Art critic

Robert Rosenblum 1927 - 2006 by Geoff Harrison

One of my favourite art historians, Robert Rosenblum is credited with challenging accepted norms of modern art and its history. He believed that Modernism had a much longer history than people assumed.  Instead of examining and judging works of art within time-specific frameworks, Rosenblum tended to critique art regardless of its associated movement or place in history. 

Rosenblum believed that Modern art can trace its roots back to the French, German and Danish painters (who worked mostly in the Neo-Classical style) of the late 18th-century.  Rosenblum constantly confronted formal ideas of Modernism and even art history itself, and challenged those in the art world to view Modern art as a vast well of ideas rather than being a product of particular timelines. 

Of Impressionism, Rosenblum wrote that it rejuvenated Western painting and forced us to rediscover what children had always known, that the most immediate spectacle of light, colour and movement, perceived before the brain can sort out other kinds of order, is a tonic, joyous experience. 

Of contemporary art he said (rather sadly, I suspect)  "We're in what might be called, in the phrase of the day, a Postmodernist situation, and the feeling that Modern art can be heroic, that it makes a difference to the world, all this seems sort of quaint and nostalgic rather than a part of living reality." 


The Renaissance - A Fresh Perspective by Geoff Harrison

My favourite art historian/critic Waldemar Januszczak is at it again.  Following on from his excellent series on the Rococo and Baroque, he now turns his attention to the Renaissance in his latest series The Renaissance Unchained.  Given the mountains of material that has trawled through this period of history, you have to wonder what fresh perspective could Januszczak offer.  

He challenges the accepted line put forward by the world's first art historian Giorgio Vasari that the Renaissance began in Italy and that Michelangelo was at its centre.  Januszczak argues that being the first to put pen to paper on these matters meant Vasari's views "could harden quickly into art historical certainties that were passed from generation to generation.  And these weighty certainties were not easy to challenge."   So Januszczak makes a case for the Renaissance having its origins in Flanders and Germany.

Given that the series Rococo was not screened on either the ABC or SBS, I assume the same will apply this time around too.  I am only discovering these series by checking out the BBC4 website - rather sad really.