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The Culture of Spontaneity Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America

by Daniel Belgrad

  • ISBN: 9780226041889
  • ISBN10: 0226041883

The Culture of Spontaneity Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America

by Daniel Belgrad

  • List Price: $41.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 05/01/1998
  • ISBN: 9780226041889
  • ISBN10: 0226041883
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Description: The Culture of Spontaneity is the first comprehensive history of the postwar avant-garde. Daniel Belgrad beautifully integrates such diverse moments in American culture as abstract expressionism, bebop jazz, gestalt therapy, Black Mountain College, Jungian psychology, beat poetry, experimental dance, Zen Buddhism, Alfred North Whitehead's cosmology, and the anti-nuclear movement. He shows how a startling variety of artistic movements actually had one unifying theme: spontaneous improvisation.

For example, Belgrad describes the intersection of Jackson Pollock's drip painting technique with the history of dance and bodily expression, and uncovers parallels between the beat fascination with Zen and bebop prosody. Through sensitive and skillful readings of the artistic works as well as deft explications of their social, political, and intellectual contexts, Belgrad reconstructs the mentality of this counterculture, recovers its particular vocabulary, and describes how the aesthetic of spontaneity contradicted the dominant consumer society of the 1950s. Focusing on the works of many key cultural figures such as Charles Olson, William Carlos Williams, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Peter Voulkos, Merce Cunningham, Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, arid LeRoi Jones, Belgrad substantially revises who and what are the most significant voices of the period and convincingly argues that the art of spontaneity constituted the cutting edge of postwar American thought.

Elegantly argued and beautifully illustrated, The Culture of Spontaneity sets the record straight by providing an original and thorough synthesis of midcentury art and thoughtthat we have long been missing.

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