Response Paper: David Craven’s Article
In “Abstract Expressionism and Third World Art: A Post-Colonial Approach to ‘American’ Art,” article by David Craven, the author opposes the idea of conceptualizing abstract expressionism as the embodiment associated with modernism. According to Craven, this should not be the endpoint of the western art teleological development. He also notes that such perceptions should not be the ideological expression allied to the ruling class in America or rather the triumph of the American culture (Craven 44). Most significantly, the author muddles the orthodox account regarding how the U.S government used the Abstract Expression to enhance cultural imperialism. This was done by examining the connections and reception of the Abstract Expression to the Latin American. Most imperatively, Craven addresses the alliance of the Abstract Expressionism to the contemporary art of the Latin Americans. Apparently, the literature related to Abstract Expression has been circumscribed by other new orthodoxies, which treat art as a monolithic expression related to the ideologies of the Cold War.
This is evident because the author analyzes different works done by various Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock right from the margins and not the center. Craven does this because he was of the idea that Abstract Expressionism did not emanate from the models of western artists. Accordingly, the artists associated with the Abstract Expression did not link themselves with the US mainstream culture during and before the Cold War (Craven 44).
Nevertheless, through an analysis of the artwork, personal and professional connections, as well as what artists say concerning their art works, Craven shows how the Abstract Expressionists strived to create a gap between themselves and the American/European artists traditions (Craven 44). Additionally, the Abstract Expressionists were linked to the anti-imperialist, Marxist, as well as other anti-establishment movements. The author also proffers profound evidence to the traditions of the native Americans living in the South Eastern parts of America as well as the wide-ranging artists living in the Northwestern coasts of the United States. In furtherance to this, Adolph Gottlieb’s work of art was closely associated with Latin Americans and the American Indians living in the Northwest Coast.
I am convinced of the author’s perspective based on the evidence presented. By analyzing some statements from some of critics of art like Clement Greenberg and the way the American Government promoted the Abstract Expressionism abroad, the author depicts how these artworks were separated from the groups living outside America and the marginal cultures of the other artists. For instance, Craven offers an example of post-colonial history allied to Abstract expressionism, which offers a profound evidence to show how the movement grew over time. He also illustrates how the group developed in different places and not in New York only (Craven 44). In fact, the author’s overarching and ubiquitous arguments are dependent on the ideas of Marxism because he believes that Abstract Expressionism was never meant to become a product of economic or political development. This, however, could be perceived as problematic because it is associated with criticisms of the post-colonial scholars.
Moreover, since post-colonialism did not have separate theoretical methodology, the writers of the post-colonial times utilize other theoretical techniques and models. For craven, though he tries to analyze the movement of Abstract Expression from the margin, the perspective he uses is that of Marxism (Craven 44). It is worth mentioning that since Marxism is more developed when it comes to the western dominant culture, it has been problematic to utilize Marxism to address the issues of marginal or colonial cultures.
Craven, David. “Abstract expressionism and third world art: A post-colonial approach to ‘American’art.” Oxford Art Journal 14.1 (1991): 44.