Robert Coates (critic)

Robert Coates (critic)

Robert Myron Coates (1897–1973) was an American writer and an art critic for the New Yorker. He coined the term, "Abstract Expressionism" in 1946 in reference to the works of Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. As a writer of fiction, he is considered a member of the Lost Generation, spending part of his life abroad in Europe. His first three novels are highly experimental, drawing upon Dada, surrealism and expressionism for their effect. His last two novels are examples of crime fiction in which the narrator presents a psychopathological case study of the protagonist.

Nowadays, Coates is best known for "The Outlaw Years" (1930), which deals with the history of the land pirates of the Natchez Trace. It is the only work by the author that is still in print.He was survived by his second wife, Astrid Peters Coates (1910-1995), his son, Anthony (from his marriage to Elsa Kirpal, which had ended in divorce); and his stepdaughter, Ingrid Waldron.


The Eater of Darkness (1926)
Yesterday's Burdens (1933)
The Bitter Season (1946)
Wisteria Cottage (1948)
The Farther Shore (1955)

hort story collections

All The Year Round (1943)
The Hour After Westerly (1957)
The Man Just Ahead Of You (1965)


The Outlaw Years (1930)
The View From Here (1960)
Beyond the Alps (1961)
South of Rome (1965)

New Yorker Short Stories

The Law (1947)November 29, 1947, p. 41

Further reading

Pierce, Constance. "Gertrude Stein and her Thoroughly Modern Protege." Modern Fiction Studies 42.3 (Autumn 1996): 607-25.
---. "Language • Silence • Laughter: The Silent Film and the 'Eccentric' Modernist Writer." SubStance 16.1 (1987): 59-75.
Roza, Mathilde. "Following Strangers: The Life and Literary Career of Robert Myron Coates (1897-1973)." U. of Nijmegen Diss., 2005.

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