Claudia Roth Pierpont reviews Mary Gabriel’s new book Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art (Little, Brown and Company).
Roth Pierpont writes: “Mary Gabriel’s timely and ambitious new book, “Ninth Street Women,” provides a multifaceted account of the five odds-defying female artists who travelled from Ninth Street to the Museum of Modern Art and beyond. … it is a widely roving group portrait, evoking an entire era and aspiring to explain it. She dwells on broad social and political events, which she believes were not merely a context for the artists’ work but the raison d’être for their allegiance to abstraction… Fortunately, Gabriel lets the political thesis fade as events take over and the immediacy of these lives becomes all-engrossing… The development of a culture is deeply consequential, and its story—even a very specialized piece of its story—requires no apologies or augmentation. And this piece of the art-world story happens to be very exciting, as brought to life in the balance of Gabriel’s rich, serious-minded, and (in a good way) sometimes gossipy book.”