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By Lucian Krukowski

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These polemics tend to fade as styles become historically distant, but in the context of recent art the vividness of conceptual conflicts overshadows our Page 5 sense of the underlying agreements. Actually, I view the apparent stability of historical styles with some suspicion. A stylistic unification of works may signify not coherence but, rather, a capitulation of appreciation to pietya desire for order that masks the uniqueness of works. It is not the creation of categories that is at issue here, it is their "reification": imputing to style an ontological strength greater than that accorded the individual work.

The distinctions I indicate above, between abstract and nonobjective art, I take to be two construals of pictorial ordering that are central in the historical ascendancy of the avant-garde. " The pairings come out as follows: collective-abstract and individualnonobjective. I discuss each in turn. VI The term "abstract" is commonly opposed to the term "representational," thereby indicating a distinction between mimetic and nonmimetic styles. " This usage can be taken to mean that the ''essential" activity common to all pictorial style is that of abstracting, that is, the selection of just those visual phenomena deemed most significant for particular stylistic purposes.

I do not believe, for example, that art is self-referential and best discussed by pointing out the "good-(or bad-)making features" that influence its enjoyment. On the other hand, I do not believe that what artworks come to is "just" the ongoing series of their (interesting) interpretations. '' Nevertheless, I reject both these views for I believe that while art can beor be aboutanything at all, it never is. " One problem with the foregoing remarks is that they can be interpreted as a brief for relativism, to be supported by the observation that as time passes we accommodate both interpretations and their subjects to our changing needs.

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