Charles Bernstein famously has asked whether art criticism is fifty years behind poetry, concluding that "indeed, pernicious is the cliché that poetry is fifty years behind visual art."
Yet in a recent review of Alice Goldfarb Marquis's The Pop Revolution, Adam Bresnick says this:
What Pop [Art] had done, to the annoyance of the proponents of Modernism, was to undo the essential European distinction between high and low art. Whereas for the Romantic tradition, of which Abstract Expressionism is a late variant, works of art were artifacts supposedly in touch with the sublime, Pop artists understood art in an anthropological and commercial sense, as an activity more or less like any other. Marquis quotes Dave Hickey, who suggests that the real blasphemy of the Pop artists "derives from the crisp analogy they draw between our appetite for 'fine art' and our appetite for food, sex, and glamour." To paraphrase [Jasper] Johns, Pop artists took objects from daily experience, did something to them, and then did something else to them.
In the new world of image reproduction, words no longer carried their former prestige, and the great intellectual authorities of yesteryear could no longer pretend to control the discussion of art.
Now, can we not, for the sake of discussion, replace in this quotation "Pop," that half-century-old phenomenon, with "contemporary American poetry?"
If so, what explains our belatedness?