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Historical Context > Art in context

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message 1: by Charles (new)

Charles I'm looking for books on the Ashcan School and The Eight (and on the Abstract Expressionists from 1940-1960) which take up the historical and social context of these art movements in America. These would be history, social history, cultural studies, that sort of thing, as well as the details of the painters' lives and way of life (such as Pollock went away for two weeks in the winter and came back to find the water frozen in the dog's bowl and the dog dead. So far I have found one: Virginia Mecklenburg, Metropolitan Lives (1996, o.p. naturally) Does anyone know others of this ilk? (PS This inquiry is provoked by visits to the new Clyfford Still museum in Denver and the discovery of a Robert Henri birthplace museum in Cozad, Nebraska.)


message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I would suggest the following book:

Picturing the City Urban Vision and the Ashcan School by Rebecca Zurier by Rebecca Zurier


message 3: by Bronwyn (last edited Jun 16, 2012 06:20PM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments There was an Ashcan show touring probably six years ago now and it came to Detroit, which is how I know of the Ashcan School. I loved the show and wanted the book from the show, but (as art books go) couldn't afford it. However, about a year later I was back at the DIA and they had the remainders on sale and I snapped one up for like $5.

This is the book I got: Life's Pleasures The Ashcan Artists' Brush With Leisure, 1895-1925 by James Tottis Life's Pleasures: The Ashcan Artists' Brush With Leisure, 1895-1925. I haven't read much of it, merely browsed it, but it's really interesting. I wish I could see the show again! :) I'm not currently at home so can't tell you how in depth it goes as to what you're looking for, but it's definitely worth looking at.

eta: It's definitely a book to do with what the show focused on, but it's still worth a look. :) (The art repros are gorgeous! The one of Salome was my favorite at the show and it's in the book, which I love. And one of the boxing ones was used on the cover of a book I read for a class, so that was fun to see. :) )


message 4: by Charles (last edited Jul 14, 2012 08:31AM) (new)

Charles There is a biography of de Kooning which covers this de Kooning: An American Master

I wrote a book on detective fiction (hopefully in publication) in which I claimed that the evolution of the genre was driven by the fears and needs created by events such as WWI, the Depression, the rise of Fascism, but really, I only asserted this (it seemed obvious) but did not seriously document it. That there is a connection seems clear. The Beats, for example. But how exactly does this work? Why do Faulkner or Hemingway seem to fit their times so well? Or is the question so obtuse or irrelevant is to be not worth asking?

It has, I think, to do with reading habits, what makes best-sellers, and such. Incredibly, Henry James was a best-seller in his time. How can that be? Emily Dickenson, contrary to what we think now, had quite a reputation at the turn of the century. Eh?


message 5: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I find this one of the most fascinating things about our period (1900-1945), the art certainly reflects the times.

The beats are slightly outside of our field of interest being more active in the 1950s (I think). Ginsberg was very serious and seemed to have a strong thread of 'responsibility' running through his poetry - I think the term 'counterculture' probably suits him very well. There was also a poet called Frank O'Hara who was writing in New York at a similar time who was very good. He's certainly more 'pop culture' and talks about film stars and suchlike. Sometimes artists and writers just capture the spirit of the moment...I think it's got to be a combination of the artists themselves pushing at the boundaries but ther must at the same time be an openness or need in the audience for something different. A gap that needs filling.

I think as far as our period of interest goes, Virginia Woolf and co. were doing this exact same thing, looking at a broken world and breaking the existing conventions in their turn. The world was just ready for them at that time.

This may explain why some artists and writers do not gain any currency in their own time but suddenly get re-discovered when the world is ready for them. Or perhaps, like now with the world financial meltdown, things that were very time specific like works based on the wall street crash suddenly have new meaning as they can be applied to modern events.

Isn't art wondeful!


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