Painter Edith Schloss Remembers a Life Lived in Art


Like a classic parable, the memoirs of the painter Edith Schloss suddenly begin unobtrusively.of Loft Generation: From de Koonings to Twombly: Portraits and Sketches 1942-2011 (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2021), I met a young Schloss at a party at a farmhouse in New Jersey. There she was fascinated by the small “green, gray and black” abstract paintings in the shape of curves like 8 and 2.Sliced Os, the egg-like shape fits perfectly. A tall aristocratic painter named Fairfeld Porter materializes and offers to escort her to meet the artist who created it. A week later, Schloss follows Porter into the winter canyon of Chelsea, heads for the devastated factory building, and climbs a steep wooden staircase to a small door.

The rest of Schloss’s story is not straightforward history, as traditional autobiographies say. Instead, using the approach adopted by contemporary art memoir writers such as Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, Loft generation It is non-linear and associative. The Schloss project, edited in the form of a book by a creative team that includes his son Jacob Burghardt and Schloss’s Italian editor Mary Venturi, also doesn’t help with the gritty old New York comforting nostalgia. This memoir is infused with fine-grained physical details, and even those with humorous anecdotes are insensitive to their ambivalence. Spoiler Note: Avid artists are not always model citizens.

Edith Schloss, Loft Generaton: From Deconing to Tumbly: Portraits and Sketches 1942-2011, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2021 (Image courtesy of Farrar Straus & Giroux)

Enthusiastic about the cast of miscellaneous characters, this memoir downplays the facts about the author’s life, the preface by artist Mirashore, and the details filled in through the postscript by Jacob Burckhardt. Born in Germany in 1919, multilingual and immersive in European art working as an au pair in Italy in the 1930s, Schloss fled to England when World War II broke out. With the support of an American Quaker group, she arrived in New York City, studied under Harry Sternberg and Wilburnet in the Art Student League, and set up a home studio in the loft of 116 West 21st Street across from the building. She met Porter and his fateful winter afternoon at De Kooning. Shortly thereafter, she married the painter, filmmaker and photographer Rudy Burckhardt. Rudy Burckhardt was a free-spirited descendant of a Swiss aristocrat who lived with him until his marriage was broken in the early 1960s and he moved to Italy.

Initially, Schloss’s neighbor, the young de Counings (Bill and Elaine), forms the centerpiece of the avant-garde art scene, which has yet to be fully realized. Willem’s mysterious maxim about the compressed abstract brushstrokes found in Renaissance portraits is that Schloss, a master of the past (a technique she thought was out of reach), was evolving in postwar New York. I am convinced that I can inform the idiom of the painting.And the passion for de Kooning in the studio is “paint flow and drips and splatters, creating frontier-like straight boundaries and gouache. […] Paint waterfall and wide band of cancellations. ”

Comparable to these delights about De Kooning’s rugged finesse, Schloss sees dancer George Balanchine’s innovative choreography, “Streetwise American Body. […] Build a composition made of movement. This emphasis on physical expressionism is shared by fellow Schloss workers throughout the art form.[e] For the joy and clarity of movement, timeless pure and wonderful. ”

Bill and Elaine de Kooning. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt, 1950 (© 1950 Rudy Burckhardt’s Mansion / Artists Rights Society) [ARS], new York)

The poet Edwin Denby, the main interpreter for these new moves, is the most fascinating figure in the memoirs. The son of a diplomat and a trained dancer, Schloss Denby is built on carefree, melancholy, urban and unstable, aristocratic and persuasive contradictions on the streets. He advised young artists to leave the cocktail party with two phone numbers, “one for business and one for bed,” and long stays with the poet Rudy Burckhardt often lead to Schloss’s marriage. It will be a burden. Perhaps America’s most visionary writer of dance themes, Denby is also an important mentor who has turned from a downtown artist like Schloss or Elaine de Kooning to an art journalist.

New art avatars like Denby will repeat forever Loft generationEven if you over-check the names of overlooked pioneers, such as the painter Nell Blaine, co-founder of Jane Street Gallery, and the two best friends of the painter poet Helendemot and the painter and printer Schloss. , Functions as a living motif in the interpersonal songbook. Lucia Vernarelli. Burghard immortalizes the trio in the photomontage “On the Roof of Chelsea” (1950) and names Denby his friend “Chelsea Girls” long before Warhol and other downtown residents adopted the Monica. I urged you.

Befitting, music and musicians also play a leading role, with close-ups of two New York-based divergent but relatively influential composers, John Cage and Elliott Carter. “Civilized honesty and American respect for the European past.”

The scene’s leading power brokers share a mid-century balance between informed respect for artistic traditions and ecumenical openness to truly radical things. In response to staff and subscriber protests Artnews Chieftain Tom Hess recruits non-scholars, including poets and Schloss, to invent fresh poetic language for writing about new art. Meanwhile, Vanguard’s Manhattan gallery owners prove that experienced business savvy can also create viewers who don’t know what they’re craving for. Unexpected, Or it was unexpected.

Helen Demott (left) and Lucia Vernarelli (right), who were the original “Chelsea Girls” with Edith. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt around 1950 (© 1950 The Estate of Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society) [ARS], new York)

In this vein, Loft generation Simultaneous influences on the age of her companions restore the dim iconoclasm destruction in the decades between these. Schloss remembers the artist Franz Kline, who updated the disciplined drive of action painting in the early 1950s. […] Curiously, it’s a thunder-like picture. She focuses on the long-unappreciated lyricism of the poet James Schuyler and reads the brand name of his poetry and the free use of household items as a pioneer in pop art literature.

Such brief insights overlap with the punishment of faint praise. The public figure of his bad boy in Bronx fascinates Schloss and her companions, but the actual artwork produced by Larry Rivers, who turned from a jazzman to a painter, is “more bland than bold.” And her easy-going charismatic friend Frank O’Hara is in the best condition as an “occasional poet”. “Full of strange things and the end of the candles …” [that] I cherished and touched the sharp parts of urban life, turning old and boring things into silver for a moment. ”

Philip Guston in his studio. Photograph by Rudy Burckhardt around 1960 (© 1960 The Estate of Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society) [ARS], new York)

And painter Philip Guston said, “The work is also suspicious,” and although he later broke the abstraction, he practiced “abstract impressionism,” which was “hovering rather than moving,” and her against “turn.” Gain gradual respect.[ing] Fanny’s sly humor to something of his own, horribly hilarious, with his early symbols of vague twists and oppression. [and] I support it like crazy. ”

As an individual, when Schloss left the proverbial loft party for the less crowded European scene in 1962, he began a reflexive period that took a more focused view and provided a long autobiographical coder. To do. Living in Italy, she and Giorgio Morandi, an aged modernist who fatally informs her that movies and television have forever replaced the lost cultural power of painting, and the studio’s method of decades of de Kooning. Just now, I will be friends with Cy Twombly, an American expatriate who has a direct influence on the practice of Schloss.

Not everything ages well. The lack of opinion corrected with the benefit of hindsight for more than half a century leads to Schloss ignoring or disregarding the work of female peers. She brought world-renowned female artists such as Joan Mitchell and Agnes Martin as an appetizer before the “main course” hanging in galleries run by Sidney Janis and Leo Castelli. Disregards the visionary New York gallery. ..

Edith Schloss, “Lignara” (1967) (© 1967 Edith Schloss Burghardt’s Mansion, photo by Jacob Burckhardt)

And at the final stage, relentless solidarity with the female gives a spiritual resonance to the aging Schloss. She teaches American artist Francesca Woodman during her overseas semester in Rome. In a false effort to better understand Woodman’s art, which killed him at the age of 22, Schloss makes suicidal self-destruction almost romantic when he describes Woodman as follows: Provides your soft skin to the impervious eyes of her camera. ”

Schloss bookends his memoirs with a devout letter to his deceased artist’s friend Elaine de Kooning and Merret Oppenheim of Surrealism in Switzerland and Germany, respectively. In the longest and most supple prose poem in the book, she pays homage to Oppenheim’s brave metamorphic imagination. Like many of its finely distilled prose, Loft generation Literary portraits double as obscured self-portraits, and the high creative risks taken by others are always partly Schloss’s own actions, so I’ll create another mirror memoir here. ..

Loft Generation: From de Koonings to Twombly: Portraits and Sketches 1942-2011 Edith Schloss (2021) is published by Farrar Straus & Giroux and is available online and in bookstores.

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