A memoir of the mid-twentieth-century New York School of painters and their times by the renowned artist and critic Edith Schloss, who, from the early years, was a member of the group that shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York.
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.