The Painted Word

Tom Wolfe




Trade Paperback

112 Pages



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In 1975, Tom Wolfe wrote a book skewering the contemporary art world. Here, in this re-issued edition, the satirical brilliance of that work is restored. With biting wit, Wolfe merrily lampooned all that he saw pervading the art world—the pretension, lofty theorizing, social climbing, and soaring wealth, which he considered detriments to the society and the industry of art. The social criticism in The Painted Word still resonates today.


Praise for The Painted Word

"If you have ever stared uncomprehendingly at an abstract painting that admired critics have said you ought to dig, take heart. Tom Wolfe . . . is on your side. The Painted Word may enrage you. It may confirm your darkest suspicions about Modern Art. In any case, it will amuse you."—New York Sunday News

"Tom Wolfe is a journalist who always manages to combine an encyclopedic store of inside knowledge with the obstinate detachment of a visitor from Mars, not to mention a brilliant style and incisive wit."—San Francsico Chronicle

"The Painted Word may well be Tom Wolfe's most successful piece of social criticism to date."—The New York Times

"The Painted Word is a masterpiece. No one in the art world . . . could fail to recognize its essential truth. I read it four times, each of them with mounting envy for Wolfe's eye, ear, and surgical skill."The Washington Post

"His eye and ear for detailed observations are incomparable; and observation is to the satirist what bullets are to a gun."—The Boston Sunday Globe

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Apache Dance

ALL THE MAJOR MODERN MOVEMENTS EXCEPT FOR DE STIJL, Dada, Constructivism, and Surrealism began before the First World War, and yet they all seem to come out of the 1920s. Why? Because it was in the...

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  • Tom Wolfe

  • Tom Wolfe is the author of a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

  • Tom Wolfe Copyright Mark Seliger
    Tom Wolfe