Abstract

In 1978, in its seventh issue, October published the travel diaries written by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., who would go on to become the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, during his two-month sojourn in Russia in 1927–28. They were accompanied by a note from Barr's wife, Margaret Scolari Barr, who had made the documents available, and an introduction written by Jere Abbott, an art historian and former director of the Smith College Museum of Art who had returned to his family's textile business in Maine. Abbott and Barr had made the journey together, traveling from London in October 1927 to Holland and Germany (including a four-day visit to the Bauhaus) and then, on Christmas Day 1927, over the border into Soviet Russia. Abbott, as Margaret Barr had noted, kept his own journal on the trip. Abbott's, if anything, was more detailed and expansive in documenting its author's observations and perceptions of Soviet cultural life at this pivotal moment; and his perspective offers both a complement and counterpoint to Barr's. Russia after the revolution was largely uncharted territory for Anglophone cultural commentary: This, in combination with the two men's deep interest in and knowledge of contemporary art, makes their journals rare documents of the Soviet cultural terrain in the late 1920s. We present Abbott's diaries here, thirty-five years after the publication of Barr's, with thanks to the generous cooperation of the Smith College Museum of Art, where they are now held.

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