My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator

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9781559707695: My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator
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The late curator of the Chicago Art Institute traces the evolution of modern art in America, describing her relationships with numerous artists and collectors as forged throughout her career, and recounting her efforts to acquire some of the Institute's most famous pieces.

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About the Author:

Katharine Kuh founded her own Chicago gallery in 1935. Her sixteen years at the Art Institute of Chicago coincided with that institution’s emergence as one of the world’s greatest museums. She chronicled two decades of contemporary art as a critic at the Saturday Review. Kuh died in 1994.

From Publishers Weekly:

[Signature]Reviewed by James LordThis love affair provides for those who care about art and artists a piercing, passionate glimpse of creative activity in America during the first half of the 20th century. Kuh (1904–1994) saw everything, knew everybody, went everywhere and in the miraculous lucidity of her old, old age still had the wit and discernment to tell the story of her vision, knowledge and travels. It is, of course, a very personal tale. The raison d'être of memoirs is not merely to relate experience but also to reveal the personality of the author. Thus, Kuh discloses how and why art became, as it were, the very backbone of her physical and spiritual adventure. It required exceptional courage and intellectual discipline. The revelations are aided and abetted, so to speak, by Kuh's friend, admirer and accomplice, Avis Berman, who edited and completed the manuscript after the author's death, at 89, and who disclosed vital information that Kuh's reticence would have set aside, describing, for example, details of the love affairs which contributed essential elements to the passion of art.Passionate as it indeed is, this around-the-art-world voyage invited mainly the happy few as fellow passengers. And Kuh possessed the resilient temperament enabling her to sail audaciously along when the happy few were very few. Almost all of her professional and emotional life was spent in Chicago, the pivotal center of the aesthetic doldrums then prevailing in America's cultural badlands. New York was artistically far more exciting, but Katharine was determined to create excitement within spitting distance of the stockyards.She opened her own gallery there in 1935, the nadir of the Great Depression, when even in New York it was difficult to give away a drawing by, say, Bonnard. Nonetheless, the gallery prevailed, introducing unheard of and unwelcome artists to Chicago, where a handful of prescient adventurers were prepared to pay a pittance for pictures their neighbors considered evidence of madness. Kuh's courage was rewarded when she was appointed to the prestigious post of curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, a museum which her sharp eye enriched with fine examples of avant-garde modernism.The love affair with the art of her time came fully into its own after WWII, when the enamored connoisseur developed close friendships with the artists, collectors and curators whom she had intimate cause to admire. The larger part of her autobiography is an account of her devotion to these individuals, almost all of them celebrated today: Brancusi, Mies van der Rohe, V.W. van Gogh, Rothko, Clyfford Sti·ll, Tobey, Berenson, Albers, Léger, Franz Kline et al. Her reminiscences vividly draw the reader into a deep sympathy for her love affair. Succinctly written, it is a fine memorial to a memorable journey.James Lord is the author of Picasso and Dora, Six Exceptional Women and, most recently, Mythic Giacometti, all published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
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9781611455069: My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator

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