A well-researched, wide-ranging history that amply captures the confusion, contradictions and enormous energy of one...

The story of how, despite great odds, a viable art scene bloomed in Southern California.

When the notable Ferus Gallery closed in 1966, Los Angeles lost its most prominent champion of contemporary art. However, as Fallon (How to Analyze the Works of Andy Warhol, 2010, etc.) shows in this panoramic survey, local artists continued to innovate and thrive throughout the next decade. The art that “percolated up from the streets of L.A.” did not adhere to any one school or ideology but instead arose “out of a public need for life-affirming culture and aesthetics.” Women, Chicanos and African-Americans enlivened the art scene by moving outside of the studio and into public spaces with performance art, graffiti and murals. Many artists, writes the author, “rejected commercialism, commodification, and formalism,” producing work that was often outrageous, provocative and “occasionally revolutionary.” The image of the artist, too, underwent radical change from “a maker of objects” and “a presence in the studio” to someone who enacted an idea intended to shock, or at least unsettle, viewers. In Five Day Locker Piece, for example, artist Chris Burden immured himself in a locker; in another piece, he lay under a pane of glass, in a museum, for several days. Kustom Kulture—the culture of hot rods—influenced many LA artists who came to be known as the Cool School; captivated by cars’ speed and freedom, they transposed the automobile’s slick finishes and “muscularity of form” into their works. Among the artists featured in this populous study are the feisty Judy Chicago, leader of feminist art; “wily, fast-talking” Allan Kaprow and “laconic” John Baldessari, both acclaimed teachers who inspired acolytes; and Dutch-born Bastian Jan Ader, who died in one ill-fated piece of performance art. With little money and rare critical support, the disparate LA community, Fallon argues, set the stage for the future of art.

A well-researched, wide-ranging history that amply captures the confusion, contradictions and enormous energy of one triumphant decade.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61902-343-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014




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

ISBN: 978-0-618-72634-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013



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

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Close Quickview