The New York Public Library’s exhibition, Yaddo: Making American Culture opens today at the main branch at 42nd and Fifth Avenue. There is also a review of the exhibition in today’s New York Times. For those of us who cannot make it to the exhibition, we’ve just published the accompanying book for the exhibit, edited by Micki McGee.
Residents of Yaddo, included a wide range of twentieth-century writers, artists, composers, and intellectuals: Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, John Cheever, William Gass, Philip Guston, Langston Hughes, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Henry Roth, Clyfford Still, and William Carlos Williams.
The book is chock-full of reproduced letters, papers, art, and ephemera produced by the residents of the artists’ colony and its administrators. The book showcases the spirit of creativity that infuses Yaddo, its lush surroundings, and opulent trapping. Famous romances also blossomed at Yaddo — Newton Arvin and Truman Capote, and Henry Roth and Muriel Parker — while John Cheever’s romances at Yaddo seemed to be of the shorter, one-night variety.
The book also highlights some of the controversies that have dotted its history. Most prominently, the chapter, “The Longest Stay,” focuses on Robert Lowell’s efforts to rid Yaddo of those he suspected of being communist party members and in the case of Agnes Smedley, a communist spy.
Below are some images from the book:
William Gass as Painted by Philip Guston
Truman Capote at Yaddo
Robert Lowell’s letter about suspected Communists at Yaddo