"Twilight of the Intellectuals" indeed. Mr. Kramer (who's aesthetic tastes I largely share) was and has been embraced by slovenly thinkers,characterized by a fear and denial of science, history, and integrity. I think he made a bad marriage with the lunatic fringe of the American right which resulted in his becoming a punch line to a cultural conversation. Much of what he said of modern art was insightful and accurate, but his subsequent embrace of reactionary know-nothingness turned him into a kept-pet of a part of our society that in fact is disengaged and indifferent to cultural creation.
"Brave," "brilliant"--we are def. in the misty realm of hyperbole here. I will say that Herr Magnet's portrait of Kramer in retirement is pretty much what I might have pictured . . . If the mark of "brilliance" and "bravery" is utter, unceasing predictability, then Hilton Kramer certainly fits the bill. I used to read him in the NY Obverver, just for laughs (which is why I think they might have published him), and to see if he might waver an iota from his stalwart, ever PRINCIPLED stance on the new and new-fangled. He NEVER did. I detected little or no suppleness in his mind, and I learned nothing from him as a critic. He was, more than anything, a "type," maybe the "last of his breed," etc., but otherwise these superlatives read almost like mockery. R.I.P. HK (until the next hack says of some stain upon the once pristine aesthetisphere: "This is work to make Hilton Kramer turn in his grave."
The only critic I have bothered to read regularly for decades, RIP Mr Kramer, you were a very brave man.
Thanks for letting me know. I am sorry to hear this. I've belonged to the New Criterion for years and have learned a lot from Mr Kramer. He will be missed.
Lovely sentiments and insightful.