The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever

Product Details
$38.99  $36.26
Publish Date
5.8 X 9.1 X 1.4 inches | 1.75 pounds

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About the Author

Prudence Peiffer is an art historian, writer, and editor, specializing in modern and contemporary art. She is Managing Editor of the Creative Team at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She received her Ph.D from Harvard University. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University, she was a Senior Editor at Artforum magazine from 2012-2017, and Digital Content Director at David Zwirner in 2018. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Artforum, and Bookforum, among other publications.


"Tenderly researched . . . . The Slip [is filled] with rich art-world anecdotes and respectful gossip . . . . If you wonder why art is migrating to the metaverse, Peiffer's snapshot of this hinge decade in modern art history should be your first port of call." -- New York Times Book Review

"Things that burn bright and vanish are easily idealized, but in The Slip, the critic Prudence Peiffer opts for a tricky blend of mythmaking and myth-busting [and her] main point . . . is right: Coenties Slip had seedy glamour to spare, but for most of the fifties and sixties it didn't feel like Manhattan . . . . The true hero is an environment, an atmosphere . . . . [the] book is free of the weightless isms that one usually sees in art histories . . . . Peiffer is a lively storyteller." -- The New Yorker

"Reading The Slip provides a thrill similar to stumbling on hidden treasure in an antique shop. Elegantly wrought, and bristling with unforgettable details, this inspired excavation of a never-before-told chapter in the history of American art is as timeless as it is original. From the serendipity of friendship to the mysterious power of place, Prudence Peiffer brings to vivid life the abstract forces that make it possible for creativity to thrive." -- Kate Bolick, author of the New York Times best-selling Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

"In her marvelous, crisply written The Slip, Prudence Peiffer showcases a cadre of artists who resided along Coenties Slip--now a part of the Financial District near Pearl Street--in the late 1950s and '60s, decades after the schooners and frigates moved to the Hudson River." -- Wall Street Journal

"A vivid and poignant story of a vanished Manhattan, a slip of land and the young artists who worked there, who left their ecstasies, crises, and friendships at that spot, there to be found and held up, in a keen and sympathetic light, by a truly skilled writer." -- Alexander Nemerov, author of Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York

"Prudence Peiffer has brought a singular mix of style and expertise to the story of Coenties Slip, a sliver of land at the tip of Manhattan that became a legendary art-world address. Here, at last, is the definitive history of the Slip--and of bohemia's final years in New York." -- Deborah Solomon, art critic and author

"In Prudence Peiffer's new book about Coenties Slip, it's hard to decide which is more fascinating, the place she describes or the community of artists she sets in it: Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana and a crowd of similar talents discovered themselves as artists in that funny little corner of Old New York. Peiffer's wonderful achievement is to show how the community depended for its existence on the place -- and that American art would have been utterly different without both." -- Blake Gopnik, author of Warhol and contributing critic to the New York Times

"An insightful and wonderful account of how this disparate group supported and inspired each other and how their work at the Slip altered the course of American art." -- Town & Country

"Peiffer seeks out a general audience, performing a cultural history written by a trained art historian. There is a rapid clip to The Slip: a silky tone that is careful to move along its narrative, conscious of keeping its reader. Peiffer is at her best, in fact, when her prose is fast-paced . . . . Delightful." -- ArtForum

"Momentous . . . . Peiffer's account succeeds, in part, because of the intimate scale of its analysis . . . . The Slip . . . allows us to see how the legacy of the Slip figured into postwar abstraction, fiber art, Pop Art, and Minimalism, leaving few developments in American art untouched by the small street's ocean spray." -- Art in America

"Prudence Peiffer . . . has written a splendid group biography that pays homage to an irretrievable era of artistic productivity that still resonates today. The Slip is its own masterpiece." -- AirMail

"An engrossing history . . . . In a precisely detailed, well-contextualized narrative alive with anecdotes, Peiffer considers the dynamic between place and creativity, mutual support and individuality, expertly and insightfully illuminating an underappreciated artistic enclave and its pivotal role in modern art." -- Booklist (starred review)

"Prudence Peiffer's nonfiction work is not a portrait of an art movement or style, but of a place . . . . Her vivid chapters recount how Ellsworth Kelly made the best of the natural light on the roof of 3-5 Coenties, how the neighboring East River ran through the works of Lenore Tawney and Agnes Martin, and how the fertile milieu led one Robert Clark to reinvent himself as Robert Indiana . . . . The sum is a picture of a community of artists shaped by a place, while actively shaping their own place in a pre-Pop era." -- ArtNet News

"Meticulously researched and lucidly written . . . . The Slip, for all its immersion in a rebuilt past, nevertheless has a hopeful, toolkit feel: you leave wondering how and where such unseen but crucial communities might coalesce in the future." -- ArtReview

"But the real challenge [in The Slip] is a literary rather than a scholarly one: How to make location as compelling as character or as dynamic as even the mildest plot point? . . . . In the end, this book, like its subject, provides readers, its temporary lodgers, a solid launchpad from which to imagine how." -- BookForum

"An appreciative group biography of a community of artists who lived and worked in cheap lofts and studios on Coenties Slip, at the lower tip of Manhattan, from 1956 to 1967 . . . Besides illuminating the creative work, the author captures the spirit of the "unique microcosm" of the "modest, almost forgotten" Slip . . . . A warm evocation of a unique place and time." -- Kirkus Reviews

"[An] enchanting debut . . . . Peiffer vividly traces the community's genesis and makes a detailed and persuasive case for its influence on other "alternative models to conventional city life." It's a gratifying deep dive into New York City art history." -- Publishers Weekly

"This well-researched monograph is a love letter to a unique time and place. It will likely appeal to readers interested in modern art or New York City history." -- Library Journal

"There is a well-worn conceit that New York is more than just a place but a character in and of itself. When deployed, it runs the risk of over-romanticizing the city and flattening it to the point of abstraction. Under Peiffer's deft hand, though, this motif is anchored to a clear purpose: to make vivid how the post-industrial landscape of lower Manhattan became the material, sometimes literally, of the artists' work." -- Associated Press

"The rich treasure of this short, three-block long city street is now thoroughly unpacked in Prudence Peiffer's carefully researched new book." -- BHS Now