Dr. John Angeline earned his Ph.D. in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He teaches at Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modem Art. He was a recipient of the Peggy Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993. His articles and reviews can be found in various publications including Art Nexus.2005 0-7734-6255-4
There are few museums more famous today than the Guggenheim. While most people would recognize the name or the sight of the building very few know the events that led to its founding, its original purpose for being, or that its very existence is due to a woman named Hilla Rebay. At a time when abstract art held the least favor for American audiences and when the Societe Anonyme and Stieglitz associations were collapsing, Hilla Rebay fought passionately for the survival of what she termed "non-objective" art. Now almost three and a half decades later she is virtually forgotten. Rebay offered much to American Art of the twentieth century not only as patron, educator, museum director, and artist, but also as a bridge figure between European and American abstraction. With the exception of Joan Lukach's excellent and thorough biographic work on Rebay, the literature on Rebay is scant.
This book examines Rebay's contribution to American visual culture as artist and museum director from an art historical and critical perspective. This will demonstrate her importance as supporter of American abstraction through her position as founder of the Guggenheim Museum, as well as reveal her own accomplishments as an artist and identify some issues for later investigation. By re-examining Rebay this book renders a fuller sense of American Modernism's complexities in the period between the wars. This study is not intended as another laudatory narrative nor deconstructive critique, but rather a series of considerations and interpretations of the issues that pertain to Rebay's practices. In so doing, the authors hope to flesh out a fuller, more complete picture of the events and characteristics that composed the complex personality of this woman. They examine and explore the mutual impact that Rebay had on her era and vice versa. This study also offers the first comprehensive exploration of Rebay as an artist. It examines Rebay’s personal concept of philanthropy as well as her innovative role as museum founder, theorist and director while examining its repercussions on museology to this day. This book also shows for the first time Rebay's importance not only as founder-director of the Guggenheim but also as one of the earliest female Dadaist and "non-objective" artists who should have been recognized along with Jean Arp, Kurt Schwitters, and other early pioneers.