I Bill. Albers despised Rauschenberg and would never talk about him in later years, but he taught the artist about the importance of materials. Any kind of material could be used. In Rauschenberg had gained enough self confidence to write excitedly to the New York art dealer, Betty Parsons, of a new body of work, the White Paintings. The way the shadows played on and changed the white surface reminded Cage of his interest in silence, a fascination that had been growing since the late s. Cage constructed the minute spectacle for selected colleagues who were each assigned two random segments of time in which to perform activities of their choice.
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By Blair Asbury Brooks. If you could have dinner with just one 20th-century art historian, you might want to choose Leo Steinberg Known for delivering garrulously wide-ranging lectures and papers that were as lucid as they were revolutionary, he was also admired for his wit, dropping in enough jazzy lines that Woody Allen could have cherry-picked them for material.
Born in Moscow, Steinberg was raised in Berlin until his family fled the Nazis in the mid-'30s and moved to England. While still in his student days NYU, Steinberg began moonlighting as an art critic with an eye on the city's emerging postwar milieu. After realizing that his fellow critic and intellectual Thomas B.
Hess then editor of Art News was right when he said "it takes years to look at a picture," Steinberg moved away from criticism to write more in-depth art-historical essays and analysis. But while he specialized in Renaissance and Baroque art, he maintained a keen interest in and involvement with contemporary art, according it the same sedulous attention that he gave the Old Masters.
This combination of gravitas and up-to-date engagement gave Steinberg a privileged position in the dialogue around the newest art, and he emerged as not only a witness but an important instigator in the transition from Abstract Expressionism and Greenberg-ian strictures to the next generation of artists, who were leaving behind painterly theatrics for the icier criticality of Pop.
In , Steinberg told an audience at Washington University in St. Instead, he found value in disclosing the process of intellectual discovery, and in detailing the messy subjectivities woven into that process. That said, Steinberg did not condone an author's projecting onto an artwork; rather, he asked that art history divulge the roads it took to get to its conclusions and reevaluate the routes previously taken.
In other words, he argued for transparency. In his own writing, consequently, Steinberg freely allowed his methods for understanding new, confounding work to play out on the page—to a degree some detractors considered over-sharing. Two of the most confounding new artists who entered his sights, and whom he endeavored to understand from their art-world beginnings, were Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
Considering them both to be transformative figures, Steinberg located a particularly significant moment of transition in contemporary art at large in Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing from , a seminal piece of conceptual gamesmanship that the artist created by asking Willem de Kooning for an intricate layered work of ink, graphite, crayon, and charcoal and then meticulously erasing it.
This open-door situation would have arrived anyway, what with digitized animation, video, installation, etc. But Rauschenberg anticipated and legitimized the process from within art…. The work of Jasper Johns, for its part, looked to Steinberg like a destabilizing turning of the page on Abstract Expressionism.
The pictures of de Kooning and Kline, it seemed to me, were suddenly tossed into one pot with Rembrandt and Giotto. While monitoring the revolutions in contemporary art, and analyzing the legacies of trailblazing figures like Picasso and Rodin, Steinberg at the same time continued his work on the centuries-old achievements of his beloved Italy. The Renaissance was not immune to his irreverent treatment. One worth reading. So why don't you just take the book for your boy.
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Leo Steinberg July 9, — March 13, was a Russian-born American art critic and art historian. His family left the Soviet Union in , and settled in Berlin , Germany. In , after the Nazis came to power, the Steinbergs were forced to move again, this time to the United Kingdom. In , encouraged by his older sister and her husband, Steinberg moved to New York City. For years he made a living writing art criticism and teaching art, including at the Parsons School of Design. The importance of his criticism of modern art was proven by his being included in Tom Wolfe 's book The Painted Word , in which Steinberg, Harold Rosenberg , and Clement Greenberg were all labeled the "kings of Cultureburg" for the influence of their criticism. Steinberg eventually moved away from art criticism and developed a scholarly interest in such artists and architects as Francesco Borromini , Michelangelo , and Leonardo da Vinci.
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