It’s been polished into a glowing jewel of a book by several editors ... De Kooning and his wife, Elaine, a.k.a. Queen of the Lofts, are among the more completely filled-out figures in a collection of mostly outlines and shadows, darting in and out of time ... All five senses are shaken awake by The Loft Generation, which might as well be subtitled A Study of Synesthesia ... If nostalgia is a sixth and often fogging sense, it is absent in a book that feels manifestly present, clear and alive even while describing the past. Though Schloss reminisces about many friends she lost, and moments when she was overlooked, The Loft Generation, as the sly pun of its title suggests, is not dragged down by sorrow or regret. With her talent for art and writing and social life, Schloss may have spread herself too thin for greater renown. Or maybe her greatest gift was being in the blazing-hot There and attuned, basically happy as those around her strove and schemed.
... the New York City of the Abstract Expressionist era explodes into a series of vivid canvases. Each paragraph offers a colorful phrase or observation that captures the moment. In her always entertaining stories, Schloss conjures up its iconic artists, composers, and poets while chiseling their legends down to human scale ... it's the New York of her reckoning, with its delightful side trips to New England watering holes, that bristles with energy. Like Schloss herself, the Italian years seem a little forlorn ... The Loft Generation, however, turns the reader into a co-conspirator. You are there at the Club, where the gang met on weekends and danced...or at the Automat on 23rd Street ... While she brought fresh candor to her subjects, Schloss held her own cards close to the vest. Who was Edith Schloss outside of art? What was the true nature of her intimate relationships? Still, it's the book's central idea that carries the day: 'This was us, and this was New York, and this was where it was at.'
... an intricate micro-history of an unprecedentedly energized and interconnected artistic community: that of New York’s postwar loft scene, where Schloss too found herself living, working, and family-making for nearly two decades ... Archiving the past is melancholic by nature, but Schloss was no sad sack. The Loft Generation is fast-paced and deeply funny ... The book begins in medias res, tossing the reader into the postwar mêlée of a rapidly shapeshifting New York. The city was and remains the sort of place a girl might sever herself from her past, if she desires. And Schloss is strategic, cagey almost, about which intimacies she exposes. The book is punctured by gaps and elisions; often our sense of her gathers texture from what is left out ... Perhaps there are also stories we no longer tell ourselves in order to live. The moment illuminates one of The Loft Generation’s broader sensibilities: that some privacies are better left alone; some narratives are not to be granted eternity in the written word.
Schloss’s story isn’t—as a conventional autobiography would tell it—straight history. Instead, using an approach adopted by Modernist art-world memoirists like Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, The Loft Generation is nonlinear and associative ... Schloss’s project—edited into book form by a creative team that included her son, Jacob Burckhardt, and Schloss’s Italian editor, Mary Venturi—doesn’t serve up comforting nostalgia for gritty old New York, either. The memoir is steeped in granular physical details and is blunt about its ambivalences, even those leavened with humorous anecdotes ... So absorbed as it is by its motley cast of characters, the memoir downplays facts about its author’s life, details that are filled in through a preface ... The Loft Generation recuperates iconoclasts whose contemporaneous influence on the era of her peers has dimmed in these intervening decades ... As in so much of its finely distilled prose, The Loft Generation creates here another mirror-memoir, as literary portraiture doubles as veiled self-portraiture, and the high-wire creative risks taken by others are always partly Schloss’s own doing, too.
... this book was like a rush of cold air into the lungs: It ferries through spectacular moments, then moves easily on ... Her writing is quiet, perhaps even naive. But Schloss is enamored by the minutiae of her subjects, and the exactness and delicacy of her details ripple out like water ... The pages of Loft Generation are a flow of colors and figures, an abstract painting in themselves, or a party where people are familiar, so close that you only see them as swaths.
With Venturini’s editing, this book effectively tells the intimacies of its subject’s life ... This account of one of the most important moments in the history of modern art is invaluable as well as fascinating.
... zestfully precise and deeply knowledgeable ... With preternatural recall, a discerning eye, keen ear, and hard-won insights, Schloss shares spirited, funny, wry, and poignant tales about Elaine and Bill de Kooning, Fairfield Porter, John Cage, Cy Twombly, and many others ... Thriving creatively in Italy after her divorce, she found love and new aesthetic revelations with experimental composer Alvin Curran. Intrepid, attentive, judicious, and radiantly expressive, Schloss presents an exhilarating perspective on a salient chapter in art history.
Schloss (1919–2011) brilliantly conveys her experiences as a participant in, and a keen observer of, New York’s 'loft generation' ... This posthumous book, thoughtfully edited by Venturini, combines Schloss’s personal memoir with her art criticism to provide a riveting firsthand account of the daily lives, complex social interactions, and marital spats of artists whom she encountered living in New York and Italy. In addition to her eye for detail and ear for dialogue, Schloss brings a feminist perspective to her recollections; readers learn as much about Elaine de Kooning as they do her more famous husband, Bill, and many lesser-known female artists are treated with the same respect. Rich in granular detail and rendered in eloquent and captivating prose, this is an intimate look at a pivotal era in its formative stages and offers an invaluable source for the study of one of the great art movements.
From assorted notes and manuscripts, Burckhardt and Venturini have assembled a vibrant memoir by artist and critic Edith Schloss ... The book is generously illustrated with snapshots and artworks and appended with a biographical essay and glossary ... A captivating memoir of a life in art.