The papers of painter Henry Botkin measure 3 linear feet, date from circa 1927-1982, and illustrate his career through biographical material, correspondence, writings, personal business records, printed and photographic material, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The Henry Botkin papers measure 3 linear feet and date from circa 1927-1982. Biographical materials include multiple interviews with Botkin, one of which is for the Today Show, membership cards for the Audubon Artists and Artists Equity Association, and Botkin's resume. Correspondence is with George Gershwin, Syracuse University, and others. Writings include autobiographical writings, lectures and speeches by Botkin, artwork reviews of Botkin's art, and miscellaneous writings by others. Personal business records consist of materials regarding various professional organizations, materials on Judy Cimaglia, materials on Botkin's daughter Toinette (Botkin) Laurent, and other business records. Printed material includes exhibition announcements and catalogs, press releases, and picture postcards. Photographic material consists of photographs of Botkin, his wife Rhoda Lehman, friends and family, and various exhibitions. Artwork includes pieces by Botkin and others.
This collection consists of seven series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1945-1972 (.1 Linear feet: Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1928-1979 (.2 Linear feet: Box 1)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1936-1977 (.3 Linear feet: Box 1)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1927-1977 (.6 Linear feet: Boxes 1-2)
Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1927-1982 (.8 Linear feet: Box 2)
Series 6: Photographic Material, circa 1928-1977 (.9 Linear feet: Boxes 3-5)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1965-1967 (.1 Linear feet: Box 5)
Biographical / Historical:
Painter Henry Botkin (1896-1983) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and trained at both the Massachusetts School of Art and the Art Students League before moving to New York City. While in New York, Botkin worked as an illustrator for Harper's, The Saturday Evening Post, and Century magazine. In the early 1920s he moved to Paris to begin exploring Impressionism as a painting style. Botkin is known for painting the theater, still lifes, and landscapes. He is also known for his paintings of Black people in the South Carolina low country which have faced criticism about their lack of social realism. Botkin returned to New York in 1930, married his wife Rhoda Lehman, and in 1934 became an art agent to his cousin art collector George Gershwin and others.
In the late 1930s, Botkin switched to the abstract painting style in oils, and took an active role in bringing the style to public attention. He became part of the Artist's Equity Association, The American Abstract Artists Group 256 in Provincetown, and the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors where he served as president from 1957-1961.
In 1955, Botkin put together the first exhibition of American abstract art at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan and organized the sale of five hundred and forty paintings at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1959. Botkin participated in various public events and programs and taught privately in New York, California, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. In the early 1950s Botkin began working with collages which became his main art form until his death. Botkin died in 1983 at the age of eigthy-seven in New York City.
Henry Botkin papers also held at Syracuse University.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels D388, N69-67, N69-68, N69-91, N70-25, N70-68, 2895-2897, and 4314) including biographical material, letters, notes, writings, business records, artworks, scrapbook pages, printed material, and photographs, from 1969-1982. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Papers were lent for microfilming from 1969 to 1982 by Henry Botkin, his son Glenn Botkin, and his assistant Rene Barilleaux.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Henry Botkin papers, circa 1927-1982, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.