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Dr. Robert Sitton's biography, Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film was published by Columbia University Press in April 2014.
Iris Barry (1895–1969) was a pivotal modern figure and one of the first intellectuals to treat film as an art form, appreciating its far-reaching, transformative power. In London, Barry pursued a career as a novelist, biographer and critic of motion pictures. In America, she founded the film department at the Museum of Modern Art and became its first curator, assuring film's critical legitimacy. She convinced powerful Hollywood figures to submit their work for exhibition, creating a new respect for film and prompting the founding of the International Federation of Film Archives. Barry continued to augment MoMA's film library until World War II, when she joined the Office of Strategic Services to develop pro-American films with Orson Welles, Walt Disney, John Huston and Frank Capra. Yet despite her patriotic efforts, Barry's "foreignness" and association with such filmmakers as Luis Buñuel made her the target of an anticommunist witch hunt. She eventually left for France and died in obscurity.
Drawing on letters, memorabilia and other documentary sources, Sitton reconstructs Barry's life and work while recasting the political involvement of artistic institutions in the 20th century.
During his book tour Sitton was interviewed on The Leonard Lopate Show, broadcast on the NPR affiliate station in New York City.
Robert Sitton is a faculty member in the Department of Culture & Media at Marylhurst University. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University and worked on the cultural news staff of the New York Times, as director of film education for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and, in the 1970s, developed the Northwest Film Study Center of the Portland Art Museum.