Hilton Kramer, well known as perhaps the most perceptive, courageous, and influential art critic in America, is also the founder and co-editor (with Roger Kimball) of The New Criterion. This comprehensive book collects a sizable selection of his early essays and reviews published in Artforum, Commentary, Arts Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and The Times, and thus constituted his first complete statement about art and the art world.

The principal focus is on the artists and movements of the last hundred years: the Age of the Avant-Garde that begins in the nineteenth century with Realism and Impressionism. Most of the major artists of this rich period, from Monet and Degas to Jackson Pollock and Claes Oldenburg, are discussed and often drastically revaluated. A brilliant introductory essay traces the rise and fall of the avant-garde as a historical phenomenon, and examines some of the cultural problems which the collapse of the avant-garde poses for the future of art. In addition, there are chapters on art critics, museums, the relation of avant-garde art to radical politics, and on the growth of photography as a fine art.

This collection is not intended to be the last word on one of the greatest as well as one of the most complex periods in the history of the artistic imagination. The essays and reviews gathered here were written in response to particular occasions and for specific deadlines--in the conviction that a start in the arduous task of critical revaluation needed to be made, not because a critical theory prescribed it but because our experience compelled it!

part I|20 pages

The Age of the Avant-Garde

chapter |19 pages

The Age of the Avant-Garde

part II|62 pages

The Nineteenth Century

chapter 1|8 pages

The Turner Revival

chapter 2|3 pages

The Radicalism of Courbet

chapter 3|3 pages

Late Monet

chapter 4|3 pages

The Conscience of Impressionism

chapter 5|3 pages

Degas as Expressionist

chapter 6|6 pages


chapter 7|3 pages

Odilon Redon: “The Medium of Mind”

chapter 8|4 pages

Medardo Rosso

chapter 9|3 pages

Simeon Solomon: Preview of a Revival

chapter 10|2 pages

The Pre-Raphaelite Revival

chapter 11|3 pages

Rediscovering Puvis de Chavannes

chapter 13|4 pages

The Erotic Style

chapter 14|3 pages

Whistler: Choosing London over Paris

chapter 15|3 pages

Whistler in the Seminar Room

chapter 16|3 pages

Mary Cassatt: An American in Paris

chapter 17|4 pages

The Stratagems of Realism

part III|38 pages

The Twentieth Century: Germans and Other Northerners

chapter 1|15 pages

Lovis Corinth

chapter 2|7 pages

Edvard Munch

chapter 3|3 pages

The Rebellion of Oskar Kokoschka

chapter 4|2 pages

Egon Schiele

chapter 5|3 pages

Nolde: An Aggrieved Solitary

chapter 6|3 pages

Kirchner and Expressionism

chapter 7|4 pages

Feininger: A Visionary Cubist

chapter 8|4 pages

George Grosz: A Moral Recoil

chapter 9|5 pages

Poet and Pedagogue: Paul Klee

chapter 11|5 pages

Kandinsky: Theosophy and Abstraction

chapter 12|3 pages

Kandinsky: The Last Decade

chapter 13|3 pages

Mondrian’s Freedom

chapter 14|3 pages


chapter 16|3 pages

Thinking about Tatlin

chapter 17|3 pages

“The World of Art” in Exile

chapter 18|2 pages

Oskar Schlemmer’s Abstract Universe

chapter 20|4 pages

Epstein in London

chapter 22|5 pages

Henry Moore: A Very English Romantic

part |94 pages

The Twentieth Century: The School of Paris

chapter 1|10 pages

Matisse: The Paintings

chapter 2|8 pages

Matisse: The Sculpture

chapter 3|2 pages

Bourdelle: The Age of Innocence

chapter 4|3 pages


chapter 5|3 pages

Bonnard’s Drawings

chapter 6|3 pages

Picasso’s Radical Inventions

chapter 7|3 pages

Picasso’s “Guitar”

chapter 8|4 pages

Were These Braque’s “Great Years”?

chapter 9|5 pages

Juan Gris

chapter 10|3 pages

The Conversion of Julio Gonzalez

chapter 11|2 pages

Laurens: “The Ripening of Forms”

chapter 12|3 pages

Lipchitz’s Eloquence

chapter 13|6 pages


chapter 14|4 pages

Soutine and the Problem of Expressionism

chapter 16|3 pages

Miró: Enchanted Objects

chapter 17|2 pages

Arp: Purity of Heart, Purity of Form

chapter 18|3 pages

The Two Archipenkos

chapter 19|3 pages

Late Léger

chapter 20|2 pages

Duchamp: Resplendent Triviality

chapter 21|3 pages


chapter 22|3 pages

Picabia’s Dada Holiday

chapter 23|3 pages

Torres-Garcia: Scenario of Exile

chapter 24|9 pages


part |52 pages

The Twentieth Century: Americans

chapter 1|4 pages

Reflections on Lachaise

chapter 2|3 pages


chapter 3|3 pages

Marsden Hartley: The Return of the Native

chapter 4|3 pages

The Loneliness of Arthur Dove

chapter 5|3 pages

The Ordeal of Alfred Maurer

chapter 6|2 pages

Introducing H. Lyman Sayen

chapter 7|4 pages

Man Ray’s Self-Portrait

chapter 9|4 pages

Charles Sheeler: American Pastoral

chapter 10|3 pages

The Return of John Storrs

chapter 11|2 pages

The Legendary John Graham

chapter 12|2 pages


chapter 13|4 pages

Edward Hopper: An American Vision

chapter 14|2 pages

The Sculpture of Saul Baizerman

chapter 15|4 pages

Romaine Brooks

chapter 16|3 pages

Arshile Gorky: Between Two Worlds

chapter 17|3 pages

The Confidence of Milton Avery

part IV|156 pages


chapter 1|15 pages

The Sculpture of David Smith

chapter 2|7 pages

The Jackson Pollock Myth

chapter 3|5 pages

Robert Motherwell

chapter 4|6 pages

Willem de Kooning

chapter 5|3 pages

Ad Reinhardt

chapter 6|4 pages

Jean Dubuffet: Playing the Primitive

chapter 7|2 pages

Hofmann in Perspective

chapter 8|3 pages


chapter 9|3 pages

Louise Nevelson

chapter 11|2 pages


chapter 12|3 pages

The Problem of Francis Bacon

chapter 13|3 pages

The Comic Fantasies of Saul Steinberg

chapter 14|3 pages

Isamu Noguchi

chapter 15|3 pages

“Homage to Trajan”

chapter 16|3 pages

José de Rivera

chapter 17|3 pages

Hélion: Returning from the Absolute

chapter 19|2 pages

Mark di Suvero

chapter 20|4 pages

Anthony Caro

chapter 21|6 pages

Frank Stella

chapter 23|4 pages

An Art of Boredom?

chapter 24|5 pages

Claes Oldenburg

chapter 25|3 pages

Matta: Style vs. Ideology

chapter 26|3 pages

Prague: 1969

chapter 27|3 pages

Jean Ipousteguy

chapter 28|3 pages

Nicolas de Staël

chapter 31|2 pages

Lindner’s Dream

chapter 32|3 pages

The Futurism of Ernest Trova

chapter 34|3 pages

Philip Pearlstein

chapter 35|2 pages

Ellsworth Kelly

chapter 36|2 pages

Mary Frank

chapter 37|3 pages

Richard Hunt

chapter 39|3 pages

Dude-Ranch Dada

chapter 40|2 pages

Anne Arnold’s Peaceable Kingdom

chapter 41|4 pages

Alex Katz

chapter 43|6 pages

The Sculpture of William King

part V|22 pages

The Art of Photography

chapter 1|4 pages

The Classicism of Henri Cartier-Bresson

chapter 3|3 pages

Paul Strand

chapter 4|2 pages

Bill Brandt

chapter 5|3 pages

Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson

chapter 6|6 pages

From Fashion to Freaks: Diane Arbus

part VI|20 pages


part VII|34 pages

Into the Seventies

chapter 1|4 pages


chapter 3|3 pages


chapter 4|3 pages

And Now . . . Pop Art: Phase II

chapter 7|3 pages

The Return of “Handmade” Painting