By Ellen Levy
Poetry was once declining/ portray advancing/ we have been complaining/ it was once '50, recalled poet Frank O'Hara in 1957. felony Ingenuity strains a chain of associated moments within the historical past of this move of cultural strength from the field of the be aware to that of the picture. Ellen Levy explores the hot York literary and paintings worlds within the years that bracket O'Hara's lament via shut readings of the works and careers of poets Marianne Moore and John Ashbery and assemblage artist Joseph Cornell. during those readings, Levy discusses such themes because the American debates round surrealism, the functionality of the "token girl" in inventive canons, and the function of the recent York urban Ballet within the improvement of mid-century modernism, and situates her vital figures relating to such colleagues and contemporaries as O'Hara, T. S. Eliot, Clement Greenberg, Walter Benjamin, and Lincoln Kirstein.Moore, Cornell, and Ashbery are attached via acquaintance and affinity-and peculiarly, by way of the ownership of what Moore calls "criminal ingenuity," a expertise for situating themselves at the fault strains that fissure the nation-states of paintings, sexuality, and politics. As we ponder their lives and works, Levy indicates, the probably really expert query of the resource and which means of the fight for strength among artwork kinds inexorably opens out to broader questions on social and inventive associations and forces: the academy and the museum, professionalism and the industry, and that establishment of associations, marriage.
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Extra resources for Criminal Ingenuity: Moore, Cornell, Ashbery, and the Struggle Between the Arts (Modernist Literature and Culture)
The chief end of the professional and the poet alike is not to be left behind by the onrush of modernity, to establish a functional relation to a market-oriented society. The professional resembles the modernist artist in that the negative aspect of this relation, the “side that is turned away from the anarchy of open competition,” which “fosters the values of continuity, autonomy and disinterestedness,”33 appears foremost: professionalism, like modernist art, seems to be most valuable to bourgeois society as a kind of utopian preserve of values otherwise threatened with extinction.
Like Moore, Williams sets the force of the visual arts against a powerfully resistant “academic feeling,” but whereas for him, painting represents an anti-institutional impulse, full stop, for her, the impulsive turn away from the literary academy is a moment in a dialectic. Where Williams sees a rebellion of the oppressed against a monolithic authority, Moore sees a struggle for power between two institutions, one of which is in a position to exercise prejudice while the other must suffer disparagement.
25 These latter items at once are and are not “pictures,” much as the poem’s speaker at once is and is not a participant in the market in pictures. The poem’s closing lines, though, undo these ambiguities, once again enacting the poet’s withdrawal from material concerns. ” This, at least, is the ending of the poem as it appears in Moore’s first collection, Observations, as well as in all subsequent editions of her collected poems. However, in the first published version of the poem, the final line, following those cited above, reads, “then I ‘take it in hand as a savage would a looking-glass’” (BMM 255).