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A Sweeper-Up After Artists: A Memoir Hardcover – November 24, 2003

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The White Road by Edmund De Waal
"The White Road" by Edmund De Waal
Part memoir, part history, part detective story, The White Road chronicles a global obsession with alchemy, art, wealth, craft, and purity. Learn more | See more from the author

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The title of distinguished art critic Sandler's piquantly conversational memoir is from a poem by Frank O'Hara and provides a clue to Sandler's candid and humble recognition that as valuable as a critic's work is, it is secondary to the artist's. After experiencing an epiphany while looking at a painting by Franz Kline, Sandler soon became witness to and champion of New York's avant-garde art world, crucial roles he played to perfection for more than 40 years. The author of numerous seminal monographs, Sandler now recounts his unique and felicitous experiences in an irresistible mix of personal reminiscence and penetrating analysis, recalling how his quest to understand the mysterious power of certain works of art led him to visit artists' studios, conduct interviews, direct such pivotal artists' organizations as the Tanager Gallery and the Club, and write countless reviews. Sandler's profiles of Wilhelm de Kooning (his hero), Philip Guston, Alex Katz, and many others are as discerning as they are vivid, and the invaluable insider knowledge he shares brilliantly illuminates a world-changing era in the annals of creativity. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“With candor, elegance, and humor, Sandler beautifully relives in this book what the art world has meant to him over the five decades that he has spent as an on-the-scene scribe.” (ARTnews)

“Sandler gives the reader a real feel for a milieu where art was talked about incessantly, where existential angst and tragic aspirations were almost givens. . . . A tale told with humor, passion and grace.” (Art in America)

“The most informed observer. Our Boswell of the New York scene.” (Al Held) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (November 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500238138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500238134
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,417,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Irving Sandler is one of the few critics who wrote on the abstract expressionists and then went on to write on art made after 1958. He is the best example for young scholars because of his openness to new art, no matter how challenging. For young scholars interested in postwar art, here is a person who lived through it. His belief in the necessariness of government funding for difficult and controversial art is an excellent prescription for the existence of art in the social sphere, no matter how troubled the times may be. I would recommend that the reader consult his other books before tackling his memoirs, because this volume reads as a nice behind the scenes take on his experiences in the artworld. Sandler's outlook on art is essential for the young scholar. Art for him does not necessarily have to challenge or shock, but work that does not sit well still requires attention. With the over-specialization that plagues the field of art historical scholarship, Sandler offers a nice example for those who like art from more than one decade. Along with other writers, he inspired me to be an art historian, and his outlook towards art in general helps inform my day to day thoughts on contemporary art, with its rapidly changing discourse and innumerable talents. Thanks for all your great work, Professor Sandler!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By disco75 on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In recounting his activities in the NY art scene from the 1950s onward, Sandler provides less a memoir than reflections on the artists, critics, curators, and other participants with whom he interacted. He offers an indirect glimpse at his own life, a seeming modest approach consistent with his level role amidst art-world egoists. I was drawn to this volume because I have been searching for information about Franz Kline, an artist sorely in need of a biographer. Sandler has the type of fleeting, 3-page anecdote for Kline that he has for most of the others in this book. He goes through an anecdote or two for each of the persons for each decade following the 50s. He provides more substantive reflections and recounting for Willem de Kooning, Clement Greenberg, Alex Katz, Al Held, and John Cage. At the end of the book he provides interesting views of the rewards and bureaucratic challenges of managing such projects as Artists Space beginning in 1973, 1978 interim director of the museum at Purchase College, advisor to the NEA, and other endeavors that clearly benefitted from his creative, anti-bureacratic approach to problem-solving.

On completing the book, I felt that I had received a kaleidoscopic perspective on the 10th St Club of the NY School as well as interesting perspectives on post-Abstraction developments in art. The author was let down by his editors, what with an opening pair of chapters that meander excessively (start the book at Chap 3), stylistic problems such as punctuation mistakes and poor sentence construction that got through the proofreading process, and recurring, annoying problems such as referring to some persons by first names and others by last names in a passage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Ash Barrios on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is Mr. Sandler's memoir about how he became an art critic, and so much more, in New York City during the 1950's and onward. He not only details his finer moments, and that of the art world he was involved in, but also his, and their, not-so-fine ones candidly and with a sense of awe almost at who he knew and what he accomplished. His writing style is accessible and very enjoyable. I've already ordered up two of the four books in his postwar American Art history.
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By Jay Conefry on July 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great book for people interested in American Art after WW 2
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