Thursday, May 15, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, 94133
discussing the release of her new memoir
Unstill Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Art and Love in the Age Of Abstraction
from W W Norton
Joined by her father Peter Selz
Luminous and revealing, a daughter's memoir of the art world and a larger-than-life father.
In 1958, soon after Gabrielle Selz was born, she, her parents and her sister moved to New York, where her father, Peter Selz, would begin his job as the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art. What followed was a whirlwind childhood spent among art and artists in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Gabrielle grew up in a home full of the most celebrated artists of the day: Rothko, de Kooning, Tinguely, Giacometti, and Christo, among others.
Poignant and candid, Unstill Life is a daughter's memoir of the art world and a larger-than-life father known to the world as Mr. Modern Art. Selz offers a unique window into the glamour and destruction of the times: the gallery openings, wild parties and affairs that defined one of the most celebrated periods in American art history. Like the art he loved, Selz's father was vibrant and freewheeling, but his enthusiasm for both women and art took its toll on family life. When her father left MoMA and his family to direct his own museum in California, marrying four more times, Selz's mother, the writer Thalia Selz, moved with her children into the utopian artist community Westbeth. Her parents continued a tumultuous affair that would last forty years.
Weaving her family narrative into the larger story of twentieth-century art and culture, Selz paints an unforgettable portrait of a charismatic man, the generation of modern artists he championed and the daughter whose life he shaped.
What has been said about Unstill Life:
"A beautiful, compelling memoir, a testament to art, to love, to life and all its losses and joys." — Frederic Tuten, author of Self Portraits
"Reading Gabrielle Selz’s telling of the exhilarating twentieth-century decades when American art remade itself is like sitting to one side at a New York opening with someone who knows every story inside out. No one has died and all the living are here, too: Max Beckmann, Karel Appel, Carolee Schneeman, Alberto Giacometti, Mark Rothko and so many others whirl past, as at the center, the writer’s complicated parents, the visionary and philandering MoMA curator Peter Selz and the beautiful writer Thalia Cheronis, hold our attention. Informed by the author’s tenderness and longing, Unstill Life has the vitality of witness and the intimacy of memoir at its best." — Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter
"This intimate look at the art world’s movers and shakers is from the perspective of the younger daughter of Peter Selz, a major curator and museum director. . . . It’s an exuberant tale of artists from Rothko to Christo that makes the reader marvel that neither the daughter nor her mother ever rejected the rascal who both animated and complicated their lives." — Gail Levin, biographer of Edward Hopper, Judy Chicago, and Lee Krasner
"Life inspires art inspires life—all of which inspire Gabrielle Selz’s sparkling memoir of her brilliant but chaotic family. In Unstill Life, the art and people ricochet off each other, wreaking havoc but also encouraging everyone to live more intense, artistic lives." — Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat