American Art Criticism between the Cultural and the Ideological (II)

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Abstract

For the past 150 years, American art and art criticism have undergone important cultural and ideological transformations that are explanatory both of their historical evolution and of the possibility of being divided into several stages. In my interpretation, art criticism cuts across the historical evolution of art in the United States, according to the following cultural and ideological paradigms: two predominant cultural ideologies of art between 1865-1900 and 1960-1980, respectively; two other aesthetic and formalist ideological shifts in the periods between 1900- 1940 and 1940-1960, respectively, and one last pluralist approach to the arts after 1980. Even if this conceptualisation of art criticism in America might seem risky and oversimplifying, there are conspicuous and undeniable arguments supporting it. In a previous study published by American, British and Canadian Studies, I provided conceptual justifications both for the criteria dividing the cultural and the ideological within the overall assessment of American art by art critics and for the analysis and interpretation of the first two important temporal periods in the field of art criticism, 1865-1900 and 1908-1940. The present study continues by analyzing the cultural and ideological stances of American art criticism after 1940 and argues for certain paradigmatic shifts from one period to another.

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