A captivating memoir of a life in art.

THE LOFT GENERATION

FROM THE DE KOONINGS TO TWOMBLY: PORTRAITS AND SKETCHES, 1942-2011

An intimate portrait of artists and their worlds.

From assorted notes and manuscripts, Burckhardt and Venturini have assembled a vibrant memoir by artist and critic Edith Schloss (1919-2011), Burckhardt’s mother, who lived and worked in New York City in the 1940s and ’50s and, after 1962, in Italy. Born into an affluent Jewish family in Germany, Schloss was sent abroad to school; by 1938, she found her way to London and, a few years later, arrived in New York. She enrolled at the Art Students League and soon moved to Chelsea, where artists had taken over cheap, barely habitable lofts—“huge stages for work and for a whole new free way of living.” Her circle quickly expanded to include Fairfield Porter; William de Kooning (she was dazzled by his “absolute sunstruck power”); his acerbic wife, Elaine; photographer Rudy Burckhardt, whom Schloss later married; composers Elliott Carter and John Cage; poets Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch; and scores of others. At the time, most were aspiring rather than acclaimed artists. “In those days,” writes Schloss, “nobody was anybody. Friends were friends, and they brought you their pictures,” sometimes for criticism and encouragement, sometimes as gifts. But this splendid memoir is more than a who’s who of famous figures. From Edwin Denby, Schloss learned to “look at the quotidian, look at the world around you,” and “celebrate it the best you can.” Shrewdly observant, Schloss conveys in painterly prose the spirited individuals whose lives she shared and the worlds they inhabited: Porter’s bedroom walls, painted “milk blue or a raw bluey-pink”; Franz Kline, “Bogart-like cool and melancholy”; the “fugitive” sparkle of Denby’s flashing eyes; and, not least, the creation of abstract art from “the marvelous movement of the loaded brush, the flow of paint on paint.” The book is generously illustrated with snapshots and artworks and appended with a biographical essay and glossary.

A captivating memoir of a life in art.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-19008-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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