The papers of California ceramicist Beatrice Wood measure 26.6 linear feet and date from 1906 to 1998, with the bulk dating from 1930-1990. There is extensive correspondence with gallery owners, fellow artists, clients, friends, and family. The collection also contains biograpical materials, personal business records, writings, printed materials, photographs, and works of art. Of particular interest are the 28 diaries that Wood maintained from 1916 until her death in 1998 and 42 glazing formula notebooks dating from 1934-1997. Also found are documents of Steven Hoag and Esther Rosencranz, her husband and aunt respectively, that consist of correspondence, business records, and photographs given to the Archives of American Art as part of the Beatrice Wood papers.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of California ceramicist Beatrice Wood measure 26.6 linear feet and date from 1906 to 1998, with the bulk dating from 1930-1990. There is extensive correspondence with gallery owners, fellow artists, clients, friends, and family. The collection also contains biographical materials, personal business records, writings, printed materials, photographs, and works of art. Of particular interest are the 28 diaries that Wood maintained from 1916 until her death in 1998 and 42 glazing formula notebooks dating from 1934-1997. Also found are documents of Steven Hoag and Esther Rosencranz, her husband and aunt respectively, that consist of correspondence, business records, and photographs given to the Archives of American Art as part of the Beatrice Wood papers.
Biographical material contains certificates, licenses, degrees, legal documents, and extensive interview transcripts, which describe her philosophy on art and her development as a ceramic artist.
Correspondence is particularly rich in documenting Wood's passion and dedication to her work as a writer and artist. The records reflect Wood's close professional and personal relationships with many friends and colleagues, including Henri-Pierre Roche, Marcel Duchamp, Anais Nin, Elizabeth Hapgood, and Walter and Lou Arensberg. Additional correspondence with editors and publishers is also included. Wood enjoyed illustrating her letters, as did many of her correspondents.
Personal business records include financial material, sales and consignment records, and correspondence with gallery owners, including Garth Clark Gallery, John Waller Gallery, and Zachary Waller Gallery.
Notes and writings extensively document Wood's second career as a writer. Edited drafts of her monographs and short stories are available, as well as her journal writings and notes. Drafts of I Shock Myself: The Autobiography of Beatrice Wood, Angel Who Wore Black Tights, 33rd Wife of a Maharajah, among others are included. Also found here are the illustrations that Wood created for her monographs. She often did a series of drawings for each illustration and these copies are included as well.
Twenty-eight detailed diaries contain information about studio sales, clients, and the economic uncertainties of being a self-employed artist. The diaries, arranged in one-year and five-year volumes, begin in 1916 and end just a few days before her death in 1998.
Forty-two glaze books record the formulas for the pottery glazes Wood developed throughout her career.
Printed material includes copies of Wood's published monographs as well as exhibition announcements and brochures. Also found are clippings about Wood, including numerous articles about her trips to India.
Photographic material includes photographs and slides of Wood, her friends, travels, and other events. Many of the photographs are identified by Wood.
Artwork includes original sketches, drawings, watercolors, lithographs and designs by Wood. The original illustrations from her books are included in this series.
The last two series contain records generated by her husband, Stephen Hoag and her maternal aunt, Esther Rosencrantz. Wood was married to Hoag from 1937 until his death in 1960. The bulk of the material contains Hoag's financial records, mostly receipts, from his early years as a engineer in the Pacific Northwest. Esther Rosencranz, a physician in San Francisco, collected book plates that are included in this series.
The collection is arranged as 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1924-1993 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1910-1998 (Box 1-8; 7.7 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1909-1988 (Box 9-11, 26, OV 31; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Notes and Writings, circa 1912-1997 (Box 11-16, 27; 5.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Diaries, 1915-1998 (Box 17-20; 4 linear feet)
Series 6: Glaze Books, circa 1930-1997 (Box 21-22, 27-30; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1940-1997 (Box 23, OV 31; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographic Material, 1913-1997 (Box 24, 30; 1 linear foot)
Series 9: Artwork, 1917-1991 (Box 24-25, 30; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 10: Stephen Hoag papers, 1906-1960 (Box 25; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 11: Esther Rosencranz papers, 1894-1959 (Box 25; 0.1 linear feet)
Beatrice Wood (1893-1998) was a ceramicist, painter, and writer who relocated to Ojai, California in 1948.
Beatrice Wood was born on March 3, 1893 in San Francisco to socially prominent and wealthy parents. In the late 1890s, the family moved to New York City where Wood was expected to begin the process of "coming out" in New York society. This process included boarding schools, a convent school in Paris, and frequent summer trips to Europe where she was exposed to museums, galleries, and the theater. Wood studied acting and dance in Paris until the outbreak of the war in 1914. She returned to New York and soon joined the company of the French National Repertory Theatre. From 1914 through 1916, Wood played over 60 parts as a stage actress.
In 1917, Wood met the writer Henri Pierre Roche, with whom she had a brief affair and a long friendship. Roche introduced her to the New York world of artists and writers and encouraged her interest in drawing and painting. During a visit to see the composer Edgard Varese in the hospital, Wood met Marcel Duchamp, with whom she had a love affair and who also had a strong influence in her development as an artist. Their long discussions about modern art encouraged Wood to show Duchamp a recent drawing entitled "Marriage of a Friend." Duchamp liked the drawing so much that he published it in Rogue, a magazine partly financed by Walter and Louise Arensberg, friends of Duchamp. The Arensbergs were pioneering collectors of modern art and soon became friends of Wood as well. She became a frequent guest at their evening gatherings, forming friendships with Walter Pach, Francis Picabia, Joseph Stella, Myrna Loy, Galka Scheyer, and others.
Through Duchamp and the Arensbergs, Wood was introduced to the world of the New York Dada. Following the formation of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, Wood exhibited work in their Independents exhibition. Together with Duchamp and Roche, she published a short-lived avant-garde journal, called Blind Man, in which the Alfred Steiglitz photograph of Duchamp's famous ready-made "Fountain" appeared. She also designed the poster for the Dada event, The Blind Man's Ball.
Throughout the 1920s, Wood continued to draw and paint, especially watercolors. Late in 1927, she moved to California to join the Arensbergs, who had been there since 1921. She also developed an interest in clay and took her first ceramics classes with Glen Lukens at the University of Southern California in the late 1930s. In 1940 Wood studied with Otto and Gertrud Natzler, Austrian potters who were known for their technical mastery and ability to throw almost perfectly formed pots. The Natzlers taught her how to throw pots and calculate glaze formulas.
Museums and galleries began to take an interest in her pottery and she held several shows in New York, San Francisco, and Phoenix. Several department stores, including Nieman Marcus and Gumps, also began to feature her pottery. During the 1940s, Wood began making figurative art in addition to more traditional pots. In 1947, for example, she included a large blue fish with white spots in an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science, and Art. As her skills developed, Wood moved to a new home and studio in Ojai, California. By 1950, Wood was experimenting with luster surfaces, pottery with a metallic glaze that gives the effect of iridescence. These lusterware plates, in addition to her decorative figures and traditional ceramics, were sold at her studio, advertised with a sign out front that read "Beatrice Wood: Fine Pottery, Reasonable and Unreasonable."
In 1961, Wood visited India as a cultural ambassador, sponsored by the State Department. She toured the country and showed her work in fourteen cities. She became enamoured with Indian decorative arts and began to weave shimmering gold and silver threads into her palatte. Wood returned a second time in 1965 at the invitation of the Indian government. It was during this trip that she decided to adopt the sari as her style of dress, a style she continued until her death in 1998. She made her third and last trip to India in 1971. Her book, 33rd Wife of a Maharajah is about her adventures in India.
Wood always enjoyed writing, recording her daily activities in a diary and creating stories about her experiences with friends and colleagues. She published her first book, Angel Who Wore Black Tights in 1982, followed by her autobiography, I Shock Myself, in 1985.
Wood considered her last 25 years as her most productive. In addition to her literary publications, Wood also had several successful exhibitions, including Intimate Appeal: The Figurative Art of Beatrice Wood at the Oakland Museum in 1990 and Beatrice Wood: A Centennial Tribute at New York's American Craft Museum in 1997. The film, Beatrice Wood: The Mama of Dada, was filmed on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 1993. She died in Ojai, California in 1998, nine days after her 105th birthday.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Archives of American Art holds two oral history interviews with Beatrice Wood completed by Paul Karlstrom in 1976 and 1992.
Beatrice Wood donated her papers in several accretions between 1976 and 2002. Additional material was donated by Francis Naumann in 1993 and the Beatrice Wood Personal Property Trust in 1999. Material from a 1977 loan was included in Wood's later donations.
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 Beatrice Wood 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.
The papers of printmaker and educator Fred Becker measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1913 to 2004, with the bulk from 1940-2000. The collection documents Becker's work as a professional artist and educator through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings, interviews, personal business records, gallery and exhibition files, project files, photographic material, printed material, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of printmaker and educator Fred Becker measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1913 to 2004, with the bulk from 1940 to 2000. The collection documents Becker's work as a professional artist and educator through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings, interviews, personal business records, gallery and exhibition files, project files, photographic material, printed material, and artwork.
Biographical material includes a birth certificate and announcement, résumés and other biographical writings, as well as memorial materials and obituaries. Also included are letters and photographs concerning Becker's WWII appointment with the Office of War Information in China. Correspondence reflects relationships with colleagues and friends including Stanley William Hayter, Gail Singer, and Mona Van Duyn, professional organizations, museums and galleries, as well as family. The Writings series contains essays and artist statements written by Becker, articles and essays written about Becker by others, and writings by poets Ruthven Todd and Mona Van Duyn. Lectures are featured in written form, as well as audio recordings. Interviews include transcripts and audio and video recordings.
Personal business records include various studio artwork inventories and information regarding artwork donation and sale at auction, in addition to documents related to Becker's role as an art instructor. In the gallery and exhibition files are detailed records of gallery and museum exhibitions, as well as correspondence with specific galleries including the Mary Ryan Gallery. Project files include documentation of various residencies and government art programs Becker participated in, a symposium on Atelier 17, as well as significant bodies of work.
Photographic materials document Becker's artwork, including images of works by fellow artists S.W. Hayter and Paul Burlin. Photograph formats include slides, transparencies, negatives, and black and white prints. Printed material includes exhibition catalogs, clippings and invitations. Also found are various artworks including sketchbooks, loose sketches, prints, and a partial letterpress mock-up of Winter of Artifice, printed by author Anaïs Nin, with various etching illustrations by Ian Hugo.
The collection is arranged in 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1913-2004 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1940s-2001 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1940s-1993 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 4: Interviews, circa 1976-2004 (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1939-1990s (0.1 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 6: Exhibition and Gallery Records, circa 1950-2002 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 7: Project Files, circa 1957-1993 (0.1 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1930s-1999 (0.3 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 9: Printed Material, circa 1930s-2002 (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)
Series 10: Artwork, circa 1940-1989 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 3-4)
Biographical / Historical:
Fred Becker (1913-2004) was a printmaker and art educator in Amherst, Massachusetts. Becker was born in 1913 in Oakland, California. He attended New York University beginning in 1933, where he enrolled in architecture coursework before focusing on printmaking and drawing. Becker was employed by the Works Progress Administration from 1935 to 1939. His early work of this period often incorporated nightclub scenes depicting jazz musicians. In 1940, Becker was one of the first students to enroll in classes at the New York iteration of Atelier 17, led by printmaker Stanley William Hayter. There Becker engaged with more abstract forms in his art-making, and arrived at an expressionist style by the 1950s. He served in the China Division of the United States Office of War Information (OWI) from 1945 to 1946.
Becker taught at the Tayler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, from 1946 to 1948; at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1948 to 1968; and at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst from 1968 until his retirement in 1986. University of Massachusetts, Amherst's Herter Gallery was the site of his retrospective in 1999. Becker and his wife, painter Jean Morrison (1917-1995), had two children Carla and Anton. Fred Becker exhibited widely in print annuals and solo shows, as well as in the context of his participation in the Works Progress Administration and Atelier 17, New York. His prints are represented in a number of museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
The Fred Becker papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2018 by Becker's daughter Carla Becker.
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 Fred Becker 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.