The Henry McBride Foundation: Mission Statement

Henry McBride (1867-1962) was the pre-eminent art critic when modernism emerged in America. A self-taught connoisseur, McBride began his career as a newspaper critic at the age of 46, at the time of the Armory Show (1913), and he continued to write for nearly a half century. He helped popularize modern art and make often difficult modernist aesthetics understandable to a large audience. His broadly cultured perspective and his personal connections to the creative spirits of his time were his signature. He was also well known for his support of the new and untried. Through the generosity of his heir, Maximilian Miltzlaff, the Henry McBride Foundation is being developed to further the activities that embody McBride's outlook and historical contribution.

The Henry McBride Foundation is dedicated to the twentieth-century history of American modernism, contemporary critical discourses, and the utilization of emerging technologies for the dissemination of criticism. Funded projects will be accessible to diverse publics, and will take forms ranging from online- and actual conferences and colloquia, to new paradigms of publication and discourse.

Most initial projects will be organized by The McBride Center for Arts Criticism and History. (Online at In the spirit of McBride, the Foundation embraces an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the avant-garde and will support the utilization of multiple mediums--including print, electronic media, television, and exhibitions--for the purposes of educating new audiences about American cultural history. Underlying all of the Centerís activities is the desire to foster community and collaboration among scholars and critics, institutions and audiences.

The Foundation will fund projects devoted to the exposition and analysis of the individuals and events that shaped American modernism. In todayís climate of dwindling support for incisive and accessible arts criticism and commentary, the Center will explore projects fostering new forms of communication, education, and contemporary cultural discourse, including new arenas for critical discourse and new paradigms of production and distribution. Electronic communication will be a focus--as an art medium, as a publication medium, as a pedagogical tool, and as a site for discussion and comment.

The Henry McBride Foundation and the McBride Center for Arts and Cultural Criticism will be inaugurated (serially) in 2000 with 1) a program about the Whitney Biennial, co-sponsored by the the Whitney Museum of American Art , 2) the publication of Yale University Pressís An Eye on the Modern Century (McBrideís letters), 3) The Millennial Daze symposium about contemporary art criticism, 4) the awarding of the first McBride Award in arts history and criticism, and 5) the launch of its online center.

The McBride Center for Arts and Cultural Criticism will feature projects devoted to McBride (biographical information, published writing, letters and art collection); an interactive journal of arts criticism and cultural history; directories of services for writers in the arts and humanities; resources and tools for "mapping" modern- and contemporary culture (including an interactive timeline of modernism, documentation of historic figures), and case studies for establishing new paradigms of communication, publication and cooperative scholarship. The programs of the McBride Foundation and Center intend to encourage a community that includes not only critics and scholars but the vast audiences that have been shaped by "the tradition of the new."


© 2002