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Catalog Data

Creator:
Hess, Thomas B.  Search this
Names:
Mark Rothko Foundation  Search this
Bess, Forrest, 1911-1977  Search this
Campbell, Lawrence  Search this
De Kooning, Elaine  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-  Search this
Frankenthaler, Helen, 1928-2011  Search this
Gottlieb, Adolph, 1903-1974  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Kline, Franz, 1910-1962  Search this
Milles, Carl, 1875-1955  Search this
Newman, Barnett, 1905-1970  Search this
Noguchi, Isamu, 1904-1988  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967  Search this
Rivers, Larry, 1925-2002  Search this
Rosenberg, Harold, 1906-1978  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Schapiro, Meyer, 1904-  Search this
Schuyler, James  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-1980  Search this
Extent:
10 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Sound recordings
Drawings
Greeting cards
Illustrated letters
Paintings
Cartoons (humorous images)
Photographs
Collages
Date:
1939-1978
Summary:
The papers of New York editor and art critic Thomas Hess measure 10.0 linear feet and date from 1939 to 1978. The collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, extensive writings and notes, artists and subject files that also include recorded conversations with artists and others, printed materials, photographic materials, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of New York editor and art critic Thomas Hess measure 10.0 linear feet and date from 1939 to 1978. The collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, extensive writings and notes, artists and subject files that also include recorded conversations with artists and others, printed materials, photographic materials, and artwork. Biographical material includes a certificate, architectural plans, investment information, invoices, publisher and loan agreements, will for Paul Stamm, and resumes. Correspondence is with members of Hess' family including his wife and children, Philip Guston, Meyer Schapiro, David Smith, James Schuyler, Forrest Bess, Elaine de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Larry Rivers, Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, and others. Writings and notes consist of manuscripts and drafts by Hess for Art News, Le Monde, Vogue, New York magazine, and other publications; Hess' senior essay and class notes; notes on Ingres, Italian artists, and travels abroad; notebooks on art and literature; and scattered writings by others. Artists and subject files contain primarily photographs of artwork, artists, and colleaguesare mostly photographs of artwork, artists, and colleagues. Some of the files also contain printed materials, writings, notes, and other documentation. The file on Willem de Kooning includes a sound recording of a conversation between Hess, de Kooning, and Harold Rosenberg. There are also significant files on Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Carl Milles, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko and the Mark Rothko Foundation Inc. Printed materials include brochures and flyers, clippings, magazines and newspapers, press releases, travel memorabilia, and a printed scarf. Photographs are of of Hess, his wife Audrey, other family members, works of art, travel, Larry Rivers and Ad Reinhardt, and other artists and colleagues. Artwork includes drawings, paintings, collages, cartoons, and holiday cards made by Hess and his children, along with artwork by others including Audrey and Lawrence Campbell, Ad Reinhardt, and unidentified artists.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 7 series. Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1945-1977 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1, OV 15) Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1945-1978 (1.0 linear feet; Box 1-2, OV 11) Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1940-1978 (2.5 linear feet; Box 2-5, OV 12) Series 4: Artists and Subject Files, circa 1946-1978 (4.5 linear feet; Box 5-9, OVs 13, 15-16) Series 5: Printed Materials, 1943-1978 (0.5 linear feet; Box 9, OV 11) Series 6: Photographic Materials, 1949-circa 1960s (0.8 linear feet; Box 9-10, OV14) Series 7: Artwork, 1939-1978 (0.4 linear feet; Box 10, OV 11)
Biographical / Historical:
Thomas Hess (1920-1978) was an editor and art critic who worked in New York City. Hess wrote for Art News magazine for most of his career, serving as editorial associate, executive editor, and as managing editor from 1965-1972. . Hess was born in Rye, New York to Gabriel Lorie Hess, a lawyer, and Helen Baer. He attended school in the United States and Switzerland. He continued his education at Yale University majoring in French art and literature. After graduating, Hess worked for a short period at the Museum of Modern Art under Alfred H. Barr and Dorothy Miller before entering World War II as a pilot. During this time, he married Audrey Hess with whom he eventually had three children, William, Philip, and Anne Helen. After the war, Hess began working at Art News as an editorial assistant before becoming the magazine's managing editor from 1965 until 1972. Hess also worked as a correspondent for Le Monde and as an art critic for New York magazine. Hess was a proponent of abstract expressionists, particularly Barnett Newman and Willem de Kooning with whom he was close friends. He wrote several books including Abstract Painting: Background and American Phase (1951), Willem de Kooning (1959), Barnett Newman (1969), and The Art Comics and Satires of Ad Reinhardt (1975). Hess became the consultative chairman for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of 20th-Century Art a few months before his death from a heart attack in 1978 at the age of 58.
Separated Materials:
Materials on legacy microfilm reel 5028 related to Barnett Newman are photocopies. The originals are located at the Barnett New Foundation in New York City.
Provenance:
The Thomas Hess papers were donated in multiple increments from 1985 to 1987 by Hess' children, Anne Helen, William, and Philip Hess, except for a file on Barnett Newman donated by Newman's widow, who presumably had borrowed it from Hess. In 2014, additional correspondence, writings, photographs, printed material, and cartoons, including some by Ad Reinhardt, were donated by Elizabeth Wolff, Hess' sister.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Rights:
The Thomas Hess 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.
Occupation:
Artists -- Italy  Search this
Topic:
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Editors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Drawings
Greeting cards
Illustrated letters
Paintings
Cartoons (humorous images)
Photographs
Collages
Citation:
Thomas Hess papers, 1939-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.hessthom
See more items in:
Thomas Hess papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-hessthom