But this logic has also worked to exclude the decorative — the decorative insofar as it functions solely as decoration. It's as though aesthetic value, quality, could be preserved only by concentrating on "absolute" or "autonomous" art: thus on visual art — including even architecture — that held and moved and stirred the beholder as sheer decoration could not. Decoration is asked to be "merely" pleasing, "merely" embellishing, and the "functional" logic of Modernism leaves no room, apparently, for such "mereness." This is part of the pity of Modernism, one of the sacrifices it enjoins....
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Modernism from Clement Greenberg to Frank Tashlin
There are some surprising correspondences between the writing of Clement Greenberg and the films of Frank Tashlin. Greenberg’s 1939 essay ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’, as well as his later ‘“American-Type” Painting’ of 1955, and Tashlin’s Artists and Models , a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis vehicle of the same year, articulate competing conceptions of medium-specificity (as that term might be applied to painting and to film), as well as revealing accounts of the relationship between high modernist or avant-garde artworks, on the one hand, and mass cultural or what we could call (after Miriam Hansen) ‘vernacular modernist’ artifacts on the other. (1)