Clement Greenberg was born on January 16, 1909, in the Bronx, New York.
Greenberg was an influential art critic, who was closely associated with the institutionalization of abstract art in the United States.
He ignited debates among his contemporaries and his critics, most notably Harold Rosenberg.
The American public’s response to abstract expressionism was cautious, and successful artists, then as now, were those who got the backing of critics as well as the market.
This serious academic book will be of little use to newcomers to Greenberg.
Although high quality, the illustrations are too few and do little to illuminate or break up the dense text.
While Marquis and Rubenfield were criticised for their less than academic approach, focusing on his lifestyle more than his profession, Jones is likely to incur criticism from the opposite corner.
At the outset, Jones announces that “this book’s Greenberg is neither evil nor good, but instead both an emblem and a guidepost for generations”.
This violent tendancy served Greenberg well in his career as the dominant art critic of the American mid-century--the power critic who gave diktats from the pages of "Partisan Review," "The Nation," and "Artforum" to 2 generations of artists, relocated the center of the art world from Paris to New York, and made oversized abstract watercolors into the single style of the American museum.
Florence Rubenfeld, an art journalist, has now produced "Clement Greenberg: A Life" (Scribner; ), the first full-length biography of Greenberg since his death, in 1994.