Aging of the New Art

Following from the previous post, Ehrenzweig has a great sensitivity to the way that art ages and dies in our perception, and he understands that changes in the way that we see it are objective, that the work itself has changed in some way. In this way he is similar to Harold Rosenberg, whose great superiority to his antagonist, Clement Greenberg, lay in his greater attunement to the demands of “fashion,” which in art is truth. Fashion as truth—how do you like that one? Moldy figs and young fogeys think that truth is eternal, a failing that systemizers, like Ehrenzweig, are also usually subject to. Well, it ain’t. The aging of art has to be accepted without resistance. What distinguishes Ehrenzweig is his objectivity, and a capacity to bear the painful facts.

“The undifferentiated inner fabric of art can never be fully appreciated. We transform it into something more solid and definite by the very act of perceiving it. This difficulty amounts to a genuine epistemological problem, like that involved in our incapacity for observing both movement and position of an electron.”

Robert Linsley, Callisto 2001

Robert Linsley, Callisto 2001

The integration of science and art in this formulation is exemplary. The football of complementarity has been kicked around for years, but this comment scores a goal because it offers “the undifferentiated inner fabric” as an image as potentially useful for science as complementarity might be for art. Meanwhile, the aging of art is natural and inevitable, grounded in those very conditions, but the nymphs will be born again.

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