The Fate of a Gesture by Carter Ratcliff
Jackson Pollock and Post-War American Art

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Synopsis

Flipping his colors onto the canvas, pouring and dripping his paints in a quintessentially American gesture, Jackson Pollock redefined the art of painting. It was the fate of Pollock’s gesture, which reflected America’s largest, most optimistic ideas of itself, to be mimicked, modified, and denied by artists of immense stature, among them Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Robert Smithson.Drawing from twenty years of experience as an art critic in New York, Carter Ratcliff maps the Manhattan art world from Fifty-seventh Street to SoHo, revisiting the world of studios, galleries, and artists’ bars where those personalities met and clashed. In addition to providing an intimate biography of Pollock and the history and development of his ideas, Ratcliff explores the lives and consciousness of the other major American artists of the day. He follows the story of postwar American art from the late 1940s through the triumph of Abstract Expressionism and the sudden explosion of Pop Art, all the way to the boom of the 1980s, which brought stardom to an array of young artists. Over it all looms the monumental and tragic figure of Jackson Pollock, the measure of all who have felt compelled to challenge him.
 

About Carter Ratcliff

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Carter Ratcliff is a poet and an art critic. His books include Fever Coast (1973), a collection of poems; Give Me Tomorrow (1983), a collection of poems with illustrations by Alex Katz; John Singer Sargent (1983); The Fate Of A Gesture: Jackson Pollock And Postwar American Art (1998); and Out Of The Box: The Reinvention of Art 1965-1975 (2000). He was awarded the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism by the College Art Association in 1987.
 
Published February 28, 1996 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Under the tutelage of the painter Thomas Hart Benton he learned to bash the Europeans and embrace his American heritage (expressed in the tenets of self-will and the quest for purity), but it was the artist Lee Krasner, sacrificing herself to take on Pollock as a husband and a cause, who declared...

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Ratcliff (Andy Warhol) argues that Pollock's drip paintings, created with paint flung onto canvasses, evoke a uniquely American sense of limitless possibility because they draw the imagination i

Nov 04 1996 | Read Full Review of The Fate of a Gesture: Jackso...

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Ratcliff (Andy Warhol) argues that Pollock's drip paintings, created with paint flung onto canvasses, evoke a uniquely American ""sense of limitless possibility"" because they ""draw the imagination into a region of boundless space."" In this provocative survey of one line of development in postw...

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