Ambition & Love in Modern American Art

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2001 - Art - 312 pages
Freud wrote that the artist "desires to win honor, power, wealth, fame, and the love of women." In this engrossing book, Jonathan Weinberg investigates how an artist's ambition interacts with his or her art, how wealth and celebrity play a role in the artistic process. He shows that anxiety about the relationship of an artwork to identity and the corrupting influence of fame plague modern artists of all genders and sexual orientations.

Weinberg begins by discussing Whistler's famous portrait of his mother in terms of maternal metaphors for painting. He then looks at the familial relationships forged by artists like Jackson Pollock and Sally Mann with their imagined tradition. He next focuses on the role of love in photographs by Alfred Stieglitz as well as Georgia O'Keeffe's attempts to find autonomy from her partner Stieglitz. Weinberg also reveals that artistic fame is usually a matter of competition, and he examines the impulse of artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol to work together. The book concludes with a rumination on the NAMES Project Quilt and the problem of what becomes of those who die in obscurity.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Artists Mother
Picasso in Pollock
Sally Manns Immediate Family
OKeeffes Spaces
The Bombing of Basquiat
Advertisements for the Dead
Photo Credits 313

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Jonathan Weinberg is an art historian and painter with artworks in private and public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is the author of Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde, published by Yale University Press.

Bibliographic information