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INTERM EDIA

CLEMENT

GREENBERG

TheIy, scene of visual art has been invaded more and lateby other mediums than those of painting or more, sculpture.
By "scene" I mean galleries and museums and the art press. Now these welcome performance art, installation art, sound art, video, dance, and mime; also words, written and spoken; and sundry ways of making poetical, political, informational, quasiphilosophical, quasi-psychological, quasi-sociological points. The printed page, the stage, the concert hall, the literary recital platform haven't been nearly so hospitabie to the incursions of mediums not originally proper to themselves. It's true: drama, opera, and dance are of their nature "intermedia" or "multimedia." But words, sounds, movement and mime are respectively primary in these art forms; in each case the overriding, all-embracing mediums, those on which taste-cumattention is focused. This isn't true, or hardly so, with "intermedia" in galleries or museums. The "Happenings" of years back already showed that. They "happened" in the context or setting of visual art, and most of the people taking part had to do mainly with visual art, yet they exhibited hardly anything that was actually visual art as such. Hardly any of the creators or agents of "intermedia" started out as actors, musicians, dancers, or writers, let alone as poets, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, or political thinkers; not even as interior decorators let alone architects. They almost all started out as painters or sculptors, or at least more in the neighborhood of these arts than any other. (The exceptions are onlyexceptions.) There's nothing necessarily wrong in all this. Good art, great art can come from anywhere. Means don't matter, only results. The question of value or quality doesn't concern me here and now. What does is the why: why the scene, area, field of attention of the visual arts (excepting architecture, for good reason) should now be so open, sa much more hospitabie to extraneous mediums than any of the other scenes of art. A good part of the explanation has to do, I feel, with the special and large place that painting (not sculpture or architecture) takes up in the whole spectrum of Modernism. It was painting that was first compelled, in the mid-19th century, to innovate and "experiment" in technical, material, utterly "formai" ways. It was painting that had earliest in the course of Modernism to dig into its "mechanisms." That was in the beg inning of the 1860s, with Manet (and him alone). None of the other arts on their way to Modernism had that early to dig into their own entraiIs. Certainly not sculpture, not music, not dance, not even literature. Whitman's free verse, Gerard Manley Hopkins' new metrics are discussable here. 50 are Mallarm's liberties with word order and syntax, and maybe grammar toa. But none of these affected the medium of verse as radically as Manet and then the Impressionists affected the medium of pictorial art. Flaubert and Baudelaire don't pertain in this respect: it was their matter, not their farm, that scandalized. (The same might be said of Mallarm, al most, whose versification stayed sa tradi

and ~armonic conventions of the 18th and 19th centuries" nearIy thlrtyat years after In Manet done the equivalent in "melodic painting. tional bottom.) musichad Debussy broke with the Dance had to wait till a decade into this century before becoming "free." It was only in 1912, with Picasso's first bas-relief constructions, that sculpture "Iiberated" itself from the monolith; and only around the same time did Brancusi's insistence on the compact monolith "rid" sculpture of its obligation to lifelikeness.

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50 it was painting that in the beginning profiled itself as the Modernist, avant-garde artthe parlatter excellence. (Gautier, that forerunner, the glimpsed that.) In 19th century painting was what startled most, and kept on startling most. (No value judgment here.) In the first decades of our own century it continued to be the "cutting edge" of the new. See how poets and even composers in Paris invoked Cubist painting for their own newnesses. And so at the same time, if more indirectly, did the initiators of Modernist architecture. By and large the situation hasn't changed since then. Sculpture of the "constructivist" kind that came out of Picasso's 1912-13 bas-reliefs may have become more of the "cutting edge" than painting (at the time it told Duchamp what direction to go in order to go "far out"), but this only enhanced the status of the visual as the area of the newest. (It should be noticed that the repudiation of the monolith, as, say, in Lipchitz's "transparencies," meant a more radical, more historical break with civilized, generally urban, not just Western traditions of sculpture than taak place with regard to the equivalent in any other of the arts under Modernism.) But painting was still to be heard from. After Pollock, and after Newman, the scene of visual art looked still more like the ambience of the newest in art. It began, too, as the 1960s wore along, to look like the place where anything went, where (to borrow the late Harold Rosenberg's expression) the "tradition of the new" licensed any and everythinglicensed it as it did nowhere else, not in music, certainly not in literature, not even in dance. (It was only later on that these other arts began to try to use similar license but without getting anywhere near the same amount of attention.) This, the original and now long-time leadership of visual art in the matter of Modernist newness, this is what I want to suggest as explanation of the present openness and hospitality of the visual art scene to "intermedia," "multimedia," and the rest of it. But I don't think it's the whole explanation. There has to be more to it than that. Another part of what I surmise to be the explanation sounds relatively trivial, but I don't think it is, really. The stage, the concert hall, the literary recital, the printed page require more or less extended attention. Drama, music, dance, Iiterature take place over time, not just in it. Visual art is instantaneous, or almast sa, in its proper experiencing, which is of its unity above and befare anything else. (That's the case with sculpture in the round as much at bottom as with a picture: you have to walk

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need to see in an instant whe~ you linger you lose something. newcomers still don't explain enough. Something more must be around sculpture in sam~ the round but each gives you all they you I there, feel that the twomore hypotheses offered to innovativeness explain these It's more or less the with murals andstep scroll-paintings: something embracingI've than the early deliver themselves from point to point, in instants; and as with of Modernist painting on the one hand and the factor of time or round sculpture, the connecting of those instants-their flow attention span on the other; some shift, I'd say, in the appreciainto one another-is instantaneous too.) It belongs to the tion of visual art by the nominally cultivated public (I mean the essence of visual art that it dismisses the factor of time by public that follows "advanced" art). I think it's a shift away from crowding so much, against all reason, into a point or points of taste as such with respect to visual art as such (to echo Mr. time (Iike making innumerable angels dance on the tip of a pin). Tomkins partly), a shift away from the demands of taste insofar (And the pleasure to be gotten from the details in visual art? as they have become, or seem to have become, more taxing That's to be considered, but it's a subordinated pleasure or with respect to visual art as such. This would account for the acsatisfaction, not to be compared with what's gotten from a ceptance of still other phenomena than "intermedia": of Pattern visual whole, a unity.) Painting, of the "new aesthetic of bad taste," and more. The virtual suppression of the time factor is another reason, I Yes, but how to account for the shift itself? The ordinary bad, suggest, why items and events are put up with in art galleries, untaxed taste obtaining since the 1850s or earlier is still with us. museums, and other places where visual art is the main thing as What's new (but no longer surprising) is that such a relatively they wouldn't be put up with elsewhere. In any case galleries large part of th is taste in all its unsophistication should now and museums are to be sauntered through-you sit down only focus on avant-garde or nominally avant-garde art. But th is is a to rest. They can be escaped from as theaters and concert halls clue, not an explanation. The art boom of recent years is ancan't beoTrue, Performance art et al. ask for an attention span, other clue. They both lead to the fact that great, great numbers time, but it's so much easier to walk out of a gallery or museum of "new" people, people from rising, "new" social classes, new than a theater or concert hall without seeming rude. Consideramiddle classes have entered the sphere of higher culture. And tions like these seem petty, yet they count, they belong to life these people in their youthfulness identify higher culture with as lived, in which boredom can turn into anguish. Anyhow, newness, advancedness, the "avant-garde." Why they do th is given the visual-art setting, Performance art, Body art, etc., now, as "new" people haven't before, is still another question. don't-usually-ask for too much time, too much attention Suffice it that the authorities have come to recognize that the span. radically newest art since Manet has been by and large the best In The New Yorker of 25 May 1981, Calvin Tomkins, writing art, and they act on this recognition blindly as it were. And about video art, put his finger on the time factor. He said that "new" people go by authority. But the situation is circular: video art "asks for the kind of concentration we are expected to those who staff authority nowadays are in effect "new" people give to painting and sculpture, and it also asks us to give up our themselves, new in the demoralization so to speak of their taste time." He means video as directed to "purely visual rather than as brought about by the retrospected triumph of the avantdramatic, narrative, or documentary ends." That is, video as garde. seen in galleries and museums, as what Mr. Tomkins assumes Anyhow, "new" people when theycome in great enough numto be "art as such," "fine art." That I'd quarrel with his assump- bers, and especially when the authorities are shaken, tend to tion, since I find that anything can be art "as such," even if bring standards down, at least for the time being. That, as I see dramatic, narrative, or documentary, is beside the point. (The it, is the main reason why nominally cultivated taste declined in whole of the Tomkins article is very much worth reading.) What the West from the 1840s on (though authority wasn't nearly as is to the point is that only galleries, museums, and other visual much shaken as now). Modernist, avant-garde art, literature, artvenues (Iike colleges) put up with video as "purely" visual music arose in answer to that decline. (That's not the only art. TV won't, nor will movie theaters. Commercial motives reason; there were ones internal to the arts themselves; there stand in the way, of course. But these can have cogently was, as usually in human affairs, a coinciding.) aesthetic reasons. Mr. Tomkins finds most of video art that's What's ominous is that the decline of taste now, for the first presented as "purely visual," as "art as such," boring. I too. time, threatens to overtake art itself. I see "intermedia" and the (And now a value judgment has slipped out. Weil, the children of permissiveness that goes with it as symptom of this. Not mid-century and after seem to have mutated into a tolerance, necessarily, but as it happens. Good art can come from nay an appetite for boredom in the aesthetic realm that's un- anywhere, but it hasn't yet come from "intermedia" or anything precedented. It may be the newest of all things new we've seen like it. yet.) This is a much revised and expanded version of a talk given in Buenos Aires on 8 But in letting Mr. Tomkins take me into the problem of video November 1980 at a conference, Jornadas de la Critica, held under the auspices of I've wandered away a little from my subject. Video is just one theArgentinian section of the International AssociationofArt Critics. among other newcomers to art galleries and museums. And I L..--l

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MAGAZINE

OCTOBER 1981 Volume 56 NO.2 Establlshed In 1926 PUBLISHER ALVIN DEMICK EDITOR RICHARD MARTIN MANAGING EDITOR FLORENCE STEINBERG CIRCULATION DIRECTOR JACQUE WHITTED DESIGNER TODD BETTERLEY ASSOCIATE EDITORS DOREASHTON DAVID BOURDON ALESSANDRA COMINI ROBERT PINCUS-WITTEN BARBARA ROSE ROBERT ROSENBLUM PETER SELZ CONTRIBUTING EDITORS KENNETH BAKER BARBARA CAVALIERE JONATHAN CRARY NOEL FRACKMAN ANDREW KAGAN KIM LEVIN JOHN LORING PATRICIA MAINARDI RALPH POMEROY HARRY RAND CORINNE ROBINS JEANNE SIEGEL EDWARD J. SULLIVAN VALENTIN TATRANSKY GENERAL MANAGER THERESA DEMICK ARTS MAGAZINE Is Indexed in The Reeder's Gulde to PerIodical L1tereture and The Art Index; It Is reproduced on Unlverslty Microlllms, Ann Arbor, Mlchlgan 48106, and abstracted by ARTblbllographles, Box 9, Oxford OX15EA and RILA (Intematlonel Repertory of the Lltereture of Art), Wllilamstown, Massachusetls 01267. ARTS MAGAZINE 1981 by the ART DIGEST Co. Ali rights reserved. Publlshed monthly Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, at New Vork, N.V. BUSINESS OFFICES at 23 East 26th Street New Vork, NV 10010 Telephone: MU 5-8500 SUBSCRIPTION RATES one year: 10 Issues, $33.00, two years: 20 issues, $62.00, single copy, $4.00. (Foreign postage for one year, $11.00) CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Send both old and new addresses, and allow three weeks for change. Not responslble for unsollcited manuscrlpts or photographs. Secondclass postage paid at New Vork, NV, and additional mailing offices.

SPECIAL SECTION: ROBERT SMITHSON'S "SPI RAL JETTY" (pages 68-88)

COVER DOROTHY GILLESPIE, ENCOUNTER WITH THE FORGOTTEN PAST (detail), 1980. Painted metal, 6' x 14' x 6". 2 ANDREW TAVARELLI by Virginia Fabbri Butera

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 64 RICHARD FLEISCHNER'S BALTIMORE PROJECT by Ronaid J. Onorato
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123 THE PRECISIONIST CONSTRUCTIVIST NEXUS: LOUIS LOZOWICK IN BERLIN by Barbara Zabel
128

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MARSHA PELS by Christa Lancaster 4 HELEN LEVITT by Roberta Hellman and Marvin Hoshino

ROBERT SMITHSON AND FILM: THE SPi RAL JETTY RECONSIDERED by Elizabeth C. Childs 82 THE PASCALIAN SPI RAL: ROBERT SMITHSON'S DRUNKEN BOAT by Donaid B. Kuspit 89 GEORGE STAVRINOS: FASHION AND ART by Philip Smith 92 INTERMEDIA by Clement Greenberg 94 ENTRIES: STYLE SHUCKS by Robert Pincus-Wilten 98 GILBERT ROHDE AND THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN DESIGN, 19271941 by Derek Ostergard and David A. Hanks 108 JUD NELSON: SCULPTURE IS HlS BAG by Kim Levin

FERDINAND HODLER, FRANOIS BONVIN, AND FRENCH REALISM by Gabriel P. Weisberg 132 PHANTOM ITALY: THE RETURN OF GiORGIO DE CHIRICO by Willard Bohn 136 EVERETT SHINN: THE TRENTON MURAL by Thomas Folk 139 JACKSON POLLOCK AND JAZZ: STRUCTURAL PARALLELS by Chad Mandeles 142 CONTEXTUALISM: THE NEW DOGMA OF AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE by Edson Armi 144 MODERN "MYTHS": AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDY WARHOL by Barry Blinderman 148 DOROTHY GILLESPIE'S WAY:THE PAST ENCOUNTERED by Virginia Pilts Rembert 154 RICHARD POUSETTEDART'S NEWWORK IN BLACK AND WHITE by Martica Sawin 157 TERENCE LA NOUE'S PAINTINGS: THE "INDIA CONNECTION" by Gary J. Schwindler

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CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN by Sherry Buckberrough 6 A CLASS PORTRAIT by Ann Schoenfeld 7 MICHAEL GALLAGHER by Saxton Freymann

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ENID MUNROE by Martha B. Scolt 9 CONTEMPORARY NARRATIVE PAINTING AND SCULPTURE by Elizabeth Milroy

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JIM WAID by Roger Harlan 11 JIMMY DE SANA by Valentin Tatransky 12 ERNEST SHAW by Virginia Mann

110 13
JOSEPH DiGIORGIO by Tram Combs LEE KRASNER'S EARLY CAREER, PART ONE: "PUSHING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS" by Ellen G. Landau

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ARTS REVIEWS by Stephen Westfall