From Publishers Weekly
A central figure in 20th-century American modernism, Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996) edited a pioneering literary magazine and was the driving force behind George Balanchine's revolutionary New York City Ballet. Bancroft Prize–winner Duberman (Charles Francis Adams
) reveals in his absorbing biography a man blessed, agonizingly, with great artistic taste and vision unaccompanied by artistic talent. Born of a wealthy Jewish family but unable to personally finance his many schemes, Kirstein became a frenzied impresario of the avant-garde, perpetually sweating out budget shortfalls and opening night reviews and pestering philanthropists for funds to bring high-brow dance to suspicious but increasingly receptive American audiences. His was a high-wire life—despite artistic triumphs, NYCB teetered on the brink of bankruptcy for decades—sustained by a stupendous manic energy (later darkening into demented fits that necessitated electroshock) and enlivened by a parade of lovers of both sexes, including his own brother. Kirstein met everyone from Martha Graham to General Patton. Through Kirstein's funny, perceptive diary jottings and letters, Duberman paints an engaging portrait of bohemian New York and its high-society patrons. Kirstein's tornado life and crazy-quilt projects can be bewildering, but Duberman conjures an indelible sense of a creative urge that became a tortuous pilgrimage toward an enigmatic muse. 36 pages of photos. (Apr. 19)
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As the author of foundational works in modern gay history, award-winning biographer Duberman is uniquely qualified to chronicle the many-faceted life of influential arts advocate Lincoln Kirstein. Unconventional from the cradle and free to follow his passions thanks to his family's department-store fortune, Kirstein was blessed with "charismatic brilliance," prodigious energy, and an entrepreneurial spirit, if plagued with an "easily overwrought nature." Duberman details Kirstein's herculean efforts to establish choreographer George Balanchine in the U.S and tells phenomenal stories of Kirstein's role in World War II's Arts and Monuments Commission's dramatic discovery of stolen masterpieces and intelligence gathering in pro-Nazi South America. A crucial force in the vitality of the Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center, Kirstein led a complicated personal life. Married to Fidelma (sister of the artist Paul Cadmus), Kirstein enjoyed many affairs with men, and both he and Fidelma eventually suffered bouts of mental illness. Duberman offers a remarkably candid and profoundly insightful portrait of a "consequential if controversial figure in the art world," a man of dazzling gifts and convictions. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved