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Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... It was a small world that New York artists shared in the Thirties, defined by philistine hostility or Francophile indifference. The Great Depression that had made so much useless made the uselessness of art irrefutable and absurd. Then came the miracle of the WPA. Painters were paid just to paint. Talk, all accounts agree, was the thing. It was as if a century of brooding about America and Europe, the past and the future, art and society, influence and self-reliance, was coming to a head in a gush of discussion ...

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