Gene Baro, 58, a critic, lecturer and prominent figure in the art world who was the director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art here 10 years ago, died of cancer of the liver yesterday at his home in Old Bennington, Vt.
At the time of his death Mr. Baro was consulting curator of prints and drawings at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, and was adjunct curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Art of Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, where he had just organized the latest showing of the venerable and prestigious Carnegie International.
Now on view in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie International was initiated in 1896 by Andrew Carnegie and is known as the oldest international art show in the Western Hemisphere.
Mr. Baro traveled for two years to make his selections, visiting, in the words of John R. Lane, director of the museum in Pittsburgh, "every continent except Antarctica" to choose the 189 works by 63 artists from 27 countries, for a show "that he hoped . . . would be a great visual pleasure."
The organizer of more than 150 exhibitions in all, Mr. Baro put on almost 40 shows in eight months as director of the Corcoran in 1972.
Mr. Baro's tenure at the gallery ended in the aftermath of a bizarre and well-publicized altercation with Vincent Melzac, the Corcoran's chief executive. Mr. Baro said he was struck by Melzac and bled profusely. Melzac said he struck Mr. Baro above the arm in self-defense. News accounts in November 1972 described members of a black-tie opening night audience as astonished, and the resignations of both men were accepted less than a month later.
In the months before the dispute, Mr. Baro, in his first post as a gallery director after building a reputation as a critic, won attention for his efforts to bring new vitality to the gallery despite stringent fiscal constraints.
After leaving the director's post, Mr. Baro put on the museum's 33rd and 34th Biennial Exhibitions of Contemporary American Painting. He was also the director for the Kennedy Center's major Bicentennial exhibition: "America on Stage: 200 years of Performing Arts."
Its aim, Mr. Baro said, was "not to march people past culture," but to "surround them with the imagery, movement, sound, excitement of the performing arts."
Mr. Baro was born in New York City, and attended the University of Florida where he received a bachelor's degree in cultural history. He later taught at Florida as well as at Bennington College in Vermont and Williams College in Massachusetts, and lectured on American culture at many European universities
Mr. Baro was an editor, critic and correspondent for a variety of periodicals in the art world, published books on the work of Claes Oldenburg and Louise Nevelson, and had at times contributed book reviews to The Washington Post.