HISTORY

The Loft Generation: From the de Koonings to Twombly; Portraits and Sketches, 1942–2011

Farrar. Nov. 2021. 336p. ed. by Mary Venturini. ISBN 9780374190088. $32. MEMOIR
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A posthumous memoir of abstract expressionist artist Edith Schloss, compiled by her longtime editor Mary Venturini. In 1942, German-born Schloss (1919–2011) moved to New York with her lover Heinz Lagerhans, also a refugee, to study at the Art Students League. She was soon embedded in the circle of talented artists who inhabited the loft district of lower Manhattan. They gravitated toward the area because rents were low, lofts were spacious and sunny, and to meet fellow artists, photographers, dancers, and musicians. Painter Fairfield Porter, a lifelong friend, introduced Schloss to fellow artists Elaine and Bill de Kooning. After the end of her marriage, Schloss moved to Italy in the early 1960s, where she lived, wrote, and painted for the rest of her long, productive life. By the time she died, she’d outlived her abstract expressionist peers: Cy Twombly was the last, deceased months before her. She’d written fragments in anticipation of writing a memoir of the loft years, but never completed it. Venturini fashioned the notes into a firsthand account of life among the artists who defined American non-representational art in the postwar era. With Venturini’s editing, this book effectively tells the intimacies of its subject’s life.
VERDICT This account of one of the most important moments in the history of modern art is invaluable as well as fascinating.
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