Lincoln Kirstein

Posted on September 27, 2010


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If there had been no Lincoln Kirstein, there would have been no New York City Ballet. He not only helped found the New York City Ballet, but served as its director from 1948-1989. He was also responsible for the building of the ballet’s home theater at Lincoln Center.

Not that Kirstein’s interests were limited to ballet – he was a polymath when it came to bringing the arts to the public, whether it was founding the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art (which became the Museum of Modern Art in New York) or introducing America to Japanese kabuki theater. He wrote extensively, not just on dance but on other arts as well.

Married to Fidelma Cadmus, sister of artist Paul Cadmus, Kirstein was part of a big circle of ostensibly bisexual men who had an awful lot of sex with each other as well as with other men, which included Paul Cadmus, Glenway Wescott, George Tooker and Jared French. He was also rumored to have had a relationship with Russian film pioneer Sergei Eisenstein, according to Martin Duberman.

Kirstein has a wikipedia page; Martin Duberman’s autobiography The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein is reviewed here in the New York Times.

He was a striking man, photographed, painted and even sculpted by George Platt Lynes, Pavel Tchelitchow, Jamie Wyeth and Gaston Lachaise.