The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Art Darts (1980)

Houston City Magazine, May 6,1980. Letter to the editor.

Why do you folks in Houston need some culture jockey from the Wormy Apple to tell you what art you should like? You have your own bad critics; you don't need to import them.

The worst part of Peter Schjeldahl's piece ("Art and Money in the City of Future Think," February) is also the most predictable: the knee-jerk condemnation of Clement Greenberg and the so-called Color Field Cult. Houston, says Schjeldahl, is the "Corregidor of color field," "midwifed" by Clement Greenberg and brought by "insecure new collectors." Color field's "pretensions are aggressively ratified by the thoroughly tendentious" display at the MFA; Jim Harithas "despised it" but he "squandered his opportunities" to offer an "alternative" to this "faded issue." All this in a few paragraphs!

Funny thing, this "faded issue." For 13 years it has been rousing the American art public to mindless fury. Mention the name Greenberg and pleasant, intelligent people turn into raging, sputtering ogres. And yet everyone, even his enemies, acknowledges that Greenberg is far and away the best critic of our time. Is it possible that Greenberg is the only one looking at art with his eyes instead of his ears?