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The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal


Hilton Kramer

Hilton Kramer

Hilton Kramer (1928-2012) was the founding editor of The New Criterion, which he started with the late Samuel Lipman in 1982. From 1987 until 2006, he was also the art critic for the weekly New York Observer, and for many years wrote the "Critic’s Notebook" column in Art & Antiques magazine. His "Media Watch" column was published weekly in The New York Post from 1993 to November 1997.


Mr. Kramer was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1928. He studied at Syracuse University (B.A., 1950), and in the graduate schools of Columbia University, Harvard University, Indiana University (School of Letters), and the New School for Social Research. He has served on the faculties of Indiana University, Bennington College, the University of Colorado, and Yale University. He has lectured widely at museums and universities in this country and abroad. He began publishing literary criticism in 1950, art criticism in 1953.


Over the years he has contributed to Commentary, The New Republic, National Review, The New York Review of Books, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The American Spectator, Partisan Review, Modern Painters, The Boston Globe, the London Times Literary Supplement, and the London Sunday Telegraph. Mr. Kramer has been the editor of Arts Magazine, and the art critic of The Nation. In 1965 he joined the staff of The New York Times as art news editor. He was appointed chief art critic of the Times in 1973, and remained in that position until he resigned in 1982 to become the editor of The New Criterion.


Mr. Kramer is the author of several volumes of criticism including The Age of the Avant-Garde: 1956-1972 (1973), The Revenge of the Philistines: Art and Culture, 1972-1984 (1985), The Twilight of the Intellectuals: Culture and Politics in the Era of the Cold War (1999), and The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World, 1985-2005 (2006).  He has also penned critical monographs on the work of Milton Avery, Gaston Lachaise, Richard Lindner, and several other artists. He is the editor of The New Criterion Reader (1988), and co-editor (with Roger Kimball) of Against the Grain: The New Criterion on Art and Intellect at the End of the Twentieth Century (1995), The Future of the European Past (1997), and The Survival of Culture: Permanent Values in a Virtual Age (2002). Most recently, Mr. Kramer co-edited a collection of essays with Mr. Kimball entitled Counterpoints: 25 Years of The New Criterion on Culture & the Arts (2007).


Mr. Kramer died on March 27, 2012. In May 2012, The New Criterion will publish a special issue dedicated to his legacy. A compendium of notices about Mr. Kramer may be found here



Exhibition note (Art) , February 2007, 51
On "Saul Steinberg: Illuminations" at the Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

A conversation with Philippe de Montebello (Features) , September 2006, 10
The director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art talks with TNC

Exhibition note (Art) , March 2006, 46
"David Smith: A Centennial" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Deaccession roulette (Features) , December 2005, 21
On an unfortunate art world practice.

Rediscovering Matisse (Books) , October 2005, 69
On Hilary Spurling's Matisse the Master.

Shorter notices (Books) , November 2004, 76
A review of Many Are Called, by Walker Evans, introduction by James Agee, foreword by Luc Sante, afterword by Jeff L. Rosenheim.

The "Memory" of Czeslaw Milosz, 1911-2004 (Notebook) , October 2004, 79
On the passing of Czeslaw Milosz, “a writer of multiple achievements but also a prophet of liberation for whom the individual exercise of disabused memory came to constitute a spiritual vocation.”

Seurat's "Sunday" Painting (Art) , September 2004, 46
On Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte” at the Art Institute of Chicago.

America--c'est moi! Alfred Kazin on American literature (Books) , April 2004, 81
A review of Alfred Kazin’s America: Critical and Personal Writings, edited by Ted Solotaroff.

The “Blue Rider” imbroglio (Art) , December 2003, 68
On the circle of modernist painters in Munich that came to be known as the Blue Rider.

Modernism & its institutions (Features) , October 2003, 4
The second in a series titled “Lengthened shadows.”

Remembering the Gulag (Books) , May 2003, 70
A review of Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum.

Who reads Mencken now? (Books) , January 2003, 59
A review of The Skeptic: A Life Of H. L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout.

Does abstract art have a future? (Features) , December 2002, 9

MOMA Reopened (Features) , July 2002
From a special summer issue of The New Criterion on the occasion of The Museum of Modern Art's reopening in 1984 after the museum's last round of major expansion.

The strange case of D.S. Mirsky (Features) , January 2002, 17
On the writer, occasioned by the publication of D. S. Mirsky: A Russian-English Life, 1890-1939, by G. S. Smith.

The man who created MOMA (Features) , December 2001, 16

Our spiritual legacy (Books) , October 2001, 74
A review of Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe: Toward a Revival of Higher Education, by Jeffrey Hart.

The Museum as Culture Mall (Features) , June 2001, 4
A trip to the Tate Modern.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s “Innocent Beginnings” (Books) , March 2001, 57
A review of A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Telling stories, denying style: Reflections on “MoMA2000” (Features) , January 2001, 4

Reflections on the end of the century (Features) , December 1999, 4
On how we view the crimes of Communism

The fiasco of “The American Century” (Features) , November 1999, 9
On The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000, at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Abstraction in America: the first generation (Features) , October 1999, 10
On Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove

Jackson Pollock & the New York School, II (Features) , February 1999, 14
The second part of an examination of the artist’s place in the modernist tradition

Jackson Pollock & the New York School (Features) , January 1999, 17
The first part of an examination of the artist's place in the modernist tradition

Bonnard and “the stupidities” (Features) , October 1998, 18
On Bonnard, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

The betrayal of liberalism (Features) , September 1998, 4
The first in a series titled “The betrayal of liberalism

Exhibition note (Art) , September 1998, 47
On George Segal, a Retrospective: Sculptures, Paintings, and Drawings, at the Jewish Museum, New York

Léger's modernism (Features) , March 1998, 11
On Fernand Léger at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Telling lies about history: “The Fifties” on television (Features) , January 1998, 12
On the series directed by Alex Gibney & Tracy Dahlby, based on the book of the same title by David Halberstam

Exhibition note (Art) , January 1998, 43
On Stanley Spencer: An English Vision at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.

“The Blacklist & the Cold War” revisited (Features) , November 1997, 11
A reprinting of Mr. Kramer's 1976 article published in The New York Times

Abstraction & utopia, II (Features) , October 1997, 12
On the politics of abstract art in De Stijl

Abstraction & utopia (Features) , September 1997, 12
On the politics of abstract art in De Stijl

Exhibition note (Art) , June 1997, 56
Odd Nerdrum: Paintings at the Forum Gallery, New York

The postmodern assault (Features) , May 1997, 4
Being the ninth in a series on “The future of the European past,”

The age of the émigrés, (Features) , April 1997, 17
On Exiles & Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Elegance in mourning: George Braque in London (Features) , March 1997, 17
On the show of late works at the Royal Academy of Arts

Whittaker Chambers: the judgment of history (Features) , February 1997, 13
On Whittaker Chambers: A Biography by Sam Tanenhaus

Bloomsbury revisited: a “postmodern” Roger Fry (Features) , January 1997, 14
On A Roger Fry Reader edited by Christopher Reed

Degas in Chicago (Features) , November 1996, 19
On Degas: Beyond Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago

Menzel, Meier-Graefe & the problem of German art (Art) , October 1996, 51
On Adolph Menzel 1815-1905: Between Romanticism & Impressionism at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Reflections on the history of “Partisan Review” (Features) , September 1996, 15
On A Partisan Century: Political Writings from Partisan Review edited by Edith Kurzweil

Picasso: portraits or masks? (Features) , June 1996, 5
On Picasso & Portraiture: Representation & Transformation at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Exhibition note (Art) , April 1996, 48
On The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty Reconfigured at the Brooklyn Museum

Abstraction at the Guggenheim (Features) , March 1996, 4

Nora Sayre: a progressive 'Journey' (Features) , February 1996, 4

Duchamp & his legacy (Features) , October 1995, 4
On The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp by Jerrold Seigel.

Mondrian & mysticism: “My long search is over” (Features) , September 1995, 4
On “Piet Mondrian: 1872–1944” seen first at the Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (December 18, 1994–April 30, 1995), then at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (June 11–September 4, 1995) and on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from October 1, 1995, through January 23, 1996.

The BBC & other losses (Features) , June 1995, 4
On the reality of the culture war in Britain and America.

The Edmund Wilson centenary (Features) , May 1995, 5
On a new biography of Wilson by Jeffrey Meyers.

Getting to know Pissarro (Features) , April 1995, 5
On Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Innovator at the Jewish Museum.

Kandinsky & the birth of abstraction (Features) , March 1995, 3
On Kandinsky: Compositions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Farewell to the MLA (Features) , February 1995, 5
On the 110th annual convention of the Modern Language Association, in San Diego, California, December 1994.

Samuel Lipman, 1934-1994 (Features) , January 1995, 5

At the Warhol Museum (Features) , December 1994, 6

The ghost of V.L. Parrington (Features) , November 1994, 4

Life after liberalism: The New Republic at 80 (Features) , September 1994, 4

Willem de Kooning at 90 (Features) , June 1994, 4

Angry history: Richard Pipes on the Bolshevik Revolution (Features) , May 1994, 5

Exhibition note (Art) , May 1994, 56
On “Joseph Stella” at the Whitney.

Who was Dwight Macdonald? (Features) , April 1994, 5

At the Bauhaus: the fate of art in “the Cathedral of Socialism” (Features) , March 1994, 4

Old “Times” and new (Features) , February 1994, 4
On two New York Times memoirs, My "Times" by John Carey & Behind the "Times" by Edwin Diamond.

“The Intellectuals & the Masses” (Features) , January 1994, 4

Reflections on Miró (Features) , November 1993, 4
On the Miró retrospective at MOMA.

Diana Trilling's “Journey” (Features) , October 1993, 6
On Mrs. Trilling's memoir The Beginning of the Journey.

Art & its institutions: notes on the culture war (Features) , September 1993, 4
On the M.I.T. symposium The Public Patron: Drafting a Mandate for a Federal Arts Agency & related matters.

Exhibition note (Art) , September 1993, 64
On Fairfield Porter: An American Painter at the Parrish Art Museum.

Myths of the Fifties (Features) , June 1993, 5
On The Fifties by David Halberstam.

Henry James & the life of art (Features) , April 1993, 5

Clement Greenberg & the Cold War (Features) , March 1993, 4

Endangered tradition (Books) , March 1993, 76
A review of The Rise & Fall of the Man of Letters by John Gross.

Poetry & the silencing of art (Features) , February 1993, 4

Mary McCarthy & company (Features) , January 1993, 5
On Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy & Her World by Carol Brightman.

Aesthetics & ideology in (Features) , December 1992, 5

Reflections on Matisse (Features) , November 1992, 4

Art & politics in the Vichy period (Features) , March 1992, 4

Stuart Davis at the Met (Features) , January 1992, 4

The Varnedoe debacle: MOMA's New “Low” (Features) , December 1991, 5

Lincoln Kirstein (Features) , December 1991, 4

An Orwell for the Nineties? (Features) , November 1991, 4

Has success spoiled the art museum? (Features) , September 1991, 5

Seurat, one hundred years later (Features) , June 1991, 4

Thinking about "The Forties" (Features) , 4

Thinking about “The Forties” (Features) , May 1991, 4
On The Art of the Forties at MOMA.

The assault on the museums (Features) , March 1991, 4
On special-interest demands on curatorship.

The young Picasso (Features) , February 1991, 3

Art, revolution, and Kazimir Malevich (Features) , November 1990, 7

Irving Howe at seventy (Features) , October 1990, 6

The prospect before us (Features) , September 1990, 6
On the state of the arts in America circa 1990.

Shorter notice (Features) , September 1990, 77
Of The Great Terror: A Reassessment by Robert Conquest.

The function of criticism: some Polish examples (Features) , June 1990, 3
On Four Decades of Polish Essays edited by Jan Kott.

John Szarkowski’s “history of photographic pictures” (Features) , May 1990, 5
On Photography Until Now at MOMA.

Cynthia Ozick, T. S. Eliot & high culture: an exchange (Features) , April 1990, 5

Cynthia Ozick’s farewell to T.S. Eliot—and high culture (Features) , February 1990, 5
On Ozick’s essay T. S. Eliot at 101 in The New Yorker.

What was the Congress for Cultural Freedom? (Features) , January 1990, 7

The Wexner Center in Columbus (Features) , December 1989, 5

Reflections on “Bad Art” (Features) , November 1989, 5
On the book by Quentin Bell.

Cyril Connolly’s “Horizon” (Features) , September 1989, 5

Notes on early American modernism (Features) , June 1989, 1
On Over Here: Modernism, the First Exile 1914-1919 at Brown University.

Art, anarchism & Félix Fénéon (Features) , May 1989, 1

Modern art at the National Gallery (Features) , April 1989, 1
On 20th-Century Art: Selections for the Tenth Anniversary of the East Building at the National Gallery in Washington.

Was Rothko an abstract painter? (Features) , March 1989, 1

Studying the arts and humanities: what can be done? (Features) , February 1989, 1

Miró’s paradox: what happened after the “death of painting” (Features) , January 1989, 1

A nostalgia for innocence: Martin Green’s “New York 1913” (Features) , December 1988, 1

How good was Gauguin? (Features) , October 1988, 1

Rehabilitating the Russian avant-garde (Features) , September 1988, 1
On Russian & Soviet Paintings 1900–1930 at the Hirshhorn Museum.

Whittaker Chambers & “Witness”: an exchange (with Diana Trilling) (Features) , May 1988, 1

Rembrandt as Warhol: Svetlana Alpers’s ‘Enterprise” (Features) , April 1988, 1

Thinking about “Witness” (Features) , March 1988, 1

The Anselm Kiefer retrospective (Features) , February 1988, 1

Last—or lost—intellectuals? (Features) , December 1987, 1
On The Last Intellectuals by Russell Jacoby.

“Morality Tales” on tour (Features) , November 1987, 1
On the traveling exhibition Morality Tales: History Painting in 1980s.

The Tynan phenomenon (Features) , October 1987, 1

The happy critic: Arthur Danto in “The Nation” (Features) , September 1987, 25

Alfred Barr at MOMA: an introduction (Features) , August 1987
From a special issue printed in the Summer of 1987 entitled "Our Campaigns." Issue includes a chronicle of the years 1902-1929 by Rona Roob, a biographical chronicle of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Museum of Modern Art by Margaret Scolari Barr accompanied by photographs, and an introduction by Hilton Kramer.

The new women’s museum (Features) , June 1987, 1
On the new National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington.

The death of Andy Warhol (Features) , May 1987, 1

On the “Spiritual in Art” in Los Angeles (Features) , April 1987, 1

Religion and the intellectuals (Letters) , April 1987, 87

The Met’s 20th-century folly (Features) , March 1987, 1

The lowdown on Richard Gilman (Features) , February 1987, 1

Clement Greenberg in the Forties (Features) , January 1987, 1

The two Henry Moores (Features) , October 1986, 1

Anti-Communism and the Sontag circle (Features) , September 1986, 1

New York in the Eighties: Introduction (Features) , August 1986
From a special issue printed in the Summer of 1986 entitled "New York in the Eighties, a symposium." Contributors include Hortense Calisher, Chuck Close, Arlene Croce, Clement Greenberg, Mark Helprin, Ada Louise Huxtable, Richard Koshalek, Mimi Kramer, Samuel Lipman, Jed Perl, William Phillips, Alan Rich, Larry Rivers, Barbara Rose, William Schuman, Gerard Schwarz, Hugo Weisgall, & Leon Wieseltier. With an introduction by Hilton Kramer.

Writing the history of the New York intellectuals (Features) , June 1986, 1
On Prodigal Sons by Alexander Bloom.

Richard Serra at MOMA (Features) , May 1986, 1

Peggy Guggenheim as history (Features) , April 1986, 1

Modernism and its enemies (Features) , March 1986, 1
On Fredric Jameson, Roger Starr, Daniel Bell et al.

At the Picasso Museum (Features) , January 1986, 1

The sorrows of Kurt Schwitters (Features) , October 1985, 1

The Whitney’s new Graves (Features) , September 1985, 1
On Michael Graves’s design for a new Whitney Museum.

American art since the 1945: who will write its history? (Features) , August 1985
From a special issue printed in the Summer of 1985 entitiled "The Arts in America: 1945-1985." Issue includes special essays by Hilton Kramer, Bruce Bawer, Samuel Lipman, and Robert Richman.

Marc Chagall 1887-1985 (Features) , May 1985, 1

Kandinsky in Paris (Features) , April 1985, 1

T.J. Clark and the Marxist critique of modern painting (Features) , March 1985, 1

A catalogue raisonné for Arthur Dove (Features) , February 1985, 34

Lillian Hellman (Letters) , January 1985, 84

The “Primitivism” conundrum (Features) , December 1984, 1
On “Primitivism in 20th-Century Art” at MOMA.

Stalinism then and now: an exchange (Features) , November 1984, 1

The life and death of Lillian Hellman (Features) , October 1984, 1

Who was Josephine Herbst? (Features) , September 1984, 1

MOMA reopened: The Museum of Modern Art in the postmodern era (Features) , August 1984
From a special issue printed in the Summer of 1984 regarding the reopening of the MOMA. Issue includes a special essay by Hilton Kramer, photographs by John T. Hill, and a collection of images from a MOMA exhibition.
"It is assuredly a new MOMA that we have now been given-a museum not only greatly enlarged physically but significantly altered in its general outlook and spirit."

Reproductions for the plebes: the Banfield proposal (Features) , June 1984, 1
On The Democratic Muse by Edward C. Banfield.

Name-calling (Letters) , June 1984, 96

Bonnard in Paris (Features) , May 1984, 1

Professor Howe’s prescriptions (Features) , April 1984, 1
On Excellence: Theory & Practice in the Humanities, a speech by Irving Howe at the New York Public Library.

Turning back the clock: art and politics in 1984 (Art) , April 1984, 68

Waiting for Kynaston: an art chronicle (Features) , March 1984, 1

The MLA centennial follies (Features) , February 1984, 1

Bloomsbury idols (Features) , January 1984, 1
On the revival of interest in the Bloomsbury Group.

Criticism endowed: reflections on a debacle (Features) , November 1983, 1
On the NEA fellowships for art critics.

The return of the nativist (Art) , October 1983, 58
On Grant Wood at the Whitney.

“Partisan Review”: down the memory hole (Features) , September 1983, 1

The Malcolm Morley retrospective (Art) , September 1983, 71

“The Essential Cubism” in London (Art) , June 1983, 63
On the Tate exhibition.

Vanity Fair: an autopsy (Features) , June 1983, 1

Fairfield Porter: an American classic (Features) , May 1983, 1
On the Porter retrospective at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The Morton Schamberg retrospective (Art) , April 1983, 50

David Smith in Washington (Art) , January 1983, 62

A marginal “life” (Books) , January 1983, 82
A review of A Margin of Hope by Irving Howe.

Dwight Macdonald, 1906–1982 (Notebook) , January 1983, 91

“Images of America”: the Precisionists (Features) , December 1982, 48

Signs of passion: the new expressionism (Features) , November 1982, 40

Where art intersects with life (Books) , October 1982, 74
A review of The Art Presence by Sanford Schwartz.

Postmodern: art and culture in the 1980s (Features) , September 1982, 36

The Eakins retrospective (Art) , September 1982, 66

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