Quotations From HAROLD ROSENBERG


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  • The differences between revolution in art and revolution in politics are enormous.... Revolution in art lies not in the will to destroy but in the revelation of what has already been destroyed. Art kills only the dead.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. The Tradition of the New, ch. 6 (1960).
  • Today, each artist must undertake to invent himself, a lifelong act of creation that constitutes the essential content of the artist's work. The meaning of art in our time flows from this function of self-creation. Art is the laboratory for making new men.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. Discovering the Present, pt. 4, ch. 24 (1973).

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  • Whoever undertakes to create soon finds himself engaged in creating himself. Self-transformation and the transformation of others have constituted the radical interest of our century, whether in painting, psychiatry, or political action.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. The Tradition of the New, preface (1960).
  • The purpose of education is to keep a culture from being drowned in senseless repetitions, each of which claims to offer a new insight.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. repr. As Discovering the Present, introduction (1973). "The Cultural Situation Today," Partisan Review (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Summer 1972).

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  • The values to which the conservative appeals are inevitably caricatured by the individuals designated to put them into practice.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. repr. As Discovering the Present, introduction (1973). "The Cultural Situation Today," Partisan Review (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Summer 1972).
  • Only conservatives believe that subversion is still being carried on in the arts and that society is being shaken by it.... Advanced art today is no longer a cause—it contains no moral imperative. There is no virtue in clinging to principles and standards, no vice in selling or in selling out.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. repr. As Discovering the Present, introduction (1973). "The Cultural Situation Today," Partisan Review (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Summer 1972).

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  • The story of Americans is the story of arrested metamorphoses. Those who achieve success come to a halt and accept themselves as they are. Those who fail become resigned and accept themselves as they are.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. Discovering the Present, pt. 4, ch. 24 (1973).

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  • Avant-gardism is an addiction that can be appeased only by a revolution in permanence.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. repr. In Discovering the Present (1973). "The Avant-Garde," Quality: Its Image, ed. Louis Kronenberger (1969).
  • American time has stretched around the world. It has become the dominant tempo of modern history, especially of the history of Europe.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. The Tradition of the New, ch. 14 (1960).

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  • America is the civilization of people engaged in transforming themselves. In the past, the stars of the performance were the pioneer and the immigrant. Today, it is youth and the Black.
    Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), U.S. art critic, author. Discovering the Present, pt. 4, ch. 24 (1973).

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