Ninth Street Women: Book summary and reviews of Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel

Ninth Street Women

Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

by Mary Gabriel

Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel X
Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel

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Book Summary

The rich, revealing, and thrilling story of five women whose lives and painting propelled a revolution in modern art.

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting - not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

Gutsy and indomitable, Lee Krasner was a hell-raising leader among artists long before she became part of the modern art world's first celebrity couple by marrying Jackson Pollock. Elaine de Kooning, whose brilliant mind and peerless charm made her the emotional center of the New York School, used her work and words to build a bridge between the avant-garde and a public that scorned abstract art as a hoax. Grace Hartigan fearlessly abandoned life as a New Jersey housewife and mother to achieve stardom as one of the boldest painters of her generation. Joan Mitchell, whose notoriously tough exterior shielded a vulnerable artist within, escaped a privileged but emotionally damaging Chicago childhood to translate her fierce vision into magnificent canvases. And Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent New York family, chose the difficult path of the creative life. Her gamble paid off: At twenty-three she created a work so original it launched a new school of painting.

These women changed American art and society, tearing up the prevailing social code and replacing it with a doctrine of liberation. In Ninth Street Women, acclaimed author Mary Gabriel tells a remarkable and inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just postwar America but the future.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Through the lens of these women's lives, Gabriel delivers a sweeping history of abstract expressionism and the postwar New York School, and an affectionate tribute to the underappreciated women of America's avant-garde." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A must for modern art historians and enthusiasts. The exceptional research, based on interviews, archival materials, and a variety of background sources, and thoughtfully selected photographs complement the superbly written and absorbing text." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Gabriel has created an ambitious, comprehensive, and impressively detailed history of abstract expressionism focused on the lives and works of Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler...A sympathetic, authoritative collective biography." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Mary Gabriel

Mary Gabriel is the author of Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as of Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored, and The Art of Acquiring: A Portrait of Etta and Claribel Cone. She worked in Washington and London as a Reuters editor for nearly two decades and lives in Ireland.

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