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

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CREATING THE FUTURE

ART AND LOS ANGELES IN THE 1970S

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 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.

WARHOL

An epic cradle-to-grave biography of the king of pop art from Gopnik (co-author: Warhol Women, 2019), who served as chief art critic for the Washington Post and the art and design critic for Newsweek.

With a hoarder’s zeal, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) collected objects he liked until shopping bags filled entire rooms of his New York town house. Rising to equal that, Gopnik’s dictionary-sized biography has more than 7,000 endnotes in its e-book edition and drew on some 100,000 documents, including datebooks, tax returns, and letters to lovers and dealers. With the cooperation of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the author serves up fresh details about almost every aspect of Warhol’s life in an immensely enjoyable book that blends snappy writing with careful exegeses of the artist’s influences and techniques. Warhol exploded into view in his mid-40s with his pop art paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans and silkscreens of Elvis and Marilyn. However, fame didn’t banish lifelong anxieties heightened by an assassination attempt that left him so fearful he bought bulletproof eyeglasses. After the pop successes, Gopnik writes, Warhol’s life was shaped by a consuming desire “to climb back onto that cutting edge,” which led him to make experimental films, launch Interview magazine, and promote the Velvet Underground. At the same time, Warhol yearned “for fine, old-fashioned love and coupledom,” a desire thwarted by his shyness and his awkward stance toward his sexuality—“almost but never quite out,” as Gopnik puts it. Although insightful in its interpretations of Warhol’s art, this biography is sure to make waves with its easily challenged claims that Warhol revealed himself early on “as a true rival of all the greats who had come before” and that he and Picasso may now occupy “the top peak of Parnassus, beside Michelangelo and Rembrandt and their fellow geniuses.” Any controversy will certainly befit a lodestar of 20th-century art who believed that “you weren’t doing much of anything as an artist if you weren’t questioning the most fundamental tenets of what art is and what artists can do.”

A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229839-3

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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