In the final section of the book Jones raises an interesting analogy between this view and the advertising research in the 1940s into the effectiveness of “eyes versus ears” and uses this to reach a new level of understanding when assessing Greenberg’s importance within his own society. The sub-title of this book is Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses—while the former is discussed in the first half of the book and cleverly off-set later on in the chapter “postmodernism’s Greenberg”, Jones fails to explain what “bureaucratisation” means.
She refers in the introduction to its “distasteful connotations of little offices, little processes…little men condemned to their service”, but never goes on substantially to tie this to Greenberg, his time or his writings.
This violent tendancy served Greenberg well in his career as the dominant art critic of the American mid-century--the power critic who gave diktats from the pages of "Partisan Review," "The Nation," and "Artforum" to 2 generations of artists, relocated the center of the art world from Paris to New York, and made oversized abstract watercolors into the single style of the American museum.
Florence Rubenfeld, an art journalist, has now produced "Clement Greenberg: A Life" (Scribner; $30), the first full-length biography of Greenberg since his death, in 1994.
Jones’s book will well serve those already deeply involved in Greenbergiana and its hefty index will make it a useful reference book.
However, the educated public still needs a text that is, Goldilocks-like, “just right"—somewhere between the turgidly academic and the sensationally prurient, a book which will seriously and lucidly discuss Greenberg’s art criticisms. 70A CRITIC AT LARGE about art critic Clement Greenberg.When Clement Greenberg was 5 he beat a goose to death with a shovel.In his writings, he helped to enable Abstractist art to become the dominant movement in American art from 1945 until the 1960s.It was these views which led Greenberg, during the 1960s, to reject the movement of Pop Art, which was ultimately initiated by consumerism.Jones returns periodically to the notion of “eyesight” throughout the book, discussing Greenberg’s “disembodiment of this Eye, its gaze and its I”, and her text is predictably filled with quotations from Rosalind Krauss et al.This investigation into Greenberg’s emphasis on eye: his insistence that “the optical is the only sense that a completely and quintessentially pictorial art can invoke”, is carried out in great depth.Greenberg framed the essay in a political manner as a response to Nazi Germany and its supression of society.Greenberg believed Modernism provided a critical commentary on experience.It is also surprising to note that Jones fails to pay much attention to Greenberg’s political (Trotskyite) views.The topic is mentioned, but never pursued—was this a conscious omission by the author as the book runs to more than 500 pages?