From Publishers Weekly
Published as a companion to a PBS film, this book takes readers from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Cindy Sherman in under 200 image-filled pages. Focusing on the biggest names in 20th-century art-O'Keefe, Davis, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Basquiat-the authors, writer-curator Carlin and art historian Fineberg, present a spirited case for artists as society's "independent conscience," probing and reflecting changes that have shaped American life. The ideas of writers like Emerson, Pynchon and McLuhan and key developments in American music such as jazz and hip-hop are interwoven with stories of the creative quests of individual artists, which are gripping without being over-romanticized. This emphasis on the interplay between the artist and society won't appeal to everyone, and the dearth of strong critical judgments may disappoint readers more interested in grasping and appreciating aesthetic merit. The authors acknowledge that a work this brief leaves a lot out, but it's worth noticing that the biggest artists who are missing-Hopper, Cornell, Rothko-fit a little less easily into their paradigm. Awkward layouts that try to translate a television-like flow of images onto the page hint that this is a text overshadowed by its filmed companion. Carlin and Fineberg have put together a cogent and swift affirmation of the connection between the public and the seemingly detached and aloof world of modern art-but readers may be happy enough just watching the TV movie.
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From the Publisher
Published in conjunction with a major PBS film of the same title to be aired nationally in December 2005