By David Joselit
No different introductory booklet provides the range and complexity of postwar American paintings from summary Expressionism to the current as in actual fact and succinctly as this groundbreaking survey. David Joselit lines and analyzes the contradictory formal, ideological, and political stipulations in this interval that made American artwork principal through the global. Social and cultural differences rooted in mass media technologies—photography, tv, video, and the Internet—elevated customer commodities to the prestige of valid artwork matters, as in pop and deploy artwork, and likewise caused a mechanization of the artistic act. Canonical events and figures are mentioned at length—Pollock, Rothko, Krasner, Oldenburg, Johns, Warhol, Paik, Ruscha, Sherman, Schnabel, Koons, Barney, and others—in juxtaposition with lesser identified modern artists and practices. 183 illustrations, eighty in colour.
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Following Stephens, Wilson perial state. young contrasts the with the prophet of New England the state. The freethinker of Herndon's portrait who absorbed the secularized Calvinism he presided over the consolidation of critic stresses Lincoln's ambition and preas cise intelligence, his imagination, his command guage. This corrective to the is a partial portrait, sentimentalizations of Sandburg. a It reflects of lan- Wilson's dis- appointments with great men. He sees Lincoln creating a myth that still shapes our perception of events which he did not fully control or comprehend, paying no heed to the explosion of technology and capital already beginning in the Union sanctified by blood.
In this way he can out attempting to take the His artistic instincts are to make a social artist's place. more fully expressed in his por- poems, plays. When young he name as a playwright or novelist, but traiture than in his novels, had hoped drama of cultural and write criticism as an art with- Introduction he was already a brilliant critic and xliii a good reporter, and these roles shaded into one another in unequal fashion, the sometimes turning Wilson's essayist fiction into discourse, while the storyteller and dramatist enlivened his expository prose.
He would have liked this a good deal ters, less than the reservations of those who are not yet willing Wilson may have been an anachronism, but he never saw himself as the last to rank him among of his kind. He the great believed that would demand and provide friends had, that the life critics. new literary generations better work, as he and his of "thought and creative instinct and fellowship" would survive, like the authority of the Looking back to his college years, he remembered that "you read Shakespeare, Shelley, George Meredith, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, and you wanted, however imperfectly and on however infinitesimal a scale, to learn their trade and have the freedom of their company.