A Complicated Marriage

My Life With Clement Greenberg

by Janice Van Horne

1955. Janice (Jenny) Van Horne is a 21-year-old, naïve Bennington College graduate on her own for the first time in New York City. At a party, she meets 46-year-old Clement Greenberg who, she is told, is “the most famous, the most important, art critic in the world!” Knowing nothing about art, she soon finds herself swept into Clem’s world and the heady company of Hans Hofmann, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, David Smith, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. Seven months later, as a new bride, Jenny and Clem spend the summer in East Hampton near Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, and she feels even more keenly like an interloper in the inner circle of the art scene. Disowned by her anti-Semitic family for marrying a Jew, her deep, loving bond with Clem would remain strong through many years, even as their relationship evolves into an open marriage.

Jenny embodies the pivotal changes of each passing decade as she searches for worlds of her own. She moves from the 1950s tradition of wife and mother as she dives into psychoanalysis, the theater world of OOB and the Actors’ Studio, and success in business. Written with humor and grace, A Complicated Marriage provides an intimate and honest view of her time. In doing so, she demythologizes the art scene and its icons, and redefines the meaning of a “good marriage.”