The History of the East Village’s Cedar Tavern

1960s: Days of Rage

Jackson Pollock, Alchemy, 1947

“It was, in other words, the primary hangout for the avant-garde. Such was its reputation, that it formed the setting of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1987 novel Bluebeard, as the hub where his fictional hero Rabo Karebekian held court with his fellow painterly bohemians. The artist Elaine de Kooning, wife of Willem de Kooning, referred to it as the epicenter of a ‘decade-long bender’ and, as recorded in David Lehman’s history of the period The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets, artist Ad Reinhardt said, ‘We go there to meet the very people we hate most, other painters.’ Artist Franz Kline, along with Frank O’Hara and the de Koonings, were usually at the center of the hub and the cross-pollination between the worlds of poetry and art clearly played a part in the development of their early work…

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