The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art

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9780671638573: The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art

A portrait of America's abstract expressionists discusses the life and work of Pollock, de Kooning, Newman, Rothko, Gottlieb, Motherwell, and the others artists who made New York City the postwar capital of art and culture. 15,000 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A study of Abstract Expressionism by an art journalist and curator who takes 1950 as the movement's decisive year. Kingsley starts in January of that year, when the painters Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Barnett Newman had one-man shows, and proceeds month by month through the lives of the central figures--including Arshile Gorky, Clyfford Still, David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Philip Guston. Like the Impressionists, Kingsley explains, this ``large group of artists with very different styles interacted intensely for a short while and then went their separate ways.'' For the uninitiated, she introduces the artists' work--from Rothko's ``soft-edged'' rectangles to Still's ``grand-size, craggy canvases'' and the painted ``skeins and puddles'' of Pollock (``our first media-made American artist'')-- and covers their private lives as well: problems with drinking, overbearing mothers, strained marriages, Gottlieb's sharp clothes, and Still's canvas-cluttered guest room. ``Abstract expressionism arrived with the atomic age,'' Kingsley points out. But the implicit promise of placing the movement into the larger context of N.Y.C. at midcentury, and of the country at the time of McCarthy and the Korean War, is only scantily met. The close-up view of 1950 proves it to have been a crucial year, particularly in bringing this new art to the public, but the calendar-based format loses logical thread as it delves into one artist, then another, moving backward and forward in time, bringing up psychology, criticism, and other aspects of this internally driven art. An informative, sometimes vivid, anecdotal survey that shies away from breakthrough interpretations of the artistic revolution staged almost 50 years ago. (Photographs--including eight pages of color--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This vibrant, intimate, gripping group portrait of American Abstract Expressionists shows how the anguish of their personal lives fed into their art. Kingsley, a Manhattan-based art critic and curator, focuses on 1950, the pivotal "year of greatest interaction" among Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and their associates, and the only year when they all lived and worked together in New York City. Their circle included the near-destitute Franz Kline, whose wife spent 14 years in a mental hospital; Robert Motherwell, who oscillated between "atavistic caveman" and Francophile sophisticate; sculptor David Smith, prone to domestic violence and abuse of women; and the mordantly romantic Arshile Gorky, whose wife left him shortly after an auto accident in which he suffered a broken neck and a paralyzed painting arm. Despite the outward differences between Pollock's famous drips and Barnett Newman's vertical "zip," these artists shared a desire to let content emerge directly from the psyche and a "desperation to speak through the medium of paint alone." Illustrated.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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