Art: MOMA's Pope

Alfred Barr Jr.: 1902-1981

When Alfred Hamilton Barr Jr. became the first director of Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art in 1929, he was also its sole employee. The museum was little more than an idea in the minds of its founders. Barr, a Presbyterian minister's son from Detroit, was only 27, a fastidious but boldly original scholar who was teaching the nation's first college course (at Wellesley) on modern art. Although he was ridiculed for his conviction that the art of the day belonged in a museum, he assiduously acquired Picassos, Matisses and...

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