The Loft Generation from the de Koonings to Twombly: Portraits and Sketches, 1942–2011

Edith Schloss, edited by Mary Venturini. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-374-19008-8
The late artist and critic Schloss (1919–2011) brilliantly conveys her experiences as a participant in, and a keen observer of, New York’s “loft generation,” a community of American abstract expressionist painters, musicians, photographers, dancers, and artists who took up residence in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in the 1940s and ’50s. This posthumous book, thoughtfully edited by Venturini, combines Schloss’s personal memoir with her art criticism to provide a riveting firsthand account of the daily lives, complex social interactions, and marital spats of artists—including Willem de Kooning, John Cage (a “dry Protestant Californian” whose early concerts attracted more painters than musicians), Denise Levertov, Francesca Woodman (a photographer “ahead of her time”), and Cy Twombly—whom she encountered living in New York and Italy. In addition to her eye for detail and ear for dialogue, Schloss brings a feminist perspective to her recollections; readers learn as much about Elaine de Kooning (“no one... ever had such style or courage”) as they do her more famous husband, Bill, and many lesser-known female artists—including collage artist Lucia Vernarelli and surrealist painter Helen DeMott—are treated with the same respect. Rich in granular detail and rendered in eloquent and captivating prose, this is an intimate look at a pivotal era in its formative stages and offers an invaluable source for the study of one of the great art movements. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/13/2021
Release date: 11/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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