Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art (The MIT Press)

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9780262611961: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art (The MIT Press)
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An intellectual biography of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. founding director of the Museum of Modern Art.

Growing up with the twentieth century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, harnessed the cataclysm that was modernism. In this book―part intellectual biography, part institutional history―Sybil Gordon Kantor tells the story of the rise of modern art in America and of the man responsible for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's career from the 1920s through the 1940s, Kantor penetrates the myths, both positive and negative, that surround Barr and his achievements.

Barr fervently believed in an aesthetic based on the intrinsic traits of a work of art and the materials and techniques involved in its creation. Kantor shows how this formalist approach was expressed in the organizational structure of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and publications all expressed Barr's vision. At the same time, she shows how Barr's ability to reconcile classical objectivity and mythic irrationality allowed him to perceive modernism as an open-ended phenomenon that expanded beyond purist abstract modernism to include surrealist, nationalist, realist, and expressionist art.

Drawing on interviews with Barr's contemporaries as well as on Barr's extensive correspondence, Kantor also paints vivid portraits of, among others, Jere Abbott, Katherine Dreier, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Agnes Mongan, J. B. Neumann, and Paul Sachs.

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About the Author:

Sybil Gordon Kantor is an independent scholar living in Columbus, Ohio, and Lugano, Switzerland.

From Library Journal:

A handful of figures contributed to the establishment of modern art in the U.S. museum community: Juliana Force (Whitney Museum of American Art), Chick Austen (Wadsworth Atheneum), Duncan Phillips (Phillips Collection), and, preeminently, Alfred H. Barr Jr. In a book that serves as both a biography of Barr and a textbook on the theoretical foundation of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, independent scholar Kantor focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of Barr's early life. He explores in great depth the philosophers, teachers, collectors, artists, and others who helped to form the mind of MoMA's founding director (Barr was a mere 27 at the time of his appointment). Barr's important and influential colleagues (Lincoln Kirstein, Agnes Mongan, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson, and others from both inside and outside of MoMA) are placed in historical and personal context. This excellent treatment explores Barr's contribution both to modern art in America and to many of the museum practices that are now taken for granted. For a more traditional biographical treatment, see Alice Goldfarb Marquis's Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Missionary for the Modern (LJ 4/15/89). Highly recommended for all collections with an interest in 20th-century art. Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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9780262112581: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art

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ISBN 10:  0262112582 ISBN 13:  9780262112581
Publisher: The MIT Press, 2001
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Book Description MIT Press Ltd, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. An intellectual biography of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. founding director of the Museum of Modern Art.Growing up with the twentieth century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, harnessed the cataclysm that was modernism. In this book-part intellectual biography, part institutional history-Sybil Gordon Kantor tells the story of the rise of modern art in America and of the man responsible for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's career from the 1920s through the 1940s, Kantor penetrates the myths, both positive and negative, that surround Barr and his achievements.Barr fervently believed in an aesthetic based on the intrinsic traits of a work of art and the materials and techniques involved in its creation. Kantor shows how this formalist approach was expressed in the organizational structure of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and publications all expressed Barr's vision. At the same time, she shows how Barr's ability to reconcile classical objectivity and mythic irrationality allowed him to perceive modernism as an open-ended phenomenon that expanded beyond purist abstract modernism to include surrealist, nationalist, realist, and expressionist art.Drawing on interviews with Barr's contemporaries as well as on Barr's extensive correspondence, Kantor also paints vivid portraits of, among others, Jere Abbott, Katherine Dreier, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Agnes Mongan, J. B. Neumann, and Paul Sachs. Seller Inventory # BZV9780262611961

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Book Description MIT Press Ltd, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. An intellectual biography of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. founding director of the Museum of Modern Art.Growing up with the twentieth century, Alfred Barr (1902-1981), founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, harnessed the cataclysm that was modernism. In this book-part intellectual biography, part institutional history-Sybil Gordon Kantor tells the story of the rise of modern art in America and of the man responsible for its triumph. Following the trajectory of Barr's career from the 1920s through the 1940s, Kantor penetrates the myths, both positive and negative, that surround Barr and his achievements.Barr fervently believed in an aesthetic based on the intrinsic traits of a work of art and the materials and techniques involved in its creation. Kantor shows how this formalist approach was expressed in the organizational structure of the multidepartmental museum itself, whose collections, exhibitions, and publications all expressed Barr's vision. At the same time, she shows how Barr's ability to reconcile classical objectivity and mythic irrationality allowed him to perceive modernism as an open-ended phenomenon that expanded beyond purist abstract modernism to include surrealist, nationalist, realist, and expressionist art.Drawing on interviews with Barr's contemporaries as well as on Barr's extensive correspondence, Kantor also paints vivid portraits of, among others, Jere Abbott, Katherine Dreier, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Agnes Mongan, J. B. Neumann, and Paul Sachs. Seller Inventory # BZV9780262611961

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