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Late Greenberg on Duchamp’s “Advanced Art” (a longer rant)

From the same seminar (No – 6) Convention and Innovation (1976) -(p. 49 in Homemade Aesthetics, 1999). Again when he refers to ‘advanced’ art – Greenberg is effectively having a go at pretty much everything inspired by the ‘theoretical demonstration’ of Duchamp.

“Most of what I’ve just said is not new. but the emphasis I’ve put on decision or choice may be. If so, that would be thanks to what’s happened in art itself in recent years. It’s the boringness, the vacuousness of so much of the purportedly advanced art of the past decade and more that has brought home—at least to me—how essential the awareness of decision is to satisfying experience of formal art. For the vacuousness of “advanced” art in this time is more like that of “raw,” unformalized art or esthetic experience, which vacuousness derives precisely from the absence of enough conventions and the want of decisions made or received under the pressure of conventions.

[...] Bad, inferior art is not necessarily boring or vacuous. What is relatively new about the badness of recent “advanced” art— new, that is, in the context of formal art—is that it is so boring and vacuous. This, because of the large absence of decisions that could be felt as “meant,” as intuited and pressured, and not just taken by default. That’s just it: that so many of the decisions that go into the supposedly newest art go by default, become automatic, and by the same token arbitrary, decisions.”

If I had a sixth of Greenberg’s stylistic traits – I’d die a happy academic (not that Greenberg admired academics).

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