Schjeldahl's piece was vaguely offensive in its know-nothingism. Nothing new in the rhetoric of abstraction since the '70s? Beginning with NeoGeo in the '80s, there has been a rather strong movement to redefine abstraction in terms other than the old formal vs emotional dichotomy. I can name dozens of artists thinking about ways to address content--political, semiotic, pop-cultural--without resorting to an easy narrative strategy. Some of these people are among the top sellers in the market. As for Saltz, he's stuck between a scholar's rock and a hard place. For the past several years he's been pushing "girls taking pictures of girls" as the new avant garde (see Gilbert-Rolfe on art-magazine-inspired "populism") and giving lectures actively condemning abstraction. (At NYU a few years ago, he showed slides of current abstraction to students and said "If you're thinking of doing something like this, here's my phone number: call me, day or night, and I'll try to talk you out of it.") Yet he is respectful of the established order, and probably actually likes Marden's work. Result: a fence-straddling essay.
- tom moody 5-30-2002 9:00 pm

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