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Ninth Street Women

Ninth Street Women

Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

The rich, revealing, and thrilling story of five women whose lives and painting propelled a revolution in modern art, from the National Book Award finalist.

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

Gutsy and indomitable, Lee Krasner was a hell-raising leader among artists long before she became part of the modern art world’s first celebrity couple by marrying Jackson Pollock. Elaine de Kooning, whose brilliant mind and peerless charm made her the emotional center of the New York School, used her work and words to build a bridge between the avant-garde and a public that scorned abstract art as a hoax. Grace Hartigan fearlessly abandoned life as a New Jersey housewife and mother to achieve stardom as one of the boldest painters of her generation. Joan Mitchell, whose notoriously tough exterior shielded a vulnerable artist within, escaped a privileged but emotionally damaging Chicago childhood to translate her fierce vision into magnificent canvases. And Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent New York family, chose the difficult path of the creative life. Her gamble paid off: At twenty-three she created a work so original it launched a new school of painting.

These women changed American art and society, tearing up the prevailing social code and replacing it with a doctrine of liberation. In Ninth Street Women, acclaimed author Mary Gabriel tells a remarkable and inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just postwar America but the future.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers

On Sale: September 25th 2018

Price: $35 / $45.5 (CDN)

Page Count: 944

ISBN-13: 9780316226189

What's Inside

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reader reviews


"Gabriel's fascinating group portrait shimmers with vivid personal detail...She traces their interwoven paths from studio to Cedar Bar to the Eight Street loft known as the Club...Over time, Willem de Kooning outshone Elaine; Jackson Pollock eclipsed Krasner. Key contributions were erased...Gabriel makes sure these major artists who have been written out of history are not forgotten."—Jane Ciabattari,
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"Gabriel delivers an immersive group biography of eclectic, free-spirited painters who shocked the art world in the 1940s and '50s with abstract expressionism...Through the lens of these women's lives, Gabriel delivers a sweeping history of abstract expressionism and the postwar New York School, and an affectionate tribute to the underappreciated women of America's avant-garde."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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"Gabriel has created an ambitious, comprehensive, and impressively detailed history of abstract expressionism focused on the lives and works of Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler...A sympathetic, authoritative collective biography."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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"Biographer Gabriel corrects long-standing misperceptions about New York's abstract-expressionism movement by telling the dramatic, often traumatic stories of the five gifted and courageous women painters at the center of that radical flowering...avidly researched, deeply analyzed, gorgeously written, and endlessly involving five-track mix of biography and history... Gabriel not only provides vibrantly detailed accounts of these five exceptional avant-garde artists' friendships and rivalries, affairs and marriages, doubt and despair, conviction and resilience; she also establishes a richly dimensional context for their struggles and innovations...Gabriel has created an incandescent, engrossing, and paradigm-altering art epic."—Booklist (starred review)
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"These individuals are brought to life by Pulitzer Prize finalist Gabriel, who shows how each defied social convention and professional boundaries to create new creative forms and attain equality with their male counterparts. . . . A must for modern art historians and enthusiasts."—Library Journal (starred review)
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