THE TWO WORLDS OF AMERICAN ART by Barry Ulanov

THE TWO WORLDS OF AMERICAN ART

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is an audacious book, a journey through the worlds of the mass media and high culture, touching everything from Stravinsky to the most bubbly soap opera; and all seen through the piercing eyes of one man. Invariably books of this sort come to us through a team of experts, learned essays from various hands, and they are usually either quite dull or too heterogeneous in style. Quite apart from the extraordinary fact that Ulanov is a specialist in many diverse areas, the real delight lies in the man's engaging, witty, tough-minded individuality, his bright receptiveness to or trenchant comments upon TV or Ivory Tower criticism, rock and roll or the avant garde novel. He is a particularly apt commentator on pop song stylists, making subtle distinctions between the singers of the '30's and the gimmicky ones of today; he is equally perceptive in the long chapters dealing with painting, sculpture, architecture and photography. In literature and poetry, the theatre and the films, however, he does not show to best advantage: too many streamlined summaries and rather arbitrary points of reference. He is superb, oddly enough, in his discussion of radio and to a lesser degree in his remarks on TV. Naturally, for those who are familiar with Ulanov's previous work, it goes without saying that the section on jazz is faultless.

Publisher: Macmillan