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February 07, 2005


Timothy Quigley

Yes...I see that I wasn't sufficiently clear about the reference to realism. I had in mind the following:

"While they have different underlying analyses of society, both view realism as kitsch and discuss it in terms of political arrangements:

Realism, whose only definition is that it intends to avoid the question of reality implicated in that of art, always stands somewhere between academicism and kitsch. When power assumes the name of a party, realism and its neo-classical complement triumph over the experimental avant-garde by slandering and banning it – that is, provided the “correct” images, the “correct” narratives, “ the “correct” forms which the party requests, selects, and propagates can find a public to desire them as the appropriate remedy for the anxiety and depression that public experiences.

That’s Lyotard, but the main difference here with Greenberg lies simply in what degree of agency each writer attributes to political authority as opposed to the public."

What I should have said is that I don't think Greenberg dismissed realism as such, or that his argument in "AG&K" and "Towards a Newer Laocoon" depends in some essential way on the inadequacy of realism to affect social relations. Courbet is an example of an avant-garde artist who used realism to comment on existing class relations in France (e.g. Burial at Ornans). My point is that agency and realism are distinct and context dependent.

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