By Sybil Gordon Kantor
Becoming up with the 20th 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 recent paintings in the USA and of the guy chargeable for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's occupation from the Nineteen Twenties in the course of the Forties, Kantor penetrates the myths, either confident and destructive, that encompass Barr and his achievements.
Barr fervently believed in a classy according to the intrinsic qualities of a piece of artwork and the fabrics and methods taken with its construction. Kantor indicates how this formalist strategy was once expressed within the organizational constitution of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and courses all expressed Barr's imaginative and prescient. while, she indicates 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 wide correspondence, Kantor additionally paints shiny pix 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
Despite seeming to be analytical to the point of coldness, the suppression of his spiritual life in the interest of “scientific objectivity” (an emerging cultural value) characterized his demeanor. This scientific attitude was a keystone of a formalist aesthetic. On entering college, Barr expected to pursue a long-held interest in paleontology. His enduring friendship with King extended to their common interests in paleontology, music, butterflies, and art. 45 King, as well as Jere Abbott, described the young Barr as having a scientific mind—adept at analysis and synthesis.
The show was organized by John Quinn, whom Barr considered to have one of the greatest collections of modern paintings in America at the time. Bryson Burroughs, the director of the museum, wrote in the introduction to the catalogue that the exhibition consisted of paintings that would not be entirely familiar to the public. 43 Mather’s denigration of modern art ultimately became a point of dissension between teacher and student. In 1931 Barr declined a request to write on Mather for the Saturday Review: “I am both a former pupil and a friend of Mr.
66 Keeping the spirit of this philosophy intact, Barr would carry it much further by including contemporary life. To the methodologies of historical scholarship that Barr acquired at Princeton, he would add the methods of connoisseurship that he learned at Harvard. 67 35 CHAPTER 2 THE FOGG METHOD AND PAUL J. SACHS: BARR AND HIS HARVARD MENTOR In the fall of 1924, after a summer of traveling in Europe, Barr arrived at Harvard to continue his graduate studies under the tutelage of Paul J. Sachs, the associate director of the Fogg Museum (fig.