Artists in the Audience: Cults, Camp, and American Film by Greg Taylor

By Greg Taylor

Gone with the Wind an proposal for the yankee avant-garde? Mickey Mouse a very important resource for the advance of state of the art highbrow and aesthetic principles? As Greg Taylor indicates during this witty and provocative booklet, the belief isn't really so far-fetched. one of many first-ever stories of yankee movie feedback, Artists within the Audience indicates that movie critics, starting within the Forties, grew to become to the films as uncooked fabric to be molded right into a extra radical modernism than that provided by way of the other modern artists or thinkers. In doing so, they provided readers a forefront replacement that reshaped postwar American tradition: nonaesthetic mass tradition reconceived and refashioned into wealthy, in my view appropriate artwork through the attuned, artistic spectator.

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Peggy Guggenheim highlighted the political implications of her permanent collection by opening her 1942 Art of this Century catalog with Hitler’s 1937 defense of modernist censorship as “sterilization of the insane” (7). Sheldon Cheney optimistically concludes his Story of Modern Art (1941) with “the hope and the belief that in this time of tragedy for Europe, when creation has stopped where once creativeness centered,” America’s modern artists will go on to aesthetic solutions unprecedented, will find ways of carrying on worthily, even magnificently, a tradition made important and splendid more than a half-century ago by Daumier, Whistler, and Ce´zanne, a tradition enriched by the men of Paris and by the Germans, a tradition accepted and made their own by the Mexicans and the Americans of the United States.

In the peculiar quality of each image, and the movement created by their succession, exists the particular expression of each artist, the human breath and thumbprint Mr. Rice says isn’t there. . Mr. Rice is looking at one art through the eyes of another, or he would not be blind to a real spontaneity peculiar to movies, the lack of which he insists on. (1942b, 546–47) To the casual reader this may have seemed pretentious grandstanding. But for Farber (as indeed for Bazin), this sort of theorizing about cinema was a helpful accompaniment to reviewing, allowing him to work through and justify the broad aesthetic positions that fueled and distinguished his criticism.

His downward straddling kept him attuned to the popular energy of 36 CHAPTER THREE 1. “Cold density” from an underdog abstractionist. Kimber Smith, Sous-Sol. 1955. Oil on canvas, 79' < 58'. Photograph  1996 Gregory Gallery, New York. music, comic strips, and movies, expressive forms built on movement and powered by the “free-wheeling American inventive genius which is cramped by most of the traditional and established arts” (1951d, 477). 4 For Farber, they now provided ample evidence of the comparative provincial stolidity of native art.

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