Saturday, February 23, 2008

De Kooning's Bicycle

Robert Long's book De Kooning's Bicycle chronicles the history of creative life in Eastern Long Island. Now, a playground for New York City's elite, the Hamptons was once a humble backwater that provided artists and writers a sanctuary from the claustrophobic city, yet it is close enough for artists to maintain a presence in the city. It is important to note that De Kooning is not the focus of the book. It is really a history of key individuals, which include Thomas Moran, William Marritt Chase, Jackson Pollock, Frank O'Hara, William De Kooning, Fairfield Porter, Jean Stanfford and Saul Stienberg, who lived and worked on the East End. The book opens in the mid-1600s with the European settlement of the land by the Puritan English, who migrated from the northern territories in search of better farmland. Long's poetic accounts of life in the Hamptons is a joy to read. He beautifully describes the lush light and balmy atmosphere that reminded De Kooning of his homeland, Holland. I highly recommend this book to anyone, not just artists, who are interested in the history of New York City and it's relationship to Eastern Long Island.