A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World

Marcia Tucker, Author, Liza Lou, Editor University of California Press $40 (215p) ISBN 978-0-520-25700-9
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.
Reviewed on: 10/20/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 215 pages - 978-0-520-26595-0
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-520-94219-6
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