Lincoln Kirstein's greatest hits: The New York art scene in the '40s and '50s

In the May 7 of TNR, Jed Perl reviews the new biography of Lincoln Kirstein. Kirstein, the child of a wealthy Bostonian family that owned Filene's Department Store, started the School of American Ballet in Hartford, Connecticut, and brought famed ballet dancer and choreographer George Balanchine to America to found the New York City Ballet. While much of his time and money was spent supporting these new American ballet companies, he was also an avid fan and critic of art and literature. Wholeheartedly devoted to modernity, Kirstein covered art and literature for The New Republic in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Below are four pieces he wrote--from each decade he contributed to the magazine--that reveal his love of prose, his love of art, and his love of life.

"T.E. Lawrence" (1934)--A romantic review of a biography of T.E. Lawrence, the legendary British liason of the Arab Revolt of 1916-18, better known to the world as "Lawrence of Arabia."

"The Autocratic Taste" (1949)--Writing at a watershed moment in American art (the golden age of American modern art was about to begin), Kirstein considers the Renaissance art historian Bernard Berenson's ideas about history and aesthetics in visual art.

"Public Mask and Private Sorrows" (1949)--A critique of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which was experiencing growing pains both physically (in its renovation) and culturally (in threats posed by smaller, younger museums like the National Gallery).

"The Abstract Style" (1951)--A review of the historic American modern art exhibit--featuring the pioneers of abstract expressionism--at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

By NO BYLINE