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Download Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the by Sybil Gordon Kantor PDF

By Sybil Gordon Kantor

Transforming into up with the 20 th century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of contemporary paintings, 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 United States and of the fellow chargeable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's profession from the Nineteen Twenties in the course of the Nineteen Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either optimistic and unfavourable, that encompass Barr and his achievements.

Barr fervently believed in a classy in response to the intrinsic qualities of a piece of artwork and the fabrics and strategies all in favour of its production. Kantor exhibits 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 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 large correspondence, Kantor additionally paints vibrant 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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Extra info for Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art

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Listen to the sweet tale of my courses: 1. Byzantine Art [Porter]; 2. Engravings and Etchings [Sachs]; 3. Theory and Practice of Representation and Design (Fun with water colors and pencil and tempera) [Pope]; 4. Drawings—14th Italian, 14, 15th German, 18th French [Sachs]; 5. Modern Sculpture; 6. Florentine Painting; 7. Classical Culture in the Middle Ages with Rand; 8. Prose and Poetry, Tudor and Stuart. 9. Russian Music. The last five I merely listen to and take notes—but aren’t they swell? 1 37 38 CHAPTER 2 With these courses, Barr was inducted into a program that would direct him toward a formalist point of view, which first supplemented the historicist approach he had learned in Princeton and then overtook it.

Barr, if not painfully shy, was uninterested in social intercourse. Fastidiously private and broadly sanctimonious, he nevertheless had a gift for friendship. However different their backgrounds, their aims and methods were comparable. Both were starting on paths that had few precedents and, like THE FOGG METHOD AND PAUL J. SACHS 9. Paul J. Sachs. most adherents of movements that originate in radical notions, each often gave the impression of being doctrinaire and hypersensitive. Barr wrote to Gauss in the fall of 1924: Cambridge is a horble [sic] place to live in loud and noisy and ugly.

He describes a “little crouching nude” drawing by Matisse at the Armory Show of 1913: “An unbroken thick line told the whole story of torso settling into thighs and thorax bending into abdomen. ”40 But not a Raphael. 29 30 CHAPTER 1 Mather had the power of his journalistic experience to aid him, reinforced by a probing intelligence, a gift for words, and the merit of looking for the strengths in modernism (though unfortunately not finding them). Despite the advantage of his more scholarly prose, Mather joined the panicked critics who used unseemly epithets in responding to the inaccessibility of the abstract forms.

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