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Article

Ruth Bass

(b Buffalo, NY, July 8, 1896; d New York, Nov 23, 1989).

American dealer, collector, and writer. He first worked as a professional ballroom dancer, aeronautical mechanic, and businessman. During business trips to New York he began visiting museums and art galleries in the 57th Street area. He moved to New York in 1924, married Harriet Grossman (1898–1963) in 1925 and in 1926 founded the M’Lord Shirt Company. He began collecting art in 1926, acquiring one of the finest collections of the Ecole de Paris in the USA. On successive trips to Europe, he met Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, and other major European artists. After acquiring The Dream by Henri Rousseau (New York, MOMA) he became interested in American naive painters, including Grandma Moses and Morris Hirshfield, on whom he published a study in 1942.

Having dissolved his business in 1939 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing on art, in 1949 Janis opened the ...

Article

Richard H. Randall

(b Akkerman, Bessarabia [now Belgorod Dnestrovskiy, Ukraine], 1893; d Newport, RI, Dec 20, 1963).

American singer and collector. Trained as a tenor and actor in Odessa, he immigrated to America in 1922. In 1928 he married Martha Codman (d 1948) of Boston, heiress of Elias Hasket Derby (1739–99), the Salem merchant and patron of the architect and wood-carver Samuel McIntire. Following a tradition begun by Mrs Karolik in 1923 of giving family treasures to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mr and Mrs Karolik formed a collection, of great artistic quality, of American portraits, furniture, and decorative art of the late 18th century, which they presented to the Museum in 1939. Included were eight portraits and nineteen drawings by John Singleton Copley and documented furniture by Edmund Towsend of Newport, RI, Benjamin Randolph of Philadelphia, and the Derby furniture by McIntire and John and Thomas Seymour of Boston.

The Karoliks’ enthusiasm for American art led them to form a second collection of American painting dating from ...

Article

Diane Tepfer

(b Rochester, NY, May 4, 1907; d New York, Jan 5, 1996).

American patron and writer. Best known for bringing the dancer and choreographer George Balanchine to the USA in 1933 and founding the School of the American Ballet and the New York City Ballet, he was also a poet and novelist and devoted his life to fostering dance, literature, and the visual arts. He grew up in Boston with wealthy parents whose fortune came from successful department stores. He spent summers abroad and among the experiences that influenced him was his attendance at a performance of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, he co-founded and co-edited the influential avant-garde literary journal Hound and Horn (1927–34) and participated in the founding of the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art, a precursor of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1942 he founded Dance Index Magazine, which he edited until 1948; he brought to it the same artistic ideals that governed his work at the New York City Ballet. His attraction to the grace and vitality of the human body in dance was extended to his admiration for the figurative sculpture of Elie Nadelman and Gaston Lachaise, which he expressed by writing eloquent books and essays on their work, for example ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

[MoMA] (New York)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was founded in 1929 by patrons Lillie P(lummer) Bliss, Cornelius J. Sullivan and Rockefeller family §(1) to establish an institution devoted to modern art. Over the next ten years the Museum moved three times and in 1939 settled in the Early Modern style building (1938–9) designed by Philip S. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone that it still occupies at 11 West 53 Street. Subsequent renovations and expansions occurred in the 1950s and 1960s by Philip Johnson, in 1984 by Cesar Pelli and in 2002–4 by Yoshirō Taniguchi (b 1937). MoMA QNS, the temporary headquarters during this project, was subsequently used to provide art storage. In 2000, MoMA and the contemporary art space, P.S.1, Long Island City, Queens, announced their affiliation. Recent projects are shown at P.S.1 in Queens in a renovated public school building.

According to founding director, Alfred H(amilton) Barr...

Article

(b Boston, MA, March 1, 1823; d Windsor, VT, Aug 25, 1886).

American art historian, musician and patron. He came from a wealthy and cultivated family. After completing his studies at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, in 1843, he travelled to Europe. While studying drawing and painting in Rome, he commissioned the marble group Hebe and Ganymede (Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.) from his friend the sculptor Thomas Crawford. In 1846 he entered Ary Scheffer’s studio in Paris and in 1851 travelled to Leipzig to study the piano with Ignaz Moscheles. When he returned to Boston in 1854, his future was still undecided, his wealth and multiplicity of talents making it difficult for him to choose a direction; it was not until June 1857, after his series of lectures on art at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, had met with great success, that he renounced music as a profession. From 1857 to 1869 he was in Europe, gathering material for his study Tuscan Sculptors, which appeared in ...

Article

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Naomi Sawelson-Gorse

[Goldenberg, Emanuel]

(b Bucharest, Romania, Dec 12, 1893; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 26, 1973).

American actor and collector of Romanian birth. He began collecting in the 1920s but could afford only etchings and lithographs, and occasionally paintings by American artists such as John Twachtman and Ralph Albert Blakelock. In the 1930s, as a result of a vastly improved financial situation, he bought French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including works by Bonnard, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Rouault, Utrillo and Vuillard.

Although Robinson did acquire some American paintings and Pre-Columbian and African objects, he excluded from his collection any avant-garde or abstract works. Still-lifes and portraits dominated the collection. By 1940 it was so large that he commissioned Samuel A. Marx to remodel his home in Los Angeles to include a gallery (completed Nov 1941), which was open to the public on specific days. Through generous loans to local exhibitions, and his participation in various organizations, he confirmed his commitment, expressed through numerous interviews and articles, to the public display and promotion of modern art....