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Oral history interview with Wallace Putnam, 1982 Aug. 13-20

Interviewee:
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Interviewer:
Berman, Avis, 1949-  Search this
Subject:
Rothko, Mark  Search this
Avery, Milton  Search this
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project  Search this
Topic:
Painters  Search this
Interviews  Search this
Sound recordings  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)11608
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)215643
AAA_collcode_putnam82
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_215643
Additional Online Media:

Milton Avery papers

Creator:
Avery, Milton, 1885-1965  Search this
Names:
Avery, Sally  Search this
Duthuit, Georges, 1891-  Search this
Eilshemius, Louis M. (Louis Michel), 1864-1941  Search this
Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943  Search this
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Extent:
2.8 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Date:
1926-1982
bulk 1950-1982
Summary:
The papers of abstract painter Milton Avery measure 2.8 linear feet and date from 1926 to 1982, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1950 to 1982. Almost the entire collection consists of records of the Milton Avery Trust (2.4 linear feet) maintained by Avery's wife Sally, who served as a trustee. Milton Avery's business and personal correspondence (five folders) contains letters from friends and fellow artists, including a few from George Duthuit, Louis Eilshemius, Marsden Hartley, Wallace Putnam, and Mark Rothko. Also found are scattered writings about Avery, price lists, estate records, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and news clippings.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of abstract painter Milton Avery measure 2.8 linear feet and date from 1926 to 1982, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1950 to 1982. Almost the entire collection consists of business files maintained by Milton Avery's wife Sally as a trustee for the Milton Avery Trust (2.4 linear feet). Milton Avery's business and personal correspondence (five folders) contains letters from friends and fellow artists, including a few from George Duthuit, Louis Eilshemius, Marsden Hartley, Wallace Putnam, and Mark Rothko. Also found are scattered writings about Avery, price lists, estate records, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and news clippings.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 7 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1964, 1975 (Box 1; 1 folder)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1935-1981 (Box 1; 10 folders)

Series 3: Subject Files, 1950-1981 (Box 1-4; 2.4 linear feet)

Series 4: Writings, circa 1951-1979 (Box 4; 5 folders)

Series 5: Financial & Legal Records, 1943-1982 (Box 4; 6 folders)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1926, 1962-1977 (Box 4; 4 folders)

Series 7: Photographs, circa 1970 (Box 4; 1 folder)
Biographical Note:
Milton Avery (1885-1965) was born in Altmar, New York and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. Around 1905 he began attending the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford where he studied life drawing while also working full-time as a factory worker and file clerk. In 1915 he had his first public exhibition and, in 1918, transferred to the School of Art Society in Hartford. In 1924 he met Sally Michel (1905-2003), a student at the Art Students League in New York, and moved to New York City to be closer to her. They married one year later. Around this time Avery also altered his year of birth to 1893, perhaps due to the age difference between him and Sally. After their marriage Sally worked as an illustrator so that Avery could paint full time.

During the early 1920s, Avery's works were traditional figurative and genre subjects, influenced by American Impressionism. By the mid 1920s, with his move to New York, Avery began to simplify his forms and use broader expanses of flat color. Although his paintings became increasingly abstract, he never fully abandoned representational subject matter, painting figure groups, still lifes, landscapes, and seascapes. By the mid-1940s, Avery's work was characterized by a reduction of elements and elimination of detail, filled with an emphasis on arbitrary color.

Avery exhibited in a group show at The Opportunity Gallery in 1928 which also featured Mark Rothko and the two became close friends. He became friends with many other artists including Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, and Marsden Hartley. Avery's color work was an important influence on many younger artists, particularly Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler, and other Color Field painters. The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. was the first museum to purchase one of his paintings in 1929 and to give him his first solo museum exhibition in 1944.

In 1949 Milton Avery suffered a major heart attack and began making monotypes during his recovery. He returned to painting despite periods of ill-health, and his reputation grew rapidly over the next ten years, culminating in a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1960. He also exhibited along with his wife Sally Avery and their daughter, March Avery Cavanaugh (born in 1932), both of whom were also painters. Avery died in 1965 and left behind an oeuvre of paintings that numbers in the thousands. His wife Sally managed his estate and the sale of his works to many major museums, and served as a trustee for the Milton Avery Trust until her death in 2003.
Separated Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming on reels N68-95, N68-115, N69-63, and 2535 including six scrapbooks, a sketchbook, Christmas cards, exhibition catalogs, and photographs. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
The Milton Avery papers were donated in 1968, 1969, and 1982 by his widow Sally Avery, including a few letters previously loaned for microfilming.
Restrictions:
The collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art's website.
Rights:
The Milton Avery 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:
Painting, Abstract  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Citation:
Milton Avery papers, 1926-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.avermilt
See more items in:
Milton Avery papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-avermilt
Additional Online Media:

George Constant papers

Creator:
Constant, George  Search this
Names:
Art Institute of Chicago  Search this
Audubon Artists (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Brooklyn Museum  Search this
Carnegie Institute  Search this
Dayton Art Institute  Search this
Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors  Search this
Ferargil Galleries  Search this
Heckscher Museum  Search this
Lyman Allyn Art Museum  Search this
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Parrish Art Museum  Search this
Spanish Refugee Aid (Organization)  Search this
United States. Works Progress Administration  Search this
Whitney Museum of American Art  Search this
Avery, Milton, 1885-1965  Search this
Avery, Sally  Search this
Burliuk, David, 1882-1967  Search this
Caparn, Rhys, 1909-1997  Search this
Carnell, Julia Shaw Patterson, 1863-1944  Search this
Davidson, Morris, 1898-1979  Search this
Eaton, Charles Warren, 1857-1937  Search this
Gecan, Vilko, 1894-1973  Search this
Kanaga, Consuelo, 1894-  Search this
Landgren, Marchal E.  Search this
Neuberger, Roy R.  Search this
Pach, Walter, 1883-1958  Search this
Perret, Nell, 1916-  Search this
Preston, Georgette  Search this
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Extent:
4.6 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Christmas cards
Photographs
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1912-2007
bulk 1932-1978
Summary:
The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, audio interviews and recorded statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, holiday cards, printed material, an exhibition related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, audio interviews and recorded statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, holiday cards, printed material, an exhibition related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work. A small portion of the correspondence and printed materials are written in Greek.

Biographical material includes artist statements written and recorded by Constant, two audio interview recordings discussing his philosophies on art and his work, inventories of artwork, personal property deeds and legal correspondence, and other miscellaneous material.

Correspondence is predominantly in the form of business and personal letters, postcards, and holiday cards received from family and friends. These include correspondence from Constant's daughter, Georgette Preston, and extended family members. Other frequent personal correspondents include Milton and Sally Avery, Lewis Balamuth, Margaret Brunning, David Burliuk, Nathaniel Burwash, Rhys Caparn, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Phillip Cavanaugh, Morris Davidson, Charles Eaton, Vilko Gecan, Marchal Landgren, Roy Neuberger, Walter Pach, Nell Perret, Constantine Pougialis, Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga, Hi Simons, and Helen Slosberg. Business related correspondents include Audubon Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Ferargil Galleries, Guild Hall, Heckscher Museum, Lyman Allyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Spanish Refugee Appeal, and the Whitney Museum. Other business correspondence related to Constant's work with the WPA are also included in the series.

Printed material includes books and booklets on American and Greek art, including a limited print edition of George Constant by George Constant, clippings and articles reviewing Constant's work, exhibition announcements and catalogs of Constant's shows, periodicals profiling his artwork, and dance and theater related programs that Constant consulted on.

Photographs include black and white prints of Constant and his family and friends in St. Louis, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio, and in and around his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York. The collection also includes photo stills from his 1965 exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum and a comprehensive set of black and white prints, a handful of color prints, and several color slide sheets of Constant's artwork from the 1920s to 1978.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged into 4 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1923-2007 (Box 1; 17 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1930-1979 (Box 1-2; 1.4 linear feet)

Series 3: Printed Material, 1927-2005 (Box 2-3; 2 linear feet)

Series 4: Photographic Material, 1912-1978 (Box 4-6; 1 linear foot)
Biographical/Historical note:
Greek American George Zachary Constant (1892-1978) worked from his studios in Shinnecock Hills, and New York City, New York as a painter and printmaker. A founder and lifelong member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Constant worked for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) during the Depression and early years of World War II, and exhibited regularly at major galleries and museums from the 1920s to 1970s.

Born in Arahova, Greece, Constant was raised by his two uncles after the death of his parents in 1896. In school and at the monestary one of his uncles led, Constant showed an early interest in classical Greek aesthetics. At the age of eighteen, he immigrated to the United States and continued his art studies at Washington University before transferring to the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, Constant taught at the Dayton Art Institute and continued to produce and exhibit his work locally. In 1922, he moved to New York, joined the Society of Independent Painters, and became close friends with Society founder and art critic Walter Pach. During the 1920s, his etchings were shown at the Valentine and Downtown Galleries, and at the New Art Circle of J.B. Neumann, where he presented his first one man gallery show in 1929.

From the 1930s to 1940s, Constant produced prints, watercolors, and oil paintings for the WPA, many of which were purchased by museums and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum. During this same period, Constant exhibited his work at the Boyer Gallery in the late 1930s, and at the Ferargil Gallery from the 1940s to early 1950s. In the decade between 1955 and 1965, Constant also worked on color and set design for seventeen dance productions created by the choreographer Alwin Nikolais. In the last two decades of his career, Constant produced works from his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York and continued to exhibit at numerous galleries, including Grace Borgenicht Gallery, Guild Hall, Mari Galleries, Tirca Karlis Gallery, and Artium Gallery.
Provenance:
The papers of George Constant were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1978. Additional materials were donated in 2001 and 2007 by his daughter Georgette Preston.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The George Constant 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:
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Printmakers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Christmas cards
Photographs
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.consgeor
See more items in:
George Constant papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-consgeor

Wallace Putnam papers, 1914-1983

Creator:
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Subject:
Avery, Milton  Search this
Still, Clyfford E.  Search this
Rothko, Mark  Search this
Birnbaum, Abe  Search this
Stieglitz, Alfred  Search this
Topic:
Sketches  Search this
Painters  Search this
Painting, Modern  Search this
Medals  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Works of art  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)5724
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)208562
AAA_collcode_putnwall
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_208562

Nina Howell Starr papers

Creator:
Starr, Nina Howell  Search this
Names:
International Women's Art Festival  Search this
Museum of American Folk Art  Search this
Photographic Historical Society of New York  Search this
Professional Women's Photographers, Inc.  Search this
Sharon Arts Center  Search this
Southern Regional Council  Search this
Brandt, Helene, 1936-  Search this
Cohen, Stephenie  Search this
Coke, Van Deren, 1921-  Search this
Connor, Linda  Search this
Daitz, Evelyne Z.  Search this
DiSpirito, Henry, 1898-1995  Search this
Evans, Minnie, 1892-  Search this
Evans, Walker, 1903-1975  Search this
Ghent, Henri, 1926-  Search this
Kanaga, Consuelo, 1894-  Search this
Kernan, Margo, 1927-  Search this
Kruger, Louise, 1924-  Search this
Lippard, Lucy R.  Search this
Macdonald-Wright, Stanton, 1890-1973  Search this
Mainardi, Patricia  Search this
Morgan, Barbara Brooks, 1900-  Search this
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Ringgold, Faith  Search this
Rose, Ruth Starr, 1887-1965  Search this
Savage, Naomi, 1927-2005  Search this
Sherwood, Maggie, 1922-1984  Search this
Siskind, Aaron  Search this
Strand, Paul, 1890-1976  Search this
Szarwarski, John  Search this
Uelsmann, Jerry, 1934-  Search this
Extent:
21.2 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Interviews
Drawings
Sketches
Transcripts
Sound recordings
Prints
Date:
circa 1933-1996
Summary:
The papers of photographer and art historian Nina Howell Starr measure 21.2 linear feet and date from circa 1933 to 1996. The papers contain research files about various art historical topics, museums and galleries, photography, and artists. There are extensive files documenting Starr's relationship as researcher, dealer, and friend of folk painter Minnie Evans. Additionally, the papers include biographical materials, writings, speeches, project files, printed material collected or authored by Starr, and hundreds of artistic and documentary photographs and negatives created by Starr depicting her travels, Minnie Evans' paintings, roadside folk art, and other topics.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of photographer and art historian Nina Howell Starr measure 21.2 linear feet and date from circa 1933 to 1996. The papers contain research files about various art historical topics, museums and galleries, photography, and artists. There are extensive files documenting Starr's relationship as researcher, dealer, and friend of folk painter Minnie Evans. Additionally, the papers include biographical materials, writings, speeches, project files, printed material collected or authored by Starr, and hundreds of artistic and documentary photographs and negatives created by Starr depicting her travels, Minnie Evans' paintings, roadside folk art, and other topics.

Biographical materials are scattered and include grant and publication applications, curriculum vitae, lists of artwork, and miscellany.

Starr's lectures, writings, and project files are arranged into one series. They include Starr's student writings, a notebook about Civil Rights, files documenting her work on a Florida public housing project, the Southern Regional Council, and the League of Women Voters. A few files of general writings and lectures mostly concern folk artist Minnie Evans and the exhibition Women Photograph Men, held at the International Women's Arts Festival in 1976.

Subject files on artists, art history topics, photographers and photography (including Starr's work), and on folk artist and friend Minne Evans comprise the bulk of the collection. The files are a mix of collated materials and primary sources created by Starr and others and many contain correspondence, notes, photographs, and a few sketches and orginal prints. Also included are materials related to professional and organizational groups in which Starr was involved, including the Professional Women's Photographers, Inc., the Photographic Historical Society of New York, and the Museum of American Folk Art; files on several of Starr's exhibitions; and files on artists that contain printed materials, correspondence, and photographs. The file on Ruth Starr Rose contains prints and drawings. There are also photographs taken by Stephanie Cohen. Particularly rich files are found for Stephanie Cohen; Van Deren Coke, Director of the George Eastman Company; Evelyn Daitz, Director of the Witkin Gallery; Henry DiSpirito; Walker Evans; the Fotofolio printing company; curator Henri Ghent; photographer Consuelo Kanaga and husband Wallace Putnam; Margot Starr Kernan; Lucy Lippard; Stanton Mac-Donald Wright; Sharon Arts Center; photographer Paul Strand; curator John Szarwarski; and photographer Jerry Uelsman.

The collection also documents the friendship between painter Minnie Evans and Starr, and Starr's business dealings on Evans' behalf. There is correspondence about and with Evans, several sound recordings of interviews conducted by Starr and others with Evans, many with transcripts, financial documents, publications about Evans including exhibition catalogs, clippings, journal articles and monographs, two posters, a scrapbook, and one sketch by Evans.

Printed material includes published articles, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and clippings about Starr.

Photographic materials are extensive and include photographs and slides taken by Starr of friends, family, artwork by Minnie Evans, events, exhibition openings, world travels, and folk art, especially roadside. Prominent artists and art historians photographed include: photographers Maggie Sherwood, Naomi Savage, Barbara Morgan, Linda Connor, Aaron Siskind, Consuelo Kanaga, Faith Ringgold, and Walker Evans; sculptors Louise Kruger and Helene Brandt; feminist and art historian Pat Mainardi; and curators Henri Ghent and John Szarkowski. Starr's artistic photographic work is also represented, and includes two silver gelatin prints of Minnie Evans, and subject studies on hands, people, and nature, among others.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 6 series.

Series 1: Biographical material, 1954-circa 1990 (8 folders; Box 1)

Series 2: Writings, Speeches and Projects, 1933-1995 (1.1 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)

Series 3: Subject Files, circa 1939-1996 (8.3 linear feet; Boxes 2-10)

Series 4: Minnie Evans, 1962-1996 (3.7 linear feet; Boxes 10-13, 23, OV 24)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1936-1995 (2.7 linear feet; Boxes 13-16, 23)

Series 6: Photographic Material, circa 1939-1993 (5.4 linear feet; Boxes 16-23, OV 24)
Biographical / Historical:
Nina Howell Starr (1903-2000) was a photographer, art dealer, and art historian who worked primarily in New York City. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1903 as Cornelia Margaret Howell, Starr attended Wellesley College and graduated from Barnard in 1926. Also in 1926, she married Nathan Comfort Starr, an English professor, and, over the years the couple lived in Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and New York City.

In 1963, at the age of 60, Starr received the first M.F.A. in photography granted by the University of Florida. Starr exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions, including Magic Lantern (Photographer's Gallery, London, 1976), and the Strength of Women (Witken Gallery, 1991), and numerous shows featuring photographs of outsider art. Her "New Yorker" project became an exhibition in 2016. Her work is owned by several prominent museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography.

As art historian, self-proclaimed critic, and civil rights and feminist advocate, Starr lectured widely, wrote articles and letters to editors, and corresponded with many notable art world figures. She became especially interested in outsider and folk art. Starr met outsider artist Minnie Evans in 1962 and became Evans' lifelong friend, advocate, and representative dealer. She wrote about Evans and introduced Evans' works to galleries and other exhibition spaces in New York, including the Whitney Museum, where she guest-curated an exhibition of Evans' work in 1975.

Starr was an active member of professional organizations including the Photographic Historical Society of New York, Professional Women's Photographers, Inc., and the Museum of American Folk Art where she served on the Advisory Committee.

Nina Howell Starr died in 2000 in Connecticut at the age of 97.
Provenance:
The Nina Howell Starr papers were donated by Nina Howell Starr in 1996.
Restrictions:
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.
Rights:
The Nina Howell Starr 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:
Folk art -- United States  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Art historians -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
African American art  Search this
Folk art -- Photographs  Search this
Women photographers  Search this
Photography  Search this
Photographers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Interviews
Drawings
Sketches
Transcripts
Sound recordings
Prints
Citation:
Nina Howell Starr papers, circa 1933-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.starnina
See more items in:
Nina Howell Starr papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-starnina
Additional Online Media:

One Against White Spashes, (painting)

Painter:
Putnam, Wallace 1899-1989  Search this
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Type:
Paintings
Owner/Location:
State University of New York at Purchase Neuberger Museum 735 Anderson Hill Road Purchase New York 10577
Date:
1959
Topic:
Abstract  Search this
Control number:
IAP 66250057
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_422323

Two Against Foggy Light, (painting)

Painter:
Putnam, Wallace 1899-1989  Search this
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Type:
Paintings
Owner/Location:
State University of New York at Purchase Neuberger Museum 735 Anderson Hill Road Purchase New York 10577
Date:
1959
Topic:
Abstract  Search this
Control number:
IAP 66250058
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_422324

Two Together, (painting)

Painter:
Putnam, Wallace 1899-1989  Search this
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Type:
Paintings
Owner/Location:
State University of New York at Purchase Neuberger Museum 735 Anderson Hill Road Purchase New York 10577
Date:
1959
Topic:
Abstract  Search this
Control number:
IAP 66250059
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_422325

Sheep in Fog, (painting)

Painter:
Putnam, Wallace 1899-1989  Search this
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Type:
Paintings
Owner/Location:
Yale University Art Gallery 1111 Chapel Street New Haven Connecticut 06520 Accession Number: 1949.84
Topic:
Landscape--Weather--Fog  Search this
Animal--Sheep  Search this
Control number:
IAP 07262371
Data Source:
Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_ari_425292

Katharine Kuh papers

Creator:
Kuh, Katharine  Search this
Names:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery  Search this
Art Institute of Chicago -- Faculty  Search this
Biennale di Venezia  Search this
Katharine Kuh Gallery (Chicago, Ill.)  Search this
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Albright, Ivan, 1897-1983  Search this
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964  Search this
Arensberg, Louise S. (Louise Stevenson), 1879-1953  Search this
Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954  Search this
Arp, Jean, 1887-1966  Search this
Barnet, Will, 1911-  Search this
Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 1902-1981  Search this
Biddle, George, 1885-1973  Search this
Breuer, Marcel, 1902-  Search this
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976  Search this
Campoli, Cosmo  Search this
Chagall, Marc, 1887-  Search this
Chavez Morado, José, 1909-2002  Search this
Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-  Search this
Cornell, Joseph  Search this
Cox, Richard  Search this
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964  Search this
Day, Worden, 1916-1986  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-  Search this
Dickinson, Edwin Walter, 1891-  Search this
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926-  Search this
Ernst, Jimmy, 1920-1984  Search this
Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997  Search this
Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978  Search this
Friendly, Fred W.  Search this
Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966  Search this
Golub, Leon, 1922-2004  Search this
Goto, Joseph, 1920-  Search this
Grabe, Klaus  Search this
Graves, Robert, 1895-1985  Search this
Guggenheim, Peggy, 1898-  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Hare, David, 1917-  Search this
Hare, Denise Browne  Search this
Hayter, Stanley William, 1901-1988  Search this
Hirshhorn, Joseph  Search this
Hofmann, Hans, 1880-1966  Search this
Hélion, Jean, 1904-1987  Search this
Inverarity, Robert Bruce, 1909-1999  Search this
Johns, Jasper, 1930-  Search this
Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005  Search this
Johnson, Ray, 1927-  Search this
Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944  Search this
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001  Search this
Kepes, Juliet  Search this
Klee, Paul, 1879-1940  Search this
Kline, Franz, 1910-1962  Search this
Knox, Seymour H., 1898-1990  Search this
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965  Search this
Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999  Search this
Lye, Len, 1901-1980  Search this
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955  Search this
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969  Search this
Millier, Arthur, 1893-  Search this
Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946  Search this
Motherwell, Robert  Search this
Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984  Search this
Nutting, Muriel Leone Tyler, b. 1892  Search this
Nutting, Myron Chester, 1890-1972  Search this
O'Higgins, Pablo, 1904-  Search this
Orozco, José Clemente, 1883-1949  Search this
Ozbekhan, Hasan, 1921-2007  Search this
Perkins, Frances  Search this
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973  Search this
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Ray, Man, 1890-1976  Search this
Rich, Daniel Catton, 1904-1976  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Sandberg, Carl  Search this
Seligmann, Kurt, 1900-1962  Search this
Shackelford, Shelby  Search this
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Spaeth, Otto, d. 1966  Search this
Sterne, Hedda, 1916-  Search this
Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-  Search this
Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012  Search this
Tobey, Mark  Search this
Winston, Harry Lewis  Search this
Woolf, Olga  Search this
Young, Victor  Search this
Photographer:
Pollack, Peter, 1909-1978  Search this
Extent:
12 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Illustrated letters
Resumes
Travel diaries
Minutes
Calendars
Visitors' books
Photographs
Paintings
Awards
Drawings
Sound recordings
Collages
Scrapbooks
Lithographs
Prints
Wills
Watercolors
Poetry
Lecture notes
Lectures
Sales records
Date:
1875-1994
bulk 1930-1994
Summary:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. The collection documents Kuh's career as a pioneer modernist art historian and as the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.

Biographical material consists of copies of Kuh's birth certificate, resumés, passports, award certificates, honorary diplomas, and address books listing information about several prominent artists and colleagues.

Four linear feet of correspondence offers excellent documentation of Kuh's interest in art history, her travels, her career at the Art Institute of Chicago, her work as a corporate art advisor, and as an author. There are letters from her mother Olga Woolf, friends, and colleagues. There is extensive correspondence with various staff members of the Art Institute of Chicago, the First National Bank of Chicago, and The Saturday Review. Also of interest are letters from artists and collectors, several of whom became life-long friends including Walter and Louise Arensberg, Cosmo Campoli, Serge Chermayeff, Richard Cox, Worden Day, Claire Falkenstein, Fred Friendly, Leon Golub, Joseph Goto, David Hare, Denise Brown Hare, Jean Hélion, Ray Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Len Lye, Wallace Putnam, Kurt Seligmann, Shelby Shackelford, Hedda Sterne, and Clyfford Still. Many letters are illustrated with original artwork in various media.

There are also scattered letters from various artists and other prominent individuals including Josef Albers, George Biddle, Marcel Breuer, Joseph Cornell, Stuart Davis, Edwin Dickinson, Joseph Hirshhorn, Daniel Catton Rich, and Dorothea Tanning.

Personal business records include a list of artwork, Olga Woolf's will, inventories of Kuh's personal art collection, miscellaneous contracts and deeds of gift, receipts for the sale of artwork, files concerning business-related travel, and miscellaneous receipts.

Artwork in the collection represents a wide range of artist friends and media, such as drawings, watercolors, paintings, collages, and prints. Included are works by various artists including lithographs by David Hare and a watercolor set, Technics and Creativity, designed and autographed by Jasper Johns for the Museum of Modern Art, 1970.

Notes and writings include annotated engagement calendars, travel journals for Germany, a guest book for the Kuh Memorial gathering, and many writings and notes by Kuh for lectures and articles concerning art history topics. Of interest are minutes/notes from meetings for art festivals, conferences, and the "Conversations with Artists Program (1961). Also found are writings by others about Kuh and other art history topics.

Six scrapbooks contain clippings that document the height of Kuh's career as a gallery director and museum curator. Scrapbook 6 contains clippings about Fernand Léger, the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953.

Additional printed material includes clippings about Kuh and her interests, a comprehensive collection of clippings of Kuh's articles for The Saturday Review, exhibition announcements and catalogs, calendars of events, programs, brochures, books including Poems by Kuh as a child, and reproductions of artwork. Of particular interest are the early and exhibition catalogs from the Katharine Kuh Gallery, and rare catalogs for artists including Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Stanley William Hayter, Hans Hofmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Kline, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Pablo Picasso.

Photographs provide important documentation of the life and career of Katharine Kuh and are of Kuh, family members, friends, colleagues, events, residences, and artwork. Several of the photographs of Kuh were taken by Will Barnet and Marcel Breuer and there is a notable pair of photo booth portraits of Kuh and a young Ansel Adams. There are also group photographs showing Angelica Archipenko with Kuh; designer Klaus Grabe; painters José Chavez Morado and Pablo O'Higgins in San Miguel, Mexico; Kuh at the Venice Biennale with friends and colleagues including Peggy Guggenheim, Frances Perkins, Daniel Catton Rich, and Harry Winston; and "The Pre-Depressionists" including Lorser Feitelson, Robert Inverarity, Helen Lundeberg, Arthur Millier, Myron Chester Nutting, and Muriel Tyler Nutting.

Photographs of exhibition installations and openings include views of the Katharine Kuh Gallery; Fernand Léger, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Seymour H. Knox, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. There are also photographs depicting three men posing as Léger's "Three Musicians" and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Art Institute of Chicago. There is a photograph by Peter Pollack of an elk skull used as a model by Georgia O'Keeffe.

Additional photographs of friends and colleagues include Ivan Albright, Alfred Barr, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem De Kooning, Edwin Dickinson, Marcel Duchamp, Claire Falkenstein, Alberto Giacometti, poet Robert Graves with Len Lye, Philip Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Carlos Mérida, José Orozco, Hasan Ozbekhan, Pablo Picasso, Carl Sandberg, Ben Shahn, Otto Spaeth, Hedda Sterne, Adlai Stevenson, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey, and composer Victor Young.

Photographs of artwork include totem poles in Alaska; work by various artists including Claire Falkenstein, Paul Klee, and Hedda Sterne; and work donated to the Guggenheim Museum.

Four audio recordings on cassette are of Katharine Kuh's lectures, including one about assembling corporate collections, and of Daniel Catton Rich reading his own poetry. There is also a recording of the Second Annual Dialogue between Broadcasters and Museum Educators.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 9 series. Undated correspondence, artwork, and photographs of individual artists are arranged alphabetically. Otherwise, each series is arranged chronologically.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1945-1992 (Box 1; 16 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1908-1994 (Boxes 1-5, 13-14, OV 15; 4.0 linear feet)

Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1941-1989 (Box 5; 19 folders)

Series 4: Artwork, 1931-1986 (Boxes 5, 13-14, OVs 15-23; 1.7 linear feet)

Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1914-1994 (Boxes 5-7; 1.7 linear feet)

Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1935-1953 (Box 7; 8 folders)

Series 7: Printed Material, 1916-1992 (Boxes 7-10, 13, OV 22; 3.0 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, 1875-1993 (Boxes 10-13; 1.2 linear feet)

Series 9: Audio Recordings, 1977 (Box 12; 1 folder)
Biographical Note:
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) worked primarily in the Chicago area as an modern art historian, dealer, critic, curator, writer, and consultant. She operated the Katharine Kuh Gallery from 1935-1943 and was the first woman curator of European and Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Katharine Kuh (née Woolf) was born on July 15, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of the three daughters of Olga Weiner and Morris Woolf, a silk importer. In 1909, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois. While traveling with her family in Europe in 1914, Katharine contracted polio, causing her to spend the next decade in a body brace. During this time of restricted movement, she developed an interest in art history through the collecting of old master prints.

After her recovery, Katharine Woolf attended Vassar College where one of her professors, Alfred Barr, encouraged her to study modern art. She graduated from Vassar in 1925 and received a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago in 1929. Later that year, she moved to New York to pursue a Ph.D. in Renaissance and medieval art at New York University.

In 1930, Katharine Woolf returned to Chicago and married businessman George Kuh and began to teach art history courses in the suburbs of Chicago. After divorcing George Kuh in 1935, she opened the Katharine Kuh Gallery, the first gallery devoted to avant-garde art in Chicago. It was also the first gallery to exhibit photography and typographical design as art forms, and featured the work of Ansel Adams, Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, and Man Ray, among others. From 1938 to1940, Kuh was the Visiting Professor of Art at the University School of Fine Arts, San Miguel, Mexico.

After the Katharine Kuh Gallery closed in 1943, Kuh was hired by museum director Daniel Catton Rich to fill a position in public relations at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the following years, Kuh edited the museum's Quarterly publication, took charge of the museum's Gallery of Interpretive Art, and began a long term relationship with Rich. In 1946, Kuh was sent on a special mission for the U. S. Office of Indian Affairs to make a detailed study of Native American totemic carvings in Alaska.

In 1949, Kuh persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Walter Arensberg of Los Angeles to exhibit their collection of modern art, creating the first post-war exhibition of modern art in Chicago. She published her first book Art Has Many Faces in 1951, and in the following year, she began writing art criticism for The Saturday Review. In 1954, Kuh was appointed the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute. She assembled the American contribution for the Venice Biennale in 1956 and during these years, Kuh helped acquire many of the works of modern art currently in the museum's collection.

A year following Daniel Catton Rich's 1958 resignation from the Art Institute of Chicago, Kuh also resigned and pursued a career in New York as an art collection advisor, most notably for the First National Bank of Chicago. In 1959, Kuh was made art critic for The Saturday Review, and she continued to publish books, including The Artist's Voice in 1962, Break-Up: The Core of Modern Art in 1965, and The Open Eye: In Pursuit of Art in 1971.

Katharine Kuh died on January 10, 1994 in New York City.
Provenance:
The Katharine Kuh papers were donated in several installments from 1971 to 1989 by Katharine Kuh and in 1994 by her estate. Artwork was donated in 1995 by Kuh's former employer, the Art Institute of Chicago.
Restrictions:
Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission until 2019. Contact the Archives of American Art Reference Services department for additional information.
Rights:
The Katharine Kuh 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:
Art, Abstract -- United States  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Art festivals  Search this
Women museum curators -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Authors -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Art galleries, Commercial -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art historians -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art dealers -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Women art critics -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Genre/Form:
Illustrated letters
Resumes
Travel diaries
Minutes
Calendars
Visitors' books
Photographs
Paintings
Awards
Drawings
Sound recordings
Collages
Scrapbooks
Lithographs
Prints
Wills
Watercolors
Poetry
Lecture notes
Lectures
Sales records
Citation:
Katharine Kuh papers, 1875-1994, bulk 1930-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.kuhkath
See more items in:
Katharine Kuh papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-kuhkath

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