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Preface

by Nancy Lassalle

The introduction to an earlier version of this work, published in 1978, noted that it was far too early to assess Lincoln Kirstein’s career and already supreme achievements. The first bibliographic listing of his published writings was assembled at Lincoln’s modest request, for his seventieth birthday. It amply fulfilled the publisher’s hopes that there would be a burgeoning grasp of the fecund life of Lincoln even beyond classical ballet and his uninterrupted constancy to George Balanchine.

Now as we celebrate the centennial of his birth, it is clear that Lincoln’s service to his convictions galvanized his faith that classical purity could and would bring order out of civic, intellectual and emotional chaos. He brought in essence, to almost the entire twentieth century, his passionate, ambitious and articulate visions and influence. Though his was a time of two world wars and the Depression, it was also for him a time of vast energies and innovation, when all seemed possible. Lincoln’s dedication to America was manifest in the ardent care with which he established classical dance as an American cultural institution. His limpid articles and books, 575 of which are recorded in this bibliography, about drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, film, dance, music, drama, literature, history, politics, and ultimately toward the end of his life, memoir, clearly set Lincoln Kirstein apart as one of America’s great thinkers and achievers.

At the outset of the twenty-first century, which looms as mindlessly tragic and moribund, we have extraordinary opportunities and responsibilities to attend to; many have been illuminated by the precedent of Lincoln’s labors.

There is no question of the past, present or future. They and we are integrated into a continuum threaded together by Lincoln, that must serve as the exemplar through which the evolution of cultural manifestation and new discoveries emerge.

Lincoln Kirstein’s intuitive, emotionally charged sense of being–his personal poetic force–has become ever more transparent and necessary. It is to be wished that the admiration of old and new believers (of all ages) will find in this complete survey neither remoteness nor abstractions but a wide world to be explored in depth and detail, which will lay bare a span of curiosity, learning and conception which may inform future generations in perpetuity. That is what Lincoln wanted.