THE ARTISTS' AMERICA; THE WRITERS' AMERICA by Marshall B. & American Heritage -- Eds. Davidson


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A walk through the Yellow Pages, just about what one expects from an overview which in each instance reaches too ambitiously ail the way back to colonialism. Since pictures are always worth a thousand words, Artists' comes closer to a comprehensive survey as the progression of techniques and attitudes becomes instantly obvious; from arcadian innocence and Thomas Cole to the dignity of George Catlin's Indian portraiture; from the shock of Ben Shahn's Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti to the inevitable But Is It Art? of Gene Davis' 31,464 square foot asphalt ""canvas"" in a Philadelphia parking lot. But the scrapbook format simply doesn't work for Writers' who clearly need to be given more words if we're to understand them in the context of their times. The editors caution that gaps are inevitable and fair enough -- yet what are we to make of the omission of whole genres, i.e. proletarian writers of the '30's, the boys-in-the-backroom fiction of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald? Mary McCarthY it seems was never born and Edmund Wilson rates one line (about Hemingway). Nicely designed, both books are indeed pretty to look at but, alas, what's to see?

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1973
Publisher: McGraw-Hill-American Heritage Press