The papers of art critic, writer, and painter Theodore F. Wolff measure 8 linear feet and date from 1920-2013, with the bulk of the material dating from 1977-2013. The collection documents Wolff's career through biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings, subject files, printed material, a small amount of artwork, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art critic, writer, and painter Theodore F. Wolff measure 8 linear feet and date from 1920-2013, with the bulk of the material dating from 1977-2013. The collection documents Wolff's career through biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings, subject files, printed material, a small portion of artwork, and photographs.
Biographical material consists of biographical data, curriculum vitae, and awards. Included are outgoing and incoming letters that document Wolff's activities as an art critic, appraiser, and fine arts consultant. A large portion of his correspondence is with artists. Among the correspondents are Richard Diebenkorn, Alexander Hogue, Ynez Johnston, Armin Landeck, Melissa Miller, Robert Natkin, Theodoros Stamos, Athena Tachna, Jerome Witkin, and the writer Tom Wolfe. There is significant correspondence with Morris Graves, James Hubbell, Clyfford Still, and Stow Wengenroth relating to their work and Wolff's writings.
Interviews consist of three interviews with Theodore F. Wolff as well as a panel discussion with Wolff and other artists. Found are interviews with Enrico Donati and James Turrell. Recordings are on five sound cassettes and three videocassettes.
Writings consist of Wolff's reviews, mostly tearsheets for The Christian Monitor and draft versions of a book. Also included are talks and lectures on art and art education recorded on seven videocassettes and six sound cassettes. Subject files document Wolff's professional interests and relate to his writing projects, exhibitions, talks, and presentations. Included are interviews with artists that were used by Theodore Wolff as source material.
Printed material includes Theodore F. Wolff's published critical writings on art, artists, and education. Included are exhibition catalogs, brochures, journals, and monographs. Artwork consists of seventeen sketches by Wolff done early in his career. Photographs are of Theodore F. Wolff and with friends and colleagues, many of them unidentified. Included are photographs of Wolff with Ida Kohlmeyer.
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1982-2013 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920, 1951-2011 (Box 1; 0.75 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, circa 1990-2002 (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, Talks, and Lectures, circa 1977-2005 (Boxes 2-4; 2.8 linear feet)
Series 5: Subject Files, circa 1940, 1964-2004 (Boxes 4-6; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1956-2006 (Boxes 6-8; 2.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, 1942-1948 (Box 7, 1 folder)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1980-circa 2011 (Box 7; 0.25 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Theodore F. Wolff (1926-2012) was an art critic, writer, and painter in New York City.
Wolff attended the University of Wisconsin, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education in 1949 and a Masters degree in Art and Art History the following year. By the early 1950s, Wolff was living in San Francisco, where he began his professional career as a painter. In 1956, he and his wife, Collette Wolff, moved to New York. During this period, Wolff also worked as an art appraiser and fine arts consultant for collectors, galleries, and museums. In 1977, Wolff began writing art criticism for The Christian Science Monitor and held the post of art critic at the publication until 1990. In addition to his art columns to The Monitor, Wolff contributed critical and introductory essays on artists for exhibition catalogs and journals. Theodore F. Wolff taught and lectured on art and art education at museums, universities, and conferences. In 1982, he received the National Headliners Award for Consistently Outstanding Column on Art and the Art World Award for Distinguished Newspaper Art Criticism in 1983. In 1990, Theodore Wolff retired from The Christian Science Monitor. He devoted the latter part of his career to painting, writing, lecturing, and teaching.
Theodore F. Wolff died in 2012 in New York City. He is survived by his wife, Collette Wolff.
A small amount of material was donated in 1999 by Theodore F. Wolff. Additional papers were donated in 2013 by Collette Wolff, widow of Theodore F. Wolff.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Theodore F. Wolff 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.