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The papers of American art collector Keith Warner measure 0.7 linear feet and date from 1935 to 1975. Correspondence, collecting files, and artwork detail Warner's role as a collector of art in the mid-twentieth century. Present in the collection are materials related to Alexander Calder, Roland Dorcely, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Piet Mondrian, Alfred Stieglitz, and Max Weber.
Warner's relationships with artists are documented in extensive letters which make up the bulk of the collection. Subjects range from exhibitions, the art market, artists' methods and works, art criticism, and collecting to personal subjects. Letters from Roland Dorcely and Alexander Calder include illustrated letters and postcards. Letters from Calder discuss a mix of business and personal matters, including a discussion of the design of jewelry commissioned for Warner's wife, Edna. Letters from Dorcely document Warner's cultivation, criticism, and collection of Dorcely's work, as well as the hardships of Haitian artists and Dorcely's views on art. The letters are in French with some English translations.
Correspondence with Alfred Stieglitz documents his common endeavor with Warner in collecting the paintings of John Marin, and Stieglitz's gallery, An American Place. Letters associated with An American Place continue after Stieglitz's death in 1946. Found with Alfred Stieglitz's letters are two letters from Georgia O'Keeffe. Max Weber letters include comments on his painting and sculpting, his retrospective show at the Whitney, the art press, national politics, and also refer to Stieglitz and Marin. An extensive group of correspondence with Stanton MacDonald-Wright is mostly undated; MacDonald-Wright writes freely about Stieglitz, the "291" group of artists, and his partner in Synchromism, Morgan Russell. Also included are letters from Piet Mondrian related to collecting, as well as letters from unidentified correspondents.
Warner's collecting files consist of diverse materials concerning his research, writing, and relationships with artists whose paintings he collected, particularly Roland Dorcely and Stanton MacDonald-Wright. Included are biographical sketches; writings about and by the artists, including manuscripts and published materials; newspaper and magazine clippings; exhibition announcements and catalogs; and photographs of works of art. Writings by Roland Dorcely, on the subject of his artistic process and perspective, include handwritten essays in French as well as typed English translations. Published articles from "Script" magazine (1945-1946) by Stanton MacDonald-Wright document his career as an art critic. Writings on Alexander Calder and Paul Rosenburg, taken from Warner's journal on Calder, and on the early relationship of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe, documented on a visit with Stieglitz on May 3, 1944, are also present.
Artwork consists of work by Alexander Calder and Roland Dorcely. Calder's work includes sketches proposing mobiles with notations as to material, scale, and cost. Dorcely's work includes sketches in graphite and ink of abstract figures and objects.
Keith Warner papers, 1935-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Blank pages and duplicates have not been scanned.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Keith Warner (1895-1959) was an American art collector from Gloversville, New York. Warner began collecting Chinese porcelains after World War I, and a few years later his interest shifted to American abstract painting. The collection was sold gradually, after his death, mostly to private collectors, though some works are in museums in the U.S. and Japan.
The Keith Warner papers were donated in 1992 by Edna K. Allen, wife of Keith Warner.
This site provides access to the papers of Keith Warner in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2016, and total 1,255 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001