Ann Eden Gibson's revelatory book takes a second look at American art history of the mid-to-late 20th century and makes a strong case for a reexamination of artists whose work has been excluded. The importance of artists such as Norman Lewis, Beauford Delany, Hale Woodruff, Charles Alston, Alice Trumbull Mason, Michael West and many others has been marginalized because they were African-American or women or gay or Asian-American. How and why this happened is the subject of Ms. Gibson's clear-eyed and well-reasoned analysis. She writes of social, philosophical, psychological and historical matters which combined to create this widespread rejection in the mainstream art world.
One interesting area of discussion, for example, was the natural ability and inclination of the Outsider to perceive aspects of life in more than one way. This plurality, with its inherent sense of irony and a wider perspective, was the antithesis of the Abstract Expressionists' determined formula for success - to find a style and stick to it. Another fertile subject is that of the Hero, or heroic rebel, as epitomized by Jackson Pollock and idolized by most of the artists within the fold. This uniquely masculine, heterosexual and yes, narrow point of view catapulted certain artists into the limelight and pushed others with a more feminine or delicate or vulnerable approach to the sidelines.
These and other arguments are all beautifully documented by Gibson, and a generous number of color, as well as black-and-white illustrations demonstrate the content and strength of the work of many of these unjustly neglected artists. This probing volume raises as many questions as it answers. Hopefully, this will be only the beginning of a much-needed reassessment of the history of recent American art.
In Other Politics, Ann Gibson has made me rethink all of what I thought I knew about abstract expressionism. From the