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critics Dore Ashton

Dore Ashton


Synopsis

Dore Ashton is one of the few remaining critics still alive from the Abstract Expressionist era. Her writing covers a rich history of the mid-century movement, combined with exciting first-hand knowledge of interactions with those who propelled Abstract Expressionism to wide acclaim. Born a generation after the influential critics Greenberg, Rosenberg and Schapiro, Ashton walked a fine line between the outsider historian who watched the style evolve and the insider intellectual who conversed one-on-one with those creating the work. Ashton was a trusted compatriot and champion of those artists who, even at the height of their critical fame, still felt socially and culturally isolated.

Key Ideas

Ashton's writing clearly defined that the New York School of artists was not a school at all in the formal sense of educating people in a certain artistic philosophy or aesthetic. Instead, it was a modern school model, in which participants were independent-minded, each exhibiting their own complicated set of prerogatives.
Ashton believed that prior to 1930 there had been no fusion of artistic or social theory in the United States. It was not until the "arrival" of artists like Gorky, de Kooning and Ernst that American artists were exposed to formal aesthetic theory.
Ashton viewed Pollock as the one who "broke the ice" for everyone else in Abstract Expressionism. She observed that before Pollock rose to prominence in 1949, the New York School of artists was mostly a group "loft rat" European emigres. Ashton cited Pollock as the artist who essentially broke Europe's hegemony of the avant-garde.

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