Topless Cellist is a brilliant portrait of a true original and the chaotic, confrontational, destructive, absurd era in which she lived. It’s also a must read for anyone who was flirting with Artland back then, or wishes they’d been on the scene. A portrait of the times as much as the woman, Topless Cellist, gives a full measure of a life lived with ‘extreme passion, extreme sex, extreme beauty.’—Minneapolis Star Tribune—
Ms. Rothfuss has written not just a fine biography of an absorbing character but a necessary one—a closely researched tale of a life in art where all was fleetingly possible. The illustrations, needless to add, are exhilarating.
, Wall Street Journal
Essential for art historians, fun for New York City history buffs, inspirational for Lady Gaga fans.
Fascinating, thorough and insightful, Topless Cellist is the first biography of Moorman to appear, and Rothfuss is careful to position it carefully within the fluid art historical context of its time.
Charlotte Moorman hit the headlines in 1967 when she was arrested for indecent exposure by New York police while playing her cello bare-breasted for a performance of Nam June Paik’s ‘Opera Sextronique.’ But her career amounted to much more than a sensational single run-in with American morality. Born in Arkansas in 1933 and trained at Juilliard, she was a trailblazer in avant-garde performance art. To the composer Edgard Varèse, she was ‘the Jeanne d’Arc of new music.’ To her native city, Little Rock, she was ‘Miss City Beautiful of 1952.’ Complex and indomitable, she turned her death from cancer in 1991 into an anarchic event. Joan Rothfuss’s level-eyed critical biography captures it all.
, New York Times
…with a few exceptions Moorman does not appear in histories of 20th-century music. The vividly written and lavishly illustrated account that is Topless Cellist should go some way to rectify that neglect.
—John Robert Brown
, Classical Music
Rothfuss’s is an essential volume: not just a record of a remarkable span and its rich artistic milieu, but testament also to the ways Moorman could be so easily written out of the history of the avant-garde.
, The Guardian
This impressively researched, engaging and insightful book will hopefully prompt further consideration of Moorman’s life, art and legacy.
—Studies in Theatre and Performance
Detailed and thoroughly researched and featuring photographs of the impactful visuals that comprised Moorman’s performances, Topless Cellist is unprecedented in its achievement as a biography of this unique artist.
—Woman’s Art Journal
… the story of how Moorman, a graduate of the Juilliard School (where her teacher was Leonard Rose) and rank-and-file member of Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra, broke ranks with the classical niceties so resolutely is an inspiring one.