By Sybil Gordon Kantor
Transforming into up with the 20 th century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of recent artwork, harnessed the cataclysm that was once modernism. during this book—part highbrow biography, half institutional history—Sybil Gordon Kantor tells the tale of the increase of recent paintings in the USA and of the fellow liable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's profession from the Nineteen Twenties during the Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either optimistic and unfavourable, that encompass Barr and his achievements.
Barr fervently believed in a cultured in line with the intrinsic qualities of a piece of artwork and the fabrics and methods interested by its production. Kantor exhibits how this formalist process used to be expressed within the organizational constitution of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and guides all expressed Barr's imaginative and prescient. while, she exhibits how Barr's skill to reconcile classical objectivity and mythic irrationality allowed him to understand modernism as an open-ended phenomenon that multiplied past purist summary modernism to incorporate surrealist, nationalist, realist, and expressionist art.
Drawing on interviews with Barr's contemporaries in addition to on Barr's large correspondence, Kantor additionally paints bright pictures of, between others, Jere Abbott, Katherine Dreier, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Agnes Mongan, J. B. Neumann, and Paul Sachs.
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Additional resources for Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art
24 Neumann’s ardour for contemporary paintings was once supported by way of his trust in sacrifice; like Stieglitz, he was once an idealist who put his enthusiasm for paintings ahead of cash. He lectured largely, together with to Barr’s category at Wellesley. His contemporaries within the paintings global remarked on Neumann’s insouciance whilst, on the way to stopover at different artwork exhibitions provided in big apple or to lecture, he closed his gallery. 25 The movie historian Jay Leyda complained: “Your workplace behavior are challenging in your out-of-town buddies. 26 Neumann referred to as his gallery an “Art Center,” the place artists may perhaps meet and alternate ideas—a carrying on with culture reminiscent of Stieglitz’s 291. Like Stieglitz, he released documentation within the kind of catalogues, books, and magazines for his gallery artists. Neumann additionally supplied an evening’s leisure on the gallery, with lectures, live shows, and performances. His pioneering of German artwork in the US was once as steadfast and insistent as Stieglitz’s help of his reliable of usa citizens. Neumann’s wisdom of avant-garde paintings in Germany, relatively the Bauhaus, and Russia tremendously more suitable Barr’s schooling in glossy paintings. HOLLAND, THEN GERMANY on the finish of October, 1927, Barr and Abbott went to Holland the place Barr visited the Hook to work out the structure of J. J. P. Oud, then directly to Rotterdam, the Hague, Haarlem, and Amsterdam the place he seen either the museums and personal collections. He studied the paintings of Oud, Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld, Theo van Doesburg, and different individuals of de Stijl in Amsterdam. 151 152 bankruptcy five Their itinerary then took them to Germany and, considerably, a trip to the Bauhaus, of which he might later write: “Young americans visited the Bauhaus at Dessau as a spot of pilgrimage the place the philosophy and perform of contemporary layout have been in means of rationalization. They talked with Gropius, Kandinsky, Feininger, Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Albers, Bayer, and Breuer, as with a brand new order of fellows engaged in reworking the creative energies of our time from a rebellious right into a confident job. ”27 The roots of the Bauhaus are available in 3 German organisations within which Neumann had participated. One was once the Deutscher Werkbund, a society of artists and representatives of that thought of structure the “true index of a nation’s tradition as a whole”;28 one other used to be the Novembergruppe that derived its identify from the Armistice, based in 1918 by means of, between others, Walter Gropius. Calling itself a “union of artistic radical artists,”29 it used to be an organization of artists, architects, composers, writers, movie manufacturers, critics, and artwork historians—many of whom were lively ahead of the war—who believed within the necessity of a massive social and non secular switch to recharge the cultural setting. because the such a lot concrete element of touch with the general public, structure speedy turned the main pressing and crucial concentration of the crowd and attracted different arts in its provider. Gropius additionally was once one of many organizers of the 3rd staff, the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, shaped on the finish of global battle I to boot.