By Sybil Gordon Kantor
Growing to be up with the 20 th century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of recent artwork, harnessed the cataclysm that used to be modernism. during this book—part highbrow biography, half institutional history—Sybil Gordon Kantor tells the tale of the increase of contemporary artwork in the USA and of the guy liable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's occupation from the Nineteen Twenties throughout the Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either confident and unfavourable, that encompass Barr and his achievements.
Barr fervently believed in a classy in accordance with the intrinsic qualities of a piece of artwork and the fabrics and methods concerned about its production. Kantor indicates how this formalist method was once expressed within the organizational constitution of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and courses all expressed Barr's imaginative and prescient. whilst, she indicates how Barr's skill to reconcile classical objectivity and mythic irrationality allowed him to understand modernism as an open-ended phenomenon that elevated 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 wide correspondence, Kantor additionally paints vibrant snap shots 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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Extra resources for Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art
She was the author of Medardo Rosso (1858–1928), a monograph on the Italian sculptor published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1963. Neither of Barr’s most important books on Picasso and Matisse would have been possible without her. Despite the many innuendos to the contrary, Margaret and Alfred Barr seemed to have had a mutually devoted marriage. Correspondence in the Barr Archives supports this, as does the testimony of Philip Johnson, who recalled that though Barr would be distraught when Margaret Barr wasn’t around, he would “cover it KNOWING ALFRED BARR 3.
He wrote to Mather: You speak of yourself as conservative. Which I suppose is true. Yet none of my teachers was nearly as open to new ideas and so tolerant of contemporary art they didn’t like. Furthermore I always felt that you had a real sense of the importance of first hand contact with a work of art and of qualitative judgements. This was valuable especially with an education overwhelmingly based on photographs. However conservative you may find yourself to be, you will always THE PRINCETON YEARS have philosophical objectivity.
European in origin, this was a more historical perspective, and Morey’s graduate work was in philology. Morey quoted Norton, who was of the same mind: “After all, what we learn in college is the history of man’s past achievement and its bearing on the present. The trouble with the method by which we learn it just now is the unavoidable emphasis on man’s material, economic and scientific advancement without reference to the changing viewpoint of what these material phenomena reflect or what they have produced.
Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art by Sybil Gordon Kantor