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How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art Paperback – April 15, 1985

ISBN-13: 000-0226310396 ISBN-10: 0226310396 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226310396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226310398
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Serge Guilbaut is professor and department head in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia.

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alina Tortosa on May 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an Argentine art critic and curator. I knew of this book but had not read it. I ordered it because I found the title ingenious. I thought it would be entertaining as well as good. It goes further. It is an in-depth study of the social and political circumnstances that accompanied the intellectual and creative processes of American artists previous, during and after the Second World War. It is an articulate explanation of why artists who were thouroughly conscious of social shortcomings chose to create their own ivory towers through styles that bore, for the most part, no recognizable physical references. This road into a spiritual realm beyond recognizable styles, influenced, but not derivative of European Modern art, was a way out of political engagement in a world they could no longer abide. And, the interesting part is that they were promoted by the political powers that were, not through an appreciation for their creative qualities, but to show that the US was the new cultural center of the world: strong, energetic and competitive.

Another most important point for me. I had always wondered why so many of the Abstract Expressionists had committed suicide. Why this deeply neurotic vent? The answer, I think, is in this book. Their deep dissillusion with socialist ideals after Stalin, the failure of the US to create a truly democratic society in which idealistic notions of equality and freedom were respected, were fatal to their belief in a better world.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on August 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Guilbaut offers an compelling account of the European-American situation during and immediately following WWII, when the center of Western culture was transferred from Paris to New York. It was not an easy shift; although Paris was in ruins, Europeans and the French especially did not want to see their centuries-long monopoly put in the hands of such a young and, in their view, naïve country. A major theme throughout this text is the shifting alliances of the left in regard to Marxism and socialism. While most liberals espoused Communism in the 30s, by the early 40s it had come to be seen as another form of fascism, and for artists this meant censorship. American artists were challenged to prove themselves unique from the Parisian avant-garde while at the same time not promoting a national style, which was seen as provincial (due to regionalism in the previous decade) and dangerous (since nationalism had just produced a world war). To make things even more interesting, Guilbaut also describes how contemporary audiences and the US government went from hating the new abstract art to valuing it, or at least creating a new American art market for it (the former) and using it as a form of propaganda during the Cold War (the latter, by touting it in Europe as a symbol of American freedom and individuality, in contrast to state-dictated art). Aside from having a bizarre ending, and overusing the word shibboleth, I love this book! It provides a much more solid and interesting foundation than other books on Ab Ex, such as those by Dore Ashton and Irving Sandler.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus on September 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Trotskyist tract, hack job!
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