Experience the creative explosion that transformed American art, in the words of the artists, writers, and critics who were there: In the quarter century after the end of World War II, a new generation of painters, sculptors, and photographers transformed the face of American art and shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York. Signaled by the triumph of abstraction and the ascendancy of painters such as Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and Kline, this revolution generated an exuberant and contentious body of writing without parallel in our cultural history. In the words of editor Jed Perl, "there has never been a period when the visual arts have been written about with more mongrel energy--with more unexpected mixtures of reportage, rhapsody, analysis, advocacy, editorializing, and philosophy." Perl has gathered the best of this writing together for the first time, interwoven with fascinating headnotes that establish the historical background, the outsized personalities of the artists and critics, and the nature of the aesthetic battles that defined the era. Here are statements by the most significant artists, and major critical essays by Clement Greenberg, Susan Sontag, Hilton Kramer, and other influential figures. Here too is an electrifying array of responses by poets and novelists, reflecting the free interplay between different art forms: John Ashbery on Andy Warhol, James Agee on Helen Levitt, James Baldwin on Beauford Delaney, Truman Capote on Richard Avedon, Tennessee Williams on Hans Hofmann, Jack Kerouac on Robert Frank. The atmosphere of the time comes to vivid life in memoirs, diaries, and journalism by Peggy Guggenheim, Dwight Macdonald, Calvin Tomkins, and others. Lavishly illustrated with scores of black-and-white images and a 32-page color insert, this is a book that every art lover will treasure.
"Jed Perl has compiled an invigorating panorama of art writing from a crucial quarter century, adding vital context with his incisive commentaries. As today's art writers suffer diminishing visibility, the pleasures to be had exploring this collection comes as a salutary shock. An unexpectedly compulsive read."--Elizabeth C. Baker
JED PERL is the art critic for "The New Republic." A former contributing editor at "Vogue," he has written on contemporary art for a variety of publications, including "The New York Times Book Review" and "Elle," and is the author of "New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century" (2005), "Eyewitness: Reports from an Art World in Crisis" (2000), "Gallery Going: Four Seasons in the Art World" (1991), and "Paris Without End: On French Art Since World War I" (1988). He teaches art history at the New School.