What is Clement Greenberg's idea of modernity, and how does it relate to or differ from Baudelaire's concept of modernity?

Clement Greenberg's idea of modernity involves the notion that the modern artist should eliminate that which might be borrowed from another medium. For example, a painter should pursue that which belongs primarily to a painting, such as color, shape, and two-dimensionality. Baudelaire, on the other hand, defines modernity as that half of beauty which deals with the ephemeral, the contingent, and the temporal. It is such modernity that the modern artist must seek.

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In putting forward his idea of modernity, Greenberg seeks to achieve a high level of authenticity, a purity of artistic expression. The means to this end is a thoroughgoing self-criticism and methodological doubt that gradually eliminates all elements from the relevant artwork that may be borrowed from other media.

Among other things, this process of purification draws attention to the surface on which the artwork has been created. Whereas traditional painting had acted like a transparent window, transporting the viewer beyond the artwork's surface, modern art highlights the two-dimensionality of the canvas. When a viewer gazes at a work of modern art, his or her attention is fixed firmly on what is on the canvas, not on anything beyond it.

Baudelaire, by contrast, regards modernity as that half of beauty which deals with what is fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow. The modern artist is someone who can discover modernity in the midst of society's constant change. He—and all such artists for Baudelaire would've been men—have the unique ability to perceive beauty in the unlikeliest of places: in brothels, taverns, the rush and crush of the crowd in the big city.

The modern artist captures a brief, fleeting of moment in time. That is the modernist half of beauty: the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent. However, in such brief moments, the other side of beauty can also be observed: the eternal and enduring, that which transcends its immediate social, historical, and cultural context. It is this eternal side to beauty, with its transcendence of the artwork, that chiefly distinguishes Baudelaire's concept of modernity from Greenberg's.

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