A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning
First full-scale biography of Elaine de Kooning, who had a starring role in the close-knit world of New York artists at mid-century.

A Generous Vision portrays a woman whose intelligence, droll sense of humor, and generosity of spirit endeared her to friends and gave her a starring role in the close-knit world of New York artists. Her zest for adventure and freewheeling spending were as legendary as her ever-present cigarette.

Flamboyant and witty in person, she was an incisive art writer who expressed maverick opinions in a deceptively casual style. As a painter, she melded Abstract Expressionism with a lifelong interest in bodily movement to capture subjects as diverse as President John F. Kennedy, basketball players, and bullfights.

In her romantic life, she went her own way, always keen for male attention. But she credited her husband, Willem de Kooning, as her greatest influence; rather than being overshadowed by his fame, she worked “in his light.” Nearly two decades after their separation, after finally embracing sobriety herself, she returned to his side to rescue him from severe alcoholism.

Based on painstaking research and dozens of interviews, A Generous Vision brings to life a leading figure of twentieth-century art who lived a full and fascinating life on her own terms.


Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter
The first biography of leading Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan traces her rise from virtually self-taught painter to art-world fame and her plunge into obscurity after leaving New York to marry a scientist in Baltimore. Along the way, there were multiple affairs, four troubled marriages, a long battle with alcoholism, and a chilly relationship with her only child.

Attempting to channel her vague ambitions after an early marriage, Hartigan struggled to master the basics of drawing in night-school classes. She moved to New York in her early twenties, befriending Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and other artists who were pioneering Abstract Expressionism.

Although praised for the coloristic brio of her abstract paintings, she began working figuratively, a move that was much criticized but ultimately vindicated when the Museum of Modern Art purchased her painting The Persian Jacket in 1953. By the mid-fifties, she freely combined abstract and representational elements.

Grace—who signed her paintings “Hartigan”—was a full-fledged member of the “men’s club” that was the 1950s art scene. Featured in Time, Newsweek, Life, and Look, she was the only woman in MoMA’s groundbreaking 12 Americans exhibition in 1956, and the youngest artist—and again, only woman—in The New American Painting, which toured Europe in 1958–1959.

Two years later she moved to Baltimore, where she became legendary for tough-love counsel to her graduate art students at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Grace continued to paint throughout her life, seeking—for better or worse—something truer and fiercer than beauty.

Restless Ambition draws on Hartigan's emotionally revealing journal and numerous candid interviews. The biography includes reproductions of many of her finest works from the 1950s and ’60s, as well as rarely-published photographs of her as a young woman at the height of her fame.

biography
First full-scale biography of Elaine de Kooning, who had a starring roll in the close-knit world of New York artists at mid-century.

The first biography of leading Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan traces her rise from virtually self-taught painter to art-world fame and her plunge into obscurity after leaving New York to marry a scientist in Baltimore. Along the way, there were multiple affairs, four troubled marriages, a long battle with alcoholism, and a chilly relationship with her only child.

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