One may or may not like Clement Greenberg, but to my ears the following remark contains a lot of sense:

“…most of the genuinely original painting of the last century and a half has struck standard good taste, on first sight, as being too raw in facture; time alone has done the smoothing and refining.”

Neatness and skill are a plague today, not least because “raw” facture has become conventional. A tidy little drip, a well placed smear are professional tics. But real rawness still exists, it just looks bad, as always, hence is easily dismissed. The difference today is that it doesn’t cause a scandal because we’ve been through it all before and are inured to shock. Another word for the right kind of technical ineptitude and rawness is naïveté, the indispensable quality, or qualification, for real art. Such naïveté can be conscious, but it can’t be controlled, and it still makes the art world uncomfortable. Even a professional can have it—must have it. Meanwhile, Stella’s work is raw in the best way.

Frank Stella, Cetology 1990 (back view)

Frank Stella, Cetology 1990 (back view)

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