Read e-book online American Decades: 1950-1959 (American Decades) PDF

By Judith Baughman

ISBN-10: 0810357275

ISBN-13: 9780810357273

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Pollock's drip paintings, also called "the art of obliteration" because during one period they consisted of recognizable forms almost completely covered by random paint drippings, symbolized the spirit of the time: negate the past with spontaneous action in the present. Larry Rivers said his 1953 painting George Washington Crossing the Delaware was conceived as a "disgusting, dead, and absurd" painting of "a national cliche" calculated to outrage viewers. " Audience Response. To the dismay of the angry young artists, critics and viewers responded enthusiasti- AMERICAN DECADES: 1950-1959 cally if with some bewilderment.

Yet they dreaded the centralization of power and the impersonality of life in the atomic age. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), British novelist George Orwell's novel about a totalitarian government that imposed absolute uniformity of thought and action, was read as a warning about the future. "Big Brother is watching you," a refrain from the novel, became a slogan for people who feared the effect of a social organization so powerful that it could control thought and stifle creativity. The 1950s are remembered as a time of complacency.

One of Pollock's paintings sold for $13,600 in 1950; after his death in 1956, prices soared. A Mark Rothko painting brought $8,950 in 1950, a time when the standard price for a contemporary painting was $500, and in 1959 Rothko was commissioned to do a painting to hang in the posh Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan. But even the successful rebels found reason for complaint. Both Pollock and Rothko were members of a group called "The Irascibles" whose 1951 boycott of a juried competition for eighty-five hundred dollars in prizes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was their declaration of war on the art-world establishment.

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American Decades: 1950-1959 (American Decades) by Judith Baughman


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