ACD Test Wordpress

Just another weblog

Playing Both Sides Of The Street

Posted by acdtest on September 12, 2003

Playing Both Sides Of The Street

rint journalist and weblogger Terry Teachout of About Last Night again weighs in on the Frank Lloyd Wright / Architecture debate, this time in an attempt to play both sides of the street.

Writes Terry,

I mention all this [his prior exclusively utilitarian critical comments on the new New York concert venue, Zankel Hall] because of the recent intramural squabble over the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, which some arts bloggers like and others loathe. Now I’m a dyed-in-the-wool aesthete who would dearly love to live in an exceptionally beautiful house and would willingly put up with a significant amount of nuisance value (i.e., leaky roofs) in order to do so…but not an unlimited amount. To put it as drastically as possible, I wouldn’t want to live in Fallingwater if it didn’t have indoor plumbing-and I might well think twice about it if there wasn’t a good place to hang my John Marin etching, either.

To buttress that position, Terry quotes the famous art critic Clement Greenberg:

There are, of course, more important things than art: life itself, what actually happens to you. This may sound silly, but I have to say it, given what I’ve heard art-silly people say all my life: I say that if you have to choose between life and happiness or art, remember always to choose life and happiness. Art solves nothing, either for the artist himself or for those who receive his art.

concerning which quote Terry opines,

I think these words ought to be done in cross-stitch and hung in the homes of artists and art-lovers everywhere, if not necessarily in the living room. Art is not the most important thing in the world. Earthly beauty is not an absolute value.

Now, I’m not at all (and by design) familiar with Greenberg’s writings except by reputation (and first-rate it is, too), but that above quote of his has got to be among the most mindless — or at very least, disingenuous — things he ever wrote. For someone who loves art, what could life be absent art except deathly arid, and very, very unhappy. It’s not a matter of art “solv[ing]” anything. It’s a matter, for such a person, of art being the very thing that makes life worth living, to express it in a decidedly banal and inartistic way. Such a person has no choice in the matter as I’m certain Greenberg knew, and as I’ve no doubt whatsoever was the case of Greenberg himself.

Greenberg’s exhortation contains its very own refutation, and I suggest Terry rethink his own exhortation regarding it.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: