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ExperimentingEssays with Samuel Weber$
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Simon Morgan Wortham and Gary Hall

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228140

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823228140.001.0001

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Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber

Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber

(p.159) Chapter 7 Modernism and the Medium: On Greenberg and Weber

Simon Morgan Wortham

Gary Hall

Fordham University Press

The subtle, but precarious delineation of the aesthetic idea came to a head later with the advent of modernist abstraction in the twentieth century. At once, the fine line between modern abstract art and design patterns or ornamentation appeared to have become frayed — meaning that the fine line between autonomous, purposeless art and purposeful design was not always readily apparent. At such moments, the recourse to Kantian formulations became quite pronounced in criticism, even though Kantian philosophy was rarely examined in any detail. In a general survey of art of the 1960s, Thomas Crow asserts that the vital issue for formalist accounts of art was the assumption that abstract painting — in contrast to design or ornamentation — constitutes an “expressive communication” between an artist and a “contemplative spectator.”

Keywords:   modernism, Greenberg, Weber, Kantian philosophy, ornamentation, design, abstract art

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