Life in the Art World: Life Magazine and Modern American Art

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Life in the Art World: Life Magazine and Modern American Art

This is the fourth and final program in the Mid-Century Master lecture series.

LIFE magazine was a champion of American modernism, actively promoting the work of a wide range of twentieth-century artists and architects, including Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Lloyd Wright. This lecture will place Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photography in the context of both LIFE's commissions and weekly coverage of American art. Looking at the magazine's varied collaborations with artists, architects, curators, and critics, Dr. Renn will show how LIFE magazine shaped both the public and the critical reception of modern art and architecture in the United States.


5:30-6:30 p.m. | Mid-Century Master, mansion, gardens, and greenhouse open for self-guided touring.
6-6:30 p.m. | Members-only wine and cheese reception. Join today!
6:30-7:30 p.m. | Lecture


Melissa Renn is Collections Manager, HBS Art and Artifacts Collection, Harvard Business School. Dr. Renn has published on American art from the 18th to the 20th century, with a specialty in American modernism. She is co-author, with Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., of American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born Before 1826 (2014).

Dr. Renn has published widely on LIFE magazine, including, “Life’s Pioneer Painters: Dorothy Seiberling and American Art in Life Magazine, 1949−1968,” in Rachel Esner and Sandra Kisters, eds., The Mediatization of the Artist (2018); “‘An Enduring Record’: Peter Hurd’s Art for Life Magazine," in Kirsten M. Jensen, ed., Magical and Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective (2018);  “Life in Color: Life Magazine and the Color Reproduction of Works of Art,” in Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann, eds., Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture (2017); and “‘The Famous Iwo Flag-Raising’: Iwo Jima Revisited,” in History of Photography (2015). She is the co-author, with Adair Margo, of Tom Lea, Life Magazine, and World War II (2016). 


Alfred Eisenstaedt was among a notable group of mid-century photographers who created a cohesive and vibrant understanding of American culture through photography, fine art, and fashion. 

October 3 | Women Looking at Women: Life Magazine’s Female Photographers and their Images of American Women in the Context of World War II with Alissa Schapiro

October 10 | Mid-Century Muses: Looking at Fashion in the Photography of Alfred Eisenstaedt with Megan J. Martinelli

October 16 | Ultimate Insiders: White House Photographers and How They Shape History with Kenneth T. Walsh

October 24 | Life in the Art World: Life Magazine and Modern American Art with Melissa Renn