Action/Abstraction Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976 Norman L. Kleeblatt, Debra Bricker Balken, Caroline A. Jones, Irving Sandler, Charlotte Eyerman, Douglas Dreishpoon, Maurice Berger, Morris Dickstein, Mark Godfrey, Norman L. Kleeblatt

Publication date:
04 Aug 2009
Yale University Press
344 pages: 305 x 248mm
81 b-w + 175 color illus.
Sales territories:

The abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Lee Krasner, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler, and others revolutionized the art world in the 1940s and 1950s and continue to inspire passionate arguments to this day. What were these artists trying to achieve? Who were the critical voices of the time that rallied public interest in Abstract Expressionism and sparked rancorous debate?  


Drawing on recent critical, historical, and biographical work, this lavishly illustrated book offers a sharp new focus on a pivotal art movement. It also presents an extensive commentary on the two most influential critics of postwar American art—Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg—whose powerful views shaped perceptions of Abstract Expressionism and other contemporary art movements. In one essay, Norman L. Kleeblatt traces the influence of Abstract Expressionism into the mid-1970s and examines its connection to subsequent art styles. Other essays range from the literary and intellectual culture of New York during that period and an analysis of sculpture and representation to a discussion of Jewish issues in relation to postwar American Art. In addition, the book features a magisterial essay by eminent critic Irving Sandler and a copiously illustrated cultural timeline by Maurice Berger.

Norman L. Kleeblatt is Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator at The Jewish Museum. Debra Bricker Balken is an art scholar and independent curator. Maurice Berger is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Morris Dickstein is Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Douglas Dreishpoon is Senior Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Charlotte Eyerman is Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Mark Godfrey is curator at the Tate Modern in London. Caroline A. Jones, Professor of Art History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Irving Sandler is Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Purchase and a Visiting Professor at Hunter College.

?? wide-ranging ? informative and engaging ? anyone interested in understanding contemporary abstract painting should consult [this] book?? - Alexander Adams, The Art Book

"Thorough and scholarly. . . . Presents a balanced account of the art, the artists, the critics and the issues."?Richard Kalina, Art in America

"Of particular interest is Balken's essay on Rosenberg, which relies on new archival research to give a more robust understanding of this powerful yet often misunderstood critic. . . . Recommended."?Choice

Winner of the 2009 Jewish Book Awards in the Visual Arts category, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council

Shortlisted for the 2009 Sir Banister Fletcher Award presented by the Authors' Club

"The excellent catalog . . . includes a number of essays focused on the idea behind the art." —David Bonette, St. Louis Post