K E V I N . M O O R E

Lincoln Kirstein's Modern

The Museum of Modern Art

March 17-June 30, 2019

Essay by Kevin Moore

Lincoln Kirstein's Modern

Edited with text by Samantha Friedman, Jodi Hauptman. Text by Lynn Garafola, Michelle Greet, Michelle Harvey, Richard Meyer, Kevin Moore.

 

 

Kirstein was cofounder of the New York City Ballet and a key figure in MoMA’s history, shaping American culture in the 1930s and ‘40s

 

Lincoln Kirstein was a polymathic writer, critic, curator and impresario: a key connector and an indefatigable catalyst whose sweeping contributions to American cultural life in the 1930s and ‘40s shaped artists and institutions. Best known for cofounding the New York City Ballet, he is also a crucial figure in the Museum of Modern Art’s early history. He championed photography and figurative art; established the Museum’s short-lived Dance Archives and curatorial department of Dance and Theater Design; acquired a significant trove of Latin American art for the collection; and contributed an alternative vision to a museum known for its devotion to abstraction.

 

Published in conjunction with an exhibition devoted to Kirstein’s expansive view of modern art, this volume also explores his wide-ranging and overlapping professional and social networks in New York City and beyond. The richly illustrated book features paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and costume and set designs by artists including Antonio Berni, Paul Cadmus, Walker Evans, Raquel Forner, Jared French, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gaston Lachaise, George Platt Lynes, Elie Nadelman, Ben Shahn, Honoré Sharrer, Pavel Tchelitchew and Joaquín Torres-García.

 

Lincoln Kirstein (1907–96) has been called “the closest thing to a Renaissance man of culture that 20th-century America has produced.” He founded three journals (Hound & Horn, Dance Index and Films), and, with the Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine, established the New York City Ballet in 1948. He organized exhibitions and contributed to accompanying catalogues, authored ballet librettos, and published novels, memoirs and poetry, as well as extensive criticism on painting, sculpture, photography, film, dance, theater and literature.

Walker Evans

Lincoln Kirstein, c. 1931

Gelatin silver print

Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Walker Evans

Gothic Gate near Poughkeepsie, New York, 1931

Gelatin silver print

Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Walker Evans, Gothic Gate near Poughkeepsie, New Y Walker Evans, Lincoln Kirstein, c. 1931