New York City has long been one of the centers of the modern art world. Its galleries are among the most prestigious in the world, and it’s known for having been the home of such luminaries as Andy Warhol and Jean-Paul Basquiat. Kirkus Indie reviewed several books set in this milieu in the last few years, from coffee-table books to memoirs to fiction. Here are few highlights:
Albert Kotin (1907-1980) was an abstract-expressionist painter from the same New York art scene as the much more famous Jackson Pollock. Editor Marika Herskovic, in her 2016 debut, Albert Kotin: Abstract Expressionist of the 1950s, presents his varied artworks, which include representational Works Progress Administration murals, cubist-inspired portraits, “Pollock-ian drips,” and even poems on canvas. This “lush photographic catalog,” according to our reviewer, “shows his work at its colorful, atmospheric, indecipherable best.”
In 2016’s Clear Seeing Place, Manhattan-based abstract painter Brian Rutenberg not only recounts events in his own life as an artist, he also offers what Kirkus’ reviewer calls “a down-to-earth course on the transcendent power of art.” (The book serves as a companion to his YouTube series, “Brian Rutenberg Studio Visits.”) Kirkus’ starred review notes that the author’s “delight in his chosen craft also counters the myth of the tortured artist.”
Charles Harley’s debut novel, Artist in Residence, tackles the issue of gentrification. Henriette Truax is a 20-something struggling artist living in Manhattan’s Chinatown in 2009. In return for a break on the rent, she agrees to recruit what her landlady, Liu Mei Min, euphemistically calls “Bourgeoisie people” to live in her apartment building—but Henriette later expresses regret about the “invading, displacing, colonizing force” she’s let in. “The author understands how artists think—visually, not so much in terms of narrative,” writes Kirkus’ reviewer.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.