Barron, Stephanie 1950–
Barron, Stephanie 1950–
PERSONAL: Born September 24, 1950, in New York, NY; daughter of Manuel (a publisher) and Gloria (a publisher; maiden name, Pequignot) Barron; children: Max Rifkind-Barron. Education: Barnard College, A.B., 1972; Columbia University, M.A., 1974. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, intern and curatorial assistant, 1971–72; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, National Education Association intern in education, 1973–74; Jewish Museum, New York, NY, exhibition coordinator, 1975–76; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, associate curator of modern art, 1976–80, curator, 1980–94, coordinator of curatorial affairs, 1993–96, senior curator of modern and contemporary art, 1995–, vice president of education and public programs, 1996–. Has lectured and served on panels about art throughout the United States; has worked on films and television programs about art, including "Degenerate Art," Public Broadcasting System (PBS); advisor to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, 1996–; trustee of Scripps College, 1997–.
MEMBER: College Art Association, American Association of Museums, American Academy of Letters and Sciences.
AWARDS, HONORS: John J. McCloy fellowship in art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981; Order of Merit, First Class, Federal Republic of Germany, 1984, for achievement in the area of German Expressionist art and culture; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for museum professionals, 1986–87; George L. Wittenborn Award, Art Libraries Society of North America, for "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, 1991, and for catalogue "Degenerate Art," 1992; Woman of the Year citations from Friends of Tel Hashomer and the Business and Professional Women of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, both 1991; Association of International Critics of Art awards for best American exhibition of the year, 1991, best exhibition catalogue, 1997, and best exhibition outside of New York City, 1997; Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Award for most distinguished museum catalogue, College Art Association, 1991 and 1992; Theo Wormland Künstpreis, 1992, for achievement in German cultural studies; American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellowship, 1997; E.L. Kirchner Prize (Switzerland), 1997; Association of International Art Critics Award for best exhibition catalogue, 1999, for Exiles and Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler; Commander of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany, 2000.
(Editor, with Maurice Tuchman) The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910–1930: New Perspectives, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1980.
The Museum as Site: Sixteen Projects, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), 1981.
German Expressionist Sculpture, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1983.
Gallery Guides to the Collection of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), 1987.
German Expressionism, 1915–1925: The Second Generation, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), 1988.
"Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, H. Abrams (New York, NY), 1991.
(Editor, with Sabine Eckmann) Exiles and Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, H. Abrams (New York, NY), 1997.
(Editor, with W.D. Dube) German Expressionism: Art and Society, ARS Publications (Rome, Italy), 1997.
(With Sheri Bernstein, Ilene Susan Fort, and Michael Dear) Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000, University of California Press, 2000.
(Editor, with Sheri Bernstein and Ilene Susan Fort) Reading California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000, University of California Press, 2000.
Also contributor of articles to periodicals, books, and exhibition catalogues, including Art in America, Toledo Museum of Art Museum News, Arts Magazine, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Bulletin, Art News, Apollo, UK/LA Commemorative Journal, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings, and Documents of German Expressionism.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Magritte and Contemporary Art, 2006, and German Art of the Cold War, 2008, both for Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephanie Barron has been a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 1976. By herself, and in combination with others, she has written and edited a number of books related to art history, including several that began as museum catalogues for important exhibits. Two of Barron's best-known titles are The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910–1930: New Perspectives and "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany.
Barron edited The Avant-Garde in Russia with Maurice Tuchman. The book began as a catalogue for an exhibit of Russian artists, but, according to Peter Vergo in the Times Literary Supplement, it is "far more than just an exhibition catalogue." As Vergo went on to explain, "it contains essays by eighteen authors on a wide variety of topics to do with twentieth-century Russian art, as well as a chronological table of events." The Avant-Garde in Russia also includes black-and-white photographs of the art works displayed at the exhibition in Los Angeles. Though Vergo praised the book, he did point out some problems that both it and the exhibition faced. At the time of the exhibition and the book's publication, the Soviet Union was not terribly cooperative with scholars and others wishing to know about its art and artists; therefore the exhibition dealt solely with art objects already in the West, or ones which had been seen once by a contributor and described to the best of his or her recollection. As Vergo put it, "organizing exhibitions is a nightmare as long as one is dependent in any way on Soviet co-operation." Nevertheless, a Choice reviewer predicted The Avant-Garde in Russia would "become one of our principal sources" on its subject matter. Similarly, Carol Rasmussen, writing in the Library Journal, concluded that "art collections will need this book."
As its title implies, "Degenerate Art" discusses the response of the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler to avantgarde art and artists of the 1930s and 1940s. During this time, the Nazis organized a huge art exhibit of pieces they felt were "degenerate." Even artists who were sympathetic to the Nazi agenda, but whose art was judged too decadent, earned the disapproval of the government. Barron and her colleagues reconstructed the exhibit in Los Angeles, using all the surviving pieces they could locate. The exhibit traveled to Chicago and Washington, DC, and to Berlin as well. "Degenerate Art" explains what John Brosnahan in Booklist described as "the Nazi approach to art as a moral prop," and "examine[s] the Nazi attitude toward literature and film as well." Art Bulletin reviewer O.K. Werckmeister noted that Barron "assert[s] the continuing topicality of the Degenerate Art show as a historical lesson for our time," tying the Nazis' condemnation of avant-garde art to American conservatives' disapproval of sexually explicit art, including the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. Brosnahan also praised the volume's "startling contemporary relevance," while Eric Bryant in the Library Journal hailed it as "an essential work on art and political manipulation for art and history collections."
Barron also edited Exiles and Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, a massive, five-and-a-half-pound, 430-page collection that proved to Contem-porary Review contributor Muriel Julius that "the exhibition catalogue has entered a new dimension." The book, and the exhibition it accompanied, focus on artists such as Piet Mondrian and Mies van der Rohe, who came to the United States in the 1930s and 1940s to escape fascism and anti-Semitism in Europe. "This book throws fascinating light on the struggles of artists to survive in an alien culture," Julius concluded.
In 1995 Barron became senior curator of modern and contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At the onset of the twenty-first century, she began work on a show that was termed "one of the most ambitious art shows the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has ever mounted," according to Library Journal writer Douglas F. Smith. Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000 posits the question of how California has contributed to the global visual culture of the twentieth century. It features over 1,200 art works and popular culture artifacts, ranging from the photography of Ansel Adams to swimsuit fashion. Five hundred of the works in Made in California were included in the exhibition catalog for which Barron wrote an essay, and Smith deemed it "extensively and entertainingly illustrated." Barron's name was also attached to a scholarly collection of essays linked to the museum event, Reading California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000. The contents examine, in nineteen essays, the state's image, culture, and political art, among other topics. A Library Journal critic noted that both the catalog and Reading California "stand out … as especially edifying adornments" to the Made in California exhibition.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Afterimage, March, 2001, Thomas McGovern, "Artmaking in a Contested Eden," p. 18.
Art Bulletin, June, 1997, O.K. Werckmeister, review of "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, p. 337.
Art Journal, summer, 1998, Amei Wallach, review of Exiles and Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, p. 122.
Booklist, May 15, 1991, John Brosnahan, review of "Degenerate Art," p. 1767; July, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of "Degenerate Art," p. 1997.
Choice, April, 1981, review of The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910–1930: New Perspectives, p. 1082.
Contemporary Review, September, 1997, Muriel Julius, review of Exiles and Emigrés, p. 162.
Library Journal, September 15, 1980, Carol Rasmussen, review of The Avant-Garde in Russia, pp. 1849-1850; August, 1991, Eric Bryant, review of "Degenerate Art," p. 95; May 1, 1998, Eric Bryant, review of German Expressionism: Art and Society, p. 97; March 15, 2001, Douglas F. Smith, review of Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000, and Reading California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900–2000, p. 76.
Times Literary Supplement, May 15, 1981, Peter Vergo, review of The Avant-Garde in Russia, p. 549.