by Martin Gayford ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2018
Frank Auerbach, one of many artists interviewed for the book, said his contemporaries belonged to “a British line of...
An eminent British critic casts a spotlight on a major period of art history in London.
According to Spectator art critic Gayford (History of Art/Univ. of Buckingham; Michelangelo: His Epic Life, 2013, etc.), the paintings that came out of London from 1945 to 1970 are artistically significant yet less celebrated than those of cubist Paris or Renaissance Venice. This book, an attempt to correct the oversight, is a survey of the noteworthy figures from this era, from William Coldstream, co-founder of the Euston Road School of painting, to the era’s most famous innovators. Among them are Francis Bacon, whose “pursuit of a realism that would activate the nervous system” led him to such experiments as incorporating dust into a gray flannel suit in his painting Figure in a Landscape (1945); Lucian Freud, creator of unflattering nudes that “were among the most radically unclassical ever seen”; and David Hockney, whose groundbreaking portraits of fellow gay men, “clarity and subtlety of line,” and innovative rendering of the play of light on California pools made him one of Britain’s most renowned painters. Gayford acknowledges that these artists had no “coherent movement or stylistic group,” and the book suffers for it: Chapters feel randomly organized rather than unified. However, this is still a fascinating look at postwar London artists, filled with entertaining figures, such as the Cornwall neighbor who thought so little of the work Bacon produced during a brief residence there that, when the artist returned to London, the neighbor “used some of Bacon’s paintings on hardboard to mend a hen-house roof.”Frank Auerbach, one of many artists interviewed for the book, said his contemporaries belonged to “a British line of artistic mavericks, ‘people who did exactly what they wanted to do.’ ” This well-researched history shows the enduring results of such single-minded nonconformity.
Pub Date: June 12, 2018
Page Count: 340
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018
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by Sherill Tippins ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 3, 2013
A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.
A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven.
Turn-of-the century New York did not lack either hotels or apartment buildings, writes Tippins (February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America, 2005). But the Chelsea Hotel, from its very inception, was different. Architect Philip Hubert intended the elegantly designed Chelsea Association Building to reflect the utopian ideals of Charles Fourier, offering every amenity conducive to cooperative living: public spaces and gardens, a dining room, artists’ studios, and 80 apartments suitable for an economically diverse population of single workers, young couples, small families and wealthy residents who otherwise might choose to live in a private brownstone. Hubert especially wanted to attract creative types and made sure the building’s walls were extra thick so that each apartment was quiet enough for concentration. William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters and artist John Sloan were early residents. Their friends (Mark Twain, for one) greeted one another in eight-foot-wide hallways intended for conversations. In its early years, the Chelsea quickly became legendary. By the 1930s, though, financial straits resulted in a “down-at-heel, bohemian atmosphere.” Later, with hard-drinking residents like Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, the ambience could be raucous. Arthur Miller scorned his free-wheeling, drug-taking, boozy neighbors, admitting, though, that the “great advantage” to living there “was that no one gave a damn what anyone else chose to do sexually.” No one passed judgment on creativity, either. But the art was not what made the Chelsea famous; its residents did. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Phil Ochs and Sid Vicious are only a few of the figures populating this entertaining book.A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.
Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013
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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.
Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.
Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.
Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015
Page Count: 432
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015
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