Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber

Simon Morgan Wortham and Gary Hall

in Experimenting

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780823228140
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240975 | DOI:
Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber

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The subtle, but precarious delineation of the aesthetic idea came to a head later with the advent of modernist abstraction in the twentieth century. At once, the fine line between modern abstract art and design patterns or ornamentation appeared to have become frayed — meaning that the fine line between autonomous, purposeless art and purposeful design was not always readily apparent. At such moments, the recourse to Kantian formulations became quite pronounced in criticism, even though Kantian philosophy was rarely examined in any detail. In a general survey of art of the 1960s, Thomas Crow asserts that the vital issue for formalist accounts of art was the assumption that abstract painting — in contrast to design or ornamentation — constitutes an “expressive communication” between an artist and a “contemplative spectator.”

Keywords: modernism; Greenberg; Weber; Kantian philosophy; ornamentation; design; abstract art

Chapter.  9815 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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