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Lincoln Kirstein: To See Deeply

Apr 25–Aug 26, 2007

Pavel Tchelitchew, Anatomical Painting, 1946. Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 in. (142.2 x 116.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Lincoln Kirstein 62.26. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

Pavel Tchelitchew, Anatomical Painting, 1946. Oil on canvas, 56 × 46 in. (142.2 × 116.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Lincoln Kirstein 62.26. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

The one hundreth anniversary of Lincoln Kirstein’s birth is observed with an exhibition focusing on a trio of artists from his circle. Kirstein, a hugely influential force in American culture, engaged with many notable artistic and literary figures, and helped shape the way the arts developed in America from the late 1920s onward. His involvement with choreographer George Balanchine, with whom he founded the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet, is perhaps his best known accomplishment.

This exhibition focuses on the photographer Walker Evans, the sculptor Elie Nadelman, and the painter Pavel Tchelitchew, each of whom was important to Kirstein. Kirstein curated the first major Evans exhibition and wrote the introduction to Evans’ book American Photographs (1938). He rescued the reputation of Elie Nadelman from relative obscurity and wrote monographs devoted to his sculpture and drawing. From Tchelitchew, Kirstein commissioned a portrait of himself that is one of the painter’s greatest works; Kirstein collected his art and wrote about him extensively. Selections from Kirstein’s writings form the basis of the labels and wall texts.