Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Mid-century

ISBN: 9783791338781
Author(s): Elizabeth Armstrong
Format: hardback
Year published: 1997
Publisher: Prestel
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 304
Illustrations: Illustrated throughout, many in colour


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1950s West Coast style exuded “cool” from the smooth, hypnotic strains of a Miles Davis riff; Richard Neutra’s elegant, modernist residences; the hard-edged paintings of Helen Lundeberg and Karl Benjamin. This richly illustrated volume casts a fresh eye on Fifties West Coast style with illuminating commentary from a variety of perspectives. Designed to echo the period it celebrates, this catalogue explores modernist innovations in art, architecture, design, film and music. Prominent cultural critics write on an array of topics – Thomas Hine about the culture of cool; Elizabeth Smith on domestic aspects of the period’s architecture; Francis Colpitt on hard-edged abstract painting; Dave Hickey on jazz; Bruce Jenkins on the crossover between animation and experimental film. The result is a multi-faceted exploration of the 1950s West Coast zeitgeist in all its colour, creativity, and cool.


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