Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern at The Museum of Modern Art, through June 15, 2019

The Museum of Modern Art presents Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern, an exhibition exploring Lincoln Kirstein’s sweeping contributions to American cultural life in the 1930s and ’40s. Best known for cofounding New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Kirstein (1907–1996), a polymathic writer, curator, editor, impresario, tastemaker, and patron, was also a key figure in MoMA’s early history. With his prescient belief in the role of dance within the museum, his championing of figuration in the face of prevailing abstraction, and his position at the center of a New York network of queer artists, intimates, and collaborators, the impact of this extraordinary individual remains profoundly resonant today. Seen through the lens of Kirstein, the works in the exhibition reveal an alternative and expansive view of modern art.

Kirstein proclaimed, ‘I have a live eye,’ and the exhibition illuminates the influence of his vision, tastes, and efforts on the Museum’s collecting, exhibition, and publication history. Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern features nearly 300 works from the Museum’s collection—including set and costume designs for the ballet by Paul Cadmus and Jared French, photographs by Walker Evans and George Platt Lynes, realist and magic realist paintings by Honoré Sharrer and Pavel Tchelitchew, sculptures by Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise, and the Latin American art that Kirstein acquired for the Museum by artists such as Antonio Berni and Raquel Forner—alongside material drawn from the Museum Archives.” — MoMA

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907–1955). Lincoln Kirstein. c. 1948. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 × 7 ¾ in. (24.2 × 19.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Russell Lynes © 2019 Estate of George Platt Lynes

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907–1955). Lew Christensen in “Apollon Musagète.” June 24, 1937. Gelatin silver print, 13 1/4 × 11 ¾ in. (33.7 × 29.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Russell Lynes © 2019 Estate of George Platt Lynes

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Paul Cadmus (American, 1904–1999). Set design for the ballet Filling Station. 1937. Cut-and-pasted paper, gouache, and pencil on paper, 8 × 10 7/8″ (20.3 × 27.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1941. © 2018 Estate of Paul Cadmus

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Pavel Tchelitchew (American, born Russia, 1898–1957). Study for a backdrop for the ballet Apollon Musagète. 1942. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, 20 x 28 ½ in. (50.8 x 72.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lincoln Kirstein

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Pavel Tchelitchew (American, born Russia, 1898–1957). Nervous System. Designs for the ballet The Cave of Sleep. 1941. Gouache and watercolor on paper, 13 1/4 × 11 in. (33.7 × 27.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist

Kurt Seligmann (American, born Switzerland, 1900–1962). Theme 3 (Female). Costume designs for the ballet The Four Temperaments. c. 1946. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, 13 3/4 × 9 ¾ in. (34.9 × 24.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Extended loan, 1948 © 2019 Orange County Citizens Foundation/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Gaston Lachaise (American, born France. 1882–1935). Woman Walking. 1922. Bronze, 18 1/2 × 10 3/4 × 7″ (47 × 27.3 × 17.7 cm) including base. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1939. Courtesy Lachaise Foundation

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Paul Cadmus (American, 1904–1999). Greenwich Village Cafeteria. 1934. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 39 ½ in. (64.8 x 100.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Extended loan from the United States WPA Art Program. Fine Arts Collection, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration © 2019 Estate of Paul Cadmus

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Antonio Berni (Argentine, 1905–1981). New Chicago Athletic Club (Club Atlético Nueva Chicago). 1937. Oil on canvas, 6′ 3/4″ × 9′ 10 1/4″ (184.8 x 300.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund, 1942. © 2018 Fundación Antonio Berni and Luis Emilio De Rosa, Argentina

Installation view of Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern. Digital image © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

Raquel Forner (Argentine, 1902–1988). Desolation (Desolación). 1942. Oil on canvas, 36 7/8 × 28 7/8 in. (93.7 × 72.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund © 2019 Fundación Forner-Bigatti

Walker Evans (American, 1903–1975). Lincoln Kirstein. c. 1931. Gelatin silver print, 6 3/8 × 4 1/2″ (16.2 × 11.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2018 Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern is organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, and Samantha Friedman, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA. 

Images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art.