Each of these is exhaustively researched; she dissects his essays with rigour and aligns his aesthetic tastes against those of his fellow critics.
The book’s title, Eyesight Alone, is taken from a statement made by Greenberg in 1958: “The human body is no longer postulated as the agent of space in either pictorial or sculptural art…now it is eyesight alone”.
Greenberg took up the cudgels for Pollock and the “colour field”; Rosenberg, in the opposite corner, championed artists such as de Kooning, whose work focused primarily on line and form.
Jones takes Greenberg’s theories and essays as her foundation and divides her book into three parts: “Statements”, focusing on his writing; “Visibilities”, in which she studies the work championed by Greenberg, particularly that of Pollock, and finally “Regimes”, in which post modernism is presented as a product of the subjects discussed in the previous two chapters.
In the preface, Jones declares her aim: she wants to “end [this] subject—to construe the Greenberg effect, in order to be done with it”.
Having the last word is, as ever, an impossible goal; and when the subject’s opinions are as radical as Greenberg’s were, new debates and discussions will continue to arise.
Jones returns periodically to the notion of “eyesight” throughout the book, discussing Greenberg’s “disembodiment of this Eye, its gaze and its I”, and her text is predictably filled with quotations from Rosalind Krauss et al.
This investigation into Greenberg’s emphasis on eye: his insistence that “the optical is the only sense that a completely and quintessentially pictorial art can invoke”, is carried out in great depth.
This serious academic book will be of little use to newcomers to Greenberg.
Although high quality, the illustrations are too few and do little to illuminate or break up the dense text.