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How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom and the Cold War Paperback – 15 Apr 1985

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; New edition edition (15 April 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226310396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226310398
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Why was New York abstract expressionism so successful after World War II? To answer that question, Serge Guilbaut takes a controversial look at the complicated, intertwining relationship among art, politics, and ideology. He explores the changing New York and Paris art scenes of the Cold War period, the rejection by artists of political ideology, and the coopting by left-wing writers and politicians of the artistic revolt.

About the Author

Serge Guilbaut is professor and department head in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will not be buying from amazon again until they start paying their corporation taxes. Why should they get away with it?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d09dcfc) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc172dc) out of 5 stars Answers to several questions 28 May 2007
By Alina Tortosa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an Argentine art critic and curator. I knew of this book but had not read it. I ordered it because I found the title ingenious. I thought it would be entertaining as well as good. It goes further. It is an in-depth study of the social and political circumnstances that accompanied the intellectual and creative processes of American artists previous, during and after the Second World War. It is an articulate explanation of why artists who were thouroughly conscious of social shortcomings chose to create their own ivory towers through styles that bore, for the most part, no recognizable physical references. This road into a spiritual realm beyond recognizable styles, influenced, but not derivative of European Modern art, was a way out of political engagement in a world they could no longer abide. And, the interesting part is that they were promoted by the political powers that were, not through an appreciation for their creative qualities, but to show that the US was the new cultural center of the world: strong, energetic and competitive.

Another most important point for me. I had always wondered why so many of the Abstract Expressionists had committed suicide. Why this deeply neurotic vent? The answer, I think, is in this book. Their deep dissillusion with socialist ideals after Stalin, the failure of the US to create a truly democratic society in which idealistic notions of equality and freedom were respected, were fatal to their belief in a better world.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cec9f3c) out of 5 stars Social and political context of Abstract Expressionism 6 Aug. 2007
By Andrea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Guilbaut offers an compelling account of the European-American situation during and immediately following WWII, when the center of Western culture was transferred from Paris to New York. It was not an easy shift; although Paris was in ruins, Europeans and the French especially did not want to see their centuries-long monopoly put in the hands of such a young and, in their view, naïve country. A major theme throughout this text is the shifting alliances of the left in regard to Marxism and socialism. While most liberals espoused Communism in the 30s, by the early 40s it had come to be seen as another form of fascism, and for artists this meant censorship. American artists were challenged to prove themselves unique from the Parisian avant-garde while at the same time not promoting a national style, which was seen as provincial (due to regionalism in the previous decade) and dangerous (since nationalism had just produced a world war). To make things even more interesting, Guilbaut also describes how contemporary audiences and the US government went from hating the new abstract art to valuing it, or at least creating a new American art market for it (the former) and using it as a form of propaganda during the Cold War (the latter, by touting it in Europe as a symbol of American freedom and individuality, in contrast to state-dictated art). Aside from having a bizarre ending, and overusing the word shibboleth, I love this book! It provides a much more solid and interesting foundation than other books on Ab Ex, such as those by Dore Ashton and Irving Sandler.
HASH(0x9cec9e40) out of 5 stars Five Stars 23 Sept. 2015
By Yuri Kang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good. Excellent.
2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cc179fc) out of 5 stars One Star 5 Sept. 2014
By Cyrus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Trotskyist tract, hack job!
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