Modernism, , and Politics: The " and Abstract " Exhibition of 1936 at the of Author(s): Susan Noyes Platt Source: Art Journal, Vol. 47, No. 4, Revising Cubism (Winter, 1988), pp. 284-295 Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 10/09/2011 00:37

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By Susan Noyes Platt

The Cubism and Abstract Art exhi- plaster cast of the Winged Victory of bition, held at The Museum of Samothrace (Fig. 3).2 These juxtaposi- Modern Art in City during tions of modern art and its purported df 1936 (Fig. 1) and subse- sources were intended to educate view- quently in six other cities, marks a ers to the revolutionary development of watershed in the historiography of ear- modern art as well as to its historical ly-twentieth-century modernism. Ear- roots in the familiar art of the classical lier, the critical analysis of modern art era. had been complex, individual and often Alfred Barr, the of Cubism contradictory. Interpretationsin Ameri- and Abstract Art, presented there an ca-by such writers as Katherine apparently absolutely systematic ver- Dreier, , and Walter sion of the development of Cubism. This Pach, for example-depended on a com- grand scheme was epitomized in an evo- bination of personal prejudices and spo- lutionary chart that traced the ancestry radic interaction with European and and descendents of Cubism (Fig. 4). American publications and artists. The chart was posted throughout the These early critics developed categories, exhibition and used on the dust jacket of styles, and motives anew for each publi- the catalogue. Divided into five-year cation.1 periods, the chart presented a genealogy Cubism and Abstract Art together of modern artistic styles. At the top it with the widespread dissemination of its demonstrated that Redon, Van Gogh, influential catalogue, established Cu- Gauguin, Cezanne, Seurat, and Rous- bism as the central issue of moder- seau and early 1 View northeast on 53rd generated Cubism, abstraction as the It made Fig. looking whose and nonart sources nism, goal. Street of The Museum of Modern Art non-European Cubism and what it characterized as its were off in red boxes. About with made for midway descendents into a At the Cubism was shown as completed history. the exhibition Cubism and Abstract through chart, the same in a contra- the of time, significant Art. The Museum progenitor , , diction, it removed Cubism from its own Photograph courtesy of Modern Art, New York. , Neoplasticism, , historical, social, and political context. and , with Fauvism, less These ideas dominated understandingof centrally, as the direct ancestor of the early-twentieth-century develop- posed, and its development within the Abstract and Surreal- ments in modernism for decades. It context of the political events of the ism. Finally, these styles evolved into affected later histories of early modern are subjected to scrutiny, the rea- just two directions: "geometrical ab- art written by European as well as sons for its impact emerge clearly. stract art" and "non-geometrical American critics. The effectiveness of As visitors entered the exhibition, abstract art." the exhibition and its catalogue from the they were immediately confronted with The thesis and structure of the chart of our jaded, satiated late- Picasso's Dancer (1907) juxtaposed to was reflected in the order and sequence twentieth-century is startling. an African figure (Fig. 2). In another of the installation. Here for the first Yet, when the contents of the exhibition, room, Boccioni's bronze Unique Forms time Cubism was displayed as a histori- the basis for the interpretations it pro- of Continuity in Space was paired with a cally completed with demonstrable

284Art Journal and reproduced that way in the cata- logue), and the Constructivism of Tatlin and Popova, represented by photo- graphic reproductions. Finally, "Ab- stract Expressionism," the term Barr used for the works of Kandinsky, appeared near the end of the exhibition, as did "Abstract Dadaism" and "Ab- stract ." In addition to the traditional me- diums of and , the exhibition featured abstract , pho- tography, and the application of the Fig. 2 Installation view of the 5 Installation view of the modern vocabulary to , Fig. exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. chair , and small household Photograph by Beaumont Newhall, Beaumont Newhall, objects such as plates and cups. In all, Photograph by courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, nearly 400 objects were exhibited. Barr courtesy New York New York enhanced the dignity of the work by his spare installation. Such touches as the exhibition of Malevich's The theoretical principles and - between two windows on which the els used to explain the development white window shades had been lowered of modern art in Cubism and Abstract exactly halfway made a point about the Art were in some ways the distillation of painting and underscored its inherent many years of thought for Barr. In other . ways, the essay was a significant depar- In the exhibition catalogue, Barr sys- ture from his earlier writings, a depar- tematically and factually laid out a his- ture generated by the political pressures tory of Cubism. The emphasis through- of the mid 1930s. Examination of his out the essay, as in the chart, was on the earlier essays reveals the moment at development of the styles of modern art, which politics began to affect Barr's Fig. 3 Installation view of the rather than on details of the individual concerns as an art historian. exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. artists' careers. Barr repeated the juxta- As Director of The Museum of Mod- Photograph by Beaumont Newhall, positions of the installation in the cata- ern Art from its founding in 1929, Barr courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, logue, filling in works that did not formulated preliminary versions of Cu- New York appear in the exhibition, such as the bism and Abstract Art in the early Demoiselles d'Avignon, for which the 1930s. Even before he became Director, derivation from earlier sources and inev- Dancer was probably the stand-in. Each he had frequently combined teaching itable progeny in the later styles of style was given a chronology, a summa- with modern-art exhibitions. But in the abstraction. On the first floor, immedi- ry, and pictorial documentation. The mid thirties a sudden and brilliant amal- ately after the entryway with the Dancer book concluded with a list of the works, gamation of his earlier as and the African figure, Barr grouped his carefully catalogued as to size and curator and teacher found expression in designated precursors in a source room. source, and a bibliography compiled by the startling clarity of the 1936 exhibi- Next came a step-by-step development Beaumont Newhall, who also took the tion. Seeking to educate the public in the of early Cubism, with Cubist works installation photographs. art of their own century, he used the paired with appropriate works of Afri- established of traditional . 1890 | JAPANESEPRINTS} uroi S 1890 art to validate it. can sculpture (Fig. 5) and Cezanne yVnGogk - NEO- history (Fig. 6). Later Cubism was represented Barr received a Bachelor of 1895 i895 with works such as Picasso's Table (Fig. \ \ / / 1\ degree from Princeton in 1922 and a along with Futurist examples, early Masters degree in 1923. His attitude to 7) 1900 1900 Delaunay, and Leger's Luncheon. This an instructional survey of modernism S iERN section culminated with Picasso's Stu- 1905 was the product of his training in the S FAUVISM M,-, dio (Fig. 8) and The Painter and His 1905, NEGROSCULPTURE 1905 methodologies of as they \^7^' ,--^^^'*^ ~CUBISM were in the , when , which were given entire walls to a? I t f f ^MACHINE ESTHETICSREA / practiced early 1910 U 1910 IABSTRACTI FUTURISM /;\ 3/9 o I themselves. Barr divided Cubism dis- EXPRESSIONISM . // H JPREMTM \ the focus was formalist. The historians tinctly and unequivocally into two \^ -^^ y^^"1w"1//I _tyA l CONSTRUCTIVISM who influenced Barr's approach to the ISTR 5 1936 exhibition-Charles Rufus phases: "Analytic" and "Synthetic." (DA M D \ Morey These were terms that had appeared PURISM. EOPASTICISM and Frank Jewett Mather4-were frequently in literature on Cubism among the founders of the disciplines of ASTRC / v iBAUHAUS art and connoisseurship in almost since its inception, but with vary- 1925 SURREALISM/ MODERNR-].. . .s. .k 1925 history ing connotations.3 Here, for the first | ARCHITECTURE| \ \ America.

1930 in particular, influenced Barr time, those terms were used with capital 1930 N / Morey, letters to define clear-cut stylistic stages throughout his career. Two aspects of in the history of Cubism. Other sections 1935 NON-GEOMETRICALABSTRACT ART GEOMETRICALABSTRACT ART 1935 Morey's approach had particular impor- tance for Barr. First, he impressed on of the exhibition included the Orphism 4 Chart of Modern Art Alfred of the of Neo- Fig. by Barr the idea that all the expressions of Delaunay, development H. Jr. courtesy, The in the work of Barr, Photograph art had validity no matter what medium plasticism Mondrian, Museum of Modern Art, New York Suprematism (Malevich's was used, a perspective that was at and Red Square was hung upside down variance with traditional notions of the

Winter 1988 285 In an early work, The Study and Criticism of Italian Art (1901), Beren- son explained his : The should be stud- ied much more abstractly than it has ever been studied and freed as much as possible from entangling irrelevancies of personal anecdote and parasitic growths of petty doc- umentation. ... [T]he world's art can be, nay should be, studied as independently of all documents as is the world's fauna or the world's flora. The effort to classify the one should proceed along the line of the others.... Such a classi- fication would yield material not only ample enough for the uni- versal history of art, but precise enough, if qualitative analysis also be applied, for the perfect de- termination of purely artistic personalities.8 Fig. 6 Installation view of the exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. Photograph by Beaumont Newhall, courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York Berenson built on the scientific ap- proach of the pioneer of connoisseur- superiority of painting and sculpture. ship, was the particular emphasis of ship, Giovanni Morelli, but added to Morey's courses included the so-called Sachs's courses. His close friend and that writer's quantitative approach "the minor arts as well as painting, sculpture, even mentor was Bernard Berenson,7 element of ."9It was in this scien- and architecture. Barr's catalogues whose role as the formulator of the tific, rational, yet subjective determina- tion would later include film design as well methodology of connoisseurship is cru- of quality that Sachs trained his as painting and sculpture. Second, cial to an understanding of Barr's later students at Harvard. In a seminar pre- Morey, who was a classical archaeolo- writing. sentation for Sachs's course on the his- gist before he turned to , tory of engraving and , in the held the in high spring of 1925, Barr attempted for the esteem. Yet, influenced by Alois Riegl, first time, as far as is known, to adapt the theorist of late , Morey the methodology of connoisseurship to also subscribed to the principle of a modern art: biological model for the history of art- If all artists painted or drew Ma- growth, flowering, and decay.5 Morey donnas as they once did, how con- characterized art as an abstract flow of veniently we could compare form, which existed independently of them-but they don't. So I the individual artists. He strongly show you a series of portraits.... I influenced Barr to conceive of art his- will be emphasizing neither per- tory as a detached with its own sonalities nor chronologies, nor internal development rather than as a nationalities. I will merely propose phenomenon subject to social, political, a series of comparisons from and personal pressures. which you must draw your own In Mather, Barr encountered a pro- conclusions.'0 fessor of art history engaged with con- temporary criticism, as well as with ear- Barr then presented an overview of mod- lier art. Mather's background was in ern engraving and drawing by connect- literature rather than art history. His ing the works on the basis of such style historical study echoed the chatty, infor- elements as line. He thus created an mal approach to as it was anonymous stylistic history of modern- often practiced in the teens. Yet his less ism based on qualitative differences he scholarly approach was as instrumental perceived in the works themselves. At the same Barr in to Barr's development as was Morey's time, created, an exhibition that more analytical approach, although accompanied the lecture, Mather was less obviously an intellec- sequences and juxtapositions of images tual role model.6 to suggest stylistic developments; labels how Barr began doctoral study at Harvard lengthy wall explained the works related to University in 1924. Among the profes- 7 Pablo Table, Guitar earlier, contempora- Fig. Picasso, and later works. also sors who most influenced his later work and Bottle oil on neous, They pro- (La Table), 1919, vided a was Paul J. Sachs. Connoisseurship,the 50 x 29 rudimentary- explanation of , 1/2". Northampton, Cubism and its direct examination and evaluation of the Mass., Smith College Museum of Art. background: without regard for it author-

286 Art Journal modernismwas again propoundedin early individualexhibitions for each of theseartists at The Museumof Modern Art-a lineagefor modernismvery dif- ferent from today's proposalof Manet and Courbet as progenitors.Also to reappear later is the categorizing of groupsand tendencies,and the fillingin of blanksleft by crucial worksthat do not appearin the exhibitionby meansof accompanyingremarks. Cubism,although only skimpilyrep- resented-by , Jean Metzing- er, FernandLeger, and Marie Lauren- cin-was acknowledgedas a central eventwith Futurismand Expressionism in what Barr referredto as Period II. The wall label for JuanGris treatedthe natureof Cubismby formalanalysis of the painting.Although the work was a , the term "SyntheticCubism" did not appearin the discussion.Most importantin light of laterdevelopments, Fig. 8 PabloPicasso, The Studio, 1927-28, oil on canvas,59 x 84".New York, Cubismwas viewed as a prewarmove- The Museumof ModernArt, Gift of WalterP. Chrysler,Jr., 213.35. mentthat was followedby "PeriodIII," which was compartmentalized into [Picasso] began with Steinlen ... presentinghis reportand exhibition,the "The Neo-Realists," "the Neo-classi- playedwith negrosculpture; with prevailingattitude in American criti- cists,""The Constructivists," and "The Braquecreated Cubism;and de- cism was that Cubismwas finished.The Super-realists."15 sertedthat for a returnto nature developmentof the so-calledneoclassi- In his modern-artcourse, too, Barr and to Ingres.... Cubismwas the cal style by Picasso was seen as an allottedmuch more space to the rangeof inventionof Picasso and Braque indicationthat, as one critic put it, the approachesin modernart than to the but it was inspired by Cezanne "game is about up." The critics of art role of Cubism.The course studiedall who pointed out that natural celebratedwhat they saw as a returnto the directionsoutlined in the sectionsof formsif simplifiedto geometrical sanityand .'3On the otherhand, the exhibition as well as "industrial essentialsbecome cubes and cylin- some writingon recentmodern art was architecture ... appliances [and] ders. This was the first of availablein New York by 1925: three graphic arts .... Various recurring Cubism.Having reduced the form surveysof modernart had appearedin themesare stressed,the appreciationof to cubes and cylinders and 1924, as well as an Englishtranslation primitiveand barbaricart, the psychol- spheres,it is not a difficultstep to of Apollinaire's "Aesthetic Medita- ogy of expressionism,the disciplinein juggle them somewhatto combine tions."14Thus Barras a youngart histo- Cubism and constructivismand the in one picturethe front and back rian focusingon the scholarlyapproach importanceof the machine."16 of the same figure, to substitute in which he had been trainedhad liter- In 1927-28 Barr went to , the concavefor the convexand to ary sources on which to draw. And supportedby a small grant from Paul do all of these things according althoughhe was awarethat Cubismwas Sachs, in orderto researchhis disserta- to the aesthetic sensibilityof the consideredalready a completedevent, tion. On that trip Barrmet a numberof artist.n unlike the more reactionarycritics, he contemporaryartists throughletters of could and the tradition Barr arrangedthe printsin the exhibi- appraise analyze introductiongiven to him by the Ger- tion in whathe called"an almost mathe- itself with his scholarlytools. man I.B. Neumann. Neu- maticalprogression from Impressionism mann, who had immigrated to New to Cubism."Analyzing individual Cu- F ollowing graduate school, Barr York in 1923, had been Barr's close bist works in the traditionof the con- arrangedan exhibitionin conjunc- friend and supporterfrom his earliest noisseur, he emphasizedtheir formal tion with teaching a course in modern years of teaching.Through Neumann's elements, the and art at Wellesleyin 1927. His first exhi- letters, Barr met most of the major treating line, plane, bition shapeof the worksvery much in the way with a printed catalogue and figures of German contemporaryart, he had been trainedto analyzeRenais- extensiveexplanations, it bears a close such as the Bauhausgroup, the Neue sance painting. He indicated that relationship to his activities at The Sachlichkeit,and the dealersand critics Cubism had been abandoned for a Museum of Modern Art in the early that supported them.l7 But he went 1930s. The title of the Pro- returnto Ingres,but an Ingres"simpli- exhibition, beyond even Neumann's contacts by fied and continuousin contour, based gressive Modern Painting from Dau- visiting in the spring of 1927. ... on mier and Corot to Post Cubism, There he met as well as profound ."12 reflected of Even in this rudimentarystudent the principle situating membersof the Russian avant-garde. exercise Barr revealed his dual alle- Cubism in relation to earlier develop- His introductionto the extremelypoliti- to the currentcritical on ments of the mid nineteenthcentury. cized artistsin Russiahad a permanent giance dialogue This historical Cubism and to the methodologiesof approachcontinued in effect on his awarenessof the interac- connoisseurshipand art-historicalanal- later exhibitions;even the emphasison tion of art and politics. Thus Barr ysis. In that springof 1925, as Barrwas Corot and Daumier as ancestors of became an amalgam of the detached

Winter 1988 287 connoisseur-theoretician and the en- collections were compensated for in the which was divided into several parts that gaged art critic aware of the impact of introductory essay. As both connoisseur echoed the subdivisions of the 1927 and politics in general on the and historian he suggested that even as Wellesley exhibition, but expanded arts. During that sojourn in Russia, he he created order in modern art with the them. The historical part included: not only met with revolutionary artists exhibition, the final document was the "Painting Fifty Years Ago: French and but also undertook a pioneering study work of art itself. At the same time he American" and "Cezanne and the Post of the anonymous Byzantine icons of demonstrated his greater awareness of Impressionists." Twentieth-century Russia.18 recent art in his introductorystatement: painting was divided into subcategories: After his return from Barr Russia, Ten it have been Section III, which included "Expres- resumed at In a years ago might teaching Wellesley. to about mod- sionism," "Psychological and Decora- lecture series in the of possible generalize five-part spring ern art. In even at tive," "The 'Wild Animals,' The 'School Barr his more fact, present of 1929, presented fully there are some who are cour- '"; and Section IV, which of modern art: included developed analysis to de- "Picasso and Cubism, Fu- ageous-or blind-enough Abstract Modern Painting: The Ideal of a clare that modern art has one turism, Design, Super-real- ism." Cubism was still here "Pure" Art. The important ten- dominant characteristic such as presented as a "removal from realism ... dencies in painting of twenty years the in gradual pure self-expression, until there were few traces of ago: the neo- in Der- or an exclusive interest in or any recog- form, nizable in their ain; the decorative in Matisse; the a contempt for natural appear- objects pictures. [T]heir cubistic in Picasso. The formalist ances but the is that ... chief interest is in the design, in aes- thetic of texture."23 attitude toward Medieval, Renais- ... is so qualities line, color, merely The in a con- sance, and painting. The extraordinarily complex that it catalogue significant immediate antecedents of cubism: defies at- trast to the earlier statements also generalization.... Any claimed that Degas, Gauguin and the "angle tempt to classify modern artists shot"; Seurat and the theory of must lead to treacherous simplifi- the principles of Cubism and pure design; Cezanne's natural cation. But it may not be too mis- Abstract Design [Kandinsky, ; abstraction in primitive leading to suggest a chronology Mondrian, and Rodchenko] art. The development of cubism in and some description of terms, spread all over the world and Paris. Kandinsky and abstract trusting that the them- influenced many of the artists in expressionism in Germany. The selves will contradict inevitable this exhibition, for example, the final purification of painting: error.20 Germans, Marc and Klee, the Mondriaan in the su- Holland; His included Cu- , Marin, Demuth and in Russia. Andre Lhote systemization Fauves, the Chirico prematists bists, and Surrealists. Cubism was Dickinson, Italians, and the new academic. The and Severini. Cubism and Ab- traced from its beginnings in mere sim- influence of abstract stract Design have also had an painting plification through ten years when it upon architecture, the , the immense influence upon 'modern- , , decorative passed through three or four dis- istic' , textiles, architec- arts, typographical layout, com- tinct phases each more compli- ture, painting and advertising.24 mercial art. Conclusion: the cated in and in ex- appearance Even more was Barr's state- "demon of the absolute."19 But 1917 a distinct significant planation. by ment that the Surrealists as he called clarification occurs.... The in- or, this section were four more the "came as a Following fluence of cubism has been them, "Super-realists," "The Since Cu- violent reaction to the Cubists' exclusive parts: Disintegration but its "Modern American immense, nearly complete interest in the of aesthetic bism"; Painting"; elimination of naturalistic problem "The "The in imita- and color. The "; Lyef Group tion has about design Super-realists ." Cubism was thus buried in brought equally asserted the value of the the extreme reactions.... It is astonishing, the of the lecture note- the the early stages series, that almost without fantastic, mysterious, uncanny, followed worthy excep- the the incredible."25Barr by many subsequent develop- tion the members of both paradoxical, ments. Part I would become the original concluded the exhibition with recent proto- the and cubist have type for Cubism and Abstract Art. fauve groups painting in which many different direc- in their recent work given far more tions were developing at the same time recognition to the values of objec- P. Aldrich Rocke- but in which a "gradual, but widespread Lillie Bliss, Abby tive .21 feller, and Mary Sullivan founded return to the realistic representation of The Museum of Modern Art in the Barr's attitude towards contemporary nature has been in since the spring of 1929; Paul Sachs recom- art and his thoughts about the direction War."26Barr's statement expanded on mended Alfred Barr as its first Director. in which it was moving were most the earlier essays: it gave Cubism and Between 1929 and 1936, Barr arranged clearly stated in his next words: "[The] "Abstract Design" more emphasis, but more than twenty exhibitions. Several puritanical exclusion of all sentimental it gave equal coverage to "Super-real- had specific references to Cubism, and and 'human' values by the cubists of ism" and a multifaceted realism. some can be seen as preliminaryversions 1908 ... has induced in the last genera- of the 1936 exhibition. tion a reaction which has produced In the summer of 1933, while Barr The first exhibition to outline the painting of extraordinaryoriginality ... was on leave in Germany, the trust- history of early-twentieth-century art [s]urrealism."22In 1930, thus, Barr held ees of the Museum arranged an exhibi- was the 1930 Painting in Paris from the opinion that Surrealism was the tion, Modern European Art, which Barr American Collections. As in the Welles- most interesting dimension of contem- summarized in the Museum Bulletin the ley exhibition of 1927, the disparities porary art. He devoted more than a page following October.27A subtle shift had between what Barr perceived as the cen- to its concerns and artists. now occurred in Barr's discussion of the tral issues and artists and the actual In the spring of 1932 Barr organized historical survey of modern art, perhaps artists who were available in American A Brief Survey of Modern Painting, as a reaction to Hitler's rise to power

288Art Journal and the beginning of the oppression of dency towards geometric form has been pared this obsession to the desire of the avant-garde in Germany. Barr now carried to an extreme by the suprema- Renaissance artists to achieve realism praised the "Abstract paintings" includ- tists.... Abstract art flourishes in Lon- and linear perspective: the and Mon- don. Davis and Gorki lead the ing Cubists, Kandinsky, [sic] In the twentieth drian as "the most He cubists in New York. Bauer thrives in early century the striking." spoke dominant interest of Klee and also included in the . Even futurism has won official was almost Chirico, the The as He of "Post-War exactly opposite.... more show, pioneers against "pure design," recognition."31 spoke adventurous and and as of the "Romantic Reaction." as more "traditional" original artists part Painting" having had bored with he of the to the extreme advance grown painting Finally, spoke "Superrealists styles, "[which] facts. a common and ... who insist the ... seemed, as indeed By powerful fanatically upon gardists they were driven to aban- exclusive of the were, No does impulse they validity imagination." ."32 longer don the of Barr here introduced a Barr embrace the idea that realistic natural negative judg- Resemblance to ment in the discussion of Surrealism. currents were primary and Cubism fin- appearances.... natural objects, while it does not This exhibition once again relied on ished; now he proposes that Cubism had necessarily destroy these esthetic American collections, but Barr prom- led to abstraction, a vital tradition values, adulturate their ised shows of "'Cubism and throughout the world. Barr still con- may easily purity.35 Abstract Painting' illustrating proto- cluded, however, that there were many types and analogies, sources, develop- other tendencies in contemporary paint- Even as he laid out these important ment, decadence, influence and recent ing; they included Surrealism, Romanti- principles that were to become the revival" and "'Post War ' cism, and mural painting. canon of contemporary art for many illustrating Dadaism, Superrealism and The essay for the Modern Works of years, Barr suggested some ambivalence other movements concerned with the Art catalogue was the last published towards them by admitting that giving mysterious, fantastic or sentimental prelude to the greatly expanded treat- up references to nature led to impover- together with their ancestry and ana- ment of Cubism and abstract art in the ishment by "an elimination of the con- logs."29 1936 exhibition, an exhibition that also notations of subject matter, the senti- Thus by the fall of 1933 Barr was included and Surrealism as the mental, documentary, political, sexual, granting Cubism central importance in descendents of Cubism. But there sur- religious, the pleasures of easy recogni- relation to a major group of artists. One vives, in an undated and unsigned mem- tion and the enjoyment of technical dex- year later the Museum celebrated its orandum from the advisory committee terity ... but the abstract artist prefers fifth anniversary with the exhibition to the trustees, one other interim draft impoverishmentto adulteration."36 Modern Works of Art (November proposal. In it Cubism was directly In the section on Analytic Cubism, 1934-January 1935). It was accompa- linked to industrial design: "The thesis Barr reiterated some of the ideas of the nied by a much longer essay by Barr, might end at this climactic point or it Modern Works of Art catalogue. The and included works of sculpture and might continue with an account of the new section on Synthetic Cubism examples of American, as well as Euro- various paths by which painters of expanded on the earlier explanation: art. All works like those abstractions from their blind pean, exhibited, emerged Their texture ... adds to in came from into other kinds of da- [the] previous exhibitions, pri- alley painting, so vate collections in New York. Barr now independent they may be, daism, constructivism, counter-relief, considered not a down or the of Cubism breaking analyzed development purism, compressionism, architecture, but a or much more analysis, building up syn- thoroughly: photography, photomontage, typogra- thesis . . . of etc."33 The was then [p]asting strips paper Under the influence of Cezanne phy, argument ... was a culmination of made that the American needed logical and public the interest in textures primitive negro sculpture they an exhibition of Cubist artists because simulating and had and a further and [Braque Picasso] begun commercial exhibited complete repu- about 1907 to reduce galleries rarely diation of the that a landscapes them. this memorandum did or to block-like forms with Although was honor-bound to figures not issue from Barr it did painter surfaces of flat Two himself, pro- achieve the of a tex- planes. years vide one used to reproduction later had broken these interesting argument ture means of rather than they up create the exhibition. One other archival by paint block-like their the short cut of the forms, shifting an undated chart in Barr's by applying the document, texture itself to his canvas.37 planes about, mingling planes at of with the handwriting (Fig. 9), places Cubism foreground objects of a chart with This detailed discussion of individual in this the top genealogical background.... Gradually three Mon- Cubist works established with a new of and re- immediate descendents, process disintegration and Malevich. the of Cubist discus- cubist drian, Kandinsky, clarity terminology integration, pictures grew Several lead to Cubism's final sion and the idea of abstraction as a more and more that is steps goal abstract, and of artists. Barr's bias abstracted from resem- progeny: typography, stage arts, twentieth-century ordinary architecture.34 Thus Cubism was not towards the return to real- blances to nature.... As a natural post-Cubist one of modern art that was con- so out in earlier of the elimination of stage ism, clearly spelled consequence but the of all of of his on altered to the cluded, linchpin aspects stages writings Cubism, subject they began vary in 1936 to of surface of the early-twentieth-century art. emphasize specific analysis painting by pasting Cubist work, and the establishment of on bits of newspaper.30 The catalogue for Cubism and its legacy, abstraction, as a dominating This was the first instance in Barr's Abstract Art began with a general aspect of the contemporary scene. treatment of Cubism that focused on the statement that differed in character Moreover, the catalogue and the exhibi- use of pasted paper, what would in from those of Barr's earlier essays. Barr tion specifically excluded realism, even Cubism and Abstract Art become the identified the nature of early modern art when it was a logical aspect of a style, as important phase of "Synthetic Cu- as an obsession with "a particular prob- in Dadaism and Surrealism. bism." Barr went on to comment that lem"; that of abstraction. Barr com- The exhibition itself, as a comprehen- "Meanwhile outside of Paris, cubist ten- sive collection of loans, was also of a

Winter 1988289 virulent in their attacks on avant-garde writers and artists.42More specifically, though, as early as 1927, and again during his year in Germany in 1932-33, Barr himself had witnessed first hand the danger that posed to the avant-garde artist. Barr's trip to Russia in the spring of 1928 took place shortly after Joseph Stalin had expelled Leon Trotsky from the Communist party. This act publicly repudiated Trotsky's commitment to avant-garde art as a part of the Revolu- tion and replaced it with the Stalinist dictum that art was a propaganda tool that had to use realistic images to cele- brate his economic policies. Barr experi- enced one blatant example of the sup- pression of avant-garde visual art when he attempted to visit the Museum of Abstract Art in Moscow and found it closed. Guides referred to the modern art that it contained as examples of bourgeois decadence.43Even more dis- turbing was Barr's in 1932- 33, when he lived in , while on leave from the Museum. There he was confronted with the early days of the rise of Hitler and its immediate effect on the . Margaret Barr described these early events with frightening clar- ity in her recently published memoir. The article details the sudden enthu- siasm for Hitler among of the pension where the Barrs were stay- ing, primarily as a result of the power of the radio. It further recounts the sudden disappearance of a Schlemmer exhibi- tion, the addition of gables to modern flat roofs, and the derogatory labeling of modern art works in art .44 Alfred Barr, angered with these events, 9 Alfred H. Handwritten n.d. Museum of Modern Art wrote a series of articles entitled "Hitler Fig. Barr, Jr., Chart, and the Nine Muses" in order to call the Archives, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Papers. Photograph courtesy The Museum of to the then Modern Art, New York. American public's attention little-known events in Germany with respect to the dangers to the avant- different from all but one of the was he now for it type stage, why claiming garde. Only one of these articles was at the museum: it drew and its heirs a continued One previous displays vitality? accepted for publication.45 on the work from the artists' lies in Barr's studios, possible explanation plan Thus, Barr, sooner and more clearly Paris art of a series of exhibitions that would private European collectors, than many other Americans, recognized and other new rather consider other of modernism.40 dealers, sources, aspects the threat to avant-garde art that totali- than from the New York But that series of exhibitions does not exclusively tarian regimes posed. On his return to collections that had been the centerpiece explain the radical change in the nature America in late 1933 he observed also in of most of the exhibitions.38 of his for Cubism and abstract previous support the the widespread resur- Thus Barr's show was a and a art. he himself offered the campaign Perhaps gence of realistic styles, particularly ordered to clearest answer: carefully strategy present those of , because realism what he called in a letter to Jerome This and exhibition was seen as more appropriate to the art "an exer- essay might Klein, a young historian, well be dedicated to those economic conditions of the art with painters desperate cise in of and circles the In December 1933 the Fed- to Yet in the squares (and Depression. particular reference style." influenced eral Arts to real- he went on to by them) Projects began support same letter, astonishingly, who have suffered at the hands of ism.46In the fall of as these "I was much interested in 1933, just say: very philistines with attitudes towards realism were coales- Cubism and abstract art ten political power.41 years ago, and America, but interest in it has declined cing throughout Europe my as Barr was the cata- Barr to since 1927."39 In 1936, writing began increasingly emphasize steadily the forces of Stalinism and Cubism and abstract and to down- But if Barr had lost interest in logue art, were increasingly realism. He promised a comprehen- Cubism, if he considered it a completed

290 Art Journal sive exhibition of Cubism and Abstract avant-garde art and even the extermina- informed ridiculed it, just as they had Art.47 tion of that art in favor of the more ridiculed modern-art exhibitions since With the intervention of the Fifth easily comprehensible Socialist Realist the .51 Anniversary Exhibition-Modern style. In the United States the massive More significant than the journalistic Works of Art-in 1934-35 and the first Works Progress Administration spread criticism, with respect to later develop- major Van Gogh exhibition in late 1935, American-scene realism across the ments, was its effect on artists and histo- it took almost two years to assemble country. The leftist Art Front called for rians. Laying out a history of modern- Cubism and Abstract Art. Barr ar- an art that responded to conditions of ism was a significant educational ranged most of the loans in the summer life, while the regionalists demanded an resource for artists at all stages in their of 1935 during a trip to Europe, in which art that reflected the American scene. development. Such a mature artist as he met with European collectors, critics, As documented by his articles written in , for example, made and writers, and visited , Germany in 1932-33, Barr was acutely many visits to the exhibition.52That the Miro, Mondrian, Giacometti, Leger, aware of economic, political, and artistic impact on his thinking was significant is Braque, and Picasso, among others. events and concerned about the preser- documented by a comparative study of Most dramatic was the emotional vation and protection of modern art and his lectures from the early 1930s and the reunion with Larionov and Gontcha- artists. One obvious instance of that late 1930s. Hofmann's heavy emphasis rova: they had emigrated from Russia concern in 1936 appeared in the public- on Cubism and abstraction subse- since Barr last saw them in Moscow in ity he gave to the holdup at customs of quently shaped 's 1927,48 another indication of the spread- much of the abstract sculpture for understanding of modernism and that ing repression during the early years of Cubism and Abstract Art. The Museum critic's promotion of certain formalist the Stalinist regime. Perhaps fueled by Bulletin prominently featured this issues.53 his anger at the situation for avant- event, and Barr also made a specific The astonishing omission from the garde artists in Europe, Barr ap- reference to it in the catalogue (Fig. exhibition of all twentieth-century proached more artists more directly 10).5o American art with the exception of than he had for any earlier exhibition. The full resources of The Museum of Alexander Calder and had He frequently circumvented the dealers, Modern Art promoted the exhibition of major consequences. Barr justified this who had been a considerable obstacle in Cubism and Abstract Art. The itinerary omission by pointing out that the Whit- earlier efforts to organize exhibitions of took the exhibition to , ney Museum had just exhibited Ameri- the established European modern art- Cincinnati, , , can abstract art in 1935.54The reasons ists, such as Picasso.49 Baltimore, Providence, and Grand Rap- are, in fact, far more complex. They Cubism and Abstract Art was finally ids; Paramount Pictures included it in have to do first with Barr's assembled in the art season of 1935-36. the Movietone news. The sophistication that the geometric abstract style of the Barr wrote the catalogue in only six of the Museum press apparatus by 1936 American abstract artists was a played- weeks. He drew on his training in insured widespread coverage through- out direction. He believed that non- detached scholarship for his genealogi- out the country. The critical response geometric abstract art was a more sig- cal approach, anonymous treatment of varied widely according to the predilec- nificant development in the mid 1930s. style, and lucid connoisseurship of par- tions of the critics: the more-informed Also influencing Barr's decision to omit ticular works. But he also drew on his critics supported the show, the less- American art was certainly the Mu- concern for the threatened condition of the avant-garde. The combination of these circumstances gave the exhibition its breadth, universality, clarity, and permanence. More than just another exhibition of modern art, Cubism and Abstract Art was a vehicle for propa- ganda for a threatened cause.

Barr's sense of timing about the urgency of the situation was cor- rect. Following its New York venue, the exhibition opened in San Francisco in the summer of 1936, just as the infa- mous display of Nazi power at the Ber- lin Olympics was taking place. In Mos- cow, on August 15, 1936, the Stalin trials began, trials that would last for two years and ultimately and systemati- cally destroy all vestiges of the revolu- tionary generation in Russia, as well as its intellectual leaders. As the heroes of the recanted their actions and declared themselves traitors to their country, American intellectuals, with both the and sympathizers political 10 Nineteen intended for exhibition in Cubism and Abstract cultural of this Fig. , Art, programs revolutionary to the States as works of art customs were thrown in that were refused entrance United by generation, disarray. By 1936. Beaumont The Museum of 1936-37 both Hitler and Stalin had examiners, Photograph by Newhall, courtesy Modern Art, New York, virtually completed the repression of

Winter 1988 291 seum's peculiar history with respect to graduate work. Similarly his formalist cant artists and events as well as its the exhibition of contemporary Ameri- bias resulted from the adaptation of his impersonal approach to style that fit so can art, a history marked by much con- training in the connoisseurship of easily with the methodologies of earlier fusion and many confrontations.55The to the art of the twen- periods of art history. The development heated political situation in the Ameri- tieth century. These sources took him a of modern art, as it is widely taught, is can art world of the mid 1930s would long way from Kandinsky's reference still descended from the analysis of have also deterred Barr from displaying points. Barr, although later scholars have American art, given his powerful plan to Moholy-Nagy corrected Barr's chro- broadened and deepened those central create a definitive statement that rose nology of Constructivism, as well as the outlines. Even in as recent an exhibition above politics. Omitted American art- interpretationof his own sources, which, as The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Paint- ists working abstractly, such as George he emphatically stated, were more ing, 1890-1980 of 1986 the heritage of L.K. Morris, who had even been related to Cubism and Frank Lloyd Barr's exhibition is present.66Although involved in the creation of the exhibition Wright than to Constructivism. More the catalogue of the 1986 exhibition as part of the Museum's advisory board, pointedly though, Moholy-Nagy spoke, provided major new insights into the immediately began to show in other as did Kandinsky, to Barr's methodol- roles of and as New York galleries. Albert E. Gallatin, ogy, criticizing him for finding a single, central concerns of early-twentieth-cen- Director of the Gallery of Living Art, central place for each style, when actu- tury artists, the exhibition's arbitrary organized an exhibition of five Ameri- ally events occurred simultaneously title limiting those insights to the "ab- can abstract artists whom he called throughout Europe. He therefore found stract" owes its bias to the interpreta- "concretionists," which appeared con- fault with Barr's discussion of certain tions of Cubism and Abstract Art. currently with Cubism and Abstract artists as eclectic.62 Art.56Other exhibitions of abstract art The letter of Daniel-Henry Kahn- lthough Barr established the tradi- held in April 1936 in New York were weiler, the dealer most intimately con- tions of Cubism and abstraction as the work of , , nected with the early events in Cubism, timeless and universal, he himself and Joseph Albers, the last newly and author of his own book on its devel- viewed art as more than an autonomous arrived from Germany.57In the fall of opment, wrote to Barr respectfully, stylistic event. In the midst of World 1936 the American Abstract Artists acknowledging Barr's book as the most War II, he wrote of Picasso's : group formed and began plans for a serious study of modern art he had read, Picasso these modern regular program of exhibitions.58 while adding that he himself saw "Cu- employed bism as a much more 'realistic' move- techniques not merely to express his of form or some he exhibition catalogue generated ment."63 Other surviving letters, with mastery per- T sonal and emotion but to its own series of results. Barr corrections primarily to Barr's chrono- private his art his horror mailed a copy to all the artists included logies and terminologies, came from proclaim through and over the barbarouscatas- in the exhibition, as well as to dealers, Hans Richter, Anton Pevsner, Auguste fury which had his collectors, and libraries. Preservedin the Herbin, Leonce Rosenberg, and trophe destroyed fellow in Guernica- Barr archives are various responses to Georges Vantongerloo. countrymen and which was soon to blast his the catalogue by contemporary artists One art historian, , fellow men in Rotter- and dealers. These letters range from attacked the book for its reliance on an , precise corrections of dates and chrono- autonomous dynamic of style as the dam, , Coventry, Chung- Pearl Harbor. logies to sweeping of Barr's driving energy of art. also king, Sebastopol, analyses Schapiro ... [T]he work of art is a methodology. Most were sharply criticized the idea of the dialec- symbol, comprehensive a visible of the human Kandinsky's letters, and tic of realism and abstraction as two symbol appropriately in its for for so, since he was misrepresented in the purified absolutes separated from expe- spirit search, truth, freedom, for exhibition as simply a descendent of rience.64These letters and articles pro- perfection.67 Gauguin and Cubism. vide invaluable insights into the At that time, too, he expanded the Kandinsky began by complimenting strengths and weaknesses of both the options of art to include the plurality of Barr on the "purely scientific" method catalogue of the exhibition and Barr's styles obscured by the creation of the of tracing the development of art but methodology for the exhibition itself. Cubism and Abstract and complained that he stressed outside They offer perspectives that in many catalogue. Shortly after, Barr was asked influences at the expense of the more cases have been only recently consid- to step down from the position of important inner influences.59 He ob- ered. Director at The Museum of Modern Art jected to considered as part of a Barr, in response to these letters and for complex reasons.68 deterministic march to abstraction, others, wrote courteously and deferen- Cubism and Abstract Art immortal- since, in fact, he painted realistic and tially of his appreciation of their com- ized one particular model for freedom in abstract paintings at the same time.60 ments. He spoke of a proposed revision art. An accident of history caused the Kandinsky hit on crucial issues here. of the catalogue, something that never exhibition and the catalogue to fall on First, he questioned the validity of the occurred.65 The catalogue in all its fertile ground, at a seminal moment in idea of a common impulse towards reprintings up to the present time has the political and artistic development of abstraction. Second, he criticized the continued to incorporate the original America. Ironically, the association of principle of an anonymous, purely for- perspectives and errors of the 1936 edi- abstraction with freedom, progress, and mal, determination of art's develop- tion. purity was a concept taken up first by ment. By omitting any consideration of Yet, despite criticism of the book and art critics, then adopted by politicians religious context, Barr radically misun- the exhibition, both had immense as an instrument of propaganda in the derstood Kandinsky, as art historians influence on later art history. The cata- of the .69 Abstraction now know.6' Barr's idea of the outward, logue became a widely used source on ultimately became a prison for contem- impulse towards abstraction the history of modernism for genera- porary artists and critics, from which was based on his understanding of the tions of students. Standard texts incor- they escaped only in the 1970s with the nature of style as he had studied it in his porated its interpretations of the signifi- reestablishment of a plurality of styles.

292Art Journal Today, our are closer to Eastern as well as Western European art. The notes for seminar report (dated on internal Barr's of the late 1920s, in which book was organized around six categories to Spring 1925.) Cubism was as one event. invented by Dreier. For a complete study of this regarded only 11 Ibid. Historians no longer accept the model of exhibition, see: Ruth Bohan, The Societe Ano- a history of style and form that evolves nyme's Exhibition: Katherine Dreier 12 Ibid. in an autonomous and Modernism in America. Ann Arbor, 1982. neatly development. 13 "Arch Cubists Recant?" American Art News, , Masters of Modern Art, New Barr's scientific order, based on nine- 19(June 12, 1920) p.l. For more information York, 1924, included chapters on "After teenth-century principles of on American criticism of Cubism in the Impressionism," "Cubism," and "Today." early and the possibility of scientific objectivi- 1920s, see: Platt (cited n. 1), pp. 5, 79-83, Although Stieglitz has been widely discussed as ty, has broken down. The idea of confin- 87-90. a of modern and ing a discussion of modern art to purely sponsor American art and as a or even dialectical terms photographer, his complex critical principles 14 , "Aesthetic Medita- formal, linear, and those of his is now as and lim- entourage are still to be thor- tions," The Little Review, 8 (Spring, 1922), pp. recognized arbitrary, examined. A few comments "Aesthetic Meditations ited. and oughly preliminary 7-19; II," The Little Furthermore, social, religious are in Susan Noyes Platt, Modernism in the Review, 9 "Aes- issues are no seen (Autumn 1922), pp. 41-59; political longer as 1920s, Ann Arbor, 1985, pp. 45-58. thetics Meditations II The Little extrinsic to Cubism and abstract art (continued)," but Review, 9 (Winter 1922), pp. 49-60. The three as an them. Realism has 2 Henry McBride, "Exhibition of Abstract Art integral part of surveys are: Sheldon Cheney, A Primer of at the Museum of Modern Art," reprinted in regained validity; it has recovered from Modern Art, New York: 1924; Katherine The Flow of Art, Essays and Criticisms of its association with and totali- Dreier, Western Art and the New Era, New Henry McBride. ed. Daniel Catton Rich, New tarianism. References to the visual York, 1923; Pach (cited n. 1). Earlier surveys York, 1975, pp. 333-36; the review originally world are no longer considered simply as include , Cubists and a monolithic from the appeared in The New York Sun. March 7, regression prog- 1936. Postimpressionism , 1914; Willard, ress of art. Huntington Wright, Modern Painting: Its Ten- In Cubism and Abstract Art, Barr 3 Lynn Gamwell, Cubist Criticism, Ann Arbor, dency and Meaning, New York, 1915; and Jan provided the first compelling model of 1980, pp. 33-35, 95-100, carefully outlines the Gordon, Modern French Painters, New York, formalist discussion and stylistic or- various usages of these terms in the early 1923. Of all these books, Wright's seems to dering for early-twentieth-century art. literature. By the mid 1930s they were widely have been the most direct source for some of His contribution to the of art known. See, for example: Maud Dale, Picasso, Barr's comments. New York, 1930, p.1, in which Picasso's work history survives not only in his writings 15 Wall labels, Archives (cited n. 10). Part I was is divided into analytic and synthetic phases; but also in the permanent display of the C6zanne, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and , Plastic Redirec- order and even many of the works from Les Fauves, and Die Briicke. Barr corre- tions in Twentieth-Century Art, Chicago, that exhibition in the Alfred H. Barr sponded with Katherine Dreier, Director of the 1934, p. 28, where the terms are used as Galleries at The Museum of Modern Societe Anonyme, an authority on modern-art adjectives and with lower-case letters to apply Art. of of the exhibitions. He even tried to get part of Dreier's Reproductions many to Cubism in its development. Sweeney, in modern-art collection for display at Wellesley works have become the definitive exam- 1935, arranged an exhibition at The Museum College, a project that fell through owing to ples for a particular phase of modern art of Modern Art. Thus, he was part of the circle cost and logistical problems.Alfred H. Barr, in classrooms. We can do nothing less in which Barr worked and his book would have Jr, to Katherine Dreier, February 7, February 27, than honor the brilliant, analytical work been easily accessible to Barr. and connoisseurship of Alfred Barr in and March 1, 1927, and Katherine Dreier to creating such a durable model of the 4 For an account of Barr's early experiences with Alfred H. Barr, Jr., February 19, March 4, these see: Rona history of modernism and its major professors, Roob, "Alfred H. 1927, Archives of the Societe Anonyme, Bei- even as we Barr, Jr.,: A Chronicle of the Years 1902- necke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, monuments, alter, expand, The and contradict it. 1929," New Criterion, special issue (Sum- Yale University. mer 1987), pp. 2-4. 16 "Wellesley and Modernism," Tran- Notes 5 Charles Rufus Morey, Medieval Art, New script, April 27, 1927, n.p. This article also I should like to acknowledge the support of a York, 1942, p. 21. mentions that color reproductionswere used for Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian Insti- study; color reproductionsof art were becoming 6. Barr's lifelong devotion to both Morey and tution, D.C., in the preparationof this available for the first time in the late 1920s. Mather was reflected in the dedication of his article. I am grateful also to Rona Roob, Archi- monograph on Matisse to them as well as to 17 Neumann is the subject of a forthcoming book vist, The Museum of Modern Art: Alfred Hamil- Paul Sachs (Alfred H. Barr, , by Lily Harmon. His friendship with Barr is ton Barr, Jr., Papers, for her invaluable assistance New York, 1951). recorded in the letters from Barr to Neumann in locating documents in the archives and to preserved in the I. B. Neumann Papers, Donald Kuspit for his encouragement at various 7 Paul Sachs, unpublished autobiography, , Washington D.C., stages. A preliminary version of this article was "Tales of an Epoch," Archives of the Fogg Art and was central to Barr's early years. That presented as a lecture, "Modernism in the 1930s: Museum, , Cambridge, relationship is reflected in his collaboration The 'Cubism and Abstract Art' Exhibition of Mass., p. 276. See also: Ernest Samuels, Ber- with Barr in the exhibition of at 1936," at the National Museum of American Art, nard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur, The Museum of Modern Art in 1931, for which Fellows Lecture 1987. For Cambridge, Mass., 1979, p. 171; and The Ber- Spring Series, May he was curator and Barr the writer of the preparation of that lecture I should like to enson Archive: An Inventory of Correspon- catalogue. A. H. B[arr]., Jr, German Painting acknowledge the support and suggestions of Lois dence, Nicky Mariano, compiler, Cambridge, and Sculpture, exh. cat., New York, The Fink, Research Curator, Office of Research and Mass., 1965, p. 86. Museum of Modern Art, 1931. Grants, The National Museum of American Art, 8 Bernard Berenson, The Study and Criticism of Washington D.C. 18 See: "Russian Diary" (reprinted from October Italian Art, reprint ed., London, 1903, pp. vi, [Winter 1978]), in Defining Modern Art: 1 See, for example: Katherine Dreier, An Inter- vii. Selected Writings of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., ed. national Exhibition Modern Art Assembled of 9 Ibid., p. viii. and Amy Newman, New York, by the Societe Anonyme, exh. cat., Brooklyn, 1986, pp. 103-37. Barr wrote several articles as The , 1926. This exhibition 10 The Museum of Modern Art Archives: Alfred a result of this Russian trip: "The Researches was the most comprehensive effort to show Hamilton Barr, Jr., Papers, unlabeled lecture of Eisenstein," Drawing and Design, 4, pp. modern art up to that time, and included

Winter 1988 293 155-56; "The 'LEF' and ," Transi- Part I Tendency Toward Abstract Design in see: Theories of Modern Art, ed. Herschel tion 13/14 (Fall 1928), pp. 267-70; "Sergei Painting 1850-1900; Part II Tendencies Chipp, Berkeley, 1971, pp. 456-500. Michailovitch Eisenstein," , 14 (De- Toward Abstract Painting 1900-1910; Part III 43 Dwight Macdonald, "Profiles: Action on West cember 1928), pp. 316-21; "Notes on Russian The of Abstract Design 1910- Fifty-Third Street-I," (De- Architecture," The Arts, 15 (February 1929), 1914; Part IV The Cul de Sac of Pure Geome- cember 12, 1953), p. 82; see also: Vladimir pp. 103, 144, 146; "," The Arts, 17 try 1914-1920; Archives (cited n. 10). Kemenov, "Aspects of Two Cultures," re- (January 1931), pp. 234-51. In addition to 34 Archives (cited n. 10). Other proposedtitles for printed in Chipp (cited n. 42), pp. 490-96. these articles on modern art, Barr wrote "Rus- the exhibition also in the Archives were "Out of sian Icons," The Arts, 17 (February 1931), pp. 44 M. Barr (cited n. 38) pp. 31-32. Cubism," and "Abstract Design in Modern 296-313,355-62. Art." The chart was probably prepared in 45 The article that was published appeared as 19 Archives (cited n. 10). The lecture series is conjunction with his teaching at Wellesley and "Notes on the Film: Nationalism in German reprinted in Sandler and Newman (cited n. probably dates from 1929, just after Barr's Films." The Hound and Horn, 7 (January/ 18), pp. 67, 68. return from Russia. The fact that it appears in March 1934), pp. 278-83. The journal was the archives in the middle of all the documents edited by , a friend of Barr's. 20 A[lfred] H. B[arr] Jr., "Foreword," Painting on the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition, Even this article was published on a back page. in Paris from American Collections, exh. cat., and is catalogued with them, suggests that Barr The other articles were simply refused by the New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1930, referred to it at that time. It appears to corre- five publications to which they were submitted; p. 11. For an interesting discussion of the spond to the first part of the lecture series of see: Sandler and Newman (cited n. 18), p. 102. importance of Painting in Paris with respect to 1929, which, as was discussed above, was fol- No archival documents on this incident are Picasso, see: Eunice Lipton, Picasso Criticism, lowed by many more chapters in 1929. currently available. 1901-1939 The Making of an Artist Hero, New York, 1975, pp. 335-36 35 Alfred H. Barr, Jr., "Introduction," Cubism 46 Examination of the art of the Public Works of and Abstract Art, exh. cat., New York, The Art Project, the Painting and Sculpture Divi- 21 Barr (cited n. 20), pp. 13, 14. The idea of Museum of Modern Art, 1936, p. 11. sion of the Treasury Department, and the several stages for the development of Cubism Works Progress Administration is still in an was common in the early literature on the style. 36 Ibid., p. 13. early stage. One valuable publication is Rich- See, for example: Gordon (cited n. 14), p. 137, 37 Ibid., p. 78. ard D. McKinzie, The for Artists, which outlines eight stages. Princeton, 1973. He summarized the attitude 38 The other major exhibition prior to Cubism 22 Ibid., p. 14. The same essay appeared in a of one director;"The kind of art he sought gave and Abstract Art with a large group of loans catalogue for an exhibition shown in Detroit in him 'the same feeling I get when I smell a fresh from European collections was the Van Gogh the spring of 1931: A. H. B., Jr., "Introduc- ear of corn,'" p. 57. See also: Francis V. exhibition of the previous fall. That exhibition tion," Exhibition of Modern French Painting, O'Connor, WPA, Art for the Millions: Essays had been a major change for the Museum, with exh. cat., Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, from the 1930s by Artists and Administrators its record breaking crowds and admission 1931. The exhibition apparently included the of the WPA , Boston, 1973, charges. Organized during the same summer as same group of works. based on a report first conceived in 1936. One Cubism and Abstract Art, some of its back- dissertation examines the New York murals: 23 A[lfred] H. Barr, Jr., A Brief Survey of Mod- ground is recounted in , Greta Berman, The Lost Years: Mural Paint- ern Painting, exh. cat., New York, The "Our Campaigns," The New Criterion, special ing in under the WPA Federal Museum of Modern Art [1932], n.p. This issue (Summer 1987), pp. 40-43. Art Project, 1935-1943, (New York Universi- exhibition consisted of color reproductions 39 Alfred H. Barr, Jr. to Jerome Klein, July 19, ty, Institute of Fine Arts, 1978), Garland. The rather than original works, thereby allowing 1936, Archives (cited n. 10). type of art produced by the artists, Barr more flexibility in the selection of works. although commissioned to present scenes of 40 The idea for a series has been mentioned in a 24 Ibid. American life, varied widely stylistically, number of places. One such is in A[lfred] H. according to the training of the artists and the 25 Ibid. Barr, Jr., "Preface," Fantastic Art, Dada and location of their work. Surrealism, exh cat., New York, The Museum 26 Ibid. of Modern Art, 1936 p. 7, which characterizes 47 Barr (cited n. 28), p. 2. 27 No documents survive on Barr's specific role in that exhibition as second in a series of which 48 M. Barr (cited n. 38), pp. 31-32. the choice of works for the exhibition, but given Cubism and Abstract Art was the first. In M. his detailed correspondencewith Frank Good- Barr (cited n. 38), p. 44, the series is stated to 49 Earlier in his career as Director, Barr had had year on other aspects of the museum activities include Masters of Popular Painting (1938), much difficulty obtaining loans; see for exam- during his leave, he probably had some American Realists and Magic Realists (1943), ple, documents relating to his effort to create a influence. See: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., to Frank and Romantic Painting in America (1943). Picasso exhibition in 1930, when he was still a Goodyear, March 23, 1934, Archives (cited n. This correspondswith Barr's early 1930s treat- young director of a little-known museum, 10). ments of the complexity of realism, although Archives (cited n. 10). none of these exhibitions were curated by Barr, 28 A[lfred] H[amilton] B[arr] Jr., "Summer 50 T.D.M. "The Government Defines Art: The nor were they stated to be part of the series. Show," The Bulletin of The Museum of Mod- United States Government and Abstract Art," Furthermore, Dorothy C. Miller, "Foreword ern Art, 1 (October 1933), p. 2. The Bulletin of The Museum of Modern Art, 3 and Acknowledgment," American Realists (April 1936), pp. 2-6. The works held up at 29 Ibid., p. 4 and Magic Realists, exh. cat., New York, The customs were by , Alberto Giacomet- Museum of Modern Art, 1943, p. 5, states that 30 Alfred H. Barr, Jr., "Modern Works of Art," ti, , Georges Vantongerloo, Ray- that exhibition is part of a different series that Modern Works of Art, exh cat., New York, mond Duchanp-Villon, Julio Gonzales, Um- began with 18 Artists from 9 States, in 1942, a The Museum of Modern Art, 1935, p. 15. berto Boccioni, Henry Moore, , contemporarysurvey. and Joan Mir6. See also: Barr n. 31 Ibid. (cited 35), p. 41 Barr (cited n. 35), p. 18. 18. A record of some of these controversiesis to 32 Ibid., p. 16. be found in The Art Front, the organ of the 42 See:The Muses Flee Hitler, ed. Jarrell Jack- Artist's Union. See especially the issues of 33 "Report to the Trustees from the Advisory man and Carla Borden, eds., Washington, November 1934, January 1935, and April Committee: An Exhibition 'Towards Abstrac- D.C., 1983, esp. pp. 29-44. The literature on 1937. Barr's correspondenceduring these years tion.'" May 3, no year, prepared by Mrs. the impact of politics on art in the 1930s is contains occasional references to his concern Russell. The proposedexhibition had five parts: extensive. For an illuminating group of essays, for the economic situation resulting from the

294 Art Journal Depression, as well as the political situation of pp. 49-52. The role of Morris as an interme- tieth Centuries, New York, 1978, pp. 185-211. the mid thirties in the art world. He praised the diary between the Museum and the American See also: idem, "The Social Bases of Art," Art Front and ordered eight copies for The Abstract Artists Group is also briefly touched Artists against War and Fascism: Papers of Museum of Modern Art Library, Alfred H. on by Lorenz, pp. 37-42. In the early 1930s the First American Artists' Congress, ed. Mat- Barr Jr., to Art Front, February 19, 1935, Gallatin was an important competitor of Barr's thew Baigell and Julia Williams, New Bruns- Archives (cited n. 10). He was invited to attend and a much better known collector-artist; they wick, NJ, 1986, pp. 103-13. Barr regarded meetings but apparently did not do so, Artists were rivals but respected each other, Alfred Schapiro's perspective as also valid, Alfred Coordination Committee to Alfred Barr, Jan- Barr to A. E. Gallatin [1937], A. E. Gallatin Barr to Jerome Klein, July 19, 1936, Archives uary 1, 1937, Archives, (cited n. 10). He Scrapbooks, Museum of Art, (cited n. 10). Schapiro and Barr were, in fact, refused to sign petitions even when in sympathy Philadelphia. congenial and respected each other. As their with the cause, because of his position at the correspondence demonstrates Barr occasion- 57 Lane (cited n. 51), p. 28. Museum, Alfred Barr to Milton Horn, March ally participated in a study group on the issues 5, 1937. His correspondencecontains only brief 58 The most complete source on the American of modern art that Schapiro organized in the references to the economic exigencies resulting Abstract Artists Group is Susan Larsen, "The mid 1930s. See, for example; Alfred H. Barr, from the Depression, mainly in his efforts to American Abstract Artists Group: A History Jr., to Meyer Schapiro, December 10, 1936, obtain positions for close friends in art history. and Evaluation of Its Impact upon American and Meyer Schapiro to Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Barr, as conveyed in available archival letters Art," PhD diss., Northwestern University, December 17, 1936, Archives (cited n. 10). from the 1930s, is removed from the day-to-day 1975. Another response among American art- Schapiro has told me that the exhibition was of battles of the thirties, Archives (cited n. 10). ists may be the writing and publication of John immense importance as the first time that all Graham's Systems and in Art, New the modern movements were laid out for the 51 See, for example: Edward Alden Jewell, "Aca- York, 1937. New York art world, telephone conversation, demicism on the Left," , Meyer Schapiro and Susan Platt, March 1987. (March 8, 1936), n.p.; James W. Lane, 59 to Alfred H. Barr Jr., June "Current Exhibitions," Parnassus, 8 (1936), 22, 1936, and July 16, 1936. Archives (cited n. 65 Alfred H. Barr to Moholy Nagy, May 26, pp. 26-28; Balcomb Green, "Abstract Art at 10). Quoted by permission. These and the other 1939, Archives, (cited n. 10). See also: Alfred the Modern Museum," Art Front, 3 (April letters from Kandinsky are filled with poeti- H. Barr, Jr., to Wassily Kandinsky, July 12, 1936), pp. 5-7; "Modern Museum Opens Show cally stated insights into the differences 1936. of U.S. Martinets," The Art between his approach to art and Barr's inter- Despite Ignorance 66 The chart from Cubism and Abstract Art is Digest, March 15, 1936, p. 10. An example of pretations. reproduced in the front of the catalogue (cited conservative criticism is that of 60 Ibid., July 16, 1936. n. 61), p. 18. in the Herald Tribune:"A Useful Book upon a Not at All Useful Phase of Painting," Herald 61 There is some possibility that 67 Alfred H. Barr, Jr., What is Modern Painting, Tribune (April 26, 1936), and "Why call the influenced Barr in his underrating of Kandin- New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1943, Results Art?" Dayton Ohio Journal, n.d. sky. A critical letter (undated) from Johnson to p. 41. Later editions of the book added a Frank Goodyear Scrapbooks, The Museum of Barr derides Kandinsky's sense of his own concluding section on postwar abstraction and Modern Art. importance, Phillip Johnson to Alfred H Barr, more statements on the connection of abstrac- Jr., Archives (cited n. 10). The literature on tion and freedom; see: idem, What is Modern 52 Lawrence Campbell in conversation with Kandinsky in the last decade has reinterpreted Painting, Boston, 1974, pp. 42-46; revised Susan Platt, Art Students' League, February both his sources and his intentions; see, most 1952, 1953, 1956. 1987. recently: Rose-Carol Washton Long, "Expres- 68 Irving Sandler, "Introduction,"in Sandler and 53 I am examining the relationship of Greenberg's sionism, Abstraction, and the Search for Uto- Newman (cited n. 18), pp. 28-30. See also: principles to those of Hofmann and Barr in a pia in Germany," The Spiritual in Art: Russell Lynes, Good Old Modern, New York, forthcoming article. For Greenberg's well- Abstract Painting, 1890-1980, exh. cat., Los 1973, pp. 240-63. known reference to the importance of Hofmann Angeles, Museum of Art, in his early development, see: Clement Green- 1986. See also idem, Kandinsky: The Develop- 69 Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea berg, "Avant-Garde and ," Art and Cul- ment of an Abstract Style, Oxford, 1980. of Modern Art, trans, Arthur Goldhammer, ture, Boston, 1961, p. 7. Chicago, 1983. For articles on this subject, see: 62 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy to Alfred H. Barr Jr., Max Kozloff, "American Painting during the 54 Barr (cited n. 35), p. 9. The exhibition at the May 23, 1939, Archives (cited n. 10). Although Cold War," , 13 (May 1973), pp. Whitney was itself controversial for the com- the letter is dated a few years later, the discus- 45-54; and Eva Cockcroft, "Abstract Expres- promised definition it gave to the term "Ab- sion is based on the Cubism and Abstract Art sionism: Weapon of the Cold War," Artforum, stract." In fact, most of the artists were part of catalogue. 12 (June 1974), pp. 39-41. the Whitney Museum tradition of a type of 63 Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler to Alfred H. Barr, compromise style between realism and abstrac- Jr., May 6, 1936, Archives (cited n. 10). See Susan Noyes Platt is Assistant tion. Whitney Museum of American Art, also: Gamwell (cited n. 3) pp. 86-88; Daniel- Professor Art at Abstract Painting in America, exh. cat., New of History Henry Kahnweiler, The Way of Cubism, (New State Pullman. York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Washington University, York, 1949) (English of Der Weg 1935. The author of Modernism in the 1920s: Zum Kubismus, , 1920). Also interest- Interpretationsof Modern Art in New 55 In 1951 The Museum of Modern Art finally ing is the letter from Jay Leyda to Alfred H. filled part of this gap in their literature with Barr, Jr., May 23, 1936, Archives (cited n. 10) Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, Abstract Painting describing the excited response of Vladimir and Sculpture in America, exh. cat., New Tatlin to the exhibition catalogue. In a second York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1951. letter, Leyda reported that Tatlin wanted to trade one of his works for a Davidson 56 The "concretionist" exhibition included Harley motorcycle without sidecar, Jay Leyda to Charles Shaw, Alexander Calder, George Mor- Alfred H. Barr, Jr., June 11, 1936, Archives ris, , and . (cited n. 10). Melinda Lorenz, George Morris, Artist and Critic, Ann Arbor, 1982, makes brief reference 64 Meyer Schapiro, "The Nature of Abstract to Gallatin's exhibition as a "counter exhibi- Art," Marxist Quarterly, 1(January-March tion," p. 42. She also discusses some of the early 1937), pp. 78-97, republished as "Cubism and stages of the American Abstracts Artist Group, Abstract Art," Modern Art: Ninth and Twen-

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