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By Tom Wolfe

"America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek) trains his satirical eye on glossy paintings during this "masterpiece" (The Washington Post)

Wolfe's kind hasn't ever been extra amazing, his wit by no means extra willing. He addresses the scope of recent paintings, from its founding days as summary Expressionism via its variations to Pop, Op, minimum, and Conceptual. this is often Tom Wolfe "at his so much smart, a laugh, and irreverent" (San Francisco Chronicle).

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Sample text

Pollock would say things like "Cezanne didn't create theories. " The fact was that theories-Greenberg's-about Pollock-were beginning to affect Pollock. Greenberg hadn't created Pollock's rep- Hans Namuth Barnett Newman Hans Namuth Jackson Pollock Greenberg, Rosenberg & Flat 53 utation, but he was its curator, custodian, brass polisher, and repairman, and he was terrific at it. " Well ... yes! That's . right! In an age of avant-gardism, when practically everybody in Cultureburg could remember some new ism which he "hadn't gotten" at first, this Greenberg dictum seemed to be a pivotal insight of Modernism, the golden aperfu.

All best forgotten! Artists whose names exist as little more than footnotes today-William Gropper, Ben Shahn, Jack Levine-were giants as long as the martial music 32 The Painted Word of the mimeograph machines rolled on in a thousand Protest Committee rooms. For any prominent critic of the time to have written off Ben Shahn as a commercial illustrator, as Barbara Rose did recently, would have touched off a brawl. Today no one cares, for Social Realism evaporated with the political atmosphere that generated it.

More fuliginous! More "over-all evenness"! But fewer gaping holes! ") Greenberg took to going by Pollock's studio and giving on-thespot critiques. Soon Pollock was having a generally hard time fig- 54 The Painted Word uring out where the boundary was between Himselfold Jack-and his Reputation or whether there was any. Pollock was the classic case of the artist hopelessly stuck between the Boho Dance and the Consummation. Pollock had internalized the usual antibourgeois bohemian values in huge gulps during the days of the Depression, when he was a boho on the dole and doing odd jobs such as hand-painting neckties (during that short-lived men's fashion).

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