Modern Art USA: Men, Rebellion, Conquest, 1900-1956

By Rudi Blesh | Go to book overview

II. Passage to Permanence

The year 1931 started normally enough for the Museum of Modern Art with Royal Cortissoz's annual prediction of the imminent demise of all modern art. Then, about six weeks after this pronouncement, which the dean of the no-men gave out on February 1, there actually was a death keenly felt by all modern art-lovers. Miss Lillie P. Bliss succumbed. "During the period of less than two years preceding her death," Conger Goodyear wrote later, "the Museum had become her chief interest. . . . Her questioning, understanding and friendly eyes, her criticism, sympathy and support were of the greatest inspiration in the early days."1

Over the years the Bliss collection had grown to one of importance, notable especially for the Cézannes--eleven oils, as many watercolors, and numerous drawings and lithographs. It was well rounded out with work by Daumier, Degas, Seurat, Picasso, Gauguin, Derain, Matisse, Redon (including Silence, the first sale at the Armory Show), Pissarro, Modigliani, Renoir, Rousseau, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

The Bliss collection went by bequest to the Museum she had helped to found. To the best of her ability, Miss Bliss had made up to America the loss that it had suffered when so many of John Quinn's treasures had left the auction block to go back to France. For there is small doubt that Lillie Bliss had never ceased to regret her failure to respond in 1926 to Arthur B. Davies's urgings to help save the Quinn collection. She did nobly, nevertheless. The Arts noted quite accurately "the transition of the Museum from a temporary place of exhibitions to a permanent place of lasting activities and acquisitions."

____________________
1
A. Conger Goodyear: The Museum of Modern Art: The First Ten Years ( New York, 1943).

-145-

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Modern Art USA: Men, Rebellion, Conquest, 1900-1956
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • 1. the World Stirs in Its Sleep 3
  • 2. Home Life on the Other Side of the Moon 9
  • 3. Plot in an Attic 23
  • 4. Rebellion in an Amory 41
  • 5. Aftermath 57
  • 6. Independents' Day 68
  • 7. Dada and Despair 85
  • 8. Modern Art's First Museum 103
  • 9. Art in a Skyscraper 114
  • 10. the Artist is the Man Next Door 131
  • Ii. Passage to Permanence 145
  • 12. Termite, Time Capsule, and Pedestal 162
  • 13. Isms and Wasms 185
  • 15. Go West, Young Art, Go West 222
  • 16. Arriving 241
  • 17. Presences 262
  • 18. the Present 282
  • Index i
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