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Joseph Glasco: The Fifteenth American

Joseph Glasco (1925–1996), one of the most original American artists of his time, has all but disappeared from the history of contemporary art. Yet at the age of twenty-five he was given a one-man show at one of New York's leading galleries and became the youngest artist to be represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. This book offers a first opportunity to see a large and representative selection of Glasco’s works in reproduction and to learn about his colourful life. At the same time, the author examines some of the complex reasons for his subsequent neglect.

Born in Oklahoma and brought up in East Texas, Glasco enlisted in the army and participated in the final defeat of Germany in 1945. Four years later, he settled in New York, where he became part of a circle of artists, including Jackson Pollock. At this time, when American Abstract Expressionism was being promoted worldwide as “free enterprise art,” Glasco’s art was figurative, with tight, densely worked markings. In 1952 he was the final artist to be included in the famous MoMA exhibition “Fifteen Americans,” along with Pollock, Rothko, and others.

Nevertheless, Glasco never found success easy to handle, and he soon left New York for Taos, with William Goyen, author of the controversial novel The House of Breath, who had recently become his partner. In Taos they were part of the circle of Frieda, the widow of D.H.Lawrence, but New York remained the place where Glasco was most productive.

At the end of the 1950s, he moved to Europe, where for some years he was based in Athens and then in the Canary Islands. When he returned, he spent a year in Cleveland before settling in the early 1970s in Galveston. There he met Julian Schnabel, whom he encouraged, and who persuaded him to return to New York, where, in a loft-studio in SoHo he worked on canvas collages, which became the defining medium for him in the latter part of his career.

As often as possible, the author has allowed Glasco – through letters, interviews, notes, and drafts of autobiography – to speak for himself, and the voices of many of his close friends are also heard. In this way, the book resembles a documentary rather than a conventional artist’s monograph, permitting Joe Glasco’s charm and intelligence to shine through in the presentation of his work.

Perls catalogue   Nikos
  Marble Head
  1993 Collage
Illustrations: Glasco in Stanley Seeger's apartment with Salome, 1955, behind him (top right); Young Ladies on the catalogue of Glasco's 1950 exhibition at the Perls Galleries; Reclining Figure, 1971; Head, 1958; Fabric collage Jan 10 93, 1993.

Joseph Glasco: The Fifteenth American
Michael Raeburn

27 x 21 cm • 400 pages • printed in colour • 315  illustrations including over 230 works by Glasco • clothbound hardback with full-colour jacket

ISBN 978-1-61168-854-2

Price: $65 / £49      

US sales: University Press of New England, 800-421-1561 • UK and other sales: Oxbow Books, oxbow@oxbowbooks.com

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    ©2015 Cacklegoose Press. All rights reserved. Pictures © Joseph M. Glasco Estate