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A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World Hardcover – October 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520257006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520257009
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,300,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this insightful and well-crafted memoir, long-time contemporary art curator Tucker (1945-2006) gives readers a backstage account of forty years on the New York and national art scene. A passionate art student, Tucker's career began when she put down the paint brush and dedicated herself to tracking down contemporary art; before long, she would become the first woman curator of The Whitney Museum, before founding and directing The New Museum. Her curatorial history is both humble and sophisticated ("it's one thing to want to create something, another to spend your life interpreting what someone else has made"), as well as vivid, charming and honest, revealing in direct language her reasons for exhibiting Bill Bollinger's giant boulder, pulled whole from the WTC excavation site, or storming out of a class-and her PhD program-after a professor referred to Nancy Graves's realistic, life-size camel sculptures as "novelty art." Aside from meeting some of the most famous artists of our time, from Marcel Duchamp to Bob Dylan, Tucker's personal story involves a tragic family life and years as a starving artist, related poignantly but without pandering. Deftly edited by close friend and artist Lou, this is an arresting tour of a life devoted to new art, with a perfectly charming guide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Offers some much-needed inspiration [and] ample evidence of Tucker’s take-no-prisoners attitude and passion for “difficult” art.”
(New York Times Book Review 2008-11-28)

“A remarkable piece of writing. . . . [Tucker] has composed a literary monument to her heroic life in art, as moving as it is entertaining.”
(Artforum 2008-12-01)

“A candid, entertaining, and illuminating account of the 1960s art world. . . . A perfect antidote to this bloated, spectacle-heavy moment.”
(Martha Schwendener Bookforum 2008-12-01)

Marcia Tucker’s courage, conviction and chutzpah are inspiration for those of us who seek to lead meaningful professional lives.”
(Museum 2009-08-01)

“A vivid, candid, self-critical and moving account of Tucker’s life. . . . Novice curators should find it inspiring.”
(John A. Walker The Art Book 2010-06-30)

“An unassuming, humbled, even self-effacing metaphor for the art that is life in the art milieu.”
(Migill Book Reviews 2009-12-11)

“A great read [and] a page turner. . . . In less than 200 pages she encapsulates her life, sharing her triumphs and insecurities.”
(Pelican Press 2008-10-15)

“Tucker’s book is conventional, accessible, even chatty. But this modest volume, in concert with the shiny playful building on the Bowery, denotes a remarkable legacy.”
(Village Voice 2008-10-28)

“A joyful exploration of all things art-related. . . . Tucker’s balanced assessment of her work and personal life is commendable.”
(Bust 2008-12-01)

“A good book about a good person.”
(Art + Auction 2008-10-16)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I bought this book for a class and enjoyed reading it.
E
She's the kind of person every young woman wishes they had as their mentor... not over bearing, smart and witty, caring, interested and just a touch of crazy.
photo babe
I assume just about everyone else will enjoy this book also.
las cosas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dinah on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant. Philosophical and personal, touching, funny, sexy, eye-opening, compelling. Anyone interested in women, or in art, or in women in art will find a treasure here. If you didn't know Marcia, you will after reading this extraordinary memoir. If you did, as I did, you'll be reminded once again how much you miss her.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I stayed up most of the night reading this book the day it arrived at our house, and the next day my partner did the same. If you are a woman professional in your 60s interested in the arts, I bet you will have the same response. I assume just about everyone else will enjoy this book also.

With none of the proper credentials in a time when a woman, even with those credentials, could expect little from the patrician New York art world, Tucker simply forged ahead, determined to follow her own interests and with a flair for developing friends and mentors with the money and power to enable her to realize her vision. As John Baldessari quips, only Marcia when fired by one major museum [the Whitney] would respond by starting her own museum.

To thine own self be true has become a hackneyed phrase. Marcia in this always amusing memoir reminds us that this need not be true. A passion for a subject and a determination to pursue that passion despite not knowing where it will lead provides the basis for the memoir and her life. The book ends as she dies of cancer at a relatively young age, but even this ending is not particularly sad. She led a full and challenging life right to the end. How many of us can really say that?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Evans on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I tend to be an escapist in literature and rarely venture into non-fiction, so I was surprised by how engaging this book was for me. I was fascinated by the personal depiction of a very exciting time period--especially in the art world and in the early struggles of feminism. Most of all I was delighted to experience this vibrant, gutsy, indomitable personality. Recommended definitely!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By photo babe on October 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book with the hopes of being inspired by one woman's life in the art world and boy did she deliver! Marcia was a powerhouse of a person whom I wish I could have known. She's the kind of person every young woman wishes they had as their mentor... not over bearing, smart and witty, caring, interested and just a touch of crazy. Her story was touching and inspiring and I have begun recommending it to every female I know living, working in the art world or being an artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah B. Larson on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marcia Tucker's life is a life to be reckoned with. Entwined with museum politics, brilliant perceptions on art, this is a read of a woman's vulnerability as a child transformed into charismatic star status in the art world at a time when Dylan and Warhol were also breaking onto the scene. Tucker's insights on art -"If you hate it it is probably great art", family loyalty, insistance on music as art reveals a life that is poignant yet very real. How she created museum exhibitions that challenge based on reading what the artist is reading and an exploration of his or her life, how she worked with crews to hang those exhibits in creative ways, and how she respected all who have eyes to see bring this extraordinary woman to life. Art will never be the same for you, nor will any visit to a museum.
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