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Some of the twentieth century's most important artists and writers--from Jackson Pollock to Saul Steinberg, Frank O'Hara to Jean Stafford--lived and worked on the East End of Long Island years before it assumed an alternate identity as the Hamptons. The home they made there, and its effect on their work, is the subject of these searching, lyrical vignettes by the critic and poet Robert Long.
Pollock moved to Springs because he thought he wanted to stop drinking, but he found a connection to nature there that inspired some of the most significant paintings of our time. Others followed him. When Fairfield Porter bought a house in Southampton, the New York School suddenly had a new headquarters, and James Schuyler and Frank O'Hara found companionship and raw material for their poems on South Main Street and on the three-hour train ride between the city and the East End. Willem de Kooning rode his bike every day between his studio in the East Hampton woods and the bay, where the light informed every brushstroke he put to canvas from the early 1960s on.
In De Kooning's Bicycle, Long mixes storytelling with history to re-create the lives and events that shaped American art and literature as we know it today, in a landscape where town met country and the modern met America's rural past.