Marx once made a point about social change, which I will condense to what I undestand it to be:
Then, the always-controversial Clement Greenberg translated this idea to art:
Which is so true! Its the role of the artist to keep thinking ahead, and not pander to the conventions of social tastes and norms, but instead be true to him/her-self. The artist is the Nietzchean (sp?) superhero, looking to be recognised for romantic genius. How can one be recognised (in the long run) if they stuck to the norm? All the great artists that time remembered, and we still remember today, did something new, something extraordinary.
This is the progression of art. It begins with the conflict between the traditional and the avant-garde. Eventually, the avant-garde becomes the contemporary and develops into the traditional. It's just natural. I'm sure it's explained in psychology far more eloquently than in my little diagrams. But I thought to write about it because, to me, Greenberg outlined something that seems to resemble a universal truth that resounds in all areas of human achievement - art, politics, literature, etc. Could he have defined the human condition in relation to art history?
I'm not sure what my views on Greenberg are. It's very popular to dislike the man for his staunch formalism in a post-modern world. I think he had some good ideas, and I admire his passion and dedication to the world of art and to art theory and criticism, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to sign on for 'Camp Greenberg' just yet. Well, Marx had some good ideas and I can admire his dedication to the workers, but that doesn't make me a communist.
It's interesting to think what the world would be like with no Marx (and Engles) or Greenberg.
Two very influential and interesting people, especially in the visual arts. (the influence of communism in modernism is amazing!)
(Image source: unknown. Just thought I'd put it in because it illustrates the inspiration I got from this little thought --- lots of lighbulbs flicking on in my brain!)