The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art By Hill, Catrina
The Harvard Society for Contemporary Art was an art gallery that organized ground-breaking exhibitions of modern painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture. Active from 1929 to 1936, the Society was the first organization in America devoted to an ongoing program of changing avant-garde exhibitions. The Society’s leaders were three Harvard undergraduates: Lincoln Kirstein, Edward M.M. Warburg, and John Walker III. They rented a room in Harvard Square in Cambridge Massachusetts; and held exhibitions that included works borrowed from other collections and works for sale. The Society’s mission was to be contemporary and experimental and to show controversial work not being displayed in established museums. The Society gained immediate recognition for its pioneering exhibitions of European and American art. They exhibited current work by some of the leading modern artists of the day including Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, and Isamu Noguchi. The first Boston exhibitions of Picasso, Matisse, and Ben Shahn were held at the Society. It was also the first venue in the country to exhibit Bauhaus architecture.