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McAndrew, John

    Full Name: McAndrew, John

    Other Names:

    • John McAndrew

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1904

    Date Died: 1978

    Place Born: New York, NY, USA

    Place Died: Venice, Veneto, Italy

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre) and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): curators


    Architectural historian and museum curator. McAndrew graduated magna cum laude at Harvard University in 1924. He continued graduate studies at Harvard for three years, receiving his Master of Architecture diploma in 1941. He never sought a Ph. D.. McAndrew practiced architecture in the firm of Aymar Embury II for the another three years before studying in Mexico and Europe. During the late 1920s he met Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Philip Johnson when those two were founding the architecture department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Between 1932 and 1937 McAndrew taught architectural history at Vassar College, delivering a course on domestic architecture at the Hartford Art School in 1935. In 1937, after lecturing at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, New York University, on modern architecture, he resigned to become curator of the Department of Architecture and Industrial Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. McAndrew mounted the MoMA show on the recently-completed Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 and designed th sculture garden for the Museum. He spent the years of World War II as coordinator of inter-American affairs in Mexico. He became director of the Wellesley College art museum in 1947 which he served until 1957.

    As director, he helped train a number of scholars, including Phyllis Pray Bober in museum work. In 1970 McAndrew founded and was first chairman of Save Venice Inc., a foundation devoted to restoring the art and buildings of Venice, Italy, because of its sinking. His Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance, a major survey of the unique architecture of the region, appeared poshumously in 1980. He was succeeded at the Save Venice, Inc. by his colleague, the Wellesley art historian Peter J. Fergusson, whose house garden McAndrew had also designed.

    Selected Bibliography

    edited. Guide to Modern Architecture, Northeast States. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1940; “Sant’Andrea della Certosa.” The Art Bulletin 51 (March 1969):15-28; “Die moderne amerikanische Kunst und Europa.” Werk 43 (February 1956): 52-59; The Open-air Churches of Sixteenth-century Mexico: Atrios, Posas, Open Chapels, and Other Studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965; “Palazzo Rezzonico: a Study of its Architecture.” Apollo 105 (January 1977): 8-16; Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980.


    “John McAndrew” [1937 press release, MoMA]; Kinder, Terryl N. [Forward]. Perspectives for an Architecture of Solitude : Essays on Cistercians, Art and Architecture in Honour of Peter Fergusson. Turnhout: Brepols, 2004, p. vii; [obituary:] “John M’Andrew Dies, Founded Save Venice.” New York Times February 20, 1978, p. D7; Bober, Phyllis Pray. A Life of Learning. Charles Homer Haskins Lecture. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1995, p. 14; Smith, Kathryn. The Show to End All Shows. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2005, p. 29; ; Bacon, Mardges. John McAndrew’s Modernist Vision: from the Vassar College Art Library to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hudson, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2018.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "McAndrew, John." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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