Barr Diagram of the Development of Abstract Art
Alfred H. Barr (can ‘t find what the H. stands for)
born 1902 died 1981
Princeton and Harvard
Loved Vincent Van Gogh
Barr ‘s own words, A work of art… is worth looking at primarily because it represents a composition or organization of color, line, light and shade. Resemblance to natural objects, while it does not necessarily destroy these esthetic values, may easily adulterate their purity. Therefore, since resemblance to nature is at best superfluous and at worst distracting it might as well be eliminated,
Our idea of what is modern art and how it developed has been mainly shaped by the scholar Alfred H. Barr. Barr was appointed Assistant Professor of Art History at Wellesley College and in 1929 became director of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA.) in New York. At Wellesley, Barr had taught the first ever course to be devoted to twentieth century art; this was new since this was a vastly under – researched field. Barr was attempting to provide serious scholarly research on the definition of modern art and how it evolved from earlier movements such as Impressionism. More importantly, Barr wanted to construct a history of modern art. The methodology that Barr adopted to trace the origins and development of modern art was to construct two overarching views which was reflected in his attitude towards exhibiting modern art. Thus, Barr ‘s first model consisted of’Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism ‘, and his second more influential one was ‘Cubism and Abstract Art ‘. Both of these fields of modern art were incorporated in an exhibition held at MOMA in 1936. If you look at Barr ‘s chart that appeared on the front of his 1936 catalogue, you will see that, according to Barr, Cubism is caused by chosen aspects of late – nineteenth century art.
Barr This museum is a torpedo moving through time, its head the ever-advancing present, its tail the ever-receding past of 50 to 100 years ago.