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 Abraham Joel Tobias papers date from 1913 to 2000 and measure 2.8 linear feet. Through project and exhibition files, printed material, correspondence, and photographs, the collection provides an overview of Tobias's career as a painter and muralist in New York City.
General correspondence regards mural proposals, exhibitions, professional activities, and museums' acquisitions artwork by Tobias. A file of correspondence with the Fine Arts Federation of New York concerns efforts to recognize murals by Irving Block, James Brooks, Philip Evergood, Abraham Lishinsky, José Clemente Orozco, and Max Spivak as landmarks; it also includes minutes of meetings, 1988-1995, that reflect Tobias's service as a board member. Other correspondence is with friends and artists including Edward Caswell, George Gaber, Filia Holtzman, Vincent La Gambina, and Alton S. Tobey.
Project files document murals such as: "The Four Freedoms," Midwood High School, Brooklyn, N.Y., honoring students and teachers who died in World War II (circa 1946); "Birth," for the maternity ward at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City (1951-1953); and "Medical Science and Medical Research," Long Island Jewish Hospital (1954). The Science and Engineering project file (1958) contains a patent certificate for striated plastic, a material Tobias used in two murals. Also of interest is correspondence with the Harman Foundation regarding a documentary film about Tobias's use of ethyl silicate for outdoor murals. Among the exhibitions documented are: "Plastics U.S.A.," "New York WPA Artists Then and Now," and "Abraham Joel Tobias: Sculptural Paintings of the 1930s."
Printed material consists of announcements, invitations, solo and group exhibition catalogs, and clippings relating to Tobias's artistic career. Also found are pamphlets he designed for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Photographs are of Tobias's artwork and the artist with friends and family. There is a video recording of an interview with Tobias conducted by Brendan Gill in 1995.
Abraham Joel Tobias papers, 1913-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Abraham Joel Tobias (1913-1996) was a painter, muralist, and educator in New York City. He was a pioneer in the use of shaped canvases.
Donated 2001 by Carolyn Tobias, Tobias' widow.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001