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Lincoln Kirstein, Author, Nicholas Jenkins, Editor Farrar Straus Giroux $30 (423p) ISBN 978-0-374-18765-1
At the core of this collection of essays and incidental writings from the '20s to the '80s assembled by Jenkins, an editor of ArtNews magazine, lies Kirstein's struggle to promote serious classical ballet in the U.S.; he induced Russian dancer and choreographer George Balanchine to collaborate in founding the New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet. However, no aspect of culture leaves him unengaged. As a founding editor of Hound & Horn , a literary journal, in the late '20s, Kirstein campaigned for the acceptance of the modernist poets who are now this century's legends. Later, he wrote with equal seriousness on photography (Walker Evans), film and painting, and here also contributes memoirs of personalities ranging from T. E. Lawrence to Marilyn Monroe. His essays are not simply criticism but arguments for a theory of art stressing the artist's--and art's--moral position (``la danse, madame, c'est une question morale,'' as he quotes Balanchine). At all opportunities, but particularly for ballet, Kirstein submits a trenchant counterpoint to the reproach that certain art forms may be frivolous, rarified or pornographic. For all that, his diction can be playful, in the manner of Ronald Firbank: ``Encarnadined shock was further ensanguined by its contrast with black lacquered bedsteads and night table.'' Kirstein's style is literary and thoughtful, while its forthright panache reveals the author in his character as one of the century's great impresarios, in a class with Diaghilev, his hero. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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