The Future of Abstract Art. (Letters)

By Bannard, Darby | New Criterion, June 2003 | Go to article overview

The Future of Abstract Art. (Letters)


Bannard, Darby, New Criterion


To the Editors:

In "Does abstract art have a future?" (December 2002), Hilton Kramer speculates that it may not. He could be right. I am an abstract painter, however, and I would rather that he isn't.

Kramer points out that abstract painting has an "inevitably symbiotic relation to representational art" and that the larger question is "the fate of painting itself." He goes on to give examples of the complete absence of abstract painting in current high-level survey exhibitions.

His observations and conclusions are accurate. I maintain, however, that abstract and representational art are more than "symbiotically related"; at this point in art history, they are continuous. That is, we now understand that nothing is completely realistic and nothing is completely abstract, and the sharp distinction that was such a hot topic fifty years ago is now of little consequence. To a viewer of any sophistication it is no more important than red paint or green paint. The real division is not between realistic and abstract but between the traditional use of art as a vehicle for aesthetic apprehension and pleasure, and the current use of art for just about anything else. It is not a matter of medium or method but of attitude, not a matter of realistic painting or abstract painting or anything physical, but of what we ask art to do for us. It is not just abstract painting that is in trouble, but art itself.

The difference between abstract and representational art becomes explicit now only because mainstream academic postmodernism insists on overt meaning and message in all art, and, simultaneously, derides and discourages intuitively derived aesthetic pleasure. This singles out abstract art for rejection not because it is nonrepresentational, but because it declares by its character that it must be seen for aesthetic comprehension only. Realist painting can adapt. It can carry a postmodernist message. That's why we see more realist painting than abstract painting now. That's why the Museum of Modern Art, with exaggerated enthusiasm and more than just a suggestion that it is, after all, in favor of painting, puts on a major exhibit for Gerhard Richter, whose paintings are as chilling and lifeless and as heartlessly academic as any postmodernist pile of detritus anywhere.

The first panel discussion I ever took part in, entitled "Is Painting Dead?," was at NYU in 1966. It was chaired by Barbara Rose and included Donald Judd, Larry Poons, and Robert Rauschenberg. (Poons and I, of course, said "no," Judd, of course, said "yes," and Rauschenberg, typically, didn't really care and was funny). That was thirty-seven years ago. Painting hasn't died, and it won't die. It has borne great art for so long, and it retains so many methods and conventions useful for just that purpose, that it certainly cannot be said to be internally exhausted. Externally, it suffers in the cultural marketplace by its relative inability to accomodate the current regressive trend. But very good painting, and, yes, very good abstract painting, is being made and appreciated all over the place. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Future of Abstract Art. (Letters)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.