The papers of sculptor and painter Fletcher Benton measure 8.2 linear feet and 1.47 GB and date from 1934 to 2014. They document his career as a sculptor with international presence through certificates, personal photographs, legal papers, correspondence, exhibition and commission documentation, clippings, exhibition-related printed materials, broadcast materials, publications about his work, an editioned kinetic Christmas card, and photographs, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film documenting his work and career.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of sculptor and painter Fletcher Benton measure 8.2 linear feet and 1.47 GB and date from 1934 to 2014. They document his career through personal photographs, legal papers, correspondence, exhibition and commission documentation, clippings, exhibition-related printed materials, broadcast materials, publications about his work, an editioned kinetic Christmas card, photographs, sound and video recordings motion picture film, some of which also appears in digitized form.
Biographical Materials include personal photographs, legal documents related to a court case with book designer Ed Marquand, biographical texts, interview transcripts, and a home video made by the artist. Correspondence is with other artists, friends, galleries, museums and other institutions, including George W. Neubert, André Emmerich Gallery, Pieter Sanders, Pol Bury, George Rickey, Ulfert Wilke, Marlene Louchheim, DeWain Valentine, Lillian E. Jones, and Edward Lucie-Smith. Interviews include sound recordings of interviews with Benton by academics and journalists, including Edward Lucie-Smith, Dan Tooker, and Dan De Wilde.
Exhibition and Commission Files consist of correspondence with galleries, museums and commission patrons; financial records; shipping and subcontracting documentation; motion picture film, video, and sound recordings related to exhibitions and installations; and planning and design materials. Series includes a significant amount of oversized drawings and plans for site-specific work. There is a large volume documentation from the Folded Circle-Arc commission by Stanley Consultants, Inc. in Muscatine, Iowa; the California/International Arts Foundation Traveling Sculpture Exhibition; Double Folded Circle Ring in Brussels and Double Circle Folded by Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Printed Materials include news clippings related to Benton's career, as well as brochures, exhibition catalogs, posters and other printed materials related to exhibitions and commissions. Broadcast materials include television news footage, radio and television interviews, documentaries, and promotional materials made by galleries and other cultural institutions.
Photographic and Moving Image Materials include art-related images showing Benton in his studio and images of exhibitions, installations and inaugurations. Also found are still photographs and motion picture films of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and kinetic drawings, and a series of photographs of sculptures taken by David Finn.
Artwork consists of an editioned art Christmas card created by Benton for Galeria Bonino in New York from 1969. An American Artist Moving Image Materials consist of 13 videocassettes (VHS) which document the production process of the documentaryFletcher Benton: An American Artist by Morgan Cavett. There is footage from interviews with Benton and with curator George W. Neubert, footage of San Francisco with comments from Benton about his time there, interviews with the artist's studio assistants, images of his studio in Dore street and a couple of almost finished rough versions of the documentary.
This collection is arranged as nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Material (0.3 linear feet; boxes 1, 9)
Series 2: Correspondence (1 linear foot; boxes 1, 2, OV 10)
Series 3: Interviews (0.3 linear feet; box 2)
Series 4: Exhibition and Commission Files (2 linear feet, 0.50 GB; boxes 2-4, OV 11-13, RD 14, FC 15, ER01)
Series 5: Printed Materials (2.3 linear feet; boxes 4-6, OV 10)
Series 6: Broadcast Materials (1.1 linear foot; boxes 6-7)
Series 7: Photographic and Moving Image Materials (0.5 linear feet, 0.97 GB; boxes 7, 9, FC 16-17, ER02)
Series 8: Artwork (1 item; box 7)
Series 9: -- An American Artist -- Video Recordings (0.6 linear feet; boxes 7-8)
Biographical / Historical:
Fletcher Benton was born in Jackson, Ohio in 1931 to Fletcher and Nell Cavett Benton and was the oldest of three children. Benton graduated from Jackson High School in 1949. After serving in the Navy he graduated from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1956 and moved to San Francisco, where he started working as an instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1959. He was in San Francisco during the flourishing of the Beat generation, where he had a studio in the North beach area and exhibited at coffee house galleries.
After travelling around Europe in 1960, Benton moved to New York City where he tried to make his living through painting and teaching privately. During those years he was supported by Jackson's local arts patron and family friend, Lillian E. Jones. In 1960 he had his first solo exhibition at Gump's gallery in San Francisco, but his work was taken down after one day because it was considered obscene for including female nudes. He returned to San Francisco in late 1961.
In 1966 Fletcher started teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute and established himself as a primary figure of American kinetic art. In 1966, Peter Selz included his work in the exhibition Directions in Kinetic Sculpture at the University Art Gallery in Berkeley, CA. During the exhibition Benton met the artists Pol Bury and George Rickey with whom he became friends. The exhibition, along with an article "The Movement Movement" that appeared in Time magazine the same year, established Benton's reputation as a significant American Kinetic artist. He also started teaching at the California State University in San José in 1967 where he continued working until 1986.
By 1974 Benton abandoned kinetic art to continue exploring sculpture in three dimensions in a style that became known as "new constructivism." The artworks were conceived in the series Folded Circles and Folded Square Alphabets and were produced in bronze, aluminum and steel. It was also during the 1970s that he started doing large-scale commissions such as the 1977 IBM commission.
Between 1981 and 1984 Benton constructed his studio in Dore Street in the Market district of San Francisco where he continues to work today. During the 1980s Benton started his Balanced/Unbalanced series, which introduced the idea of gravity using geometric forms in different formats and sizes.
From 1984 he began to show more work in Europe, especially in Germany, where in 1993 he got a major commission to create a colossal public sculpture in Cologne entitled Steel Watercolor Triangle Ring. It was also in Germany where Benton encountered the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, and he began work on his Construct Relief series in reponse, which he dedicated to Kandinsky. These geometric constructions are flat, canvas-like steel structures that combine features of painting and sculpture. As the series evolved, the work became more like painting, constructed to hang on the wall without a back piece, so they seem to be floating in the space.
Benton continues to live and work in San Francisco and is represented by multiple galleries in the United States and Germany.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Fletcher Benton conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom, 1989 May 2-4 is available on the Archives of American Art website.
Donated 2005-2006 and 2014 by Fletcher Benton. Benton's wife, Bobbie Benton, organized the material by subject matter and date.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of audiovisual material without a duplicate copy requires advanced notice.
The Fletcher Benton 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 California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002) date from 1958-1992, and measure 17.45 linear feet. The collection includes documentation of Wortz's tenure at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she specialized in collecting and presenting the California "light and space" artists during the 1970s and 1980s. Wortz's papers include biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, interview transcripts and sound recordings, professional and student writings and notes, diaries of five trips abroad, UCI administrative, dossier, and teaching files, general subject and artist files, printed material, several pieces of artwork; and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002) date from 1958-1992, and measure 17.45 linear feet. The collection includes documentation of Wortz's tenure at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she specialized in collecting and presenting the California Light and Space artists during the 1970s and 1980s. Wortz's papers include biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, interview transcripts and sound recordings, professional and student writings and notes, diaries of five trips abroad, UCI administrative, dossier, and teaching files, general subject and artist files, printed material, several pieces of artwork; and photographs.
Wortz's biographical material includes annotated appointment books and calendars, resumes, and some family, financial, and legal records.
Correspondence files document Wortz's activities beyond her work at UCI, including scattered correspondence with artists such as Eleanor Antin, Daniel Barber, Christo, Craig Kauffman, Cork Marchesi, Martha Rosler, Eve Sonneman, Hap Tivey, and Elsa Warner. Correspondence also relates to arrangements for lectures, juries, panels, symposiums, and other professional activities in which Wortz participated.
Interviews include transcripts of four interviews conducted by Wortz with subjects including Peter Lodato and Dewain Valentine, and a sound recording of an interview with Nina Wiener.
Writings and notes include drafts, and some published copies, of articles and essays written for journals, magazines, and exhibition catalogs; Wortz's dissertation and thesis; notes; student essays and class notes; and scattered writings by others. Included in the published works are copies of Artweek containing articles by Wortz, and drafts and published copies of essays on Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Jasper Johns, Jay McCafferty, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Rauschenberg, Klaus Rinke, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell.
Diaries document five separate overseas trips to locations including Asia in 1977, Paris in 1978, and the U.S.S.R., where Wortz delivered a paper on Robert Irwin, in 1989.
University of California, Irvine, records include Wortz's administrative files documenting her work on various committees, her directorship of the Fine Arts Gallery, including budget and exhibition records, her work as Chair of Studio Art, and her collaborations with other faculty, including Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small. Wortz's dossier files provide a thorough record of her accomplishments from the late 1970s-1990, and her UCI teaching files document the content of core art courses which she taught at UCI in the 1970s and 1980s.
Subject files provide additional documentation of Wortz's interest in particular artists and subjects, and include scattered correspondence with artists, as well as additional correspondence, reports, printed material, index card files, sound cassettes, and photographs, documenting her interests in art and politics, feminism, religion and spirituality, museum management and training, and other subjects.
Printed material includes announcements, catalogs, journals, newsletters, and material specifically documenting Wortz's activities.
Artwork includes a piece of floor covering from a Jim Dine exhibition, a booklet by Daniel Barber, Flams by Rena Livkin, and several pieces of unidentified artwork.
Photographs include photos of Wortz with her family and with UCI faculty including Tony DeLap, Craig Kauffman, and Ed Moses; photos of events with friends and family, including Hap Tivey's wedding to Liza Todd with Elizabeth Taylor in attendance; photos of artists including Frederick Eversley, Bill Harding, Jack Ox, and Stephen Zaimo; and photos of artwork by artists including Tony DeLap, Barbara Smith, Marc Van Der Marck, and others.
The collection is arranged as ten series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1966-1988 (0.25 linear feet; Boxes 1, 19)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1967-1992 (1.25 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 18)
Series 3: Interviews, 1971-circa 1980s (6 folders; Boxes 2, 18)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1958-circa 1990 (4.25 linear feet; Boxes 2-6, 19)
Series 5: Diaries, 1977-1989 (6 folders; Box 6)
Series 6: University of California, Irvine, 1960-1991 (4.8 linear feet; Boxes 6-11, OV 20)
Series 7: Subject Files, circa 1960-1990 (4.25 linear feet; Boxes 11-15, 18)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1960s-1980s (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 15-16, 19)
Series 9: Artwork, circa 1960s-circa 1980s (3 folders; Boxes 17, 19)
Series 10: Photographs, 1960s-1980s (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 17, 19)
Biographical / Historical:
California art historian, writer, instructor, and curator, Melinda Wortz (1940-2002), taught at the University of California, Irvine, from 1975, serving as Director of UCI's Fine Arts Gallery and Chair of the Department of Studio Art. Wortz's special area of interest was the work of the California "light and space" artists emerging in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
After attending Stanford University and graduating from Radcliffe College with a bachelors degree in art history, Wortz received her masters degree in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in theology and the arts from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. Wortz taught at California State University and the University of California Extension in the early 1970s. At UCI her colleagues included Judy Baca, Sandy Ballatore, Tony Delap, Craig Kauffman, and Rena Small.
Wortz married Edward C. Wortz in the early 1970s, following her divorce from her first husband, Thomas G. Terbell, Jr. Edward Wortz's first career was as a research scientist working on NASA contracts in the air research industry in Colorado and California. Later he was involved in the arts and participated in collaborations with artists including Robert Irwin, Coy Howard, and James Turrell. He worked with Melinda Wortz to develop their personal collection of contemporary art.
Melinda Wortz was a prolific writer who wrote extensively for national art periodicals, including Arts Magazine, and Art News. She also wrote, and served as editor, for the California periodical Artweek from the 1960s to 1990s. She wrote numerous catalogs for artists including Larry Bell, Cork Marchesi, Doug Moran, Beth Ames Schwartz, and James Turrell; and published articles on Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and others. She lectured at Brown University, the Center for Art, Salt Lake City, Contemporary Art Museum, La Jolla, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the San Diego Museum, Wellesley College, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many other institutions. In 1989 she traveled to the U.S.S.R. to deliver a paper on Robert Irwin at the International Art Critics Association annual meeting.
In addition to her curatorial work at the UCI Fine Arts Gallery, where she organized exhibitions for artists including Alice Aycock, Jonathan Borofsky, Audrey Flack, Jack Ox, and Dennis Oppenheim, Wortz curated exhibitions for University of California sister colleges, Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz received UCI and National Endowment for the Arts grants in support of her writing, and served on advisory boards of the Contemporary Arts Forum, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, Robert Rauschenberg's foundation, Advisory Board of Change, Inc., the Pasadena Art Museum, and others.
Wortz was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease at the age of 50 and died in 2002.
The collection was donated by Edward C. Wortz, Melinda Wortz's husband, in 1994.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Melinda Wortz 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.