Irving Sandler brings to life the New York art world from the death of Jackson Pollock in 1956 to the emergence of Andy Warhol in 1962. The setting is downtown New York. The novel follows the careers and interactions of four artists of different generations and styles—two first-generation abstract expressionists and two younger painters. Other leading characters include an elder and younger critic, two art dealers, a curator, and a collector.
The novel portrays competition within the self and with others for artistic recognition, as well as the soul-searching suffering for one’s art. Connections are forged and betrayed. Whether relationships thrive or plummet, for business, pleasure or both, makes for an exciting, tough and dramatic world. Art theory and art history are interwoven throughout this crisp and sparkling narrative.
Irving Sandler, an art critic and historian, has surveyed American modernist and post-modernist art in four volumes, beginning with The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism (1970) and ending with Art of the Postmodern Era from the 1960s to the Early 1990s (1996). He is also a former director of the Neuberger Museum, a former president of the American Section of the International Art Critic Association (AICA), and the founder of the not-for-profit Artists Space Gallery. In 2008, Sandler received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Art Criticism from the International Association of Art Critics.
From ARTnews: “‘The thread that runs through my writing is a concern for the intentions, visions, and experiences of artists,’ the art critic and historian Irving Sandler wrote in 2006. He was looking back on a career that tracked the art of half a century, from Abstract Expressionism to the constellation of styles and approaches that constitutes the art of the early 21st century. Sandler, who passed away earlier today at age 92, never stopped looking, and thinking. The Philadelphia-born Sander started his career as an art critic in 1956, in the pages of ARTnews, where he became a regular reviewer. Thomas Hess was editor at the time. He went on to write reviews for the New York Post and Art in America.”
From The Wall Street Journal: “A lively novel of the Abstract Expressionist art scene that is everything you’d expect from critic Irving Sandler, who seemingly befriended every painter, writer and dealer in 1950s New York….As a critic for Art News and the New York Post, he profiled so many notables that Frank O’Hara called him a “balayeur des artistes” (or “sweeper-up after artists,” a phrase Sandler borrowed for the title of his memoirs). His novel is as lively an account of its milieu as you’d expect from its famously gregarious author…We begin in 1963, just as kitschy, frothy Pop is replacing Abstract Expressionism as America’s definitive art movement…full of drama and intrigue and barely disguised versions of his friends and enemies.” – Jackson Arn
From New Criterion, Art: “If Irving Sandler (1925–2018) had been Japanese, he would have been declared by his people a “Living National Treasure.” From the 1950s to his death, he was a crucial figure in the evolving story of American vanguard painting and sculpture: a friend of artists and frequent studio visitor, director and founder of alternative galleries, art critic, professor of art history, museum director, and, above all, witness and chronicler of the changing desiderata of the moment…Goodbye to Tenth Street is a must for anyone interested in an art world very different from today’s. Sandler immerses us in a time when artists sought aesthetic excellence, intensity, and—above all—individuality, striving to charge their work with their entire being rather than “strategizing.” (Except for the novel’s venal Neil Johnson.)…aesthetic values…were life-and-death matters, to be wrestled with in the studio and, elsewhere, to be argued about, challenged, fought over, and even died for. Sandler vividly recreates the atmosphere in which such beliefs flourished. For facts, The Triumph of American Painting and The New York School are still essential, along with his two volumes of memoirs, with their privileged information. But for sheer entertainment, go to Goodbye to Tenth Street.“ – Karen Wilkin
From The New York Times / Best Art Books of 2018:
|‘GOODBYE TO TENTH STREET: A NOVEL’ By Irving Sandler (Pleasure Boat Studio). Anyone drawn to the postwar art scene that centered on Manhattan’s East 10th Street should read the last book of Mr. Sandler, the art historian and critic extraordinaire who died in June. He was there in the late 1950s and early ’60s taking notes while the Abstract Expressionists made history, and he became known for his meticulous accounts of their saga. But here he offers a roman à clef filled with the unverified gossip, overheard conversations, and rumors of nooners and backbiting that were unsuitable to fact-based history (though a few historical figures occupy the margins). The tale — from charged studio visits to nasty exchanges at the Cedar Bar — has its own sad, sordid, unsurprising truth.|
TRIBUTES: Remembering the deeply inspired, influential and respected Irving Sandler
The Art Newspaper: https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/remembering-irving-sandler
Apollo Magazing: https://www.apollo-magazine.com/irving-sandler-obituary/