The Painted Word

The Painted Word America s nerviest journalist Newsweek trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this masterpiece The Washington Post Wolfe s style has never been dazzling his wit never keen He addresses the scope o

  • Title: The Painted Word
  • Author: Tom Wolfe
  • ISBN: 9780553380651
  • Page: 395
  • Format: Paperback
  • America s nerviest journalist Newsweek trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this masterpiece The Washington Post Wolfe s style has never been dazzling, his wit never keen He addresses the scope of Modern Art, from its founding days as Abstract Expressionism through its transformations to Pop, Op, Minimal, and Conceptual This is Tom Wolfe at his m America s nerviest journalist Newsweek trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this masterpiece The Washington Post Wolfe s style has never been dazzling, his wit never keen He addresses the scope of Modern Art, from its founding days as Abstract Expressionism through its transformations to Pop, Op, Minimal, and Conceptual This is Tom Wolfe at his most clever, amusing, and irreverent San Francisco Chronicle.
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    181 Comment

    • Glenn Russell says:

      Jack the Dripper, the king of Abstract Expressionism, an art movement author Tom Wolfe didn't hold in high regard You will be hard-pressed to find a more lively, wittier book on the phenomenon of modern art than Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word,” a 100-page romp through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s where the author jabs his sharp satirical needle with signature debunking flare into Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Op Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. And that’s ‘Painted Word’ as in Wolf [...]

    • Jeff says:

      Wolfe’s basic premise here is that Art critics/theorists single-handedly devolved modern art and made a gorilla like Jackson Pollack’s paintings worth millions. Ugh!! You see, unlike say a book or movie, art doesn’t need the common man’s approval in order to be “good”, “worthy”, or popular.When I lived in New York, I liked to take dates (including the future Mrs. Jeff) to the Modern Museum of Art. I would bone up on modern art with this book, so I could dazzle my dates with shall [...]

    • Cheri says:

      Wonderful little witty book about a specific moment in art history. I'm normally not a great Tom Wolfe fan, but the book does ring true, even though it does simplify things greatly. If one likes the art that Wolfe takes apart, you might find yourself inclined to dislike the book without giving what he's saying enough consideration. He makes some absolutely valid points and more importantly, he hints at a broader trend - the rift between the public viewer and the insular art world. Here, I think [...]

    • Kevin Tole says:

      Tom Wolfe rips the pish out of art critics using their own chosen weapon - the word.This was probably about round 6 of a 12 rounder between painting and theory. Up to this pont Theory had been winning every round and it looked like painting was going to have to throw in the towel and abandon the title. Wolfe stepped into Painting's corner and this round was a decisive winner. Nobody seems to know what the final outcome of the Championship bout was but Painting is still alive and going from stren [...]

    • Jenna says:

      I'll need to hear other perspectives before I can decide whether I'm wholly convinced by Wolfe's argument. His main argument is that Modern Art sucks because it is fueled more by Art Theory than by the spirit of Art itself. He directs most of his satirical ammunition at the time period from Abstract Expressionism onward, arguing that during this epoch the Artists unwittingly became adjuncts of the Art Theorists, rather than the other way around (the way it should be).Wolfe also tries to better d [...]

    • Herb says:

      Wolfe's argument in this short, entertaining, and completely wrong-headed polemic is based on the idea that the non-representational art of the last 100 or so years is a hoax because it can only be appreciated by those who have learned and agree with various abstract theories. Wolfe is much more supportive of various flavors of representational art of the same period and the preceding centuries because he thinks this art can be appreciated without depending on theories. The basic fallacy of this [...]

    • David Gross says:

      Liked it lots, but I always feel a little gypped when a publisher puffs up what amounts to a magazine feature’s worth of words with a big font, generous line-spacing and margins, and some illustrations, to make it just big enough to put legible text on the spine so they can sell it as a book.

    • John Orman says:

      I am writing a much longer and more detailed review than usual because I plan to attend a local book club's upcoming meeting to discuss this nonfiction book.Tom Wolfe's small but potent book charts the course of Modern Art. The stylistic writing is as witty and provocative as Wolfe's earlier book "Radical Chic."The genesis of the book's title stems from a revelation that Wolfe obtained from an art exhibit's 1974 review in the New York Times. The critic had basically stated that to view art witho [...]

    • Timothy says:

      I could not get into Wolfe's style.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Wolfe does have a zounds-slap-lightning way with phrases! I liked these: "the Uptown Museum-Gallery Complex," and, referring to deKooning and Pollack: "furious swipes of brush on canvas, splatters of unchained id." You have to appreciate Wolfe for his bluster and charming if irritating and irascible ability to simplify everything to the level of the five-year-old, which is about the age of his persona as an essay writer, esp. circa 1974, when he wrote this. Nevertheless I was inspired to read t [...]

    • Sara says:

      This was a very interesting read - Tom Wolfe talks about how modern art moved away from being a visual experience and started to be a reaction of what the critics were saying and it all culminated with conceptual art (I happen to like conceptual art, but I agree that it is less "artistic" in the classic sense of the word). Among the many artists he grills, Wolfe practically skewers Jackson Pollock and says that his art was a mere creation at the request of what the galleries wanted and that lead [...]

    • Kathe Umlauf says:

      A clear and concise easy to read book about why much contemporary art has become the vast wasteland that it is. Why is dumb, empty, meaningless, talentless art esteemed in certain galleries? There is a war of values and wills taking place in a culture that has lost it's philosophical moorings. Contemporary cultural values have been influenced by the Existentialism and relativism of the 1960's and art follows. The now subjective world of art making, selling and buying has become the playground of [...]

    • Kate says:

      Tom Wolfe has mastered the art of being shocked and horrified at the mundane and obvious. This book has the character of a child that has discovered some new situation and, misconstruing it, lets forth a torrent of outrage without insight. His assault on 'theory' only demonstrates the necessity of substance to fill out style.

    • Mark Taylor says:

      Tom Wolfe takes on the art world! Tom Wolfe critiques the leading theories in contemporary art! Tom Wolfe tells you all about the different stages of being an artist, from the Boho Dance to the Consummation which ensures critical success! Tom Wolfe takes on the mysteries of abstract art! You can imagine him, can’t you, in his pristine white suit, squinting close at an abstract canvas up on the wall of some Seventh Avenue gallery uptown, one of those galleries that doesn’t want to look like t [...]

    • Nick Gibson says:

      I don't have the education to review this from an art criticism or art history perspective, but Tom Wolfe's argument here meshes with and reinforces similar perspectives from Odd Nerdrum and Roger Scruton. And Wolfe does so in his own lightning prose style.It's not the main point of the book, but it stood out to me that Wolfe attributes Modern Art - as a culture, as a religion, as a movement - to a kind of bourgeois guilt. That is, the shame of the Western secular elite over their own economic s [...]

    • Lee Razer says:

      Highly enjoyable critique of the origin and content (Flatness!!) of Abstract Expressionism and other Modern Art schools. No more trouble to read than a lengthy essay.

    • James says:

      If your interest is writing or art, you’ll enjoy The Painted Word by Tom Wolf. If you like both, then this irreverent, little book will make you laugh, nod in agreement, or cry out in protest. You definitely won’t be bored. This is Wolf at the top of his game and you’ll find yourself constantly reading passages aloud to anyone within earshot. First published in 1975, Wolf decomposes modern art movements in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining. His clever style provides the read [...]

    • Dfordoom says:

      A glorious hatchet job on modernist art. Wolfe's main point is that most schools of modernist art cannot be appreciated unless you first understand the theory behind them, which makes the art itself pretty much irrelevant. It's all about the theory. Wolfe is delightfully vicious and highly entertaining.

    • Steve Hersh says:

      Normally I'm a huge Tom Wolfe fan, but this one missed the mark for me. I understand where he's coming from: this idea that modern art is reliant on theory (words) for people to understand it, in comparison I suppose to "old masters" or Renaissance art or even social realist art of the early 20th century, where you could look at a painting and "get it" simply by looking at it. This is, visual art after all. And yeah, who can honestly look at a Jackson Pollack drip work and say, "I understand thi [...]

    • Tom Schulte says:

      This was a quick, easy listen-read on Wolfe spectating the burgeoning modern art movement. Very short and in audio without pics, most of it breezes by this Wolfe fan that is not an art aficionado. I can picture Pollack, sure, but not Jasper Johns It is interesting and relevant the point that the painting world does not have a popular following, like music, film, etc. Also, it is interesting but I can not form an opinion on the accentuating of inherent "flatness" in the post-cubists art movements [...]

    • Mary says:

      The Painted Word is primarily a book about the rise of modern art—and art theory. (It also feels as if it’s a little bit about Tom Wolfe, too, but then, what book of his doesn’t feel that way?) Still, it’s an engaging read, filled with Wolfe’s studied observations and dripping with a detached bemusement toward the twisted subculture of art. Fortunately, The Painted Word is also filled with fascinating character sketches of the artists themselves. One of the most compelling—and oft re [...]

    • Петър Стойков says:

      Какво, мамка му, стана? Какво се случи с изобразителното изкуство през последния век? Кога красивите тела на класическите скулптури и ренесансовите художници изчезнаха от картините и бяха заместени първо с изкривени, уродливи чудовища, а после с безсмислени абстракции? Ко [...]

    • Forrest says:

      Damn! ate my review. crapola.This is a cynical and insightful description of some of the forces behind 'success' in art, mostly centered in mid-last-century. It was recommended to me by two friends who are both professional artists. One is a sculptor and my mentor, and the other a painter. In my subjective view, they should both be rich and famous, or at least a lot richer and a lot more famous. How is it that folks with mastery of their media never attain the absurd success of Jackson Pollock [...]

    • Norman says:

      A highly entertaining critique of the modern art world. It reads casual --like a conversation you'd have with an old, cranky (yet rather wise) New Yorker on a Sunday stroll through the villages, through Union Square and up Fifth avenue all the way to the Met. Lots of belly-laugh material along the waybut, it's ultimately quite sad and disturbing that art standards went off-the-radar in such an absurd manner and to such a great degree-- that such a book as this could written (and true to reality) [...]

    • DoctorM says:

      I'm never sure what to think about "The Painted Word"or about Wolfe. Is it hilarious? Absolutely. Does he make some wonderfully cynical points as a social satirist? Yes. He always does. But just as with "Bauhaus To Our House", I just find that in the end, there's less than meets the eye. Had "Painted Word" been a novel.s would be different. There's wonderful material here for a comic novel about the art world and art criticism. But as a quasi-history No. Wolfe manages to attack the rise of art t [...]

    • Nadine says:

      I haven't read Tom Wolfe in quite awhile, and I forgot how razor sharp his prose could be. This particular book takes on the modern art world. Mr. Wolfe is not a fan of that world, but he describes how art theory started driving art creation in the twentieth century.He did get me thinking, and feeling somewhat relieved. I've been to MoMA several times for specific exhibits, but sometimes left just shaking my head and thinking it was me. As usual, Mr. Wolfe attacks pretentiousness will full front [...]

    • JabJo says:

      I read this when I was very young, in my late teens. I thought it was terrific. It was witty, critical, satirical, and poked a lot of fun at the community of artists, collectors, dealers and fashionable rich people with terrible tastes. It was a quick and dirty easy read.At that time, my idea of 'good' art ended at about 1930. Now, years later, as I see how art has developed over time, yes, we still have the superficial trendies and of course the overblown world of art as investment. But the art [...]

    • Mishehu says:

      Even at 99 quick reading pages, this one felt a little over-boiled to me. It's for serious modern art/art theory aficionados to judge whether it's the brilliant satire that many professional reviewers say it is. Found it mildly amusing myself. But then, I'm a total Neanderthal

    • Spencer says:

      its a short read and hands down the best words ever written about art.

    • Kaethe says:

      Tom Wolfe waxes snarky about Modern Art. He hates everything, but he's funny about it.

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