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Oral history interview with Dong Kingman, 1965 Jan. 12

Interviewee:
Kingman, Dong, 1911-2000  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington),, 1920-  Search this
Subject:
Federal Art Project (Calif.)  Search this
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Interviews  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Asian American artists  Search this
Sound recordings  Search this
Educators  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Painters  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)12912
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)213605
AAA_collcode_kingma65
Theme:
Asian American
New Deal
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_213605

Ben Shahn papers

Creator:
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Names:
Baskin, Leonard, 1922-2000  Search this
Delano, Jack  Search this
Dugan, Alan  Search this
Evans, Walker, 1903-1975  Search this
Ferry, W. Hawkins  Search this
Francis, Arlene  Search this
Friendly, Fred W.  Search this
Gusten, Theodore, 1899-1978  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph, 1910-1981  Search this
Kingman, Dong, 1911-  Search this
Lange, Dorothea  Search this
Lee, Russell, 1903-1986  Search this
Lionni, Leo, 1910-  Search this
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982  Search this
Martin, John Bartlow, 1915-1987  Search this
Mydans, Carl  Search this
Nakashima, George, 1905-  Search this
Nakashima, Marian  Search this
Odets, Clifford, 1906-1963  Search this
Osborn, Robert Chesley, 1904-1994  Search this
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957  Search this
Robbins, Jerome  Search this
Rodman, Selden, 1909-  Search this
Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985  Search this
Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Soby, James Thrall, 1906-1979  Search this
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987  Search this
Vachon, John, 1914-1975  Search this
Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963  Search this
Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990  Search this
Zorach, William, 1887-1966  Search this
Extent:
25 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Awards
Sketches
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Drawings
Photographs
Prints
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1879-1990
bulk 1933-1970
Summary:
The papers of social realist painter, photographer, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher Ben Shahn (1898-1969) measure 25.0 linear feet and date from 1879-1990, with the bulk of the material dating from 1933-1970. The bulk of the collection consists of over 14 linear feet of incoming letters from artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Also found are biographical materials, project and source files, printed material, artwork by Shahn and others, photographs taken of and by Shahn, interview transcripts, sound recordings of interviews and a motion picture film.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of social realist painter, photographer, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher Ben Shahn (1898-1969) measure 25.0 linear feet and date from 1879-1990, with the bulk of the material dating from 1933-1970. The bulk of the collection consists of over 14 linear feet of incoming letters from artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Also found are biographical materials, project and source files, printed material, artwork by Shahn and others, photographs taken of and by Shahn, interview transcripts, sound recordings of interviews and a motion picture film.

Biographical material and family records include a 1924 passport for Shahn and his first wife, Tillie, biographical sketches of Shahn, and award certificates received by him.

Letters are primarily written to Shahn from family members, artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Notable correspondents include Leonard Baskin, Alexander Calder, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Joseph Hirsch, Leo Lionni, John Bartlow Martin, George and Marian Nakashima, Clifford Odets, Charles Olson, Robert Osborn, Diego Rivera, Jerome Robbins, Selden Rodman, James Thrall Soby, Raphael Soyer, and William Carlos Williams. A small number of scattered letters from Shahn can also be found throughout the series.

Project files document approximately twenty-one of Shahn's commissions, including murals for the community center at Jersey Homesteads, the Bronx Central Annex Post Office, the Social Security Building in Washington D.C. , and the William E. Grady Vocational High School. The files also document his involvement in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Roosevelt, in addition to projects for schools, temples and private homes.

Financial and legal records include consignment records, loan agreements, royalty statements and receipts for artwork sold.

Notes and writings are by Shahn and others including Alan Dugan, W. H. Ferry, Theodore Gusten, and John Bartlow Martin. They include lists of artwork, many of which are annotated.

Artwork includes a sketchbook and several unbound sketches and lettering by Shahn, in addition to drawings and prints by others including Shahn's children, Mario Casetta and Stefan Martin.

Source files contain printed material and photographs relating to topics depicted by Shahn in his artwork such as children, dams, farming, houses, industry, mines and miners, slums, war and workers. These files also contain scattered photographic prints by FSA and OWI photographers including Shahn, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon.

Printed material includes news clippings covering Shahn and his career as well as subjects of interest to Shahn. Also found are exhibition catalogs and announcements for exhibitions for Shahn and others, and reproductions of Shahn's artwork including publications illustrated by him.

Photographs are of Shahn, his family and friends and colleagues including Alexander Calder, Jerome Robbins, Charles Sheeler, David Smith and William Zorach. Also included are photographs taken by Shahn of New York City and for the FSA in the 1930s, as well as photographs of artwork by Shahn. Photographs by others include one photo each by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and Arthur Rothstein.

The collection also contains transcripts of eight radio, television and motion picture interviews of Shahn and a reel of 16mm motion picture film from the BBC-TV program "Monitor," in addition to sound recordings of interviews of Shahn by Tony Schwartz and Arlene Francis. Artifacts include a Christmas greeting in the form of a sock.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged as 12 series:

Series 1: Biographical and Family Records, 1879-1984 (Box 1, OV 36; 0.2 linear ft.)

Series 2: Letters, 1929-1990 (Boxes 1-25, 35, OVs 36-38; 14.4 linear ft.)

Series 3: Project Files, 1933-1975 (Boxes 25-26; OVs 36-37; 1.03 linear ft.)

Series 4: Financial and Legal Records, 1934-1988 (Boxes 26-27, 35; 0.81 linear ft.)

Series 5: Notes and Writings, circa 1933-1988 (Boxes 27-28; 1.62 linear ft.)

Series 6: Artwork, circa 1930s-1965 (Boxes 28, 35; 11 folders)

Series 7: Source Files, circa 1900s-1960s (Boxes 28-30, 35; 1.81 linear ft.)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1912-1988 (Boxes 30-33, 35, OV 39; 3.22 linear ft.)

Series 9: Photographs, circa 1900-1969 (Boxes 33-35; 0.86 linear ft.)

Series 10: Interview Transcripts, 1943-1968 (Box 34; 0.25 linear ft.)

Series 11: Audio and Video Recordings, 1959-1968 (Box 34; 0.25 linear ft.)

Series 12: Artifacts, circa 1930s-circa 1960s (Box 34; 2 items)
Biographical/Historical note:
Ben Shahn (1898-1969) was a social realist painter, muralist, printmaker, photographer, illustrator, and teacher who worked primarily in Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey. He was most active in the 1930s through the 1950s and worked on several federally funded arts projects, including the Farm Security Administration's photographic documentation project of rural America during the Depression.

Ben Shahn was born in Kovno, Lithuania and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1906 where he settled in Brooklyn, and later Roosevelt, New Jersey, after becoming a naturalized citizen in 1918.

Following an apprenticeship as a lithographer from 1913-1917, Shahn studied at New York University, the City College of New York, and the National Academy of Design from 1919-1922. He married Tillie Goldstein in 1922 and they had two children, Judith and Ezra.

Two years after Shahn's first solo exhibition at the Downtown Gallery in 1930, his Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, a series of 23 gouaches about the Sacco and Vanzetti trial of the 1920s, was exhibited at the Downtown Gallery to critical and public acclaim. The exhibition marked the beginning of Shahn's reputation as one of the most important social realist painters in America. Shahn's commitment to social and political justice found a natural outlet in mural painting when, in 1933, he was hired to assist Diego Rivera on the labor and industry mural Man at the Crossroads, for New York City's Rockefeller Center. The mural was destroyed amid controversy in 1933 before it was completed, but Shahn had learned much about the art of fresco painting during the project and was inspired by the potential of the mural as a unique art form for presenting life's struggles and stories to a large public audience. Between 1933 and 1937 Shahn worked on various murals for other buildings, including New York's Central Park Casino (circa 1934) and Riker's Island Prison (1934), none of which saw completion. In 1937, however, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) commissioned Shahn to execute a mural for the Community Center in the town of Jersey Homesteads, later Roosevelt, New Jersey, which Shahn completed in 1938. Shahn settled in Jersey Homesteads the following year and remained there for the rest of his life. Other important mural commissions followed for the Bronx Central Post office (1939) and the Social Security Building in Washington DC (1942).

One of Shahn's assistants on the Jersey Homesteads mural was Bernarda Bryson, whom he had met in 1933 when she came to New York to interview Rivera about the Rockefeller Center mural controversy for an Ohio newspaper. Shahn and Bryson became lifetime companions and had three children, Susanna, Jonathan and Abigail, although they did not marry until shortly before Shahn's death in 1969. Shahn and Tillie Goldstein were divorced in 1944.

Shahn had enrolled with the federal Public Works of Art Project in 1934, and between 1935 and 1938 he and Bryson travelled across country as Shahn photographed poverty-stricken areas and documented rural life for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Resettlement Agency. Shahn's interest in photography developed in the early 1930s when, encouraged by his friendship with Walker Evans, he began photographing street scenes and people in New York City. He later used the images as the basis for many of his prints and paintings.

In 1942 Shahn began working for the Office of War Information (OWI) and was instructed to produce posters and pamphlets explaining to citizens the necessities of wartime, such as the need for secrecy and food rationing. Ultimately, only two of Shahn's posters were ever used; the rest were rejected as being too harsh for their intended audience. Shahn later worked for the Congress of Industrial Organization Political Action Committee (CIO-PAC), producing posters for the 1944 campaign to re-elect Roosevelt, who he believed in deeply. He was promoted to director of the CIO's Graphic Arts Division for the 1946 congressional campaign following Roosevelt's death, but that job ended when the election went poorly for the Democratic party.

Shahn returned increasingly to painting and a retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947. He also became more active in academia as an accomplished writer, teacher and lecturer. He received honorary doctorates from Princeton University and Harvard University, and become the Charles Eliot Norton professor at Harvard in 1956. Shahn's Norton lectures were collected and published as the influential The Shape of Content in 1957. He also began to work as a commercial artist for a variety of companies and publications including CBS, Time, Harper's, and the Container Corporation of America. Shahn believed, however, that the artist's ideas and integrity must always be reflected in his commercial art. He refused to compromise on this point and was very selective in his choice of commercial commissions. Shahn illustrated many books and articles, designed sets for stage productions such as New York Export: Opus Jazz, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and designed mural mosaics for synagogues, universities and private homes.

Since the 1930s Shahn had been represented by Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery, but his relationship with her was always contentious on the subject of payments Shahn received for commercial work, and became increasingly so as his income from such sources increased. Finally, in 1968, Shahn wrote to Halpert telling her that after ten years of "an accumulation of ill-feeling, discomfort and recrimination between us" he felt compelled to end their dealer-artist relationship.

By the time of Shahn's break with Halpert his health had begun to fail. He died of a heart attack following surgery in a New York City hospital on March 14, 1969.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Archives of American Art holds four oral history interviews with Ben Shahn: 1964 Apr. 14 interview conducted by Richard K. Doud for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project in which Shahn speaks of his travels and work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the American image as portrayed by FSA; 1965 Jan. 17 interview; 1965 Oct. 3. interview conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project; and 1968 Sept. 27 interview conducted by Forrest Selvig. Most of these interviews have transcripts available online.

The Archives also holds the Bernarda Bryson Shahn papers, circa 1947-2005, and two oral history interviews with Bernarda Bryson Shahn: 1983 Apr. 29 and 1995 July 3.
Separated Materials note:
In 1969, Bernarda Bryson Shahn loaned addresses and essays by Shahn, 7 royalty statements, and 3 letters from publishers for microfilming. After filming, the material was returned to the donor. The loaned material is available on 35 mm microfilm reel N70-6 at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan, which is not described in the container list of this finding aid. However, many of Shahn's writings on this microfilm were included in subsequent donations to the Archives of American Art.
Provenance:
The Ben Shahn papers were donated in several installments between 1967-1991 by Shahn's widow, Bernarda Bryson Shahn.
Restrictions:
Access to original papers requires an appointment. Access to audiovisual recording with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Ben Shahn papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Printmakers -- United States  Search this
Illustrators -- United States  Search this
Photographers -- United States  Search this
Painters -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Awards
Sketches
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Drawings
Photographs
Prints
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.shahben
See more items in:
Ben Shahn papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-shahben
Additional Online Media:

Midtown Galleries records

Creator:
Midtown Galleries  Search this
Names:
Midtown-Payson Galleries  Search this
Betts, Edward H., 1920-  Search this
Bishop, Isabel, 1902-1988  Search this
Cadmus, Paul, 1904-  Search this
Coiner, Charles T., 1897-  Search this
Davis, Gladys Rockmore, 1901-1967  Search this
Etnier, Stephen, 1903-1984  Search this
Etting, Emlen, 1905-1993  Search this
Fiene, Ernest, 1894-  Search this
Gruskin, Alan D. (Alan Daniel), 1904-1970  Search this
Gruskin, Mary J.  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Hale, Nathan Cabot  Search this
Healey, Francis C.  Search this
Kingman, Dong, 1911-  Search this
Lahm, Ren'ee, 1897-1945  Search this
Magafan, Ethel, 1916-1993  Search this
Maldarelli, Oronzio, 1892-1962  Search this
Mangravite, Peppino, 1896-  Search this
Martin, Fletcher, 1904-1979  Search this
Meyer, Fred  Search this
Moller, Hans, 1905-  Search this
Nagler, Edith Kroger, 1890-1986  Search this
Nagler, Fred, 1891-1983  Search this
Palmer, William C., 1906-  Search this
Parsons, Betty  Search this
Peirce, Waldo, 1884-1970  Search this
Reinhardt, Siegfried, 1925-1984  Search this
Rosenthal, Doris Patty, 1889-1971  Search this
Saarinen, Lilian Swann, 1912-1995  Search this
Schoener, Jason  Search this
Sepeshy, Zoltan, 1898-1974  Search this
Shulkin, Anatol, 1899-1961  Search this
Simkhovitch, Simka, 1893-1949  Search this
Sokole, Miron, 1901-  Search this
Soyer, Isaac, 1902-1981  Search this
Taubes, Frederic, 1900-  Search this
Thon, William, 1906-2000  Search this
Varga, Margit, 1908-2005  Search this
Vickrey, Robert, 1926-  Search this
Wingate, Arline, 1906-1998  Search this
Extent:
86.82 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Photographs
Video recordings
Date:
1904-1997
Summary:
The records of Midtown Galleries measure 86.82 linear feet and date from 1904 to 1997. The collection documents the operation and general administration of the business and includes artist records, exhibition material, inventories, financial records, photographs, and printed material.
Scope and Content Note:
Records of Midtown Galleries [including the addition], circa 1904-1997, comprise 86.82 linear feet on 117 microfilm reels. Records are sparse for the early years when the gallery was operated as a cooperative. As the business expanded and became profitable, recordkeeping was more systematic and thorough. Records consist of administrative correspondence, 1927-1989 and undated; exhibition records, 1934-1982 and undated; inventories and sales records, 1946-1980 and undated; financial records, 1933-1957; miscellaneous, 1934-1985 and undated; photographs, circa 1925-circa 1980; printed matter, 1932-1982 and undated; personal papers of Alan D. and Mary J. Gruskin, 1932-1983 and undated; and Papers of Francis C. Healey, 1932-1935 and undated An addition, represents scattered material, 1932-1997 and undated, that remained after the gallery closed in 1995. It includes administrative records, 1934-1995 and undated; photographs circa 1938-1988 and undated; artists records, 1932-1993 and undated; exhibitions, 1958-1993 and undated; videotapes, 1977-1988; and oversize printed matter, 1973-1977 and undated Because microfilmimg of the Midtown Galleries records was already underway when this material was received, it could not be integrated with the main portion of the collection.

Administrative correspondence is categorized as General Correspondence, Artists Correspondence, and Artists Applications. General Correspondence is with clients, collectors, museums and galleries, arts organizations, and businesses providing services to Midtown Galleries, and concerns routine business matters. Artists Correspondence contains both personal and business letters since the Gruskins were close friends of many artists represented by Midtown Galleries. Artists Applications consists of correspondence with artists seeking representation by Midtown Galleries. Both accepted and rejected artists are included in this subseries.

Exhibition records includes schedules and general correspondence about cooperative exhibitions and traveling shows. Exhibition files, arranged by title, contain correspondence concerning arrangements for each show.

Inventories include listings by artist and by warehouse location; also, lists of paintings on consignment, paintings returned to artists, loan/shipping log, and "traffic cards." Sales records include "groups totals,: artists account ledger, and sales slips.

Financial records consist of bills paid, banking records, accounting records, and tax returns with related documentation.

Miscellaneous items include manuscripts of Isabel Bishop Catalogue Raisonne and Biography by Karl Lunde and The Art of Philip Guston by Lester D. Longman. Also included are legal documents such as Act of Incorporation, partnership agreement, and leases; 32 guest registers, 1924-1985 and undated, and 15 samples of artist-designed fabrics produced by Onandoga Silk Co., 1946-1947.

Photographs of people include founders Alan D. Gruskin and Francis C. Healey, Mary J. Gruskin (Mrs. Alan D.) and many artists affiliated with Midtown Galleries. Photographs of works of art are by Midtown artists and others. Also, illustrations for Painting in the U.S.A. by Alan D. Gruskin; 2 albums of photographs of the work of Waldo Peirce, circa 1925-1930s (probably compiled by Peirce). Photographs of exhibitions include Midtown Galleries exhibitions and shows elsewhere featuring works by Midtown artists. Miscellaneous photographs include: Gruskin's Department Store (Pa.); models used by artists Julien Binford, Henry Koerner, and Doris Rosenthal; properties owned by Julien Binford and Hans Moeller; Anatol Shulkin's travel pictures of the Soviet Union; store window displays featuring Midtown artists, and fashion models at Midtown Galleries.

Printed matter includes material produced by Midtown Galleries: exhiition catalogs, 1932-1983 and undated; news releases, 1932-1983 and undated; Midtown News, 1965-1970; and miscellaneous items, 1943-1970 and undated Printed matter produced by others includes is comprised of artists files consisting mainly of newsclippings; also, articles about Midtown Galleries and the Gruskins.

Personal papers of Mary J. and Alan D. Gruskin contain biographical information, correspondence, financial records, miscellaneous items, calendars, and writings of Alan D. Gruskin. Correspondence, 1931-1970 and undated, with family and friends concerns personal business; also, letters of condolence on the death of Alan D. Gruskin, 1970. Financial records include personal finances and documentation of gifts of artwork to institutions, with appraisals and tax information. Calendars, 1939-1983, record both personal engagements and some business appointments. Writings of Alan D. Gruskin include manuscripts and drafts of columns, short stories, a screenplay, radio broadcasts, and lecture notes from courses at Harvard.

Papers of Francis C. Healey are comprised of correspondence that relates to both gallery and ersonal business. Also included are scripts and drafts for radio broadcasts, printed matter, press releases, and proposals for radio programs.

Administrative records received with the addition include general correspondence, correspondence with clients, and correspondence regarding gifts, sales and purchases. Records concerning the sale of Midtown Galleries to John Whitney Payson include Gruskin's and Payson's inventories. Also, included is a history of the gallery.

Photographs are of the Gruskins, their friends, and country house; also, views of Midtown exhibitions, openings, artists, and individual works of art.

Artists records are comprised mainly of artists files, largely containing printed matter. Among the artists records are a file of holiday cards by various artists, many with original artwork. Also included are catalogs of group shows featuring Midtown artists at other galleries

Exhibition materials include announcements, news releases, catalogs, miscellaneous printed matter, and a guest book. A small number of these items are dated after Payson's purchase of Midtown Galleries.

Videotapes of William Palmer, Isabel Bishop, and Robert Vickrey, as well as oversize printed matter relating to Midtown artists, complement the artists records.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 10 series. A detailed explanation of the arrangement of each series is provided with the series descriptions. Each series is subdivided, often by record type, with categories usually arranged chronologically; exceptions are noted. Administrative correspondence (Series 1) is arranged alphabetically, as are many inventories sales records (Series 3). Photographs of people, exhibitions, and works of art (Series 6) are arranged alphabetically, as are the artists files and exhibition clippings portions of the printed matter (Series 7). The addition is described separately in Appendix A; and, wherever possible, reel and frame numbers of related materials received and filmed with the addition have been included in the main text's series descriptions.

Series 1: Administrative Correspondence, 1927-1989, undated (51 linear ft.)

Series 2: Exhibitions, 1932-1982, undated (4 linear feet)

Series 3: Inventories and Sales Records, 1932-1980, undated (5.3 linear ft.)

Series 4: Financial Records, 1933-1957 (3.5 linear feet)

Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1934-1985, undated (2 linear feet)

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1925-circa 1980 (6.5 linear feet)

Series 7: Printed Matter, 1932-1990, undated (7.25 linear ft.)

Series 8: Personal Papers of Alan D. and Mary J. Gruskin, 1904-1990, undated (4.5 linear feet)

Series 9: Papers of Francis C. Healey, 1932-1935, undated (0.5 linear ft.)

Series 10: Addition, 1932-1997, undated (2.5 linear feet)
Historical Note:
Alan D. Gruskin (1904-1970) hoped to become an artist, but while still a student realized that his talents were better suited to art administration than painting. Following graduation from Harvard University, he worked at a New York gallery that specialized in old masters, returning home to Pennsylvania after a year to pursue a writing career that ultimately proved unsuccessful. Gruskin returned to New York and opened Midtown Galleries at 559 Fifth Avenue in 1932. Specializing in work by living American artists, Midtown was one of a rather small number of commercial galleries in New York City that showed contemporary American art. Midtown Galleries represented academic and realist painters, and purposely avoided abstract art.

Founded during the Depression, Midtown Galleries was a shoe-string operation in its early years. Originally operated as a cooperative, Midtown Galleries' participating artists contributed to the costs and work of presenting exhibitions. Between 1932 and 1935, Gruskin served as "Art Director" of the gallery and his business partner, Francis C. Healey was "Publicity Director." Healey appears to have been responsible for weekly broadcasts on NBC radio designed to interest people in visiting the gallery. The 15-minute programs consisted of discussions with museum directors, curators, artists, writers, and musicians about a broad range of cultural topics. Copies of the scripts were offered for a dime, and the payments mailed by radio listeners bought Gruskin's meals. During this period, Gruskin lived in the gallery. After Healey's departure in 1935, Midtown Galleries ceased to be run as a cooperative.

Midtown Galleries usually represented approximately two dozen artists, and many remained with the gallery for decades. They included: Julien Binford, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Gladys Rockmore Davis, Emlen Etting, Maurice Freedman, Dong Kingman, Oronzio Maldarelli, William C. Palmer, Waldo Peirce, Doris Rosenthal, Zoltan L. Sepeshy, Frederic Taubes, William Thon, Margit Varga, and Robert Vickrey.

Gruskin worked to educate and interest the public in American art and to promote the artists he represented. In addition to countless reviews, articles, and catalog essays, he wrote three books: Painting in the U.S.A. (1946), The Watercolors of Dong Kingman and How the Artist Works (1958), William Thon: The Artist and His Technique (1964). Gruskin advocated the use of fine art in advertising and industry, obtaining commissions for his artists and at the same time assisting clients in building corporate collections. A prime example is the Upjohn Company which, at Gruskin's urging, included reproductions of paintings in "Your Doctor Speaks," a series of public service announcements. Many of the paintings were purchased subsequently, forming the basis of the Upjohn Collection. A traveling exhibition, The Upjohn Company Collection of Contemporary American Paintings, was circulated by Midtown Galleries and featured in a Life magazine article about fine art and advertising. Another example is the fabric patterns, based on paintings by several of Midtown Galleries' artists, commissioned by the Onandoga Silk Company; the fabrics were used for dresses by popular designers, with fashion shows and window displays of paintings by the participating artists at selected department stores throughout the country. Working closely with architects and interior designers, Gruskin and Midtown Galleries were innovators in the use of domestic and business settings to showcase art with Art In Interiors, a series of exhibitions held annually between 1952 and 1961.

Midtown Galleries was a pioneer in circulating traveling exhibitions to colleges and art associations in communities distant from major art museums and commercial galleries. Beginning in 1936 and or more than 35 years, Midtown Galleries circulated 8-10 shows throughout the country each year; most were group shows organized around a theme, though occasional solo exhibitions were offered. Other important exhibitions off the premises were the Central Illinois Art Exposition, 1939, and the contemporary American art exhibition at the New York World's Fair, 1964-1965. The 1939 show organized by Gruskin for the Bloomington, Illinois, Art Association was a large exhibition of American art borrowed from a variety of institutions; the very well-publicized show was heavily attended, drawing visitors from a large area of the rural Midwest, many of whom had never visited a museum or seen original art.

1932 -- established as a cooperative gallery at 559 Fifth Ave. by Alan D. Gruskin (Art Director) and Francis C. Healey (Public Relations Director); Midtown Galleries presented programs on contemporary American art broadcast by NBC radio

1934-1935 -- Tudor City Art Galleries at 8 Prospect Place, New York City, featuring works by Midtown Galleries' artists and others, administered by Gruskin and Healey

1935 -- departure of Francis C. Healey; gallery moved to 605 Madison Ave.; gallery ceased to be run as a cooperative

1936 -- began traveling exhibitions to universities, museums, and regional art associations

1939 -- Central Illinois Art Exposition (Bloomington, Ill.)

1946 -- San Francisco branch opened and closed; publication of Painting in the U.S.A. by Alan D. Gruskin

1951 -- gallery moved to 17 East 57th Street

1958 -- publication of The Watercolors of Dong Kingman and How the Artist Works by Alan D. Gruskin

1962 -- gallery moved to 11 East 57th Street

1964 -- exhibition of contemporary American art at the New York World's Fair, organized by Midtown Galleries; shown in American Interiors Pavilion, this was the only exhibit of its kind at the Fair; publication of William Thon: The Artist and His Technique by Alan D. Gruskin

1966 -- loan of Midtown Galleries' records for microfilming by the Archives of American Art; this small selection, along with many other gallery records, was donated by Mary Gruskin to the Archives between 1972 and 1991, with an additional gift in 1997

1970 -- death of Alan D. Gruskin (1904-1970); Mary J. Gruskin assumes position of Director

1972 -- first portion of Midtown Galleries' records donated to the Archives of American Art by Mrs. Gruskin

1985 -- sale of Midtown Galleries to John Whitney Payson; Bridget Moore, Director, and Mary J. Gruskin, Director Emerita

1986 -- majority of Midtown Galleries' records acquired by the Archives of American Art

1990 -- name changed to Midtown-Payson Galleries; gallery moved to 745 Fifth Ave.

1991 -- additional gift of records by Mrs. Gruskin

1992 -- records arranged, described, and prepared for microfilming

1993 -- microfilming began; continued sporadically, in small segments

1995 -- Midtown-Payson Galleries closed

1997 -- additional gift of records by Mrs. Gruskin

1999 -- microfilming completed
Provenance:
Midtown Galleries loaned a small number of records consisting of news releases, 1939-1966, and exhibition schedules to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1966. Subsequently, Mary J. Gruskin donated this material, along with many other gallery records, to the Archives in several installments between 1972 and 1991; an additional gift was received in 1997. The portion loaned in 1966 is now integrated with the main records and has been refilmed in sequence. Unfortunately, the addition of 1997 was received in Washington, D.C. after microfilming was well underway. The addition has been microfilmed and described separately as Series 10. Wherever possible, the main text has been annotated with reel and frame numbers for related items contained in the addition.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.
Rights:
The Midtown Galleries records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Art galleries, Commercial -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Video recordings
Citation:
Midtown Galleries records, 1904-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
AAA.midtgall
See more items in:
Midtown Galleries records
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-midtgall

Railroad Oakland [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021795
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21796

Three Ships [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021796
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21797

New York Bridge [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021799
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21800

Grand Central [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021800
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21801

Tug-Boat [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021801
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21802

Tree Rows Madrid [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021803
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21804

Nut Street Station [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0021804
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21805

Dong Kingman: artist file, [photographs]

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Artist files
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Image number:
VFM VF001669
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_140194

The Square Near Big Ben, London [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1962
Image number:
JUL J0021793
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21794

Waterfront Symphonette [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1973
Image number:
JUL J0021794
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21795

Times Square '71 [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1972
Image number:
JUL J0021797
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21798

Dead End [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1951
Image number:
JUL J0021798
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21799

Demonstration at Park [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1967
Image number:
JUL J0021802
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21803

Storm over New Jersey [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1965
Image number:
JUL J0021805
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_21806

(No Title Given) [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Image number:
JUL J0081987
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_81988

(No Title Given) [art work] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Artist:
Kingman, Dong 1911-2000  Search this
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1947
Image number:
JUL J0082004
See more items in:
Photograph Archives
Data Source:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_82005

Dong Kingman papers, 1938-1942

Creator:
Kingman, Dong, 1911-2000  Search this
Subject:
Federal Art Project (Calif.)  Search this
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Art and state  Search this
Painters  Search this
Watercolor painting  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Asian American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7734
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209899
AAA_collcode_kingdong
Theme:
Asian American
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209899

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