New York State Writers Institute

New Art City
November 2, 2005
(Wednesday)
8:00 p.m. Reading/Talk
University Art Museum
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Jed Perl
JED PERL
Art Critic & Columnist

Jed Perl, influential art critic for the "New Republic," is a thoughtful, precise, excitable, empathetic, often cranky, and highly readable commentator on the meaning of modern art and its function in society. Veteran "New Yorker" dance critic Arlene Croce says, "Jed Perl is one of the best critics writing today on the arts-in journalistic criticism I would say the best. The huge appetite, broad knowledge, grasp of intricacy and moral passion are matched by a gift for vivid and witty language. So he is a pleasure as well as a necessity."

Perl's newest book is the massive "New Art City" (2005), an exploration of the New York City cultural milieu of the mid-20th century, and the remarkable variety of artists and artistic movements it produced. The book introduces the reader to a kaleidoscopic range of artists, and offers a comprehensive tour of individual New York studios, galleries, museums, neighborhoods and even beloved bars, where earthshaking new conceptions of art were born. Perl emphasizes the contributions of minor, as well as major, figures along with the writers, critics, patrons, and hangers-on who rounded out the artists' world of the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s.

The "Publishers Weekly" reviewer said, "Perl's conversational tone is at times so intimate that the effect is more that of a curator offering a private tour of his exhibition than an art historian's lecture. Or, perhaps, a walking tour… with a guide whose perceptive eye always steers us toward an unnoticed treasure." The "Book Standard" said, "The Manhattan-centric 'heroic period' of American art here unfolds in novelistic detail…. Perl eschews gossip in favor of analysis of the artists' life and work, including who they were reading (Sartre, Balzac, B.H. Friedman) and where they congregated (Cedar Tavern, the Artist's Club), as well as the influence of the city itself- he devotes a whole chapter to its geography."

Perl's other books include "Eyewitness: Reports from an Art World in Crisis" (2000), "Gallery Going: Four Seasons in the Art World" (1991), and "Paris Without End: On French Art Since World War I" (1988). In a review of "Eyewitness," the "Wall Street Journal" asserted that the book is "essential reading for anyone who cares about the cultural life of our time."

In addition to Perl's regular column on contemporary art, which has appeared in the "New Republic" since 1994, his commentary has also been featured in "Vogue," "The New Criterion," "Partisan Review," and "The New York Times Book Review." He has also appeared on CNN, NPR, and "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report."

University Art Museum