The Slip

The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever

by Prudence Peiffer

On Sale: 08/01/2023

The Slip

Enlarge Book Cover

The Slip

The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever

by Prudence Peiffer

On Sale: 08/01/2023


About the Book

The never-before-told story of an obscure little street at the lower tip of Manhattan and the remarkable artists who got their start there.

For just over a decade, from 1956 to 1967, a collection of dilapidated former sail-making warehouses clustered at the lower tip of Manhattan became the quiet epicenter of the art world. Coenties Slip, a dead-end street near the water, was home to a circle of wildly talented and varied artists that included Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Delphine Seyrig, Lenore Tawney, and Jack Youngerman. As friends and inspirations to one another, they created a unique community for unbridled creative expression and experimentation, and the works they made at the Slip would go on to change the course of American art.

Now, for the first time, Prudence Peiffer pays homage to these artists and the unsung impact their work had on the direction of late twentieth-century art and film. This remarkable biography, as transformative as the artists it illuminates, questions the very concept of a “group” or “movement,” as it spotlights the Slip’s eclectic mix of gender and sexual orientation, abstraction and Pop, experimental film, painting, and sculpture, assemblage and textile works. Brought together not by the tenets of composition or technique, nor by philosophy or politics, the artists cultivated a scene at the Slip defined by a singular spirit of community and place. They drew lasting inspiration from one another, but perhaps even more from where they called home, and the need to preserve the solitude its geography fostered. Despite Coenties Slip’s obscurity, the entire history of Manhattan was inscribed into its cobblestones—one of the first streets and central markets of the new colony, built by enslaved people, with revolutionary meetings at the tavern just down Pearl Street; named by Herman Melville in Moby Dick and site of the boom and bust of the city’s maritime industry; and, in the artists’s own time, a development battleground for Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. The Slip’s history is entwined with that of the artists and their art—eclectic and varied work that was made from the wreckage of the city’s many former lives.

An ambitious and singular account of a time, a place, and a group of extraordinary people, The Slip investigates the importance of community, and makes an argument for how we are shaped by it, and how it in turns shapes our work. 

Critical Praise

"Reading The Slip provides a thrill similar to stumbling on hidden treasure in an antique shop. Elegantly wrought, and bristling with unforgettable details, this inspired excavation of a never-before-told chapter in the history of American art is as timeless as it is original. From the serendipity of friendship to the mysterious power of place, Prudence Peiffer brings to vivid life the abstract forces that make it possible for creativity to thrive." — Kate Bolick, author of the New York Times best-selling Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own

“A vivid and poignant story of a vanished Manhattan, a slip of land and the young artists who worked there, who left their ecstasies, crises, and friendships at that spot, there to be found and held up, in a keen and sympathetic light, by a truly skilled writer.” — Alexander Nemerov, author of Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York

“Prudence Peiffer has brought a singular mix of style and expertise to the story of Coenties Slip, a sliver of land at the tip of Manhattan that became a legendary art-world address. Here, at last, is the definitive history of the Slipand of bohemia's final years in New York.” — Deborah Solomon, art critic and author

”An appreciative group biography of a community of artists who lived and worked in cheap lofts and studios on Coenties Slip, at the lower tip of Manhattan, from 1956 to 1967 . . . Besides illuminating the creative work, the author captures the spirit of the “unique microcosm” of the “modest, almost forgotten” Slip . . . . A warm evocation of a unique place and time.”  — Kirkus Reviews

“[An] enchanting debut . . . . Peiffer vividly traces the community’s genesis and makes a detailed and persuasive case for its influence on other “alternative models to conventional city life.” It’s a gratifying deep dive into New York City art history.” — Publishers Weekly


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063097209
  • ISBN 10: 0063097206
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 08/01/2023
  • Pages: 432
  • List Price:47.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : ART / History / Contemporary (1945-)
  • BISAC2 : ART / American / General
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Artists, Architects, Photographers

The Slip by Prudence Peiffer

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


Specialty Booksellers

Interest-specific online venues and gift accounts that offer books for purchase. The links will take you to the store’s home page.

International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.