Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Life Is Short, Art Is Important: Hilton Kramer

Shivah Stars

Print Email
Hilton Kramer in 1985.(Jack Manning/NYT)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, there were actually very few prominent deaths to consider (good for the Jews, bad for The Scroll), so let’s dip into one from last week: that of Hilton Kramer, who died Tuesday before last at 84. Kramer’s was a familiar name and byline to fans of intellectual skywriting: from various perches, including Partisan Review, The New York Times (where he was chief art critic from 1974 to 1982), and finally The New Criterion, a journal he also edited, he lashed out at what he saw as postmodernism’s distortions of the traditional modernist and pre-modernist aesthetics, most explicitly in the world of visual arts but also more broadly in the culture. A native New Englander, his patrician accent made him, he said, “insufficiently Jewish” in Alfred Kazin’s eyes, which is pretty funny.

Despite an idiosyncratic taste for the postmodernist (and also Jewish) artist Julian Schnabel, anyone basically after Abstract Expressionism (which the New York Intellectuals loved) was no-go for him; and during his years at the Times, no Whitney Biennial was safe from his pen. As he wrote of the 1975 iteration: “The Whitney curatorial staff has amply demonstrated its weakness for funky, kinky, kitschy claptrap in recent years, and there is the inevitable abundance of this rubbish in the current show.” For that sentence’s full effect, read it aloud.

Hilton Kramer, Art Critic and Champion of Tradition in the Culture Wars, Dies at 84 [NYT]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Life Is Short, Art Is Important: Hilton Kramer

Shivah Stars

More on Tablet:

A Tour Through Poland as Seen in ‘Ida’

By Stephanie Butnick — Fans of the Oscar-winning film should start in the central Polish city of Lodz