Lincoln Kirstein


The New York Times called Lincoln Kirstein "one of the most valuable of living Americans," and Susan Sontag suggested he should be named a national treasure. His actual titles were President Emeritus, School of American Ballet, and General Manager Emeritus, New York City Ballet. He founded both institutions with choreographer George Balanchine.

Kirstein's career dates from his days at Harvard, from which he graduated in 1930. While there he founded and edited the seminal literary magazine Hound and Horn and founded the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art, the forerunner of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Nurturing the dream of an American ballet, Kirstein brought Balanchine to America in the early 1930's. With Edward M.M. Warburg they founded the School of American Ballet. Performing companies soon followed, culminating in the establishment of New York City Ballet in 1948.

Kirstein wrote and was published extensively. His dance books include Dance (1935), The Classic Ballet (1952), Movement and Metaphor (1971), and Thirty Years-The New York City Ballet (1978). Other works are Flesh is Heir (1932), Rhymes of a Pfc (1964), Lay This Laurel (1974), and monographs, essays, and books on artists such as Pavel Tchiletchew, Elie Nadelman, Gaston Lachaise, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, George Tooker, Paul Cadmus, and Jamie Wyeth. In 1987 he published Quarry: A Collection in Lieu of Memoirs and The Poems of Lincoln Kirstein.

Kirstein was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1984) and the National Medal of Arts (1985), among other honors. He died in 1996. February 2003
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