Dorner, Alexander, 1893-1957Alternative names
Art historian. Dorner emigrated from Germany to the U.S. and became director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design.
From the description of Alexander Dorner papers, 1938-1955. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122355077
Alexander Dorner was born January, 1893, in Königsberg, Germany. After attending Königsberg University, he transferred to the University of Berlin in 1915, where he began his study of art history, archaeology, philosophy, and history. There he associated with others such as Erwin Panofsky, and developed a strong interest in art theory revitalizing the study of art history. In 1919, he was hired at the Provincial Museum in Hannover; he set about the transformation of the Hanover Museum, creating "atmosphere rooms" intended to demonstrate the continuity of themes in art through the ages rather than illustrate specific art historical periods.
He was the first museum director in the world to purchase and permanently exhibit the works of Piet Mondrian, Naum Gabo, Kazimir Malevich, and El Lissitzky. Recognition of Dorner's work increased in 1927 when he collaborated with the Lissitzky in the creation of the "Abstract Cabinet," a theoretical design for a dynamic museum room based on the viewer's perspective. His influence in avant-garde circles aroused increasing suspicion, and his defense of "degenerate art" led to his being forced out of his job by the Nazis in February 1937.
Dorner appealed to friends and colleagues, including Alfred Barr, Erwin Panofsky, and Walter Gropius, all of whom assisted him to find a position in America. Dorner was hired in late 1937 as director of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum where he implemented many of the same ideas he had in Hannover. After a few years, however, conflicts arose between Dorner and the board, partially due to his personality and directorial methods. The rise of anti-German and anti-Nazi sentiment also raised suspicions, and the FBI investigated and denounced him as a Nazi sympathizer, despite his earlier attempts at opposition to the Nazi party in Germany. In May of 1941, Dorner was dismissed.
He later worked as lecturer at the art department of Brown University, and in 1948 joined the art history faculty at Bennington College. He died in November, 1957, during a trip to Europe to settle issues related to his persecution by the Nazis.
From the description of Papers of Alexander Dorner, 1930-1960 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 234360210
|associatedWith||Bund das Neue Frankfurt.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Danforth, Helen M, 1887-1984||person|
|associatedWith||Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Farnum, Royal Bailey||person|
|correspondedWith||Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969||person|
|correspondedWith||Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865).||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Rhode Island School of Design. Museum of Art.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Rhode Island School of Design. Office of the Treasurer||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Sachs, Paul J. (Paul Joseph), 1878-1965.||person|
|associatedWith||Winston, Lydia, 1897-||person|
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|Art--Study and teaching|