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Greenberg, Clement

U.S. art critic (b. Jan. 16, 1909, New York, N.Y.--d. May 7, 1994, New York), exerted extraordinary influence over post-war North American art as a champion of both Abstract Expressionism and one of the movement's chief exponents, Jackson Pollock. His patronage was essential to elevating the emerging movement into a major art form, and his critical essays in the Partisan Review and his role as art critic for the Nation magazine, two powerful cultural publications, made him the chief arbiter of art in the late 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Greenberg's own artistic talents were discouraged by his parents, who destroyed all of his drawings. The experience was instrumental in laying the foundation for Greenberg's theory on the mutual antagonism between art and the average person. After graduating from Syracuse (N.Y.) University (1930), he returned to New York City and translated books. While working for the government as a customs clerk, he began to write essays that espoused a formal approach to looking at art, the so-called Greenberg formalism. In addition to shaping the career of Pollock, Greenberg helped promote Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Jules Olitski, and David Smith. He routinely visited galleries and artists' studios, where he offered his advice. Greenberg disavowed such movements as Pop and Conceptual Art and wrote little after the 1960s.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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