A GREENBERG BOOKSHELF

 

Clement Greenberg, Miro. New York: Quadrangle Press, 1948

His first book, subsequently disowned, but by no means negligible. Features "a memoir by Ernest Hemingway" -- Hemingway was a prescient early collector of Miro. In hindsight, Miro appears as an early synthesizer of Picasso and Matisse and a step towards the so-called "color field abstraction" which became identified with Greenberg.

 

 Clement Greenberg, Hofmann. Paris, Georges Fall, 1961.

Despite Greenberg's admiration, Hans Hofmann remains under appreciated, too often praised as a teacher to the detriment of his art. Greenberg, quite rightly, recognized him for the great painter that he is. The text of his essay can be found on this site.

 

Clement Greenberg, Henri Matisse (1869- ): Abrams, Pocket Library of Great Art, New York, 1953.

Excellent, but long out of print. In addition to an introductory essay, the book contains accounts of individual paintings reproduced. As Greenberg was one of the early champions of Matisse, the book is essential and illuminating.

 

Greenberg, Clement, Art and Culture : critical essays. Boston : Beacon Press, 1961.

Available in paperback and ebook.

This is the essential book of Greenberg's essays -- if you read nothing else, read it. TheyÕre revised from originals published in various magazines from the late thirties though the fifties. Despite the revisions, Greenberg came to regret some of the inclusions and judgments: he came to believe that "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" was badly flawed, that he was too harsh on Soutine, and that some of the observations he'd made about all-over painting were embarrassing. (These are a few of the regrets he mentioned to me.) The shortcomings are trivial in comparison to the insights afforded with clarity and admirable concision. A masterpiece of relevance.

 

Greenberg, Clement, The Collected Essays and Criticism,
Vol. 1, Perceptions and Judgments, 1939-1945
Vol. 2, Arrogant Purpose, 1945-1949
Edited by John O'Brian. University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Available in paperback.

It took 15 years after the publication of Art and Culture to assemble the original texts of Greenberg's early writing. The essays range across literature and art and provide a cross-section of his taste in relation the art of the time. O'Brian's scholarship is painstaking and helpful.

 

Greenberg, Clement, The Collected Essays and Criticism,
Vol. 3, Affirmations and Refusals, 1950-1956
Vol. 4, Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957-1969
Edited by John O'Brian. University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Available in paperback.

A scholarly assemblage as above, but with an introduction marred by O'Brian's speculations about Greenberg's alignment with American foreign policy subverting his taste.

 

Greenberg, Clement, The Harold Letters, 1928-1943, The Making of an American Intellectual, Edited by Janice van Horne. Counterpoint, Washington, D.C., 2000.

Available in paperback and ebook.

Letters written to his friend, Harold Lazarus. An aptly titled book, reads like a novel. This far and away the best portrait of the man in print. A must read for any student of American letters.

 

Greenberg, Clement, Homemade Esthetics, Oxford University Press, 1999.
Janice Van Horne, Editor.
Introduction by Charles Harrison.

Available in paperback and ebook.

Referred to in his lifetime as "The Bennington Seminars" these are a series of meditations on aesthetics that occupied much of his attention in the 1980s. They present a rare combination of a person with discriminating taste who has the ability to reflect upon its nature. Required reading.

 

Greenberg, Clement, Clement Greenberg, Late Writings, Minnesota University Press, 2003. Edited and with introduction by Robert C. Morgan

Available in paperback.

Long awaited, this assembles most of Greenberg's writings from 1970 to 1990. Much of the book is taken up with the state and fate of modernism, artcriticism, and culture generally along with ruminations on the art of other cultures, regions, and media. The book is rounded out with the text of four interviews with Greenberg.

An exceprt from Greenberg's last interview with Saul Ostrow can be found on the University of Minnesota Press web site.

 

Wilkin, Karen; Guenther, Bruce, Clement Greenberg: a Critic's Collection, Portland Art Museum & Princeton University Press, 2001.

Greenberg's personal collection, now in the collection of the Portland Art Museum. The book is well put together and abundantly illustrated. Greenberg practiced what he preached when it came to art. He lived surrounded by works given by the painters and sculptors he admired. He loved art. This is some of the art he loved -- by no means all the work of famous artists.


 

 Van Horne, Janice, A Complicated Marriage: My Life with Clement Greenberg

Available in paperback and ebook

In 1955, Janice Van Horne was a 21-year-old, na•ve Bennington College graduate on her own for the first time in New York City. At a party, she meets 46-year-old Clement Greenberg who, she is told, is "the most famous, the most important, art critic in the world!" Knowing nothing about art, she soon finds herself swept into Clem's world and the heady company of Hans Hofmann, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, David Smith, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. Seven months later, as a new bride, Jenny and Clem spend the summer in East Hampton near Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, and she feels even more keenly like an interloper in the inner circle of the art scene. Disowned by her anti-Semitic family for marrying a Jew, her deep, loving bond with Clem would remain strong through many years, even as their relationship evolves into an open marriage.

More information

 

Rubenfeld, Florence, Clement Greenberg: A Life, Scribner, 1997.

Available in paperback.

The "exposŽ" reviewed elsewhere in this site, often influenced by "Clembashers." Much of the "evidence" is hearsay and poorly sifted, but there are many illuminating comments.