ARMAGEDDON OF ART by Huntington Hartford


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A man with an art museum is generally expected to have something to say about art. So Huntington Hartford wrote a book about modern painting which reads suspiciously like a justification for the collection he has recently bequeathed to the public in his Gallery of Modern Art. Not explicitly, of course, since he claims on historical and humanistic grounds that contemporary schools like Action Painting and Pop Art do not deserve the name of ""Art."" ""I am angry,"" he says in a loud voice out of the wilderness of non-representational painting. What ever happened to artistic expression, communication, and the possibility of identification between the observer and the work of art? For Hartford it all seems to have gone dead after Dali, whom he generously exempts from senselessness (and who occupies a place of honor in the museum). Hartford exhorts the public to ""stand up and be heard"" against all this willful ""obscurity, confusion, immorality and violence""--which presumably is what he feels he is doing. The hodge-podge of historical anecdotes about artists, quotes from aestheticians and art critics, and a nearly touching analysis of the artist's eccentricities (almost psychopathic, but very human, he claims) do not quite make the argument. Many of his views are widely shared (e.g. Picasso's post-cubist panderings), but a ""regeneration of the spiritual life"" is not to be achieved by this sort of stance. Aesthetic theory and art criticism are outside the ken of this book--but the whys and wherefores of the new gallery are ere straight from the donor's mouth.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1964
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill