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История American Critics
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During many intense months that Robert Hughes spent on the road filming a new eight-hour television documentary about American art called ''American Visions,'' he frequently yearned for a break from his role as both scriptwriter and host. ''He'd always say, 'Let's not bother with this, let's go fishing,' '' the program's executive producer, Nicholas Rossiter, recalled recently.

That ambition, to tell the history of art in the United States from the Spanish pueblos of the 16th century to the massive art installations so common today, is coming true in several dimensions. ''American Visions,'' the 648-page book from Alfred A. Knopf, landed in bookstores in late April. The television series makes its debut on PBS on May 28. A home video edition will soon be available, Time is publishing a special bonus ''American Visions'' issue, and what not… America's art, still considered by many to be inferior to Europe's, has never had so much attention. And not since ''The Shock of the New,'' Mr. Hughes's 1981 PBS documentary about modernism, has art captured so much television time.

Pulling off this multimedia blockbuster, four years in the making, was no easy feat. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Rossiter, who works for the British Broadcasting Corporation, were determined to avoid a dull, static museum tour. So they filmed at more than 100 locations from Maine to Malibu – without the Hollywood conveniences. ''Whenever I'd see movie crews in SoHo, with their mobile toilets and makeup vans, I'd get jealous,'' Mr. Hughes recounted. ''Our makeup van was carried by a production assistant in her handbag. And when I was dripping in sweat, someone would produce a ratty package of Kleenex.''

The sheer volume of work was a bigger strain, threatening Mr. Hughes's marriage and sending him to a psychiatrist for the first time. ''After finishing the series about a year ago, I had severe depression,'' he said. He blamed overwork, a crisis of confidence and postpartum blues.

* * *

The history of American art criticism from the Armory Show through the end years of the Depression charts a diversity and continuity of attitudes toward art. Published in newspapers, general periodicals, and art magazines, art criticism has been written by professional critics, art historians, artists, collectors, and writers specializing in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Essentially these critics wrote in response to single and group exhibitions in varying degrees of depth. Specific paintings are barely discussed. Similarly, developed theoretical essays are rare. Issues are stated, left undeveloped, and continue to be controversial.

The major issues that American art critics debate during this period relate to both the particulars of America and universal ideas about art and culture. These include: 1. academicism vs. modernism 2. representation vs. abstraction 3. a socially useful art vs. art for art's sake 4. a national American art vs. internationalism in art.

Moreover, critics are uneven in their treatment of artists and exhibitions. For example, conservatives are enthusiasts of traditional art and write infrequently and cursorily about modern art. On the other hand, modernists expound on the significance of modern art and hardly comment on traditional academic art. As reporters and makers of taste, critics tend to spend the best of their energies on what satisfies their own taste. As such, it makes sense to examine the history of American art criticism in terms of its major contributors. This approach respects the integrity of each critics ideas, using entire and varied contribution as the basis for interpretation. In this dissertation the writing of representative critics for each decade are analyzed in depth. Each has been chosen for his relatively moderate viewpoint and writing on the widest range of topic within his representative category. Their writing is synthesized and related to sources and parallels in art and cultural history. It is interpreted as an individual's contribution as well as a reflection of the on going variety of general ideas.


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  • - American Critics

    During many intense months that Robert Hughes spent on the road filming a new eight-hour television documentary about American art called ''American Visions,'' he frequently yearned for a break from his role as both scriptwriter and host. ''He'd always say, 'Let's not bother with this, let's go fishing,' '' the program's executive producer, Nicholas Rossiter, recalled recently. That ambition, to tell the history of art in the United States from the Spanish pueblos of the 16th century to the... [читать подробенее]