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
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"Alfred Hamilton Barr Jr. remains a figure of fascination and contention." The New York Review of Books Michael Kimmelman
"An important contribution to the historiography of twentieth-century American art... intellectual and biographical history at its most rigorous." Daniel A. Siedell College Art Association Reviews
"Alfred Hamilton Barr Jr. remains a figure of fascination and contention." Michael Kimmelman The New York Review of Books
"It is to the intellectual history of modern art that [this book] makes an indispensible contribution." Hilton Kramer The New Criterion
"This truly significant book is at times as compulsively readable as a novel. Yet the spell that the author casts does not come at the expense of rigorous argument backed up by exhaustive primary documentation and pertinent secondary references."--Helen E. Searing, Alice Pratt Brown Professor of Art, Smith College
"A worthy contribution to the literature. Kantor's book is the most detailed and revelatory account of Barr's approach to modern art ever published."--Francis M. Naumann, author of Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1999)
"At last, Alfred Barr's towering stature as scholarly art historian, evangelical educator, and visionary museum director has been given its due. Meticulously documented, Kantor's study recreates not only the formation, step by step, of Barr's unique genius but also the audacious intellectual milieu of the 1920's that nurtured it."--Robert Rosenblum, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University