In American Salons, Robert Crunden provides a sweeping account of the American encounter with European Modernism up to the American entry into World War I. Crunden begins with deft portraits of the figures who were central to the birth of Modernism, including James Whistler, the eccentric expatriate American painter who became the archetypal artist in his dress and behavior, and Henry and William James, who broke new ground in the genre of the novel and in psychology, influencing an international audience in a broad range of fields. At the heart of the book are the American salons--the intimate, personal gatherings of artists and intellectuals where Modernism flourished. In Chicago, Floyd Dell and Margery Currey spread new ideas to Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and others. In London, Ezra Pound could be found behind everything from the cigars of W. B. Yeats to the prose of Ford Madox Hueffer. In Paris, the salons of Leo and Gertrude Stein, and Michael and Sarah Stein, gave Picasso and Matisse their first secure audiences and incomes; meanwhile, Gertrude Stein produced a new writing style that had an incalculable impact on the generation of Ernest Hemingway. Most important of all were the salons of New York City. Alfred Stieglitz pioneered new forms of photography at the famous 291 Gallery. Mabel Dodge brought together modernist playwrights and painters, introducing them to political reformers and radicals. At the salon of Walter and Louise Arensberg, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia rubbed shoulders with Wallace Stevens, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams. By 1917, no art in America remained untouched by these new institutions.
From the journalism of H. L. Mencken to the famous 1913 Armory Show in New York, Crunden illuminates this pivotal era, offering perceptive insights and evocative descriptions of the central personalities of Modernism.
"Spirited, learned, and epic...Crunden assimilates an amazing amount of information and, like his modernists, brings an inventive form, charm, color, and imagination to what were once aesthetic abstractions. He tells his 'story' very well indeed."--Kirkus Reviews
"A primer of American bohemians."--The New York Times
"In this ambitious overview, Crunden looks at modernism in the U.S. and abroad as practiced by leading artists and intellectuals...The most vivid chapters look at Americans in Europe and New York City: Leo and Gertrude Stein's salon in Paris, and Mabel Dodge's crowd in Manhattan...[Crunden's] exhaustive archival research makes the book a valuable resource."--Publishers Weekly
"[Crunden has] a sharp eye for telling detail...Half the fun of the book is in the small surprises...An important journey."--The Boston Sunday Globe