Unreal Nature

March 10, 2015

Where Your Hand Is Forced

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

This is taken from a 1984 Charles Harrison interview [‘A Conversation in Three Parts’] with Clement Greenberg, found in Clement Greenberg: Late Writings, edited by Robert C. Morgan (2003):

[ … ]

Charles Harrison: One suggestion that I want to make is that if you keep going, persist, and if that persisting is, let’s say, serious for want of a better word, you can’t help at some point running up against what you would call the logic, the necessity. You must engage with problems which are historical, historically real, or you might as well not bother.

Clement Greenberg: “Historical” is a real problem. I want to know what you mean by that. What came up with modernism was that in order to make better art, art which measured up to the standards of the past, your hand was forced.

C.H.: But surely what you must do is to work to get into that position where your hand is forced.

C.G.: Yes, that’s right. It’s by seeing how good the best art was or is. And especially how good the best art just before you was.

C.H.: But what you can’t predict is how to get into that position where your hand is forced.

C.G.: Of course you can’t predict. You have to see first.

C.H.: But also the procedures by which artists have got into that position must at times seem ludicrous, accidental.

[ … ]

-Julie

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