The papers of rubberstamp and artistamp artist, performance artist, collector of mail art, and fine arts librarian John Held, Jr. date from 1947-2018, bulk 1973-2013, and measure 12.9 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, 18 printed diaries, letters received by Held from mail artists around the world, art work consisting of artistamps designed by miscellaneous mail artists, interview transcripts, writings, project and event files, printed material, mail art sent for the Gutai Historical Survey Exhibition held at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2013, and a collection of biographical material presented by Held at a Mail Art Study Day held at the Archives of American Art in 2018.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of rubberstamp and artistamp artist, performance artist, collector of mail art, and fine arts librarian John Held, Jr. date from 1947-2018, bulk 1973-2013, and measure 12.9 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material, 18 printed diaries, letters received by Held from mail artists around the world, art work consisting of artistamps designed by miscellaneous mail artists, interview transcripts, writings, project and event files, printed material, and mail art sent for the Gutai Historical Survey Exhibition held at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2013.
Scattered biographical material consists primarily of miscellanous biographical writings and accounts. Eighteen printed diaries provide very brief descriptions of daily activities and more detailed descriptions of art mail events, conferences, and travel experiences.
Letters comprise the largest and most significant series in the collection. Letters received by John Held, Jr. are from an extensive number of national and international mail artists, including Mark Bloch, Hans Braumüller, Jean Brown, William Gaglione (a.k.a. Picasso Gaglione), Dick Higgins, Ray Johnson, Shozo Shimamoto, Ryosuke Cohen, Michael Leigh, Guglielmo Cavellini, and Rod Summers. There are also scattered letters from Carl Andre and Clement Greenberg, typescripts of letters sent by Held, and a file of letters exchanged with Steve Durland.
There are twelve folders of artistamps, non-official or pseudo-postage stamps designed by miscellaneous participants in the international mail art network.
Transcripts are of interviews conducted by John Held, Jr. with some of the more notable artists involved with the mail art movement including Al Ackerman, John Cage, Ray Johnson, and Allan Kaprow. There are also interviews with John Held, Jr., William (Picasso) Gaglione, and Milan Knizak, including an interview with Held conducted by Ruud Janssen.
Extensive writings by John Held, Jr. consist of catalog essays, miscellaneous essays, bibliographies, miscellaneous box set texts, and miscellaneous typescripts. Project and event files concern miscellaneous projects, tours, lectures, and exhibitions with which John Held, Jr. was involved.
Printed material consists primarily of printouts of Bibliozone issues, a newsletter, exhibition catalogs, and press releases concerning mail art.
The Gutai exhibition project files include printed material related to the 2013 Experimental Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the mid-Winter Burning Sun: Gutai Historical Survey and Contemporary Response held at the San Francisco Art Institute. The bulk of the series consists of mail art created by over 135 artists who were asked to submit work inspired by Gutai and the artist Shozo Shimamoto.
The Mail Art Study Day Material consists of mostly biographical material regarding John Held, presented by him at the Archives of American Art's Mail Art Study Day on November 9, 2018. This assortment of largely printed material (news clippings, invitations, and programs) as well as select correspondence and photographs, each representing a year in the life of the artist, accompanied by a key for around 450 items dating from 1947-2018. They serve to document his career with regard to creating and disseminating Mail Art.
The collection is arranged as 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1990-1999 (5 folders; Box 1)
Series 2: Diaries, 1990-2000 (20 folders; Box 1)
Series 3: Letters, 1973-2008 (7.9 linear feet; Box 1-8, Box 12)
Series 4: Artwork, 1985-2007 (12 folders; Box 8)
Series 5: Interview Transcripts, 1977-1995 (7 folders; Box 8)
Series 6: Writings, 1984-2000 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)
Series 7: Project and Event Files, 1982-2000 (11 folders; Box 8)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1989-2000 (11 folders; Box 8)
Series 9: Gutai Exhibition Project Files, 2012-2013 (Box 9-11, Box 13, OV 14)
Series 10: Mail Art Study Day Materials, 1947-2018 (Box 15)
John Held, Jr. (1947-) of San Francisco, California, is a rubberstamp and artistamp artist, participant in the international mail art network, activist, performance artist, collector of mail art, and a fine arts librarian.
Jonathan Held was born on April 2, 1947. In the mid-1970s he took the name of the early twentieth century illustrator, John Held, Jr., famous for his images of "flapper girls" in the 1920s. This name change was both in tribute to the older artist as well as an expression of Dada.
Earning a Bachelor's Degree in 1969, Held received a Master of Library Science Degree from Syracuse University School of Information Studies in 1972 and expanded his interests toward participating in the international mail art network and assembling one of the largest archives of mail art in the United States. He was mentored by mail artist Ray Johnson, and Jean Brown, a leading participant in Fluxus, whose interest in the Dada and Surrealism movements promoted emerging art forms including mail art, visual poetry, and artists' books.
From 1981 to 1995, Held was a Fine Arts Librarian at the Dallas Public Library. In 1982, he began making artistamps, pseudo-postage stamps used as an art medium, and opened the Modern Realism Gallery and Archive in Dallas, Texas, with his future wife Paula Barber. The gallery sought to preserve the record of contemporary avant-garde cultural activity.
Held published Mail Art: An Annotated Bibliography, a five-hundred page listing of secondary sources on the field in 1991. In 1996, Held moved to San Francisco, California, where he established the Modern Realism Gallery and acted as curator of the Stamp Art Gallery, an exhibition space devoted to rubberstamp and artistamp works.
John Held, Jr. has lectured at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Museum of Fine Arts, Havana; and at the National School of Art, Prague. He participated in international exhibitions and, since 1986, engaged in international performance work, appearing in Japan, Russia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia, as well as in the United States. One of Held's more notable performance creations is the Fake Picabia Brothers, in partnership with artist Picasso Gaglione.
John Held, Jr. lives in San Francisco, California.
John Held donated his papers relating to mail art in 1999, 2008, 2013, and 2018.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Mail artists -- California -- San Francisco Search this
Performance artists -- California -- San Francisco Search this
27 Volumes (approximately 6,900 p.; 1 index v., 29 cm. +)
The collection consists chiefly of hand-written notes made by Southgate on a wide range of postal history topics and related matters, generally on lined or graph paper measuring 25 x 15 cm. or smaller, for keeping in triple-post binders. Some of the notes were made in "Lefax" or other commercially-available notebooks. The collection includes numerous mounted newsclippings, brochures, and excerpted articles from philatelic journals, as well as statistical data, advertisements, copies of correspondence, and diagrams made by Southgate to illustrate plate variations, etc.
Hugh McLellan Southgate (b. Sept. 3, 1871; d. Oct. 23, 1940), a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was an important postage stamp collector and an active member of several philatelic societies. He was a founder and the first president of the Philatelic Plate Number Association (1926-1928), as well as the first president and chairman of the board (1930-1940) of its successor, the Bureau Issues Association (now the United States Stamp Society). He was also an authority on the printing of stamps by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Each leaf containing data has been photocopied from the original notebooks, with the exception of v. 5, which consists entirely of a printed checklist of Bureau of Engraving and Printing precancels and Presidential series for 1938-1940 (an index sheet noting the contents of v. 5 is present, only).
The presence of blank leaves in the original notebooks is noted in the index sheets and the finding aid.
The volumes are numbered 1 through 26, plus a miscellaneous compilation labelled "vol. xl" (or "HMS notebook prelim. no. 1" by G.W. Brett). There is also a separate index volume containing copies of all the index sheets that Brett created to serve as tables of contents for each volume in the collection.
This collection documents Horwitt's major projects from the 1930s to the 1960s.Project files include drawings, sketches, blueprints, correspondence, patents, legal correspondence, clippings, financial reports, and advertisements for Horwitt's projects. Samples of logos and letterheads he designed are included as well. The most thorough documentation pertains to the Braquette, the Cyclometer, the Museum Watch, and the Beta Chair. Drawings, sketches, blueprints, and plans are boxed separately, mostly flat. Interviews with individuals who worked with and knew Horwitt are on audio cassettes, "Recollections of Nathan Horwitt." Two short videos, "The Legend behind the Museum Watch" and "Movado Worldwide Museum" are stored on 3/4 in. video cassettes.
Arranged in six record groups; 1) Project files; 2) Drawings, sketches, and blueprints; 3) Film and video; 4) Photographs and Transparencies; 5) Sound Recordings; and 6) Reference Material.
Industrial designer. Born Romania, 1889. Horwitt studied at City University of New York, New York University, and the Art Students' League, New York. In the 1920s, Horwitt formed his own, short-lived company, Design Engineers, Inc. He served as an advertising copywriter for the pharmaceutical company, E.R. Squibb, after serving in World War II.
Horwitt is best known for his design of a numberless black-face watch that has become known as the "Museum Watch" and was produced by the Movado Watch Company. He also designed the 1930 Beta chair and the Braquette, a frameless picture frame. His innovative designs for timepieces incorporated the classic elements of modern design while retaining some of the traditional elements of telling time, such as the circular face.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Applied Arts Department. Models and prototypes of approximately 25 objects, including models of the Museum Clock, the Cyclox clock, the Braquette, and the Beta Chair.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Drawings and Prints Department. Three drawings of Horwitt's designs for perfume bottles.
Movado Web Page. Information on Horwitt's work for the Movado Watch Company can be found on the company's web site, http://www.movado.ch/nhorwit.html.
Hank Horwitt, the designer's son, gave Cooper-Hewitt all his relevant design materials from his home studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in 1991.
Unrestricted research use onsite by appointment. Permission of staff required to photograph materials.