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'Avant-Garde & Kitsch’ Today: A Panel Discussion

On the 75th anniversary of the publication of Clement Greenberg’s essay, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” probably the most referred to (and derided) essay on art of the 20th century, seven local critics who write on art in Portland and beyond will discuss the works that have most challenged them.

The contrast Greenberg set up between art that is “difficult” (avant-garde) and art that is “easy” (kitsch) will form the basis of a wide ranging discussion. Do these distinctions still have meaning today? If you have ever wondered if Jeff Koons is a brilliant artist or if his work is the biggest trick since Yves Klein charged patrons to step into the Theatre of the Void—an empty room—in 1958, this is the event for you.


Randy Gragg: Director, the John Yeon Center for Architectural Studies and Editor-at-Large, Portland Monthly magazine

Jeff Jahn: Critic, curator, artist, cultural historian and founder of the art blog PORT

Barry Johnson: Founder and executive editor of Oregon Arts Watch, an online journalism project and former arts columnist, critic and editor for the Oregonian

Eva Lake: Producer and host of Art Focus, an arts interview show on KBOO radio, artist and co-founder/director of two local galleries

Prudence Roberts: Curator, arts writer, art history professor and director of the Helzer Art Gallery at Potland Communty College’s Rock Creek campus

Paul Sutinen: Artist, professor at Marylhurst University, curator and art critic

Sue Taylor: Arts writer and critic, professor of art history with an emphasis on modern and contemporary art at Portland State University

Michael Knutson: Reed College Professor of Art and Blackfish Member