Topics in American Art since 1945

By Lawrence Alloway | Go to book overview

ART AS LIKENESS

(with a Note on Post-Pop Art)

I

In art a likeness is an arrangement of forms that corresponds to some aspects(s) of its subject. The subject may be known only to the artist, but the spectator must at least know the coordinates of the subject if he can have a meaningful relation to the work of art. The knowledge the spectator needs is (1) specific, such as the recognition of representative human or landscape forms, and (2) conventional, a recognition that the work of art presents only a part of the external subject of which it is a likeness. (That hypothetical Martian in his first contact with earth people could not read such art.) Discussing this article beforehand, the problem of how to write about art as likeness mounted; almost everything is still to be done. Was the problem how to describe the range of figurative styles in the U.S.? Or, was the problem a definition of realist-oriented paintings developing out of Pop art? The naturalistic time of Warhol's movies seems Post-Pop art (see below), while the play of signs in his paintings is more like Pop art. Should figure painting be included along with place painting and object painting, in view of the inadequacy of so-called revivals of the figure? The last problem was the easiest to settle: rather than return to a version of the ranked genres of past art (figures first, still life last), it seemed more exact to set figurative painting as a whole against abstract art, rather than to revive past classificatory systems.

The success or, better, successes of abstract art have put figurative painting under various pressures. It is not that figurative art has ceased to be produced; on the contrary it is a statistical part of the multi‐ style abundance of this century's art. (It is this abundance, this quantity, of artists and styles which is modern about modern art, and not one particular slice of the cake, not one privileged corner. Simple choices

____________________
SOURCE: From Arts Magazine, XLI/7 (May, 1967), 34-39.

-171-

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Topics in American Art since 1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Topics in American Art Since 1945 *
  • Contents 7
  • List of Illustrations 9
  • Introduction 11
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Abstract Expressionism 15
  • The Biomorphic '40s 17
  • Melpomene and Graffiti - Adolph Gottlieb's Early Work 25
  • The American Sublime 31
  • Barnett Newman - The Stations of the Cross and the Subjects of the Artist 42
  • Jackson Pollock's Black Paintings 52
  • Jackson Pollock's "Psychoanalytic Drawings" 58
  • Willem De Kooning 62
  • The Sixties, I - Hard Edge and Systems 65
  • Leon Polk Smith 67
  • Systemic Painting 76
  • Serial Forms 92
  • Sol Lewitt 96
  • Agnes Martin - (with an Appendix) 100
  • Gesture into Form - The Later Paintings of Norman Bluhm 111
  • The Sixties, II - Pop Art 117
  • Pop Art - The Words 119
  • Jim Dine 123
  • Rauschenberg's Graphics 125
  • Jasper Johns' Map 136
  • Marilyn as Subject Matter 140
  • Roy Lichtenstein's Period Style 145
  • The Reuben Gallery - A Chronology 151
  • In Place 155
  • The Sixties, III - Problems of Representation 161
  • Hi-Way Culture - (with Notes on Alan D'Arcangelo) 163
  • Art as Likeness - (with a Note on Post-Pop Art) 171
  • George Segal 182
  • Photo-Realism 185
  • Art and Interface 193
  • Allan Kaprow, Two Views 195
  • Artists and Photographs 201
  • The Expanding and Disappearing Work of Art 207
  • Stolen - (with Arakawa: an Interview) 213
  • Radio City Music Hall 218
  • Robert Smithson's Development 221
  • Art Criticism and Society 237
  • Notes on Op Art 239
  • The Public Sculpture Problem 245
  • The Uses and Limits of Art Criticism 251
  • Index 271
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