Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Samuel J. Wagstaff papers, circa 1932-1985, comprise 6.2 linear feet of correspondence, writings, miscellaneous records, printed material, and photographs documenting Wagstaff's professional and personal relationships with artists and photographers, his career as an art curator, and his position as an important collector of paintings and photographs.
Correspondence with artists and others such as curators, arts organizations, galleries, and museums reflects the diversity of contemporary American art and includes individuals associated with the abstract expressionist, Fluxus, pop, earth, conceptual, and minimalist art movements. Wagstaff's importance as a collector and curator and his generosity to and interest in artists is evident from the large number of invitations to view and critique work, requests for fellowship and grant recommendations, and thank you notes from artists to whom he extended financial or moral support. Among the most prolific correspondents found here are: Dan Basen, George Brecht, James Lee Byars, Walter de Maria, Mark Di Suvero, Albert Fine, Dan Flavin, Ann Halprin, Grace Hartigan, Charles James, Philip Johnson, Ray Johnson, Doreen and Robert Manning, Agnes Martin, Gordon Newton, Claes Oldenburg, Ad Reinhardt, Dieter Rot, Alan Saret, Richard Tuttle, May Wilson, and Andy Warhol.
Writings by Wagstaff consist of "Looking at Modern Art" prepared for the Trinity College Reading Program, and an untitled, undated piece about multiplicity in art. Among the writings by other authors are Bruce Bennard's "The Photographer Rediscovered," "Pop Art" by Henry Geldzahler, and "Collecting Photographs" by Bonnie Barrett Stretch.
Miscellaneous records are drawings by Bruce Kleinsmith, a print by Harold Paris and artists' resumes. Also included is a costume consisting of a stuffed devil's tail and two red silk caps connected by a long sash, all in a matching red silk bag.
Among the printed material are books, exhibition catalogs and prospectuses, periodicals, press releases, reproductions, and a variety of other printed items relating to photography and art.
Photographs consist largely of copy prints and a small number of original prints. Also included are a few images of exhibition installations and other miscellaneous subjects. There are no portraits of Samuel J. Wagstaff among the photographs of people. Identified individuals include: Bella Abzug, Peter Allen, Michael Collins, Angela Davis, Candy Darling, Wendell Ford, Joseph Hirshhorn, W. A. Huffman, David Love, Marc Miller, Bettie Ringma, and Andy Warhol.
Samuel Wagstaff papers, 1932-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2008 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials not digitized include books, reproductions, and sales catalogs.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Samuel Wagstaff (1921-1987) was an art dealer and curator from New York, N.Y. Formerly a curator of 20th century art at the Wadsworth Atheneum (1961-1968) and at the Detroit Institute of Arts (1968-1971), in 1973 Wagstaff began collecting photographs. He subsequently moved to New York and amassed one of the largest privately held collections, focusing primarily on American, British and French works from the 19th century.
Donated 1975-1986 by Samuel Wagstaff. Collection processed and correspondence microfilmed 1993 with funds provided by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
The papers of Samuel J. Wagstaff in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2008. The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 7,614 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001