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Lynes, Russell, Jr.

    Full Name: Lynes, Russell, Jr.

    Other Names:

    • Russell Lynes Jr.

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1910

    Date Died: 1991

    Place Born: Great Barrington, Berkshire, MA, USA

    Place Died: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): American (North American)

    Career(s): art critics


    President of the Archives of American Art and columnist for Art in America. Lynes was the son of an Episcopal minister, Joseph Russell Lynes and Adelaide Sparkman (Lynes). Lynes was raised in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts and later in New York. He attended Yale University, graduating in 1932. Initially he worked at a clerk at the publisher Harper & Brothers between 1932 and 1936. He married the art historian Mildred Akin in1934. He briefly took a position as director of publications at Vassar College in 1937 before working as an assistant school principal (1937-40) and principal 1940-44 at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, PA. During World War II, he served in the pre-induction unit of the Army Service Forces (a civilian position) of the United States War Department, between 1942-44. Lynes began a long association with Harper’s magazine by writing the column “After Hours” and working as an assistant editor for the magazine, 1944-47. He rose to managing editor, 1947-67. Lynes also authored a feature in Art in America called “The State of Taste.” He was a founding member of the Archives of American Art in 1961, serving as its president from 1966-71. He was also a founding member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York, serving between 1962-69. His Art-makers (1970) was a popular survey of 19th-century art production. In 1973 he published a history of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in the 1980’s penned an monthly piece for Architectural Digest called “Russell Lynes Observes.” He died of heart failure in 1991 New York city. Lynes’ interest was in the social phenomenon of art. He wrote numerous books and articles on taste. His books on American taste and manners. In books such as Snobs, The Tastemakers, and Highbrow, Lowbrow, Middlebrow, were satirical and popular. Lynes criticized American conservative preferences in art and architecture along with a general ridicule of pretentious people.

    Selected Bibliography

    Good Old Modern: an Intimate Portrait of the Museum of Modern Art. New York: Atheneum, 1973; The Art-makers of Nineteenth-century America. New York, Atheneum, 1970; Architecture in America: a Photographic History from the Colonial Period to the Present. New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1960; The Tastemakers. New York: Harper, 1954; More than Meets the Eye: the History and Collections of Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Design. New York: Smithsonian Institution, 1981.


    Lynes, Russell. Good Old Modern: an Intimate Portrait of The Museum of Modern Art. New York: Atheneum, 1973, p. 493; Lynes, Russell. Life in the Slow Lane: Observations on Art, Architecture, Manners, and Other Such Spectator Sports. New York: HarperCollins, 1991; Confessions of a Dilettante. New York: Harper & Row, 1966; [obituary:] Severo, Richard. “Russell Lynes, 80, an Editor and Arbiter of Taste.” The New York Times, September 16, 1991.


    "Lynes, Russell, Jr.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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