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After six years of horror were brought to a close by the atomic bomb I am speaking of course of WWII the new situation in society and the world required a profound change in art which discarded traditional rules and provided the expected distinction between techniques of expression almost meaningless From this point on it is no longer possible to speak of painting a different horizon opens one that the masterpieces anticipated but which new artists are now tackling in unpredictable ways Modern Art There is an analogy to the history of art Modernism in art marks a point before which painters set about representing the world the way it presented itself painting people and landscapes and historical events just as they would present themselves to the eye With modernism the conditions of representation themselves become central so that art in a way becomes its own subject This was almost precisely the way in which Clement Greenberg defined the matter in his famous 1960 essay Modernist Painting The essence of Modernism he wrote lies as I see it in the use of the characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence Interestingly Greenberg took as his model of modernist thought the philosopher Immanuel Kant Because he was the first to criticize the means itself of criticism I conceive of Kant as the first real Modernist Kant did not see philosophy as adding to our knowledge so much as answering the question of how knowledge was possible And I suppose the corresponding view of painting would have been not to represent the appearances of things so much as answering the question of how painting was possible Modern art is a unique creation all its own and since its beginnings there have been two very distinct groups present There are the Formalists and the Avant-Garde Clement
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