In February 1976 Hilton Kramer gave his approval to Philip Pearlstein's 'remorseless articulation of the authentic'. In November of the following year he alerted his readers to the absence, in the art of David Hockney, of 'the spiritual quest at the heart of modernism'. Several years later, in June 1981, he gave warning that the stained canvases of Morris Louis, the leading member of the 'Washington Colour School', did not represent the breakthrough that other critics had announced. In May 1983 he declared that Fairfield Porter 'is going to have to be recognised as one of the classics of our art'. As for 'neo-expressionism' and 'maximalism', the latest, or almost the latest, thing, he notes that, unlike Pop Art, which made an equivalent noise in the world, it 'looked to be in dead earnest'. And Kramer seems to believe that Julian Schnabel, the leading exponent of this sort of painting, is also going to have to be recognised as one of the classics of our art. In a piece first published in the third volume of Art of Our Time (as the catalogue of the Doris and Charles Saatchi collection is so portentously entitled) he welcomes the way that, with Schnabel, painting has become 'grave, mysterious and messy again'.
LRB 19 March 1987 | PDF Download