Oral history interview with Emerson Woelffer, 1999 March 26
Woelffer, Emerson, 1914-2003
Karlstrom, Paul J., 1941-
Art Schools in California Oral History Project
Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.)
Otis Art Institute
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 55 pages
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 50 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Emerson Woelffer conducted 1999 March 26, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art's Art Schools in California Project, in Woelffer's studio/home, Los Angeles, California.
Woelffer briefly discusses his own student experience at the Art Institute of Chicago (1933-1937), and focuses more on his teaching at Moholy Nagy's Institute of Design in Chicago, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1954-1960) where he was head of the fine arts department, and the many years in Los Angeles as an educator at Chouinard Art School (now California Art Institute) and Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design). Woelffer recalls Chouinard students who were the most "far out," among them Larry Bell, Joe Goode, and Ed Ruscha. He credited the free-wheeling stimulation of Los Angeles itself as the source for these experimental artists who were different from those in Chicago. In his final remarks, Woelffer emphasized the importance of drawing to the training of an artist.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Emerson Woelffer, 1999 March 26. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Transcript available on-line.
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.
Emerson Woelffer (1914-2003) was a painter and educator from Los Angeles, California. One of the leading senior modernists working in Los Angeles, Woelffer was invited in 1960, by Mitch Wilder, to head the fine arts department at Chouinard Art Institute where he taught until it was moved to Valencia and transformed into California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
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. Other interviewees in the Art Schools in California Oral History Project include: Leo Holub, Charles Linder, Paul Carey (1993), and Paul Carey and Stephanie Caloia (1997), with funding provided by the Bente and Gerald E. Buck Collection.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001