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 papers of New York-based painter, lithographer, art critic, and poet Fairfield Porter measure 8.2 linear feet and date from 1888 to 2001, with the bulk of material dating from 1924 to 1975. The collection includes a biographical chronology; certificates, awards, and diplomas; letters to Fairfield and Anne Porter; scattered outgoing correspondence; and reviews, essays, notes, poems, and translations written by Porter and others. Among the writings are poetry manuscripts written by several New York School Poets including Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch. Also found are gallery records, inventories and appraisals, financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, posters, and records of Anne Porter's efforts to place his collection and document and publish his work after his death. Photographs of Porter, his homes, and his family are also present, as well as sketchbooks, loose sketches, and drawings spanning his entire career.
Significant correspondence is present from the Porters' many poet friends, including Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Ron Padgett, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Carl Morse, David Shapiro, and others. Among the letters are poetry manuscripts by Koch, Morse, Schuyler, Padgett, and Shapiro. Some letters are actually written in verse, especially those from Kenneth Koch.
Artists with letters in the collection include Joe Brainard, Rudy Burckhardt, John Button, Lucien Day, Rackstraw Downes, Philip Evergood, Jane Frielicher, Arthur Giardelli, Leon Hartl, Alex Katz, Edward Laning, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Richard Stankiewicz, Nicolas Vasilieff, among others. Other art world figures represented include John Bernard Myers, curator at the Tibor de Nagy gallery (New York), and Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews. Artwork found within the correspondence includes an illustrated letter from Ron Padgett and an original print on a holiday card by Edith Schloss.
Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001, bulk 1924-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Location of Originals:
Before donating the papers to the Archives, Anne Porter returned letters from Frank O'Hara to Fairfield Porter to the O'Hara estate. Letters from John Ashbery to Fairfield Porter were returned to Ashbery, and photocopies have been placed in the collection.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The Archives of American Art holds an oral history of Fairfield Porter conducted by Paul Cummings in 1968.
Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) was a painter, lithographer, art critic and poet from Southampton, N.Y.
Donated 1977-1997 by Anne Porter, Porter's widow.
The papers of Fairfield Porter in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2006. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 9,600 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001