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Preview — The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe
The Painted Word
"America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek) trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this "masterpiece" (The Washington Post)
Wolfe's style has never been more dazzling, his wit never more keen. He addresses the scope of Modern Art, from its founding days as Abstract Expressionism through its transformations to Pop, Op, Minimal, and Conceptual. This is Tom Wolfe "at his m
When I lived in New York, I liked to take dates (including the future Mrs. Jeff) to the Modern Museum of Art. I would bone up on modern art with this book, so I could dazzle my dates with shallow insight, and...more
If one likes the art that Wolfe takes apart, you might find yourself inclined to dislike the book without giving what he's saying enough consideration. He makes some absolutely valid points and more importantly, he hints at a broader trend - the rift between the public viewer and the insular art world. Here, I think...more
Wolfe also tries to better d...more
Tom Wolfe's small but potent book charts the course of Modern Art. The stylistic writing is as witty and provocative as Wolfe's earlier book "Radical Chic."
The genesis of the book's title stems from a revelation that Wolfe obtained from an art exhibit's 1974 review in the New York Times. The critic had basically stated that to view art witho...more
You have to appreciate Wolfe for his bluster and charming if irritating and irascible ability to simplify everything to the level of the five-year-old, which is about the age of his persona as an essay writer, esp. circa 1974, when he wrote this. Nevertheless I was inspired to rea...more
This was probably about round 6 of a 12 rounder between painting and theory. Up to this pont Theory had been winning every round and it looked like painting was going to have to throw in the towel and abandon the title. Wolfe stepped into Painting's corner and this round was a decisive winner.
Nobody seems to know what the final outcome of the Championship bout was..... but Painting is still alive and going from...more
This is a cynical and insightful description of some of the forces behind 'success' in art, mostly centered in mid-last-century. It was recommended to me by two friends who are both professional artists. One is a sculptor and my mentor, and the other a painter. In my subjective view, they should both be rich and famous, or at least a lot richer and a lot more famous. How is it that folks with mastery of their media never attain the absurd success of Jack...more
He did get me thinking, and feeling somewhat relieved. I've been to MoMA several times for specific exhibits, but sometimes left just shaking my head and thinking it was me. As usual, Mr. Wolfe attacks pretentiousness will full front...more
First published in 1975, Wolf decomposes modern art movements in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining. His clever style provides the reader wit...more
Wolfe is much more supportive of various flavors of representational art of the same period and the preceding centuries because he thinks this art can be appreciated without depending on theories.
The basic fallacy of this...more
Tom Wolfe sets out to expose the hypocrisy and ludicrous nature of the modern art movement. Starting with what he calls the “apache dance,” the process young, rebellious artists much embrace in order to weasel their way to the top of the art world, and ending with the minimal...more
The Painted Word coins the spirit of the whole enterprise.
Hype. The inside scoop displayed with canny wit. Blah.
Years later the spectacle of modern art is reaching absurd proportions.
A red square that passes for a profound conceptual scheme. A toilet signed by yours truly.
The illusion is in the concept bolstered by the eager plentitude of slavish art critics who yearn for the inner circle of opinion. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Words upon words upon words to keep...more
Written in 1975, he makes the point that it was the powerful art critics, the three he dubbed the kings of "Cultureburg":...more
The cognoscenti already know most of this. But then, Wolfe...more
Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into...more