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Catalog Data

Creator:
Frankenstein, Alfred V. (Alfred Victor), 1906-1981  Search this
Names:
American Arts Alliance  Search this
California Palace of the Legion of Honor  Search this
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
National Gallery of Art (U.S.)  Search this
San Francisco Chronicle (Firm)  Search this
Copley, John Singleton, 1738-1815  Search this
Decker, Joseph, 1853-1924  Search this
Haberle, John, 1856-1933  Search this
Harnett, William Michael, 1848-1892  Search this
Ives, Charles, 1874-1954  Search this
Jenkins, Paul, 1923-2012  Search this
Macdonald-Wright, Stanton, 1890-1973  Search this
Mount, William Sidney, 1807-1868  Search this
Murdock, Roland P.  Search this
Peto, John Frederick, 1854-1907  Search this
Extent:
19.1 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Interviews
Photographs
Sound recordings
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Date:
1875-1985
Summary:
The papers of art critic and historian Alfred Victor Frankenstein measure 19.1 linear feet and date from 1875 to 1985. The bulk of the collection consists of Frankenstein's research and writing files on American painting, particularly artists working in the nineteenth-century. There are extensive files on artists John Haberle, William Michael Harnett, and William Sidney Mount. The collection also includes biographical material, correspondence, general writings and notes, professional activities files, personal business records, printed materials, photographs, and unidentified sound recordings.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art critic and historian Alfred Victor Frankenstein measure 19.1 linear feet and date from 1875 to 1985. The bulk of the collection consists of Frankenstein's research and writing files on American painting, particularly artists working in the nineteenth-century. There are extensive files on artists John Haberle, William Michael Harnett, and William Sidney Mount. The collection also includes biographical material, correspondence, general writings and notes, professional activities files, personal business records, printed materials, photographs, and unidentified sound recordings. Biographical materials include awards, museum passes from the 1970s, school records, and a scrapbook documenting Frankenstein's career at the San Francisco Chronicle. Also found is his father's medical school diploma. Largely professional in nature, Frankenstein's correspondence is with galleries, museums and institutions, colleges and universities, as well as art historians and museum colleagues including Paul Jenkins, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, and Thomas E. Ripley. General writings are on subjects such as music, art, California, and the Ronald P. Murdock art collection. It is likely that some writings may be drafts for articles that later appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Also found are three notebooks, a recorded interview, recorded lectures by Frankenstein and by others. The bulk of the collection consists of Frankenstein's extensive research files on American sill-life painting in the nineteenth-century. Research topics focus primarily on artists John Haberle (including sketches by Haberle), William Michael Harnett, William Sidney Mount, and John Frederick Peto; however, some files are found for collectors, dealers, and subjects. Files are found both for the research and writing of Frankenstein's books, After the Hunt (1953) and The World of Copley: 1738-1815 (1970). Contents of the research files vary but many contain correspondence, photographs, notes and writings, provenance research, printed materials, and photocopied and original primary documents. Additional research files are also found in Series 5, Exhibition Files. Files concerning exhibitions curated or organized by Frankenstein include Artist Self-Portraits (1974) at the National Gallery of Art, an exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the World's Fair Exposition exhibition, Our Land, Our Sky Our Water: an Exhibition of American and Canadian Art (1974). Files contain loan agreements, gallery plans, photographs, writings, correspondence, and printed materials. Frankenstein's professional activities files include material about his job as a music critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, and records documenting his participation in the American Arts Alliance and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Also found are scattered student writings, lecture notes, and some correspondence from his teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley. An appraisal for a Joseph Decker work, the estate records of Sylvia Frankenstein, general receipts for purchases and shipping records, and vehicle ownership records comprise Frankenstein's personal business records. Printed materials include clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, magazines, and blank postcards. Also found are eight commercial audio recordings, including a musical piece by Charles Ives on cassette, and six phonograph records that are likely of music. A cassette entitled "Heritage of American Art" may be from an exhibition of the same title held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1975. Personal photographs include snapshots of Frankenstein with his family and portraits of him, as well as a photocopy of a family photo album. The bulk of the photographs are of artwork. There are six unidentified sound recordings.
Biographical / Historical:
Alfred Victor Frankenstein (1906-1981) was an art historian, writer, art and music critic, and educator active in San Francisco, California. Frankenstein was born in 1906 in Chicago, Illinois. He studied at the University of Chicago but moved to San Francisco to take a job as a music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle . Later, the position expanded to include critiques of visual art and art exhibitions. He remained at the San Francisco Chronicle until 1979, concentrating only on art from 1965. He was an expert on 19th century American still-life and his notable book, After The Hunt (1953), examined the American trompe-l'œil movement in late 19th century and early 20th-century through the work of painters William Harnett and John Frederick Peto. He also authored The World of Copley: 1738-1815 in 1970. Frankenstein curated several major exhibitions, including American Self-Portraits (1974) at the National Portrait Gallery and the 1974 World's Fair Exposition exhibition, Our Land, Our Sky Our Water: an Exhibition of American and Canadian Art.. An educator, Frankenstein was a professor of Art History at the University of California at Berkeley (1940-1974), Stanford University (1973-1981), and at Mills College (1945-1974), where he also taught American music.
Related Materials:
Also found among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are two oral histories with Alfred Frankenstein, one conducted by Mary McChesney on November 9th, 1965 and the other conducted by Paul Karlstrom from 1978 to 1979. Additionally, Frankenstein donated one sketchbook and twelve loose sketches that are cataloged as a separate collection: the William Harnett sketches, 1870.
Provenance:
Alfred Frankenstein donated some of his papers in 1972, and lent materials for microfilming in 1978. His estate, handled by his son John Frankenstein, donated the materials original loaned as well as additional records in 1981.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Alfred Victor Frankenstein papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Art -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Art criticism -- United States  Search this
Art critics -- California -- San Francisco  Search this
Art historians -- California -- San Francisco  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Photographs
Sound recordings
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Citation:
Alfred Victor Frankenstein papers, 1875-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.franalfr
See more items in:
Alfred Victor Frankenstein papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-franalfr