Oral history interview with Eugene V. Thaw, 2007 October 1-2
Thaw, Eugene Victor, 1927-
McElhinney, James, 1952-
Held, Julius Samuel
Vavala, Evelyn Sandberg
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
Cleveland Museum of Art
E.V. Thaw & Co
St. John's College (Annapolis, Md.)
Place of publication, production, or execution:
New York (State)
Transcript: 33 pages
Originally recorded on 2 sound discs. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 26 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
An interview of Eugene V. Thaw conducted 2007 October 1-2, by James McElhinney, for the Archives of American Art's Art Dealers Association of America Project, at Thaw's residence, in New York, N.Y.
Thaw speaks of his childhood in New York City; Mexican art in his home including watercolors by Diego Rivera; beginning classes at the Art Student's League of New York at age 14; attending St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland; attending Columbia University for graduate courses in art history and studying with Meyer Shapiro and Millard Meiss; an early interest in Old Master, Renaissance, and German Expressionist art; studying in Florence, Italy for four months after World War II; opening The New Bookstore and Gallery with friend Jack Landau above the Algonquin Hotel upon his return to New York City; giving Joan Mitchell and Conrad Marca-Relli their first shows; ending his partnership with Landau, closing the bookstore, and moving the gallery to Madison Avenue; becoming involved in the international art market; the practice of buying and selling works of art in shares with other dealers; showing American and European artists; renaming the gallery E.V. Thaw & Company; operating essentially as a one-man gallery with very limited staff; his relationship with museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art; his personal collections, including extensive ancient Eurasian artifacts and American Indian art; establishing the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; the philanthropic vision of his own foundation, the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust; his retirement from dealing; the "hand of the artist" in historical context and its lack of significance in contemporary art; and advice for young and emerging art dealers. Thaw also recalls Richard Offner, Evelyn Sandberg-Vavala, Norbert Ketterer, Günther Franka, Pierre Matisse, Leo Castelli, Julius Held, Theodore Rousseau, Lee Krasner, Norton Simon, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Eugene V. Thaw, 2007 October 1-2. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview provided by Art Dealers Association of America. 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.
Eugene Thaw (1927- ) is an art dealer from New York, N.Y. James McElhinney (1952- ) is a painter and educator from New York, N.Y.
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