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In his desire to banish illusionism, which he felt was extraneous, from painting, Greenberg insisted “upon the real and material plane.” This insistence led directly to the literalism of Minimalism and to the literalist readings of Pop Art, particularly the “flag” paintings of Jasper Johns.Although Greenberg rejected Johns’ paintings, his followers did not, in part because they saw in Johns a way to distinguish their viewpoint from Greenberg’s while adhering to his model of historical progress.
Haven’t such reactionary choices become predictable and constraining – a set of familiar, easily mimicked gestures? Are Rubinstein’s mimickers imitating the first mimickers?
Where the painter still tried to indicate real objects their shapes flatten and spread in the dense, two-dimensional atmosphere.
A vibrating tension is set up as the objects struggle to maintain their volume against the tendency of the real picture plane to re-assert its material flatness and crush them to silhouettes.
The need to undo the damage and to learn to see for ourselves continues.
We do not often associate Clement Greenberg with Pop.