cover image Greenwich Village 1963-C

Greenwich Village 1963-C

Sally Banes, Sally Banes, Banes. Duke University Press, $89.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-8223-1357-1

Despite the oblique subtitle, this is an engaging piece of cultural history and analysis. Banes ( Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance ) declares 1963 a watershed year, the peak of the transition between the 1950s and 1960s. The avant-garde neighborhood of Greenwich Village produced ``the first generation of postmodern artists,'' mixing vanguard and popular culture. Banes offers a genealogy of the neighborhood, then shows how art and arts institutions like the Living Theater helped reconstitute community there. Her approach is thematic: she explores avant-garde artists' appropriation of folkloric techniques and suggests that choreographers like Yvonne Rainer and artists like Andy Warhol mirrored the ``equalizing impulse of the Sixties'' in their work. She discusses the impact of growing racial consciousness on an art world in flux, and shows how American art became caught up in Cold War cultural competition with the Soviets. Most interesting is her analysis of how, during a time when American culture began to liberate the body, artists led the way with portrayals of the ``effervescent body''--concerned with eating, excretion, birth and death. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)