Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film

Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film

By: Robert Sitton (author)Hardback

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Iris Barry (1895-1969) was a pivotal modern figure and one of the first intellectuals to treat film as an art form, appreciating its far-reaching, transformative power. Although she had the bearing of an aristocrat, she was the self-educated daughter of a brass founder and a palm-reader from the Isle of Man. An aspiring poet, Barry attracted the attention of Ezra Pound and joined a demimonde of Bloomsbury figures, including Ford Maddox Ford, T. S. Eliot, Arthur Waley, Edith Sitwell, and William Butler Yeats. She fell in love with Pound's eccentric fellow Vorticist, Wyndham Lewis, and had two children by him. In London, Barry pursued a career as a novelist, biographer, and critic of motion pictures. In America, she joined the modernist Askew Salon, where she met Alfred Barr, director of the new Museum of Modern Art. There she founded the museum's film department and became its first curator, assuring film's critical legitimacy. She convinced powerful Hollywood figures to submit their work for exhibition, creating a new respect for film and prompting the founding of the International Federation of Film Archives. Barry continued to augment MoMA's film library until World War II, when she joined the Office of Strategic Services to develop pro-American films with Orson Welles, Walt Disney, John Huston, and Frank Capra. Yet despite her patriotic efforts, Barry's "foreignness" and association with such filmmakers as Luis Bunuel made her the target of an anticommunist witch hunt. She eventually left for France and died in obscurity. Drawing on letters, memorabilia, and other documentary sources, Robert Sitton reconstructs Barry's phenomenal life and work while recasting the political involvement of artistic institutions in the twentieth century.

About Author

Robert Sitton is adjunct professor of media and culture at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University and worked on the cultural news staff of the New York Times, as director of film education for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and, in the 1970s, developed the Northwest Film Study Center of the Portland Art Museum, fashioned after Iris Barry's collection at the Museum of Modern Art.


List of Illustrations Foreword by Alistair Cooke Credits Previews 1. Early Years 2. "We Enjoyed the War" 3. "Dear Miss Barry" 4. The Other Bloomsbury 5. Life with Lewis 6. Children 7. Alan Porter 8. The Spectator 9. Splashing Into Film Society 10. Cinema Paragons, Hollywood, and Lady Mary 11. Let's Go to the Pictures 12. Victory and Defeat 13. America 14. The Askew Salon 15. Museum Men 16. Remarriage 17. Settling In 18. Cracking Hollywood 19. Art High and Low 20. On to Europe 21. Going Public 22. The Slow Martyrdom of Alfred Barr 23. Meanwhile, Back at the Library 24. New Work, Old Acquaintances 25. "The Master" and His Minions 26. Temora Farm 27. The Museum Enlists 28. Mr. Rockefeller's Office 29. L'Affair Bunuel 30. The Other Library 31. Divorce 32. Postwar Blues 33. Abbott's Fall 34. Hospital 35. Departure 36. La Bonne Font 37. Things Past 38. The Austin House 39. Readjustments 40. New York and London 41. Final Breaks 42. The End Sequel Notes Sources Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780231165785
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 496
  • ID: 9780231165785
  • ISBN10: 0231165781

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