[Constantin Brancusi exhibition in N.Y.]

Sunday, November 06, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Discussion of the work of Constantin Bracusi, notes the first appearance of his workin the United States: "Sleeping Muse" at the Armory Show in 1913 (Seldes refers to it as a portrait that looks like an egg). He then goes on to talk about a work he calls "Bird in Flight" (though it seems he is referring to "Bird in Space") and the subsequent law suit. He also mentions a court case that was to define what constituted a work of art.

He also speaks about the perception of modern art in general, and how Brancusi fits into the modern art world. He goes on to talk about a recent full page advertisement written by Huntington Hartford that appeared in the newspaper that attempted to connect modern art to communism. Seldes then speaks of artist George Biddle's response to this accusation. Seldes condemns the press for not responding to this attack on modern art. Seldes also speaks against those who attack progressive education, intellectualism and modernism.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70712
Municipal archives id: LT6560

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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