The Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries records measure 21.8 linear feet and are dated 1858-1969 (bulk 1919-1968). The records consist mainly of business correspondence with collectors, artists, museums and arts organizations, colleagues, and others. A small amount of Frank K. M. Rehns personal correspondence and a few stray personal papers of individual artists are interfiled. Also included are financial records, scrapbooks, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting most of the history of a highly regarded New York City art gallery devoted to American painting.
Scope and Content Note:
The Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries records measure 21.8 linear feet and are dated 1858-1969 (bulk 1919-1968). The records consist mainly of business correspondence with collectors, artists, museums and arts organizations, colleagues, and others. A small amount of Frank K. M. Rehn's personal correspondence and a few stray personal papers of individual artists are interfiled. Also included are financial records, scrapbooks, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting most of the history of a highly regarded New York art gallery devoted to American painting.
Series 1: Correspondence contains correspondence with artists, museums and arts organizations, collectors, colleagues, and others documents the workings of Rehn Galleries from its earliest days through 1968. A small amount of Frank K. M. Rehn's personal correspondence and a few scattered personal papers of individual artists are interfiled with the business correspondence.
Series 2: Financial Records includes banking, insurance, and investment records, tax returns and related documentation, miscellaneous financial records and paid bills. Among the insurance records are detailed monthly schedules listing paintings with titles, artists, and insurance values. Miscellaneous financial records include inventories of gallery stock, notes regarding business expenses and income, and receipt books recording incoming paintings. Also included are a small number of items concerning the personal business of Frank Rehn and John Clancy.
Five volumes of Scrapbooks (Series 3) contain clippings and a small number of exhibition catalogs documenting the activities of Rehn Galleries and many of its associated artists. Additional Printed Matter in Series 4 includes material relating to Rehn Galleries and its artists, as well as publications produced by Rehn Galleries. General, art-related printed matter consists of articles, auction catalogs, advertisements, and publications of various museums, arts organizations, and schools. There is also material about artists not affiliated with Rehn Galleries. Additional printed items concern miscellaneous subjects that are not art-related.
Series 5: Miscellaneous Records, includes artwork, lists and notes, and writings. Photographs in Series 6 are of people including artists represented by Rehn as well as several not affiliated with the gallery. Noticeably absent are likenesses of Frank Rehn and John Clancy. Photographs of works of art are by Rehn Galleries' artists and others. Reginald Marsh's photographs consist of family and personal photographs that were either given to Rehn Galleries or perhaps loaned for research use, and include views of Marsh from early childhood through later life, photographs of family and friends, and a small family album. Also included are photographs are of Marsh's childhood drawings.
Series 1: Correspondence is arranged alphabetically and Series 3: Scrapbooks is in rough chronological order. Series 2, and 4-6 are arranged in categories, as indicated in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing. Unless otherwise noted, items within each folder are arranged chronologically.
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1858-1969, undated (Boxes 1-15; 14.4 linear ft.; Reels 5849-5869)
Series 2: Financial Records, 1919-1968, undated (Boxes 15-17; 2.6 linear ft; Reel 5869)
Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1919-1940 (Boxes 23-24; 0.6 linear ft.; Reels 5869-5870)
Series 4: Printed Matter, 1882-1969, undated (Boxes 18-20; 2.4 linear ft.; Reels 5870-5872)
Series 5: Miscellaneous Records, circa 1920-1968 (Boxes 20-21; 0.7 linear ft; Reel 5872)
Series 6: Photographs, 1871-1966, undated (Boxes 22, 24, OV 25; 1.0 linear ft.; Reel 5872)
Frank K. M. Rehn (1886-1956), son of the marine painter Frank Knox Morton Rehn, after several years' experience as an employee of the Milch Galleries and as exhibition manager for the Salmagundi Club, opened his own art gallery in 1918. In its earliest years, the gallery operated as the Galleries of Frank K. M. Rehn. From the mid 1920s through the mid 1940s, the name used was Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries. As early as 1946, the gallery was referred to simply as Rehn Galleries. The gallery closed in 1981.
Throughout its existence, Rehn Galleries specialized in representing American painters. During the first five years Rehn's operation was a private gallery at 6 West 50th Street, New York City. Among the artists he first represented were older, established men such as J. Alden Weir, George Inness, Alexander Wyant, Theodore Robinson, Thomas Dewing, and John H. Twachtman. Occasionally, Rehn handled works by such luminaries of the period as Robert Henri, George Luks, and John Singer Sargent. Among the living artists affiliated with the gallery in its first years were Daniel Garber, Walter Griffin, Dodge MacKnight, and Robert Spencer. Rehn's most popular artist during this time was Childe Hassam, who sued for recovery of a painting that, although acquired by Rehn through a reputable dealer, had been stolen from Hassam's studio many years earlier.
Despite the newspaper publicity surrounding Hassam's lawsuit, the business was a successful venture almost immediately. Very early, a number of important collectors including Duncan Phillips, John Gellatly, John T. Spaulding, Albert McVitty, E. W. Root, and C. Vanderbilt Barton displayed confidence in Rehn's judgment and integrity, which enhanced his gallery's reputation and stature among both collectors and artists. In 1923, the gallery moved to 693 Fifth Avenue and began operating as Rehn Galleries, a commercial gallery in the same building that housed in a building that housed Kennedy and Company and the Bourgeois Galleries. At this time, Rehn hired an assistant, John C. Clancy (1897-1981), who had formerly been with Henry Reinhardt and Son and M. Knoedler.
The Rehn Galleries soon enjoyed a regular following among museum curators and collectors visiting from out of town. The gallery's roster of artists grew along with its reputation. Rehn focused almost exclusively on American painters, occasionally showing drawings and prints by artists who were primarily painters; notable exceptions were sculptor Mahonri Young and Henry Varnum Poor who, in addition to being a painter, was known for his work in ceramics. Among the painters eventually represented were: Peggy Bacon, George Bellows, Alexander Brook, Charles Burchfield, John F. Carlson, John Carroll, Howard Cook, Jon Corbino, Virginia Cuthbert, Andrew Dasberg, Sidney Gross, Edward Hopper, Alexander James, Irving Kaufmann, Yeffe Kimball, Leon Kroll, Peppino Mangravite, Reginald and Felicia Meyer Marsh, Henry Mattson, Henry Lee McFee, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Charles Rosen, Robert Riggs, Alexander Russo, Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones, Eugene Speicher, Henry Strater, Richard Derby Tucker, Franklin C. Watkins, and Denny Winters.
In 1930, Rehn Galleries moved one block south to the Air France Building at 683 Fifth Avenue, remaining there for thirty years. John C. Clancy, Rehn's long-time assistant, became Gallery Director in 1953 after a stroke prevented Rehn from continuing to run his business in an active capacity. Eventually, Rehn's widow sold Clancy the gallery, which he continued to operate under varying names, including Rehn Gallery, Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries, Frank Rehn Gallery, and Rehn Galleries. From 1960 until 1966, The Rehn Galleries were at 36 East 61st Street from 1960 until 1966, when the gallery moved to a space formerly occupied by Kootz Gallery at 855 Madison Avenue, where it remained in business for another fifteen years.
John Clancy interview by Paul Cummings, July 10, 1970. Oral History Program, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Samuel Adler Papers, 1902-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Contains a recording (1 cassette; untranscribed) of Beverly Chesler interviewing John Clancy about the history of Rehn Galleries, 1973; Samuel Adler is present and participates briefly in the interview.
In addition, the Archives of American Art has among its collections personal papers and oral history interviews of artists and collectors associated with the Rehn Galleries. Researchers are advised to conduct a name search in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).
The Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries records were loaned by John Clancy for microfilming in 1959; in 1966, this same material was donated to the Archives. Mr. Clancy made subsequent gifts of additional gallery records in 1978 and 1981. In 1985, the Whitney Museum of American Art donated to the Archives correspondence with Edward Hopper that John Clancy had loaned the museum many years earlier. A death mask of George Luks received with the collection is on extended loan to the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries records 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.
The papers of art critic, writer, and historian Elizabeth McCausland measure 45 linear feet and date from 1838 to 1995, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920 to 1960. The collection provides a vast accumulation of research data on various artists and aspects of American art, especially the early American modernists and the Federal Arts Projects. Papers include McCausland's extensive research and writing files, particularly on Marsden Hartley, E. L. Henry, Lewis Hine, George Inness, and Alfred H. Maurer. McCausland's correspondence with artists includes a substantial amount with Arthur Dove and Alfred Stieglitz. Her collaborative work with Berenice Abbott on the Changing New York book and series of photographs is well-documented within the collection. Also found are general writings, subject files, files relating to exhibitions, teaching, and committees, photographs, art work, personal papers, and printed material. Additional McCausland material donated later from the estate of Berenice Abbott include biographical materials, project files, writings, and printed materials.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art critic, writer, and historian Elizabeth McCausland measure approximately 45 linear feet and date from 1838 to 1995, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920 to 1995. The collection provides a vast accumulation of data on various artists and aspects of American art, especially the early American modernists and the Federal Arts Projects. Papers include McCausland's extensive research and writing files, particularly on Marsden Hartley, E. L. Henry, Lewis Hine, George Inness, and Alfred H. Maurer. McCausland's correspondence with artists includes a substantial amount with Arthur Dove and Alfred Stieglitz. Her collaborative work with Berenice Abbott on the Changing New York book and series of photographs is well-documented within the collection. Also found are general writings, subject files, files relating to exhibitions, teaching, and committees, photographs, art work, personal papers, and printed material. Additional McCausland material from the estate of Berenice Abbott include biographical materials, project files, writings, and printed materials.
McCausland's personal papers consist of appointment books and engagement calendars, scrapbooks, student papers, works printed on her private press, financial records, biographical material, and scattered memorabilia, which together document other aspects of her life apart from her work. Correspondence includes incoming and outgoing letters along with enclosures, dating from McCausland's time as a journalist for The Springfield Republican in the 1920s and 1930s to her time as a freelance writer, art critic, and historian (1940s-1960s) and mostly concerning professional matters. Also included is a substantial amount of correspondence with artists, particularly Arthur Dove and Alfred Stieglitz, and some personal correspondence with her mother. General writings consists primarily of copies of McCausland's speeches and lectures on various art topics in addition to her early poems (dating from the 1930s) and scattered essays and articles.
The most extensive part of the collection is comprised of McCausland's research and writing files pertaining to large research and curatorial projects, such as ones on the artists Alfred H. Maurer and Marsden Hartley (which was begun by the American Art Research Council and subsequently taken over by McCausland), and one for the American Processional exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in 1950. A wide variety of smaller projects are also well-documented in the series Other Research and Writing Files, including ones on E. L. Henry, Lewis Hine, George Inness, her collaborative work with Berenice Abbott on the Changing New York book and series of photographs. Numerous other artists and art topics are covered as well, such as Arthur Dove, Robert Henri, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Hawthorne, film, and photography. Files for her book Careers in Art (1950), her many speaking and lecture engagements, and editing work are also found in this series. Files consist primarily of correspondence, notes, research material, manuscripts, bibliographies, photographs of works of art, completed research forms for works of art, card index files, and printed material.
Also found are subject files containing printed material, scattered notes and correspondence, and photographs, which may have been used for reference and/or collected in the course of McCausland's research activities; files relating to various exhibitions organized by McCausland from 1939 to 1944, including ones of silk screen prints and modern photography; files relating to courses on art history taught by McCausland, especially the one she taught at Barnard College in 1956; and files stemming from her participation in various art organizations and committees, especially during the time period just before and during the Second World War.
Printed material consists primarily of clippings and tear sheets of McCausland's newspaper articles and columns, which document her contributions to The Springfield Republican from 1923 to 1946, in addition to scattered exhibition catalogs, announcements, books, and miscellaneous publications. Photographs include ones of various artists and works of art, ones from the Farm Security Administration, and ones by photographers, such as Berenice Abbott (including ones from the Federal Art Project book, Changing New York), Barbara Morgan, Weegee, and Edward Weston, among others. Photographs, sometimes annotated or including notes, are scattered throughout her research files. Also included are photographs of McCausland, dating from her childhood. Art work found in the collection includes drawings, prints, and watercolors that were either given to McCausland by the artist or collected by her in the course of her work as an art critic and historian.
Additional material belonging to Elizabeth McCausland and donated by the estate of Berenice Abbott includes biographical material; business and personal correspondence; professional project files and writings, including drafts and research materials related to the book projects Art in America, Conversations with March, and Frank Kleinholz; and printed materials, including reprints of critical essays and articles by McCausland.
The collection is arranged as 15 series:
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1838, 1920-1951 (Boxes 1-2, 34; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1923-1960 (Boxes 2-5; 2.9 linear feet)
Series 3: General Writings, circa 1930-1954 (Boxes 5-6; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 4: Alfred H. Maurer, 1851-1951, bulk 1948-1950 (Boxes 6-9; 3.7 linear feet)
Series 5: American Processional, 1949-1951 (Boxes 10-11; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Marsden Hartley, 1900-1964, bulk 1944-1964 (Boxes 11-21, OV 37; 10 linear feet)
Series 7: Other Research and Writing Files, 1896, 1926-1958 (Boxes 21-25, 31; 4.6 linear feet)
Series 8: Subject Files, 1927-1954 (Boxes 25-26; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 9: Other Exhibition Files, 1939-1941, 1944 (Box 26; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 10: Teaching Files, 1939-1965 (Box 27; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 11: Committee Files, 1936-1960 (Box 27; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 12: Printed Material, 1923-1953 (Boxes 28-32, 34, OV 38, BV 44-47; 4.6 linear feet)
Series 13: Photographs, circa 1905-1950 (Boxes 32-36, OV 37; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 14: Art Work, 1887-1942 (Boxes 33-34, OV 39-43; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 15: Elizabeth McCausland Material from the Estate of Berenice Abbott, 1920-1995 (Boxes 48-53; 5.4 linear feet)
Elizabeth McCausland, the art critic and writer, was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1899. She attended Smith College, receiving her Bachelor's degree in 1920 and her Master's in 1922. Beginning in 1923, she worked as a general reporter for The Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts). After several years, she began to review art exhibitions and soon became an established art critic. In the course of her work, she began to develop friendships with artists, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Arthur Dove. During these early years, she also wrote poetry and designed and printed limited edition publications on her private press.
McCausland moved to New York in 1935, but continued to contribute a weekly art column to The Springfield Republican until it suspended publication in 1946. From the mid-1930s on, she worked primarily as a freelance writer and art critic, contributing articles to publications such as Parnassas, The New Republic, and Magazine of Art. In the latter part of her career, her writings focused more on art history and special studies on artists.
In the late-1930s, McCausland collaborated with the photographer Berenice Abbott on the Federal Art Project book, Changing New York, for which she provided the text to Abbott's now-famous photographs of New York City neighborhoods, architecture, and street scenes. She studied and wrote about photography, including numerous articles on the photographer Lewis Hine (of whose work she organized a retrospective exhibition at the Riverside Museum in 1939), and was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Photography in 1944.
McCausland went on to organize other exhibitions, including a show of contemporary work, "The World of Today" (Berkshire Museum, 1939), shows of silk screen prints (Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, March 1940 and New York State Museum, Summer 1940), and a photography show, "Photography Today" (A.C.A. Gallery, 1944). In the late 1930s, she embarked upon a study of "the status of the artist in America from colonial times to the present, with especial attention to the relation between art and patronage," which continued over twenty years (and was never completed) and for which she received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1943.
In addition to her other writing, during the 1940s, McCausland carried out studies on the artists, E. L. Henry and George Inness, which resulted in exhibitions at the New York State Museum in 1942 and the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in 1946, respectively and publications (a report on Henry and a book on Inness). From 1948 to 1949, she carried out an extensive study of the painter, Alfred H. Maurer, organizing an exhibition, "A. H. Maurer: 1868-1932," which showed at the Walker Art Center and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1949, and publishing the biography, A. H. Maurer, in 1951. In 1950, she worked as a special consultant on the American Processional exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery and as editor of the accompanying book. Shortly thereafter, she began a study of Marsden Hartley for a monograph, which was published in 1952, and she helped organize the Hartley exhibition at the University of Minnesota that same year. She continued the Hartley study on larger scale for a planned biography and catalogue raisonne; although she continued to work on it off and on for the next decade, the project was never completed.
McCausland published other books, including Careers in the Arts (1951), and undertook other research and consulting projects, such as photo-editing Carl Sandburg's Poems of the Midwest (1946), conducting surveys of art and advertising for an article in Magazine of Art and of art education for Cooper Union Art School, and contributing yearly articles on art to various encyclopedias. At different times throughout her career, she supplemented her income by taking teaching positions. She taught courses on art history at Sarah Lawrence College from 1942 to 1944 and at Barnard College in 1956, as well as courses at the Design Laboratory (1939) and the New School for Social Research (1946). She also gave numerous lectures and speeches on various art topics, and regularly participated in conferences and symposiums. Towards the end of her career, she was publishing less, but was still involved in many projects, most notably the Hartley study.
McCausland was a tireless promoter of the arts, and often an advocate for artists. Even though her work was well-known among certain art circles, she never received the recognition as a writer that she deserved. Nor was she ever able to free herself from the pressure of writing for a living. Continually suffering from poor health, she died on May 14, 1965.
Related material found in the Archives includes a sound recording from a symposium on Marsden Hartley, of which McCausland was a participant, held at the Portland Museum of Art in 1961. The Frank Kleinholz papers contain a recorded interview of McCausland done in 1944-1945 for radio station WNYC. Some of McCausland's correspondence is found in the G. Alan Chidsey papers; Chidsey served as a trustee of the Marsden Hartley estate.
Material separated from the collection includes some issues of Camera Work (Vol. 30, 47, 49/50), which were combined with other issues in an artificial collection created by the Archives at some earlier point.
Elizabeth McCausland donated the bulk of her papers in several installments from 1956 to 1961. An unknown donor, perhaps her literary executor, donated additional papers sometime after her death in 1965. It appears that McCausland originally donated her research files on Marsden Hartley, measuring 10 linear feet, to the Whitney Museum, who then lent them to the Archives for microfilming in 1966, and donated them sometime thereafter. McCausland originally donated files of newspaper clippings and offprints of her articles to the The New York Public Library, who gave them to the Archives in 1968. Additional McCausland material from the estate of Berenice Abbott was donated to the Archives in 2009.
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 Elizabeth McCausland 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.
Art historians -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
The papers of painter, teacher, and writer Hans Hofmann measure 29.92 linear feet and date from circa 1904 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 2000. The majority of the papers were created after 1932 and document Hofmann's life and professional career after settling in the United States. Among his papers are personal and professional correspondence; records of his schools in Munich, New York City, and Provincetown, Mass.; writings and notes; financial records; photographs; printed matter; estate records; and a small number of personal papers of his second wife, Renate Schmitz Hofmann. Hofmann's personal papers are augmented by a large selection of printed matter, including exhibition catalogs, articles, news clippings, and monographs about Hofmann and modern art, as well as documentary projects including Tina Dickey's compilation of oral histories and records of Hofmann's students, and research materials, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film created and gathered by Madeline Amgott during the production of two video documentaries about Hans Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Hofmann's Library was acquired with his papers; inscribed/annotated volumes have been retained with the collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter, teacher, and writer Hans Hofmann measure 29.92 linear feet and date from circa 1904 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 2000. The majority of the papers were created after 1932 and document Hofmann's life and professional career after settling in the United States. Among his papers are personal and professional correspondence; records of his schools in Munich, New York City, and Provincetown, Mass.; writings and notes; photographs; address and appointment books; artifacts; artwork; biographical information; interview transcripts; sales and estate records; and a small number of personal papers of his second wife, Renate Schmitz Hofmann. Hofmann's personal papers are augmented by a large selection of printed matter, including exhibition catalogs, articles, news clippings, and monographs about Hofmann and modern art, as well as documentary projects including Tina Dickey's compilation of oral histories and records of Hofmann's students, and research materials, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film created and gathered by Madeline Amgott during the production of two video documentaries about Hans Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Hofmann's Library was acquired with his papers; inscribed/annotated volumes have been retained with the collection.
Correspondence, 1914-1966 (Series 1), consists mainly of incoming letters about professional matters and personal business. A large portion of the letters are from museum directors and curators regarding the exhibition, loan, sale or donation of Hofmann's work; publishers, editors, and others preparing catalogs or biographical works; and galleries that showed Hofmann's paintings or represented him. Also among the correspondents are students and former students, art historians, art critics, fans, and friends. Family correspondents are a sister-in-law, nieces, and a nephew in Germany. Additional correspondence concerning administrative matters, and requests for catalogs, transcripts and recommendations are among the Records of the School of Fine Arts (Series 2). Financial Records (Series 4) contain a small amount of correspondence regarding banking, taxes, and Social Security. Estate Records (Series 9) include correspondence relating to taxes, the sale of Hofmann's Provincetown house, and various legal documents. Correspondence among the Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann (Series 10) include condolence letters, and a small number of personal letters and business correspondence regarding Hofmann's estate.
School of Fine Arts Records, 1915-1965 (Series 2), include a very small number of items relating to the Hans Hofmann Schule fur Bildende Kunst that operated in Munich from 1915 until 1933. These are printed prospectuses, a financial record, 1925; and "Italian Schools of Painting: The Renaissance in Italy," a printed chart, probably used as a teaching aid. Other items relating to the Munich school are photographs (Series 6) of Hans Hofmann with students in the 1920s, including some taken during the summer course in Capri, circa 1925. Travel photographs, 1920s, may have been taken while teaching summer courses in Europe, and an unidentified photograph, undated, of an exhibition installation in Germany may be school-related.
The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts was established in New York in 1933, and his summer school in Provincetown, Mass., opened in 1934; both operated continually until Hofmann closed them in 1958 in order to paint full-time. Records of these schools are more substantial, but still quite incomplete. They consist of administrative files containing accreditation records, correspondence, model bookings, inquiries from prospective students, and printed matter about the schools. Financial records are comprised of expense statements and an analysis of income from the 1956 summer session. Student records consist of student ledgers, registration and payment records, and requests for transcripts and recommendations. Miscellaneous items are student artwork and notes. Records postdating the schools' closing are inquiries from prospective students and requests from former students for transcripts or recommendations. Additional letters from former students about matters other than transcripts and recommendations are filed with Correspondence (Series 1).
Writings, circa 1904-1965 (Series 3), are published and unpublished manuscripts by Hans Hofmann and other authors. Hoffman wrote extensively about his philosophy of painting, about himself as a teacher and an artist, and about modern art. Included are manuscripts, drafts, and revisions of Hofmann's book, Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in Gestaltung, circa 1904-[1952?], Search for the Real in the Visual Arts and Other Essays, published in 1948, and The Painter and His Problems-A Manual Dedicated to Painting, 1963. Articles and Essays include the constituent essays of Search for the Real in the Visual Arts and Other Essays and others on theoretical aspects of painting, Alfred Maurer, and Charles W. Hawthorne. Talks and Lectures consist of notes, outlines, and some complete texts of Hofmann's speeches. Miscellaneous Writings are shorter, informative pieces, mostly unpublished. Representative titles include: "I Am Often Asked to Explain My Work," 1946, and "About the Relation of Students and Teachers," undated. Poems by Hofmann include some written to Miz Hofmann. Notes and Lists include notes on specific works of art and lists of paintings for exhibitions, framing, and shipping.
Financial Records, 1927-1966 (Series 4), consist mainly of banking records and tax returns with supporting documentation. There are also statements of assets and liabilities, and a few subject files concerning financial matters such as "House Expenses," "Social Security," and "University of California-Financial Standing With." Additional tax records are among the documents of the Estate of Hans Hofmann (Series 9), and expenses are recorded in his 1932 appointment book (Series 5).
Miscellaneous Records, 1906-1966 (Series 5) include Addresses and Appointment Books. Artifacts are a leather wallet and 6 photogravure blocks. Artwork consists of 4 sketches and block prints of 3 red shapes, one the numeral 5. Included with Biographical Information are birth and marriage certificates, immigration and naturalization papers, wills, Hofmann and Wolfegg family documents, biographical notes and chronologies, and a bibliography of writings on and by Hofmann. Interview Transcripts are of 3 interviews with Hofmann conducted for various purposes. Sales Records include lists of paintings sold through galleries and privately, and a list of prices computed by canvas size.
Photographs, circa 1925-1966 (Series 6) are of People, Events, Places, Works of Art, and Miscellaneous Subjects; also, Oversize Photographs. People include views of Hofmann alone and with Miz, students, and others; Miz Hofmann; Renate Schmitz Hofmann; and the Hofmann family. Also, there are pictures of identified and unidentified individuals and groups. Events recorded are "Forum 49" at Gallery 200, exhibition installations, openings, and ceremonies for honorary degrees awarded Hofmann. Photographs of places include Miz Hofmann's Munich apartment; interior and exterior views of Hofmann's Provincetown house; exterior views of the Provincetown school; Hofmann's New York studio; and unidentified houses and landscapes. Travel pictures are of Italy, Mexico, California [?], and unidentified locations. Photographs of works of art by Hofmann are mainly 35-mm color slides of works completed from 1935 to 1965. There are also photographs of works by other artists and Hofmann students. Teaching materials are photographs of Old Masters paintings, drawings, and Classical sculpture, some marked to indicate line, form, or proportion. Miscellaneous subjects are a dog, cat, and doll; also, a cover design for Search for the Real in the Visual Arts. The oversize photographs include portraits of Hans Hofmann and Miz, and works of art by Hofmann students.
Printed Matter, 1930-1978 (Series 7), contains articles, essays and a letter to the editor by Hans Hofmann; the remaining material by other authors is categorized by type. Exhibition Catalogs and Related Items (mainly announcements and invitations), 1931-1978, undated, are from group and solo shows that featured the work of Hans Hofmann; also, catalogs and announcements of other artists' exhibitions collected by Hofmann. Newspaper clippings and articles from periodicals include reviews, feature articles, articles with brief references to Hofmann or reproductions of his work, and obituaries. Others are on art-related topics and miscellaneous subjects. Miscellaneous printed matter includes a variety of items such as brochures about art courses (not the Hofmann school), reproductions of works by Hofmann and other artists, book prospectuses, and statements. Art Museum: A Center for Cultural Study, a prospectus showing models and drawings of the proposed University Art Museum, Berkeley, notes the location of its Maria and Hans Hofmann Wing. A Scrapbook, 1944-1962, contains clippings, exhibition reviews, and some catalogs, checklists, and invitations. Nineteen books that mention or are about Hofmann are a part of this series.
Hans Hofmann's Library (Series 8) of art books and general literature was acquired with his papers. Inscribed and annotated volumes have been retained. Books about or mentioning Hofmann are among Printed Matter (Series 7). All other books and periodicals (376 items) were transferred to the Library of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.
Estate of Hans Hofmann, 1945-1974 (Series 9), consists of records of Hofmann's attorney and co-executor, Robert Warshaw, and includes correspondence and legal documents concerning taxes, the Provincetown house, and miscellaneous business matters.
Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann, 1962-1967 (Series 10), include notes, correspondence, condolence letters and records regarding Hans Hofmann's funeral, and information about the theft of Hofmann paintings from his Provincetown house in 1966.
Hans Hofmann Documentary Projects, 1944-2011 (Series 11) includes research materials compiled by Tina Dickey concerning Hofmann's students, correspondence as well as primary source and supplementary research materials produced and gathered by Madeline Amgott for two video documentaries on Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Original and edited audiovisual recordings are included in the series, as well as primary source material gathered from a variety of sources.
The Hans Hofmann papers are arranged into 11 series. Correspondence (Series 1), Financial Records (Series 4), and Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann (Series 10) are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Unless noted otherwise, material within each folder is arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1914-1966 (3 linear feet; Box 1-3)
Series 2: School of Fine Arts records, 1915-1965 (2 linear feet; Box 4-5)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1904-1965 (2.5 linear feet; Box 6-8)
Series 4: Financial records, 1927-1966 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)
Series 5: Miscellaneous records, 1906-1966 (0.8 linear feet; Box 9)
Series 6: Photographic materials, circa 1925-1965 (1.5 linear feet; Box 9-10, Box 19, MGP 1)
Series 7: Printed material, 1928-1978 (5.2 linear feet; Box 11-15, Box 20)
Series 8: Hans Hofmann Library (2.5 linear feet; Box 16-18, Box 20)
Series 9: Estate of Hans Hofmann, 1945-1974 (0.5 linear feet; Box 18)
Series 10: Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann, 1962-1967 (0.1 linear feet; Box 18)
Series 11: Hans Hofmann Documentary Projects, 1944-2011 (12.3 linear feet; Box 19, 21-31, FC 32-44)
German-born Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), a leading figure of the 20th century art world, was the first painter to be called an Abstract Expressionist. An esteemed and influential teacher, Hofmann operated his own school in Munich and later in New York City and Provincetown, Mass. He wrote extensively on theoretical aspects of modern art, and about himself as an artist and teacher, and was in demand as a speaker. Hofmann alternated among a variety of styles and techniques throughout his career. Many paintings combine Fauve-inspired color and Cubist structure; influenced by the Surrealist's automatism, much of Hofmann's abstract work often uses poured and spattered paint.
Johann (Hans) Georg Albert Hofmann showed musical and artistic talent as a boy and excelled in the study of science and mathematics. Technical knowledge acquired through working as assistant to the Director of Public Works of the State of Bavaria enabled him, while still a teenager, to invent several mechanical devices. Hofmann attended Moritz Heymann's Munich art school in 1898. Willi Schwarz, one of his teachers during this period, introduced him to Impressionism, and by visiting galleries Hofmann's awareness of contemporary art movements expanded. Schwarz also introduced him to art collector Phillip Freudenberg whose patronage made a move to Paris possible.
Hofmann arrived in Paris in 1904 and began attending evening sketch classes at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie de la Chaumière where Matisse was among his fellow students. During his 10 years in Paris, Hofmann established a close friendship with Robert Delaunay and met Braque, Arthur B. Carles, Léger, Picasso, and Leo Stein. He painted Cubist landscapes, still lifes, and figure studies, and participated in group shows with Neue Sezessions, Berlin, 1908 and 1909. In 1910, the Paul Cassierer Gallery, Berlin, presented Hofmann's first solo exhibition.
When World War I broke out, Hofmann was visiting Germany. War conditions prevented his return to Paris and terminated Freudenberg's financial assistance. Disqualified for military service due to a lung condition, Hofmann decided to earn his living by teaching. The Hans Hofmann Schule für Bildende Kunst in Munich opened in 1915 and was a success from its earliest days. Beginning in 1917, summer courses were offered in locations such as Italy, France, Bavaria, and Dalmatia. After the war, Hofmann's school began to attract American students including Carl Holty, Alfred Jensen, Louise Nevelson, Worth Ryder, Vaclav Vytlacil, and Glenn Wessels.
Hofmann first came to the United States in 1930, when former student Worth Ryder, art department chairman at the University of California, Berkeley, invited him to teach the summer session at Berkeley. He returned to California the following year, teaching a semester at the Chouinard School of Art, Los Angeles, followed by another summer session at Berkeley. Hofmann moved to New York in 1932 because of the political situation at home and at the urging of his wife, who was to remain in Germany until 1939.
While Hofmann served as guest instructor at the Thurn School of Art, Gloucester, Mass., during the summers of 1932 and 1933, his Munich school offered summer sessions taught by Edmund Daniel Kinzinger. Its 1933 prospectus noted, "Mr. Hofmann will probably conduct the summer school personally..." But he did not return, and the school closed in the fall of 1933.
Hofmann taught at Art Students League in the fall of 1932. The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts opened in New York City in the autumn of 1933, operating in several locations before moving to permanent quarters at 52 West 8th Street in 1938. He established the summer school at Provincetown, Mass. in 1934. Firsthand knowledge of Picasso, Matisse, and european modern art trends, along with his theories and the freedom he offered students, made Hofmann a widely admired, influential, and important teacher. Among his students were: Burgoyne Diller, Ray Eames, Helen Frankenthaler, Red Grooms, Harry Holtzman, Allen Kaprow, Lillian Kiesler, Lee Krasner, George McNeil, Irene Rice Pereira, and Richard Stankiewicz. In addition, art critic Clement Greenberg was significantly influenced by Hofmann's lectures on artistic theory. Both schools flourished until Hofmann decided to close them in 1958; after teaching for 43 consecutive years, he wanted to paint full-time.
In his writings, Hofmann expanded on theories regarding form, color, and space developed during his years in Paris. His most important text, Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in Gestaltung, based on notes begun in Paris circa 1904, was written during his second summer at Berkeley, 1931. That same year, Glenn Wessels translated it into English as Creation in Form and Color. Although Hofmann produced additional notes and revisions over the next two decades, the manuscript remains unpublished. Hofmann wrote essays and articles, many of which were published. A collection of Hofmann's writings, Search for the Real and Other Essays, was published in conjunction with his 1948 retrospective exhibition at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Mass., the first solo show of an Abstract Expressionist to be organized by a museum. Other published and unpublished articles, essays, and shorter writings that elucidate his theoretical concerns include: "The Mystification of the Two- and Three-Dimensional in the Visual Arts," 1946; "Pictorial Function of Colours," 1950; "Space Pictorially Realized Through the Intrinsic Faculty of the Colours to Express Volume," 1951; "The Color Problem in Pure painting-Its Creative Origin," 1955; "The Creative Process-Its Physical and Metaphysical Performing," 1956; "Nature as Experience and Its Pictorial Realization," undated; and "Pure Colour Space," undated.
Hofmann's lectures to his own students, and talks presented to art groups and the general public addressed many of the same themes. He gave his first American lecture in 1930 at the University of Minnesota, and presented talks to a variety of groups while in California. Hofmann was a frequent speaker at the Provincetown Art Association, and participated in the "Forum 49" series he helped to organize at Gallery 200 in Provincetown, 1949.
In the last decade of his life, Hofmann produced a large number of paintings. He was represented in the XXX Venice Biennale, 1960, and major retrospective exhibitions were organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957, and the Museum of Modern Art, 1963. In 1963, he made a gift of 45 paintings to the University of California, Berkeley, and funded construction of a wing to house them in the soon-to-be-built University Art Museum. Hans Hofmann died in New York City on Feb. 17, 1966.
1880 -- Hans Hofmann is born in Weissenburg, Bavaria, on 21 March, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann.
1886 -- The family moves to Munich, where Theodor becomes a government official. Hans studies mathematics, science, and music at the gymnasium. He plays the violin, piano and organ and begins to draw.
1896 -- With his father's help, finds a position as assistant to the director of public works of the State of Bavaria. Develops his technical knowledge of mathematics, resulting in several scientific inventions, including an electromagnetic comptometer.
1898 -- Studies with Willi Schwarz at Moritz Heymann's art school in Munich, where he is introduced to Impressionism.
1900 -- Meets Maria (Miz) Wolfegg, his future wife.
1903 -- Through Willi Schwarz, he meets the nephew of a Berlin collector, Philipp Freudenberg, who becomes his patron from 1904-1914 and enables him to live in Paris.
1904 -- Frequents the Café du Dome, a haunt of artists and writers, with Jules Pascin, a friend from Moritz Heymann's school. Miz joins him in Paris. Attends evening sketch class at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi. Meets Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse.
1908 -- Exhibits with the Neue Sezession in Berlin and again in 1909. Miz designs scarves with Sonia Delaunay (then Sonia Uhde).
1910 -- First one-person exhibition held at Paul Cassirer Gallery, Berlin. Meets Robert Delaunay, with whom he designs patterns for Sonia Delaunay's Cubist fashions. During their close friendship, both men develop as colorists.
1914 -- Hans and Miz leave Paris for Corsica so that Hans can regain his health during a bout of what turned out to be tuberculosis. Called to Germany by the illness of his sister Rosa, they are caught on the Tegernsee by the outbreak of World War I.
1915 -- Disqualified for the army due to the after effects of his lung condition, and with the assistance of Freudenberg terminated by the war, Hofmann decides to earn a living teaching. In the spring, he opens the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts at 40 Georgenstrasse, Munich.
1918-29 -- After the war his school becomes known abroad and attracts foreign students such as Worth Ryder, Glenn Wessels, Louise Nevelson, Vaclav Vytlacil, Carl Holty, Alfred Jensen, and Ludwig Sander. Holds summer session at Tegernsee, Bavaria (1922), Ragusa (1924), Capri (1925-1927), St. Tropez (1928-1929). Makes frequent trips to Paris. Has little time to paint but draws continually.
1924 -- Marries Miz Wolfegg on 5 June.
1929 -- A series of his drawings is reproduced by a photographic process known as Lichtdrucke.
1930 -- At the invitation of Worth Ryder, teaches in a summer session at the University of California, Berkeley, where Ryder is chairman of the Department of Art. Returns to Munich for the winter.
1931 -- In the spring, teaches at the Chouinard School of Art, Los Angeles, and again at Berkeley in the summer. Wessels helps him with the first translation of his book Form und Farbe in der Gestaltung, begun in 1904. Exhibits a series of drawings at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, his first show in the United States.
1932 -- Returns to the Chouinard School of Art in the summer. Advised by Miz not to return to Munich because of a growing political hostility to intellectuals, settles in New York. Vaclav Vytlacil helps arrange a teaching position for him at the Art Students League.
1932-33 -- Summer sessions at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts continue in St. Tropez (1932) and Murnau (1933), taught by Edmund Daniel Kinzinger. The school closes in the fall of 1933, and Miz gives up the lease in 1936.
1933 -- Spends the summer as guest instructor at the Thurn School of Art in Gloucester, Mass. In the fall, opens the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts at 444 Madison Avenue in New York. After a prolonged period of drawing, begins to paint again.
1934 -- Upon the expiration of his visa, travels to Bermuda to return with a permanent visa. Opens a summer school in Provincetown, Mass. The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts opens at 137 East 57th Street in New York. In 1936, the Hofmann School moves to 52 West 9th Street.
1938 -- The Hofmann School moves to 52 West 8th Street. A planned European summer session (traveling to Paris, the Cote d'Azure, Italy, and Capri) is called off after Hitler moves into Austria in the Spring. Delivers a lecture series once a month at the school in the winter of 1938-39, which is attend by the vanguard of the New York art world, including Arshile Gorky and Clement Greenberg.
1939 -- Miz Hofmann arrives in America. After a stay in New Orleans, joins her husband in Provincetown. They spend five months each summer in Provincetown and the rest of the year in New York.
1941 -- Becomes an American citizen. Delivers an address at the annual meeting of the American Abstract Artists at the Riverside Museum. One-person exhibition at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans.
1942 -- Hofmann's former student Lee Krasner introduces him to Jackson Pollock.
1944 -- First exhibition in New York at Art of This Century Gallery, arranged by Peggy Guggenheim. "Hans Hofmann, Paintings, 1941-1944" opens at the Arts Club in Chicago and travels on to the Milwaukee Art Institute in January 1945. Howard Putzel includes Hofmann in "Forty American Moderns" at 67 Gallery, New York. He is also included in "Abstract and Surrealist Art in America" at the Mortimer Brandt Gallery, New York (arranged by Sidney Janis in conjunction with publication of Janis's book of the same title).
1947 -- Exhibitions at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, in Pittsburgh, and at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. The Texas show travels to Denton, Tex.; Norman, Okla.; and Memphis, Tenn. Begins to exhibit with the Kootz Gallery in New York. Kootz holds a one-person show of Hofmann's work each year until his death (with the exception of 1948 and 1956).
1948 -- Retrospective exhibition a the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass., in conjunction with publication of his book, Search For the Real and Other Essays.
1949 -- Travels to Paris to attend the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Maeght and visits the studios of Picassso, Braque, Constantin Brancusi, and Joan Miro. Helps Fritz Bultman and Weldon Kees organize Forum 49, a summer series of lectures, panels, and exhibitions at Gallery 200 in Provincetown.
1950 -- Participates in a three-day symposium at Studio 35 in New York with William Baziotes, James Brooks, Willem de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Theodoros Stamos, David Smith, and Bradley Walker Tomlin. Joins the "Irascibles"-a group of Abstract Expressionists-in an open letter protesting the exclusion of the avant-garde from an upcoming exhibition of American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
1951 -- Juries the 60th Annual Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago with Aline Louchheim and Peter Blume.
1954 -- One-person exhibition held at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
1955 -- Designs mosaic murals for the lobby of the new William Kaufmann Building, architect William Lescaze, at 711 Third Avenue, New York. Retrospective held at the Art Alliance in Philadelphia.
1957 -- Retrospective exhibitions held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which then travel to Des Moines, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Utica, and Baltimore.
1958 -- Hofmann ceases teaching to devote himself full time to painting. He moves his studio into the New York and Provincetown schools. Completes a mosaic mural for the exterior of the New York School of Printing (Kelley and Gruzen, architects) at 439 West 49th Street.
1960 -- Represents the United States with Philip Guston, Franz Kline, and Theodore Roszak at the XXX Venice Biennale.
1962 -- Retrospective exhibition opens in Germany at the Frankische Galerie am Marientor, Nuremberg, and travels to the Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and the Kongreilhalle, Berlin. In Munich, Neue Galerie im Kunstlerhaus presents "Oils on Paper, 1961-1962." Awarded an honorary membership in the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Nuremberg and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N. H.
1963 -- Miz Hofmann dies. Retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art organized by William Seitz travels throughout the United States and internationally to locations in South America and Europe, including Stuttgart, Hamburg, and Bielefeld. Signs a historic agreement to donate 45 paintings to the University of California at Berkeley and to fund the construction of a gallery in his honor at the new university museum, then in the planning stage. The exhibition "Hans Hofmann and His Students," organized by the Museum of Modern Art, circulates in the United States and Canada.
1964 -- Awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Serves on the jury for the 1964 Solomon Guggenheim International Award. Becomes a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York. Renate Schmitz inspires the Renate series.
1965 -- Awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Pratt Institute, New York. Marries Renate Schmitz on 14 October.
1966 -- Hans Hofmann dies on 17 February in New York.
The holdings of the Archives of American Art include papers and oral history interviews of many former students and friends of Hofmann; among these collections are correspondence, photographs, reminiscences, writings, and printed items relating to Hofmann and his school. The Lillian Kiesler Papers, 1920s-1990s include records of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. Researchers are advised to conduct a name search in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).
Other Hans Hofmann Papers, 1929-1976 (1.65 linear ft.) are owned by The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (Collection number: BANC MSS 80/27 c). An inventory is available on The Bancroft Library's website at http//www.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/
Monographs and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's Library not directly related to the artist were transferred to the Library of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in 2001. The Library retained relevant volumes, dispersed others to appropriate libraries within the Smithsonian Institution, and made final decisions regarding disposition of any remaining items.
Renate Schmitz Hofmann, widow of the artist, donated to the Archives of American Art 313 35-mm color slides of work by Hans Hofmann in 1974. The remainder of the collection was a gift of the Estate of Hans Hofmann in 1997. Tina Dickey donated her research material in 2000 and 2001 under the auspices of the Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust. In 2006, additional manuscripts, notes, and illustrations for Hofmann's Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in der Gestaltung were received from the Trust. In 2015, the Trust donated additional correspondence, research and video production materials related to two documentaries on Hans Hofmann by Madeline Amgott. 13.0 linear ft. books, exhibition catalogs, and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's library, received with the collection, were transferred to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum-National Portrait Gallery Library.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Hans Hofmann 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. Authotization to quote or reproduce, for purposes of publication, the 1998 May 27 interview of Max Spoerri by Tina Dickey requires written permission from Max Spoerri.
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Study and teaching Search this
Art students -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Hans Hofmann papers, circa 1904-2011, bulk 1945-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
The papers of African American painter William H. Johnson date from 1922 to 1971, with the bulk of the material dating from 1926 to 1956, and measure 1.5 linear feet. The collection documents Johnson's career as an artist in New York and in Europe and his marriage to textile artist Holcha Krake through scattered biographical material, including eight letters regarding the sale and exhibition of his work - one from Langston Hughes and two are from Alonzo Aden of the Barnett Aden Gallery. Also found are exhibition catalogs, news clippings, other printed material, and photographs of Johnson, Krake, and their artwork. One scrapbook contains news clippings, letters, and additional photographs. Another scrapbook contains travel postcards. Also found are a few scattered records and research notes compiled by the Harmon Foundation regarding William H. Johnson.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of African American painter William H. Johnson date from 1922 to 1971, with the bulk of the material dating from 1926 to 1956, and measure 1.5 linear feet. The collection documents Johnson's career as an artist in New York and in Europe and his marriage to textile artist Holcha Krake through scattered biographical material, including eight letters regarding the sale and exhibition of his work. Also found are exhibition catalogs, news clippings, other printed material, and photographs of Johnson, Krake, and their artwork. One scrapbook contains news clippings, letters, and additional photographs. Another scrapbook contains travel postcards. Also found are a few scattered records and research notes compiled by the Harmon Foundation regarding William H. Johnson.
Scattered biographical material includes biographical sketches, a marriage certificate, award certificates from the National Academy of Design, lists of artwork, and the guestbook from Johnson's 1941 exhibition at the Alma Reed Gallery. Also found are eight letters regarding the sale and exhibition of his work, including a letter from Langston Hughes and two letters from Alonzo Aden of the Barnett Aden Gallery.
Printed material consists of exhibition catalogs, U.S. and foreign news clippings, and other materials, primarily published by the Harmon Foundation regarding African American art. Photographs are of Johnson, Johnson with Krake in their studio, Johnson with friends in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and of Johnson's artwork.
The collection includes two scrapbooks, one containing news clippings, exhibition materials, letters from Charles Hawthorne, Edith Halpert, Karl Nierendorf, and others, and photographs of Johnson and his artwork. Additional items from the scrapbook may have became detached at an earlier date and included among the material in other series. The second scrapbook contains Johnson's postcard collection from his travels in Europe.
Also found are scattered records and research material of the Harmon Foundation regarding William H. Johnson consisting of exhibition panels displaying original photographs of Johnson and his artwork, as well as translations and notes concerning the foreign news clippings found in the William H. Johnson papers.
The collection is arranged into 5 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1922-1967 (Box 1, 3; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Printed Material, 1928-1971 (Box 1-3; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Photographs, circa 1923-1940s (Box 2-3; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1920s-1947 (Box 2-4; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Harmon Foundation Research Materials Regarding William H. Johnson, 1950s (Box 2, OV 5; 0.2 linear feet)
William Henry Johnson (1901-1970) was born in Florence, South Carolina, in 1901. He moved to New York City in 1918, and from 1921 to 1926 he attended the National Academy of Design, studying with Charles Hawthorne, and attending Hawthorne's summer school in Provincetown, Massachusetts. As a student he won many awards for his paintings but failed to win a traveling scholarship to Europe. Hawthorne and others believed there may have been some prejudice in this decision and raised money for Johnson to study abroad. From 1926 to 1929 he lived in Paris and southern France. While in Paris he lived and worked in Whistler's old studio and met African American expatriate painter, Henry Ossawa Tanner. He lived briefly in Harlem, New York, in 1930 and exhibited in the Harmon Foundation's exhibition of work by African American artists in which he won the Gold Award for "Distinguished Achievement among Negroes".
In late 1930 Johnson moved to Kerteminde, Denmark, where he married textile artist Holcha Krake whom he had met in Paris. In 1933 they traveled to Germany, France, and Tunisia, which had a great impact on his work. From 1935 to 1938 they lived in various parts of Norway, and Johnson met artist Edvard Munch.
In 1938 Johnson and his wife moved back to New York City. The next year he briefly joined the WPA Federal Art Project as a painting teacher at the Harlem Community Art Center. Johnson had his first solo exhibition in New York at the Alma Reed Gallery in 1941. After Holcha Krake's death in 1944, Johnson began showing signs of mental illness. He lived briefly in Florence, South Carolina, and in 1946 returned to Denmark. He was hospitalized in Norway in 1947 and was then transferred to the Central Islip State Hospital in New York where he spent the next 23 years, until his death in 1970.
In 1956 the Harmon Foundation acquired over a thousand of Johnson's works that were still among his estate. The foundation ceased operations in 1967.
The William H. Johnson papers were originally donated to the National Museum of American Art (Smithsonian American Art Museum) by the Harmon Foundation in 1982. The National Museum of American Art subsequently transferred them to the Archives of American Art in 1982 and 1986.
The bulk of the collection is digitized. Use of material not digitized requires an appointment.
The William H. Johnson 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.