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Ninth Street Women

Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art
Narrated by: Lisa Stathoplos
Length: 39 hrs and 14 mins
Non-member price: $42.90
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Publisher's Summary

The rich, revealing, and thrilling story of five women whose lives and painting propelled a revolution in modern art, from the National Book Award finalist.

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of 20th-century abstract painting - not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

Gutsy and indomitable, Lee Krasner was a hell-raising leader among artists long before she became part of the modern art world's first celebrity couple by marrying Jackson Pollock. Elaine de Kooning, whose brilliant mind and peerless charm made her the emotional center of the New York School, used her work and words to build a bridge between the avant-garde and a public that scorned abstract art as a hoax. Grace Hartigan fearlessly abandoned life as a New Jersey housewife and mother to achieve stardom as one of the boldest painters of her generation. Joan Mitchell, whose notoriously tough exterior shielded a vulnerable artist within, escaped a privileged but emotionally damaging Chicago childhood to translate her fierce vision into magnificent canvases. And Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent New York family, chose the difficult path of the creative life. Her gamble paid off: At 23 she created a work so original it launched a new school of painting.

These women changed American art and society, tearing up the prevailing social code and replacing it with a doctrine of liberation. In Ninth Street Women, acclaimed author Mary Gabriel tells a remarkable and inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just postwar America but the future.

©2018 Mary Gabriel (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"These individuals are brought to life by Pulitzer Prize finalist Gabriel, who shows how each defied social convention and professional boundaries to create new creative forms and attain equality with their male counterparts.... A must for modern art historians and enthusiasts." (Library Journal, starred review)

"Ninth Street Women is like a great, sprawling Russian novel, filled with memorable characters and sharply etched scenes. It's no mean feat to breathe life into five very different and very brave women, none of whom gave a whit about conventional mores. But Ms. Gabriel fleshes out her portraits with intimate details, astute analyses of the art and good old-fashioned storytelling." (Ann Landi, Wall Street Journal)

"Gabriel delivers an immersive group biography of eclectic, free-spirited painters who shocked the art world in the 1940s and '50s with abstract expressionism...Through the lens of these women's lives, Gabriel delivers a sweeping history of abstract expressionism and the postwar New York School, and an affectionate tribute to the underappreciated women of America's avant-garde." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • E.Sisto
  • 05-04-2019

Great book, very important history.

This book is very important for how it fleshes out the history of the New York School.
And it makes clear how essential, respected and courageous the women were. I found it very moving to learn especially about Lee and Elaine -how active they were intellectually with in that group of painters.
The reader, however, was not up to the job.
I knew some of the artists in the book and was surprised at how many of their names she mispronounced. Also at times she almost didn’t seem to realize what she was reading. Her tone was often trivializing. Not good.
But the book is still totally worth listening to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • The Art Book Club
  • 10-03-2019

Detailed and riveting

The author returns again and again to history to put these important women and their circle in context. Really entertaining and fascinating!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Donohue
  • 20-05-2019

Painful pronunciation issues!

So many names were mispronounced in this reading it had the effect of finger nails on a chalkboard. The director, producer, and narrator all failed this book by not doing their homework. The narrative was lively enough to keep me gritting my teeth until the bitter end, but Audible should pay me a credit for listening to this.

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  • M. James
  • 15-05-2019

Kay sirra, sirra

The story is familiar, and told from the perspectives of the women of the New York School, it bears revisiting, thought there's inevitably a disproportionately wide spotlight on the men, yet again. The book situates art world developments within the greater social, cultural and political circumstances of the times, a plus. What's annoying here is the narrator's weak grasp on correct pronunciations of many European names - someone should have coached her in this regard. It injects the wrong kind of humorous note in the listening experience.

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  • Marcie Anthone
  • 15-05-2019

Comprehensive but looooong

Very thorough overview of these artists but needs a good editor. Often zoned out because it was just one drunken brawl after another. But I certainly learned about these artists' lives

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-04-2019

A Gripping History of American Art

This is a spectacular history of American art . It’s focus being that of leading woman artists makes it that much more moving and important. All of the poignant stories show the struggle of woman to exist in society as other than wives and mothers. This is a quintessential narrative of how America became the center of modern art-