Book Review: Off the Bookshelf

Beth Venn

Off the Bookshelf

Frames of Reference: Looking at American Art, 1900-1950

edited by Beth Venn and Adam D. Weinberg

University of California Press, 224 pp., $29.95 (paper)

They should have called it Behind the Art: The Making of the Whitney Museum. Frames of Reference is divided into three sections: a charming biography of Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who founded the Whitney; a collection of 26 double-paged spreads that give the once-over-lightly to 26 Whitney works; and the final section, which covers 10 other significant Whitney works in satisfying college-art-history-seminar detail. That section, American Icons Interpreted, is the sort of thing that leads people to stay in college forever. Each of the 10 paintings has three thoughtful short essays explaining and clarifying works like William J. Glacken's Hammerstein's Roof Garden, Alexander Calder's Circus, and Edward Hopper's Early Sunday Morning. Like high-quality college lectures or a good documentary, these essays take you deeply into the paintings. While not a book for the art professional, Frames does do a nice job of covering the Whitney collection.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Anna Hanks
Lost and Found: A Daughter's Tale of Violence and Redemption

Jan. 26, 2001

Mistletoe Man: A China Bales Mystery

Jan. 12, 2001


Frames of Reference: Looking at American Art, 1900-1950, Beth Venn, Adam D. Weinberg

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle