A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World

Overview

This engrossing memoir brings to vivid life the behind-the-scenes struggles of Marcia Tucker, the first woman to be hired as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Tucker came of age in the 1960s, and this spirited account of her life draws the reader directly into the burgeoning feminist movement and the excitement of the New York art world during that time. Her own new ways of thinking led her to take principled stands that have ...

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2008 Cloth New in Fine Condition jacket 215 pp., 38 black and white photographs. First edition. Edited and with an afterword by Liza Lou. Author's and editor's acknowledgments ... with index. Photographs follow text pages. Dustjacket is protected with a mylar cover. Read more Show Less

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Overview

This engrossing memoir brings to vivid life the behind-the-scenes struggles of Marcia Tucker, the first woman to be hired as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Tucker came of age in the 1960s, and this spirited account of her life draws the reader directly into the burgeoning feminist movement and the excitement of the New York art world during that time. Her own new ways of thinking led her to take principled stands that have changed the way art museums consider contemporary art. As curator of painting and sculpture at the Whitney, she organized major exhibitions of the work of Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, and Richard Tuttle, among others. As founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, she organized and curated groundbreaking exhibitions that often focused on the nexus of art and politics. The book highlights Tucker's commitment to forging a new system when the prevailing one proved too narrow for her expansive vision.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“Offers some much-needed inspiration [and] ample evidence of Tucker’s take-no-prisoners attitude and passion for “difficult” art.”
Artforum
“A remarkable piece of writing. . . . [Tucker] has composed a literary monument to her heroic life in art, as moving as it is entertaining.”
Bookforum - Martha Schwendener
“A candid, entertaining, and illuminating account of the 1960s art world. . . . A perfect antidote to this bloated, spectacle-heavy moment.”
Museum
Marcia Tucker’s courage, conviction and chutzpah are inspiration for those of us who seek to lead meaningful professional lives.”
The Art Book - John A. Walker
“A vivid, candid, self-critical and moving account of Tucker’s life. . . . Novice curators should find it inspiring.”
Migill Book Reviews
“An unassuming, humbled, even self-effacing metaphor for the art that is life in the art milieu.”
Pelican Press
“A great read [and] a page turner. . . .
In less than 200 pages she encapsulates her life, sharing her triumphs and insecurities.”
Village Voice
“Tucker’s book is conventional, accessible, even chatty. But this modest volume, in concert with the shiny playful building on the Bowery, denotes a remarkable legacy.”
Bust
“A joyful exploration of all things art-related. . . . Tucker’s balanced assessment of her work and personal life is commendable.”
Art + Auction
“A good book about a good person.”
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In this insightful and well-crafted memoir, long-time contemporary art curator Tucker (1945-2006) gives readers a backstage account of forty years on the New York and national art scene. A passionate art student, Tucker's career began when she put down the paint brush and dedicated herself to tracking down contemporary art; before long, she would become the first woman curator of The Whitney Museum, before founding and directing The New Museum. Her curatorial history is both humble and sophisticated ("it's one thing to want to create something, another to spend your life interpreting what someone else has made"), as well as vivid, charming and honest, revealing in direct language her reasons for exhibiting Bill Bollinger's giant boulder, pulled whole from the WTC excavation site, or storming out of a class-and her PhD program-after a professor referred to Nancy Graves's realistic, life-size camel sculptures as "novelty art." Aside from meeting some of the most famous artists of our time, from Marcel Duchamp to Bob Dylan, Tucker's personal story involves a tragic family life and years as a starving artist, related poignantly but without pandering. Deftly edited by close friend and artist Lou, this is an arresting tour of a life devoted to new art, with a perfectly charming guide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520257009
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Tucker, who died in 2006, was a curator of contemporary art and the founder and director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Liza Lou is an artist.

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Table of Contents

prologue / 1

one / 1945–1956 / 3
two / 1957–1959 / 1 3
three / 1960–1962 / 2 6
four / 1963–1964 / 4 6
five / 1965–1966 / 6 5
s i x / 1967–1968 / 7 2
seven / 1969–1970 / 7 9
eight / 1971–1974 / 9 1
nine / 1975–1976 / 1 0 8
ten / 1977–1980 / 1 2 0
eleven / 1980–1983 / 1 3 8
twelve / 1983–1984 / 1 4 9
thirteen / 1984–1993 / 1 6 0
fourteen / 1994–1995 / 1 7 5
fifteen / 1997 / 1 8 3
sixteen / 1998–2004 / 1 9 1

afterword by liza lou / 1 9 9
author’s acknowledgments / 2 0 5
editor’s acknowledgments / 2 0 7
photography credits / 2 0 9

index

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