March 7, 2017

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

By Sybil Gordon Kantor

Growing to be up with the 20 th century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of contemporary 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 accountable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's occupation from the Twenties during the Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either confident and destructive, that encompass Barr and his achievements.

Barr fervently believed in a classy in keeping with the intrinsic features of a piece of artwork and the fabrics and methods focused on its construction. Kantor indicates how this formalist procedure used to be expressed within the organizational constitution of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and courses all expressed Barr's imaginative and prescient. even as, 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 shiny photos 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

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King continued: “I felt that Barr focused on style alone and that he misread or overlooked Michelangelo’s essential content, which I interpreted in the usual way, as one of the most monumental psychomachias in human annals. 27 They met at Princeton in 1924 where Barr was conducting tutorials in modern architecture. Abbott’s description of Barr corresponded with King’s. Although he enjoyed looking at art with Barr, Abbott commented that when they did, 9 10 PROLOGUE “not a flicker that an impression had been made” showed on Barr’s countenance.

He began teaching at Princeton in 1881 as an instructor in Latin and logic but was soon diverted to teach the history of art, starting with a course on the development of Christian architecture. ”3 Like their colleagues shaping the new discipline at Harvard, professors in the first generation at Princeton were usually trained in literature or classical studies or science and largely self-taught in art history. The confluence of theology and art history, as well as science and art history, in the shaping of the art history graduate departments had an impact on Barr’s ultimate career.

He was] conscious of appearance, of deportment. ”25 King described Barr’s stance toward art as continually critical, appraising everything both analytically and synthetically. Barr “was always interested in the platonic underlying forms . . ” An example of Barr’s analytical approach, he thought, was the cold perfection he saw in the work of Michelangelo, while King, in contrast, felt that a “boiling” lay beneath the exterior of the works. King continued: “I felt that Barr focused on style alone and that he misread or overlooked Michelangelo’s essential content, which I interpreted in the usual way, as one of the most monumental psychomachias in human annals.

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