Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996) was a true polymath—writer, critic, curator, and impresario—and an indefatigable catalyst, whose contributions to American cultural endeavors in the 1930s and ’40s helped shaped the lives of artists and institutions. Best known for his defining role with the New York City Ballet, which he co-founded with choreographer George Balanchine, Kirstein is also a crucial figure in the early history of The Museum of Modern Art. A champion of realism, photography, and performance, he organized numerous exhibitions, established the Museum’s short-lived Dance Archives and its curatorial Dance and Theatre Design department, acquired a significant trove of Latin American art for MoMA’s collection, and proposed an alternate vision of modernism—one that embraced figuration—to a museum known for its devotion to abstraction.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition dedicated to Kirstein’s expansive view of modern art, this volume explores his wide-ranging and overlapping professional and social networks in New York City and beyond. This richly illustrated book features paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and costume and set designs by artists in Kirstein’s ambit, 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. Also included are four scholarly essays investigating Kirstein’s interdisciplinary pursuits, as well as excerpts from his own deeply insightful writings. 208pp; 264 illus.