A fascinating tour of the last five decades of contemporary art in New York City, showing how artists are catalysts of gentrification and how neighborhoods in turn shape their art--with special insights into the work of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons
Stories of New York City's fabled art scene conjure up artists' lofts in SoHo, studios in Brooklyn, and block after block of galleries in Chelsea. But today, no artist can afford a SoHo loft, Brooklyn has long gentrified, and even the galleries of Chelsea are beginning to move on. Art on the Block takes the reader on a journey through the neighborhoods that shape, and are shaped by, New York's ever-evolving art world. Based on interviews with over 150 gallery directors, as well as the artists themselves, art historian and cultural commentator Ann Fensterstock explores the genesis, expansion, maturation and ultimate restless migration of the New York art world from one initially undiscovered neighborhood to the next.
Opening with the colonization of the desolate South Houston Industrial District in the late 1960s, the book follows the art world's subsequent elopements to the East Village in the ‘80s, Brooklyn in the mid-90s, Chelsea at the beginning of the new millennium and, most recently, to the Lower East Side. With a look to the newest neighborhoods that artists are just now beginning to occupy, this is a must-read for both art enthusiasts as well as anyone with a passion for New York City.
New York is indisputably a city of neighborhoods and art historian and collector Fensterstock s mission in this lively and expansive cultural history is to reveal the impact of shifting real-estate markets, economic cycles, political movements, art-world producers, and consumers on contemporary art s evolution. Rejecting any one explanation for the art world s geographical, commercial, and aesthetic restlessness, Fensterstock instead presents variables to consider as she adeptly guides readers through the decades, from the decline of late-1960s Midtown modernism to 2010 s Lower East Side revival. Structured chronologically and by neighborhood, the book weaves a lucid narrative of how rising real-estate costs in the early 1970s made edgy Soho galleries cautious and increasingly commercial, prompting young artists attuned to punk and new wave to embrace the East Village scene, which remained influential until the late 1980s, when Chelsea and Williamsburg replaced it as epicenters of the art world in the 1990s and 2000s. Fensterstock concludes by arguing that the one constant here is change. Based on more than 150 interviews with artists and gallery directors, as well as news and criticism in popular art publications, the book is a highly readable introduction to the New York art world. 24 pages of color inserts.