[UCP Books]: An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism

An Audience of Artists is elegantly written and deeply pondered, with an analytical sophistication and emotional sensitivity that gets under the skin of cultural history and the forces that change art. Catherine Craft knows how history feels. She presents documentation with an interpretive skill that causes a reader to sense past events as if they were just occurring. Craft’s visual description is no less convincingly vivid. It is exciting to read this innovative study. I found myself rereading it, not only for edification but for the intellectual pleasure of it.”

– Richard Shiff, University of Texas at Austin

An Audience of Artists 
Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism

Catherine Craft


Publication Date: June 15, 2012 Cloth $55.00 • £35.50
UK Publication Date: June 25, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-226-11680-8 (Cloth)


The term Neo-Dada surfaced in New York in the late 1950s, characterizing young artists whose work appeared at odds with the serious emotional and painterly interests of the then-dominant movement, abstract expressionism. Neo-Dada quickly became the word of choice in the early 1960s to designate experimental art.
An Audience of Artists turns this time line for the postwar New York art world on its head, presenting a new pedigree for these artistic movements. Catherine Craft reveals that Neo-Dada, far from being a reaction to abstract expressionism, actually originated at the heart of that movement’s concerns about viewers, originality, and artists’ debts to the past and one another. Furthermore, she argues, the original Dada movement was not incompatible with abstract expressionism—Dada provided a vital historical reference for artists and critics seeking to come to terms with the radical departure from tradition that abstract expressionism seemed to represent. Following the activities of artists such as Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollack, and Marcel Duchamp, Craft explores the challenges facing artists trying to work in the wake of a destructive world war and the paintings, objects, writings, and installations that resulted from their efforts.
Catherine Craft is an independent scholar, curator, and lecturer specializing in modern and contemporary art. She is adjunct assistant curator for research and exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, and the author of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

For additional information, please contact Laura Avey at (773)702-0376 or lavey@press.uchicago.edu.



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