“Exemplary....focuses not only upon the major figures of ascendant movements but also upon how a variety of independent-minded artists, energized by the vitality of the mid-century exchange of ideas, found individual means of expression."—The Washington Post Book World “The sort of grand marriage of criticism, history and biography that Edmund Wilson achieved in his finest books. . . . A thrilling achievement.” —The Atlantic Monthly “Bound to stand as the definitive volume on this hectic and fertile period in American art for years to come.”—Art News"Fascinating . . . by far the most thorough account of the ‘triumph of American painting’ that we have. . . . A splendid achievement and an exceptionally worthwhile read." —The Christian Science Monitor"Shows the incisiveness and pluck of George Bernard Shaw writing about music or Pauline Kael reviewing movies. . . . Opens onto new surprises at every turn."—San Francisco Chronicle“Few people write about art as beautifully, one might say as tenderly, as Jed Perl.” —The Wall Street Journal
The legends come to life in this absorbing survey of the New York art world's heyday, from the 1940s through the 1970s. Perl, one of our great art critics, never shies away from controversy in a lively narrative that's both passionate and opinionated about the grand personalities of the period and their work. A blazing mix of social history, biography, and criticism, New Art City matches its subject as a triumph of creativity.
Can there be that much to say about so concentrated a space and span of time? Have no fear: Perl, the art critic for The New Republic, is a fiercely fluent word-spinner, and he comes laden with a staggering knowledge of American artists and their critics from, say, 1948, when Willem de Kooning had his first one-man show and Jackson Pollock began to drip in earnest, down to 1982, when Donald Judd began to colonize the flat wilderness of Marfa, Tex., with 100 same-sized aluminum boxes.
The New York Times
Perl, the art critic for the New Republic, celebrates the heterogeneous achievements of the New York art world in this elegant, erudite work that sweeps gracefully from the 1940s, when the city was "the place of dazzling contradictions," to the "jangling urgency" of art in the 1970s. Contending that the personal characteristics of an artist's work are shaped by his relationship to the city, especially to its art scene, Perl finds in postwar New York a "dialectical extravaganza" in which painters and sculptors set about redefining their place in history-aiming not to shatter traditions but to forge new ones. Although giants such as de Kooning and Pollock make significant appearances, this history is equally concerned with "minor characters" who exerted more subtle influences, such as the painter Earl Kerkam, whose approval Pollock dearly valued. Perl's conversational tone is at times so intimate that the effect is more that of a curator offering a private tour of his exhibition than an art historian's lecture. Or, perhaps, a walking tour that takes readers from downtown studios and artists' taverns to the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art and back again, with a guide whose perceptive eye always steers us toward an unnoticed treasure. 328 illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In this original, expansive, and generously illustrated exploration of the increasingly international art world of mid-20th-century New York City, influential New Republic art critic Perl (Paris Without End) examines the social and cultural factors that resulted in New York's becoming the art capital of the world and the center for the emergence of new art forms like Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Covered here are the individual histories and works of famous and lesser-known artists-e.g., Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, and Joan Mitchell-as well as contributions in other media (e.g., architecture, drama, and dance) and the various venues where artists lived, developed, and displayed their works. What results is an authoritative yet personal account, sufficiently well documented despite the absence of endnotes and a bibliography, that leaves room for new interpretations pertaining to artistic free will, individual consciousness, and self-determination in American society. Recommended mostly for large public, undergraduate, and academic library collections encompassing the fine arts and interdisciplinary cultural studies.-Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A comprehensive account of the New York art scene in the 1950s and '60s. The Manhattan-centric "heroic period" of American art here unfolds in novelistic detail. Notables of the New York School (Pollock, de Kooning, Warhol) sit side by side with smaller stars (Hans Hofmann, Philip Guston, Mercedes Matter, Fairfield Porter), and new insight is brought to each, with a blend of anecdote and idea that gives a real sense of the times. Excitement is palpable in the fierce individualism cultivated by seminal teacher Hofmann, who encouraged an anachronistic blend of new and old reflected in the attitudes and influences of the artists. Positing a predominant romanticism that was a conglomerate of "isms"-expressionism, surrealism, primitivism, existentialism, nihilism-what emerged was a fulminating scene where, as de Kooning asserted, "one idea is as good as the next." Dialecticism governs the whole as Perl brings to light unlikely connections (Duchamp and Mondrian, Donald Judd and Paul Katz) and the impact of various mediums upon one another, such as dancer Merce Cunningham's influence on the plastic arts. Himself a painter, New Republic art critic Perl eschews gossip in favor of analysis of the artists' life and work, including who they were reading (Sartre, Balzac, B.H. Friedman) and where they congregated (Cedar Tavern, the Artist's Club), as well as the influence of the city itself-he devotes a whole chapter to its geography. It's a revealing journey, encompassing the charged commingling of artists absorbed in largely solitary studio efforts during modernism's tail end, to Pop art's fixation on reproduction, consumerism and celebrity. Art history as it should be: neither star-struck norpretentious, and full of heart.