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Influences Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

Alfred H. Barr, Jr.


The way in which modern American and European art is studied is in large part due to the work and life of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. In 1929, Barr was appointed as first director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As Director until 1943 (when he was forced to resign), Barr was instrumental in promoting the art of established modernists like van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse and Cézanne. Additionally, there was perhaps no greater champion in America for the work of Pablo Picasso. Barr sought out many of the artist's pieces and arranged the well-known retrospective at MoMA in 1946, Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art.

Key Ideas

When the Museum of Modern Art was first conceived, Barr was hand picked by the founding trustees to be its director. His goal was to create a permanent home for the world's greatest modern artists, a controversial idea in the early-twentieth century when modern art was characterized by its constantly changing nature. In that sense, a museum for modern art seemed to be an oxymoron. Barr sought to change that way of thinking.
Barr believed that the artist led and the museum followed, and not the other way around. He also sought to present modern art and sculpture in the greater cultural context of modern society.


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