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Jed Perl, New Art City (Knopf)

by Peter Plagens

I was around for almost none of the period and place that’s the subject of Jed Perl’s New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century (Knopf, 2005). In fact, the first time I saw the metropolis in concrete flesh was in the summer of 1960. A college buddy and I (age 19 and junior-to-be at Southern Cal) were doing a low-budget imitation of the television program Route 66: a 12,000-mile circumnavigation of the U.S.A. in a tiny 1953 MG-TD. A day or two before we limped into the Big Apple with a leaky water pump, a tattooed female carny worker we’d met in Lake George took us to a field in Bolton Landing where some crazy artist had left all these weird, abstract metal sculptures standing out in the sun.