Oral history interview with Robert O. Preusser, 1991 January-October
Preusser, Robert O. (Robert Ormerod), 1919-1992
Brown, Robert F.
Davidson, Ola McNeill
Boris Mirski Gallery (Boston, Mass.)
Center for Advanced Visual Studies
Downtown Gallery (New York, N.Y.)
Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.)
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)
Joan Peterson Gallery
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. School
Newcomb College.School of Art
University of Houston
Art Center School (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcipt: 106 pages
Poor sound quality. The first 35 minutes of the interview have been lost. Originally recorded on 1 sound cassettes. Reformated in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 18 min.
An interview of Robert O. Preusser conducted 1991 January-October, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Preusser discusses the establishment of an art department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his involvement with it first as a visiting lecturer and then as a professor of visual design. He speaks often of Gyorgy Kepes, whom he had known at the Institute of Design, Chicago, in the early 1940s, and who recruited him to M.I.T; he also discusses other faculty members, like Minor White, professor of photography. He gives attention to his courses at M.I.T., 1954-1985; early computer design projects by students; his writings on the importance of visual arts to technology; and his supervision of educational programs at M.I.T.'s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, 1974-85. An extensive part of the interview is held in an exhibition of Preusser's work at the M.I.T. Museum (April 4, 1991), discussing in particular his incorporation of various plastic and metallic materials in his works from the 1960s and 1970s. He speaks as well of the importance of his inclusion in group exhibitions at the Downtown Gallery, New York, ("Newcomers," 1951, and "Recent Arrivals, 1952) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston ("Collectors Exhibition," 1954), and of his exhibitions at the Boris Mirski Gallery and the Joan Peterson Gallery, Boston, during the 1950s and 1960s, and at various galleries in Houston during the 1980s. Other topics of discussion are his early art instruction in his native Houston, Texas, by the painter Ola McNeill Davidson, 1930-39; further training in painting and design at the Institute of Design, Chicago, 1930-39, 1941-42; Newcomb School of Art at Tulane University, 1940-41; service with a camouflage unit in the U.S. Army, 1942-45; classes at the Art Center School, Los Angeles, 1946-47; his teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1947-54, and at the University of Houston, 1951-54, and his role as co-director of the Houston Contemporary Arts Association, 1948-50.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert O. Preusser, 1991 January-October. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Robert Preusser (1919-1992) was a painter and art instructor from Houston, Texas and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001