Nothing and Everything - The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde by Ellen Pearlman


5 Critic Reviews

Given the book's brevity, Pearlman's survey is remarkably extensive.
-Publishers Weekly


In America in the late 1950s and early 60s, the world—and life itself—became a legitimate artist’s tool, aligning with Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on “enlightenment at any moment” and living in the now. Simultaneously and independently, parallel movements were occurring in Japan, as artists there, too, strove to break down artistic boundaries.
Nothing and Everything brings these heady times into focus. Author Ellen Pearlman meticulously traces the spread of Buddhist ideas into the art world through the classes of legendary scholar D. T. Suzuki as well as those of his most famous student, composer and teacher John Cage, from whose teachings sprouted the art movement Fluxus and the “happenings” of the 1960s. Pearlman details the interaction of these American artists with the Japanese Hi Red Center and the multi-installation group Gutai. Back in New York, abstract-expressionist artists founded The Club, which held lectures on Zen and featured Japan’s first abstract painter, Saburo Hasegawa. And in the literary world, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were using Buddhism in their search for new forms and visions of their own. These multiple journeys led to startling breakthroughs in artistic and literary style—and influenced an entire generation. Filled with rare photographs and groundbreaking primary source material, Nothing and Everything is the definitive history of this pivotal time for the American arts.

About the Imprint:
EVOLVER EDITIONS promotes a new counterculture that recognizes humanity's visionary potential and takes tangible, pragmatic steps to realize it. EVOLVER EDITIONS explores the dynamics of personal, collective, and global change from a wide range of perspectives. EVOLVER EDITIONS is an imprint of North Atlantic Books and is produced in collaboration with Evolver, LLC.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Ellen Pearlman

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ELLEN PEARLMAN is one of the founders of The Brooklyn Rail and is affiliated with nine Utne Independent Press Awards. An early contributor to Tricycle magazine, she has also written for Time Out Beijing, Yishu Magazine of Contemporary Asian Art, Art Asia Pacific, and other publications. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and is listed in Who's Who in America. Pearlman has taught at Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, and the New School University. She has been a four-time Vermont Studio Center Special President's Fellow and has been a resident at the Great River Arts Colony in Patzcuaro, Mexico; the Repino Arts Colony in St. Petersburg, Russia; the ACO Artist Residency in Hong Kong and the Red Gate Artist Colony in Beijing, China. She was part of the government-sponsored Chinese Photographers Association trip to Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region and has worked on collaborate projects with Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Pearlman is the Artistic Adviser of Yuanfen Gallery-the first gallery of new media in Beijing-and was on the Art Panel Review Board for SIGGRAPH ASIA in Yokohama, Japan.
Published April 24, 2012 by EVOLVER EDITIONS. 264 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Nothing and Everything - The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Apr 23 2012

Given the book's brevity, Pearlman's survey is remarkably extensive.

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Literary Kicks

Reviewed by Levi Asher on May 12 2012

If you're interested in exploring the syncretism of modern Western culture and ancient Asian philosophy...Nothing and Everything will give you a fine kickstart.

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Elephant Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Jay Winston on Jul 26 2012

Unfortunately, the book often reads like a rough draft, with clunky prose and often incoherent organization, despite a traditionally academic structure. That...mars an otherwise very enjoyable and informative reading experience.

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Reviewed by Raymond Lam on Apr 01 2012

With respect to Buddhism, Pearlman remains fairly impartial and does not presume to judge the validity of this East-West cultural intermingling...artistic license allows for greater cultural appropriation than other disciplines.

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Journal of Global Buddhism

Reviewed by Marc Olmsted

It is an important work that will serve as a primary source...for future investigations into the establishing of American Buddhism and its profoundinfluence on the arts.

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