moment of conception before the processes of thought were enunciated or materialized and claimed by the real.  Rather  than in abstract expressionism where the canvas is forefronted as the site of struggle, as the site of contestation, stain painting focuses on conception as that crucial signifier of individuality, where the battle for freedom hinges  on the secret stipulation of interiorized  decision making. The hands-off technique of stain painting, which displaces the visual primacy of the gesture with an altogether self-effacing ambiguous color and  form, veils its critical insight and  and  originality in  a way homologous to strategies proposed by David Riesman for the continuance  of  imaginative  or Utopian thinking. Only  action tempered by the prevailing mode  of  individual  conformity and the  collective or objective experience would be engaging of the new age. Only freedom,  divested of its concrete status and instead cryptically  presented  as  veiled  and  anonymous  abstract  form,  103  could  negotiate the modernist dilemma then facing painters in the wake of abstract  expressionism.  marginality,  or casting  Only off  its  an sign  avant of  garde  negating  particularity, could  negotiate the instrumental rationality of the period.  its out-  104  It is in this aspect of historical consciousness, integrated into Riesman's reconception of the "autonomous individual", that Louis' images offered a new avenue of originality for advanced art.  Louis'  "Veils" posit nature as no longer implicit in the social character; consciousness itself was fundamentally a product and structured by the economic relations of corporate capitalism. The original in art was located,  or to be concentrated,  at the  intersection  or dialectical  blending of the mediums' two specific unities, i.e., color and flatness. Hence, it abilities color.  was where the orthodox certainty of drawings' structuring gave way  to the ambiguous space  of surface and nature of  Louis' productive process, hinging on conception and realized  through a use of raw materials, accessed or approached  a dialectical  The subject in materialized form is commodifiable , only the object as unrealized has any claims to freedom, or individuality. See discussion of Greenberg's Kafka on subject / object relationship. The influence of the Frankfurt School is clear both on Greenberg's aesthetic position and on Riesman's sociological analysis of conformity. Adorno and Horkheimer provide the rational for the flight of abstract expressionism's "homeless representation". They write "What is individual is no more than the generality's power to stamp the accidental detail so firmly that it is accepted as such. The defiant reserve or elegant appearance of the individual on show is mass produced like Yale locks, whose only difference can be measured in fractions of millimeters. The peculiarity of the self is a monopoly commodity by society; it is falsely represented as natural. It is no more than the moustache, the french accent, the deep voice of the women of the world, the Lubitsch touch: finger prints on identity cards which are otherwise exactly the same, and into which the lives and faces of every single person are transformed by the power of the generality. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming. (New York: Continuum Pub. 1988),p.l54. 1  0  3  1  0  4  133 response to the historical moment with an optimistic upon  a corporatized machinic efficiency.  conceptualize  He  mood built  offered a  way to  the new American situation and its heightened global  position. His art, his character, encapsulated  or was in some way  equivalent to the self assured potential of the nation itself. Louis' vision was the new age, the modernity of the Democrats, and as such culturally  inexpressible  until Kennedy became  President  and the  Vital Center's platform led the country. Even though  Greenberg's early  attempts to reactivate a  connection between an affirmative avant-garde and a new corporate elite fail, his greater project , one shared with Riesman, Bell, and Schlesinger, was given historical force and remained intact. Louis' 1954  "Veil" series was a calculated failure. Its metaphoric code, a  method of testing the waters of national consciousness, came up with only a rising swell.  The intendant formal qualities of Salient , of  intense color, of openness through facture, and of impersonality  of  production would  begin  indeed meaning, only as the politics  to  anonymity or  gain resonance  of these liberal  and  intellectuals  themselves gained in dominion. Like the anxious wife in Whyte's analysis of the new suburbia "... so ashamed of the emptiness of her living room, that she smear(s) the picture window with Bon Ami: (and) not until a dinette set arrived did she wash it off" , 97  the  anonymity offered by opaque and ambiguous surface legitimated an interior and private existence which hid absolutely nothing from the viewer, excepting  of course the  blind expectation  and culturally  William H> Whyte, The Organization Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), p.313.  97  contingent knowledge of a viewers moment.  select community and historical  135  Figure 1:  Morris Louis, Trellis , 1954 , Acrylic resin on canvas, 6'4" X 8'8". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art , New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1986.)  136  Figure 2:  Morris Louis, Salient , 1954, A c r y l i c resin on canvas, 6'2" X 8'3". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art , N e w Y o r k : The Museum of Modern Art, 1986.)  137  Figure 3:  Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea , 1952, oil on canvas, 7'2" X 9'9". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art , N e w Y o r k : The Museum of M o d e r n Art,  1987)  Figure 4:  Jackson P o l l o c k , Number 1 , 1949, o i l on canvas, 5'3" X 8'6". (Source: M i c h a e l Fried, Morris Louis , New Y o r k : Harry N. Abrams, 1970.)  M o r r i s L o u i s , Terrain of Joy , 1954, A c r y l i c resin on canvas, 6 7 " X 8'9". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis The Museum of Modern Art , N e w Y o r k : The M u s e u m of M o d e r n A r t , 1986.)  140  Figure 6:  Morris Louis, Spreading , 1954, A c r y l i c resin on canvas, 67" X 8'1". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art , N e w Y o r k : The Museum of M o d e r n Art, 1986.)  Figure 7:  Morris Louis, Iris , 1954, Acrylic resin on canvas, 6'8" X 8'10". (Source: John Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modem Art , New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1986.)  142  Figure 8:  M o r r i s L o u i s , Intrigue , 1 9 5 4 , A c r y l i c resin on canvas, 6'8" X 8'9". (Source: J o h n Elderfield, Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art , New Y o r k : The M u s e u m of M o d e r n A r t , 1986.)  Figure 9:  Morris Louis, Atomic Crest , 1954, Acrylic resin on canvas, 9'9" X 6*5". 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