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Mumford on Modern Art in the 1930s

Robert Mumford (Author), Robert Wojtowicz (Editor), Robert Wojtowicz (Introduction)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 9780520258082
December 2008
$26.95, £19.95
Although Lewis Mumford is widely acknowledged as the seminal American critic of architecture and urbanism in the twentieth century, he is less known for his art criticism. He began contributing to this field in the early 1920s, and his influence peaked between 1932 and 1937, when he was art critic for the New Yorker. This book, for the first time, assembles Mumford's important art criticism in a single volume. His columns bring wit and insight to bear on a range of artists, from establishment figures like Matisse and Brancusi to relatively new arrivals like Reginald Marsh and Georgia O'Keeffe. These articles provide an unusual window onto the New York art scene just as it was casting off provincialism in favor of a more international outlook. On a deeper level, the columns probe beneath the surface of modern art, revealing an alienation that Mumford believed symptomatic of a larger cultural disintegration.

Many of the themes Mumford addresses overlap with those of his more familiar architectural criticism: the guiding role of the past in stimulating creativity in the present, the increasing congestion of the modern metropolis, the alarming lack of human control over modern technology, and the pressing need to restore organic balance to everyday living. Though he was open to new movements emanating from Europe, Mumford became the chief advocate of a progressive American modernism that was both socially aware and formally inventive.
List of Illustrations
“The Metropolitan Milieu”

“The Art Galleries: The Taste of Today.” New Yorker VIII (October 1, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: Shows Abroad.” New Yorker VIII (October 8, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: Mr. Bloom’s Anniversary; And a Disciple of Atget.” New
Yorker VIII (October 15, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: Seventy Years; The Work of Mary Cassatt.” New Yorker VIII
(November 12, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: Marin; Miró.” New Yorker VIII (November 19, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: American Paintings.” New Yorker VIII (December 10, 1932)
“The Art Galleries: Paint and Stone.” New Yorker VIII (January 21, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: World Tour.” New Yorker IX (February 18, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Cabarets and Clouds.” New Yorker IX (April 1, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Impressionism and the Circus; Three Decades.” New Yorker
IX (April 22, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Resurrection; And the Younger Generation.” New Yorker IX (May 13, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: The Summer Circuit.” New Yorker IX (August 12, 1933)

“The Art Galleries: West, South, and Across the Harlem.” New Yorker IX (September 23, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Miniatures and Heirlooms.” New Yorker IX (October 21, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Extramural Activities.” New Yorker IX (October 28, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Two Americans.” New Yorker IX (November 11, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: New York Under Glass.” New Yorker IX (November 25,
“The Art Galleries: The Frozen Nightmares of Señor Dali.” New Yorker IX
(December 9, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Across the Hudson; Jean Lurçat’s ' Double Bill; Paints,
Pastels, and the Parthenon.” New Yorker IX (December 30, 1933)
“The Art Galleries: Rivera and the Workers.” New Yorker IX (January 13, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Portrait of the Mechanic as a Young Man; Newcomers in
Retrospect.” New Yorker X (March 31, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Circus Time; Statues and Prints; Americana.” New Yorker X
(April 7, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Memorials and Moderns,” New Yorker X (April 14, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Benton of Missouri; A Galaxy of Goyas.” New Yorker X
(April 21, 1934), 55-57
“The Art Galleries: Toyshop; Reflections on Mediocrity.” New Yorker X (April
28, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Tips for Travellers; The Modern Museum.” New Yorker X
(June 9, 1934)

“The Art Galleries: Critics and Cameras.” New Yorker X (September 29, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: A Catalogue and Homer.” New Yorker X (October 20, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: In Memoriam.” New Yorker X (November 17, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Marin and Others.” New Yorker X (November 24, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: A Camera and Alfred Stieglitz.” New Yorker X (December
22, 1934)
“The Art Galleries: Anniversary; Post-Centenary Whistler; Mr. Curry and the
American Scene.” New Yorker X (February 2, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: Lachaise and O’Keeffe.” New Yorker X (February 9, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: Paints, Palettes, and the Public Wall.” New Yorker XI
(February 16, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: New High in Abstractions,” New Yorker XI (March 2, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: The Dark Continent; And George Grosz.” New Yorker XI
(March 30, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: Mirrors and the Metropolitan.” New Yorker XI (April 6,
“The Art Galleries: The Three Bentons.” New Yorker XI (April 20, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: A Group of Americans.” New Yorker XI (May 4, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: In Capitulation.” New Yorker XI (June 1, 1935)

“The Art Galleries: Léger and the Machine.” New Yorker XI (October 19, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: A Synopsis of Ryder.” New Yorker XI (November 2, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: The Work of van Gogh.” New Yorker XI (November 16, 1935)
“The Art Galleries: Autobiographies in Paint.” New Yorker XI (January 18, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Group Shows and Solos.” New Yorker XI (January 25, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Goya, Homer, and Jones.” New Yorker XI (February 8, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: William Gropper and an Open Letter.” New Yorker XI
(February 15, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: The Course of Abstraction.” New Yorker XII, (March 21,
“The Art Galleries: Drawings and Illustrations; Pictures for the Public.” New
Yorker XII (May 16, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Looking Backward, Looking Forward.” New Yorker XII (June
6, 1936)

“The Art Galleries: East and West.” New Yorker XII (September 26, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: The Treasury’s Murals.” New Yorker XII (October 17, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: John Marin.” New Yorker XII (October 31, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Pablo Picasso.” New Yorker XII (November 14, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Moderns: Assorted.” New Yorker XII (November 28, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: On Reproductions.” New Yorker XII (December 12, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Surrealism and Civilization.” New Yorker XII (December 19,
“The Art Galleries: Winslow Homer.” New Yorker XII (December 26, 1936)
“The Art Galleries: Wood and Stone.” New Yorker XII (February 13, 1937)
“The Art Galleries: The Life of the City.” New Yorker XIII (February 27,
“The Art Galleries: Prints and Paints.” New Yorker XIII (April 3, 1937)
“The Art Galleries: Academicians and Others.” New Yorker XIII (April 10, 1937)
“The Art Galleries: Pierre-Auguste Renoir.” New Yorker XIII (June 5, 1937)

Robert Wojtowicz is Associate Professor of Art History at Old Dominion University and a leading expert on the life and work of Lewis Mumford. He is the author of Lewis Mumford and American Modernism: European Theories for Architecture and Urban Planning, the editor of Sidewalk Critic: Lewis Mumford's Writings on New York, and the coeditor of Frank Lloyd Wright and Lewis Mumford: Thirty Years of Correspondence.
“Accessible and witty . . . worth reading for their insights into the art world between the two wars . . . an impressive collection.”—Publishers Weekly
"Superbly crafted little essays, Lewis Mumford's New Yorker pieces called 'The Art Galleries' well deserve this handsome republication. They offer supremely tasteful guided tours of the galleries and museums of Manhattan at the time when the canon of Western art, including modernism, was being secured, against a background of tension between abstraction and realism and between aestheticism and social commitment. The essays are a gift for our own troubled times from one of the great humane and versatile critics of the twentieth century; they offer the reassurance of urbanity, poise, and commitment to art as a primary social necessity."—Alan Trachtenberg, Neil Grey Emeritus Professor of English, Yale University

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