TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 1974

books

The New York School: A Cultural Reckoning

Dore Ashton, The New York School: A Cultural Reckoning (New York: The Viking Press, 1972).

DORE ASHTON HAS WRITTEN a book about the collective life and concerns of the Abstract Expressionist painters in New York. The New York School: a Cultural Reckoning gets off to a discouraging start, but picks up gradually, involving us more and more in some of the main preoccupations of the New York art world from the Depression to the 1950s.

What we get is straight reportage, which benefits from intramural knowledge, but we sometimes wish Ashton had used her control of inside dope to speculate on implications. Can or should Expressionism extend to the embodiment of pleasant emotions? In a sense the Abstract Expressionists disqualified themselves from even answering “No” by their unwillingness to entertain the question of whether they were denying or stretching the idea of the beautiful. To imagine the

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