cover image New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight

New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight

Jenni Quilter. Rizzoli, $75 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8478-3786-1

Assembling text, visual art, and their interstices, this sumptuous volume documents the collaborative playfield where the New York School poets and painters thrived. With occasional critical text to guide readers along, the majority of this image-heavy treat goes to ephemera and rarely seen work. Frank O'Hara's poem "Why I am Not a Painter," for instance, mirrors Mike Goldberg's painting Sardines, which is referenced in the verse. Elsewhere, poet Ted Berrigan interviews artist John Cage, abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell creates a drawing with a James Schuyler poem on it, and Jasper Johns's In Memory of My Feelings%E2%80%94Frank O'Hara is paired with a letter in which the poet recommends new books to the painter. The art and poems are kept company by photographs of their creators, collaborating and partying, as well as literary magazine covers, notebook entries, postcards, and similar miscellanea. The New York School, although nebulously defined, is characterized by this collaborative spirit across art forms. Quilter renders this tendency as a lively practice rather than a historical fact, while loosening the edges enough to track the scene into the 1980s. Although often studied, the school is rarely given such intimate, collective attention, and even figures as familiar as Willem de Kooning and John Ashbery become dynamic and surprising once more in this volume's smart handling. (Nov.)