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New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century (Vintage)by Jed Perl
Synopses & Reviews
A fascinating, panoramic exploration of art and culture in mid-twentieth-century New York City from one of our most important and influential art critics.
New Art City takes us from the solitude of the artist's studio to the uproarious bars where artists gathered, from the ramshackle bohemian neighborhoods of downtown Manhattan to the Midtown streets where steel-and-glass skyscrapers were rising and art galleries were proliferating. We encounter a kaleidoscopic range of artists. There are legendary figures-Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Willem de Kooning, Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, and Donald Judd-as well as still undervalued ones, such as the galvanic teacher Hans Hofmann, the lyric expressionist Joan Mitchell, the adventuresome realist Fairfield Porter, and the eccentric thinker John Graham. We encounter, too, the writers, critics, patrons, and hangers-on who rounded out the artists' world. Jed Perl helps us see what the artists were creating and understand how they confronted an exploding art audience. And he makes clear how the economic boom of the late 1950s and the increasingly enthusiastic response to Abstract Expressionism ushered in the rapacious art world of the 1960s and the theatricality of Pop Art.
Artists drew strength from the dizzying onslaught of Manhattan, and produced a tidal wave of new forms. These included Hofmann's brazen flourishes of color; Pollock's quicksilver skeins of paint unfurling panoramic arabesques; and the crushed, jagged, turning-back-on-itself calligraphy of de Kooning's gnomic alphabets. And there was much more: Burgoyne Diller's levitating rectangles; Nell Blaine's explosive renderings of quotidian scenes; Ellsworth Kelly'sextraordinary simplifications, suggesting sails or semaphores.
A brilliant tapestry of social history, biographical portraiture, and criticism, New Art City illuminates a revolutionary, unprecedented time and place in American culture.
An art critic takes a panoramic look at art and culture in mid-20th century New York City, showing readers the solitude of artists' studios to uproarious bars and clubs, from ramshackle bohemian neighborhoods to the Midtown streets.
In this landmark work, Jed Perl captures the excitement of a generation of legendary artists-Jackson Pollack, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ellsworth Kelly among them-who came to New York, mingled in its lofts and bars, and revolutionized American art. In a continuously arresting narrative, Perl also portrays such less well known figures as the galvanic teacher Hans Hofmann, the lyric expressionist Joan Mitchell, and the adventuresome realist Fairfield Porter, as well the writers, critics, and patrons who rounded out the artistsworld. Brilliantly describing the intellectual crosscurrents of the time as well as the genius of dozens of artists, New Art City is indispensable for lovers of modern art and culture.
About the Author
Jed Perl was born in New York City in 1951. He received a BA from Columbia College and studied painting at the Skowhegan School in Maine. He was a contributing editor to Vogue in the 1980s and has been the art critic for The New Republic since 1994. Among his books are Paris Without End: On French Art Since World War I and Eyewitness: Reports from an Art World in Crisis. He lives in New York City with his wife, the painter Deborah Rosenthal.
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