Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art

By Sybil Gordon Kantor

Starting to be up with the 20th 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 contemporary paintings in the US and of the fellow answerable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's occupation from the Nineteen Twenties during the Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either optimistic and destructive, 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 inquisitive about its production. Kantor indicates how this formalist process was once 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 extended 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 huge 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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King spent his first yr at Johns Hopkins after which transferred to Princeton simply because Barr “had to have him,” as Barr wrote KNOWING ALFRED BARR to Gauss. forty five King, in addition to Jere Abbott, defined the younger Barr as having a systematic mind—adept at research and synthesis. Meyer Schapiro, conversing at Barr’s memorial provider years later, conjectured that Barr “must have had a systematic education” in his early years. “He was once consistently sober in his statements and aware of truth; he tended to be analytic in addition. ”46 utilising his personal phrases approximately Matisse to Barr himself turns out acceptable: “[His] management was once as a result of elements of character, skill and situation . . . [and] unheard of serious intelligence, braveness, expertise, striking pertinacity and a profound seriousness of objective. ”47 A subtheme is the notable affinity Barr had for this fabric: within the phrases of Merleau-Ponty, who used to be concerning Cézanne, “The fact is this paintings to be performed known as for this lifestyles. ”48 17 CHAPTER 1 THE PRINCETON YEARS whilst Barr entered Princeton collage in 1918 on the age of 16, the dept of artwork and Archeology were in life for under thirty-five years. Princeton has been pointed out because the version that formed such a lot paintings background departments in the United States simply because within the overdue 19th century it effected “the separation of archaeology from classics, the advent of paintings background as an instructional self-discipline faraway from paintings appreciation, and the wedding of the 2 in administrative autonomy. ”1 The founding father of this seminal division used to be Allan P. Marquand, an 1874 graduate of the varsity of recent Jersey, as Princeton was once then referred to as. 2 Marquand additionally obtained a master’s measure in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, the place he ready to go into the ministry, carrying on with his stories on the Union Theological Seminary in manhattan. He then grew to become from theology to philosophy, receiving a doctorate in philosophy from Johns Hopkins collage in 1880. He begun educating at Princeton in 1881 as an teacher in Latin and common sense yet used to be quickly diverted to coach the background of paintings, beginning with a direction at the improvement of Christian structure. Of his coaching for this instructing, he's THE PRINCETON YEARS quoted as having acknowledged: “It was once a brand new box for me, yet I publish a very good bluff and stumbled alongside lecturing on Early Christian and Byzantine structure as though I understood it good, and as though I knew previously all there has been to stick to within the unexplored fields of Romanesque and Gothic. ”3 Like their colleagues shaping the hot self-discipline at Harvard, professors within the first iteration at Princeton have been frequently informed in literature or classical stories or technology and principally self-taught in artwork heritage. The confluence of theology and artwork background, in addition to technology and artwork heritage, within the shaping of the paintings heritage graduate departments had an effect on Barr’s final occupation. Many ministers—and within the subsequent new release, sons of ministers—could be chanced on lecturing at the heritage of the high-quality arts in neophyte departments of artwork background.

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