The collection is arranged into seven series based primarily on type of material. Material within each series is arranged chronologically. Series 1: Biographical Material, 1983, undated (Box 1; 2 folders) Series 2: Correspondence, 1906-1993, undated (Boxes 1-4; 4.0 linear ft.) Series 3: Diaries, Notebooks, and Scrapbooks, 1915-1977, undated (Boxes 4-5; 11 folders) Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1910-1979, undated (Box 5; 9 folders) Series 5: Artwork, 1924-1974, undated (Box 5,7; 6 folders, 6 oversized items) Series 6: Printed Material, 1911-1991, undated (Boxes 5-6; 2.0 linear ft.) Series 7: Photographs and Negatives, 1920-1969, undated (Box 6; 6 folders)
Access Note / Rights:
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility.
The papers of modernist painter Ben Benn measure 6.3 linear feet and date from 1906 through 1977, with the bulk of the papers dating from circa 1920 - circa 1970. The collection includes correspondence between Benn and his wife Velida Benn and letters from Oscar Bluemner, Max Weber, Joseph Stella, and other artists. Also found are sketches, sketchbooks, diaries, scrapbooks, personal business records, clippings, photographs, exhibition catalogs, art journals, and auction catalogs. Some of the printed material is quite rare.
Ben Benn papers, 1905-1993. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
New York painter Ben Benn was born in Russia in 1884 as Benjamin Rosenberg and died in 1983. Benn studied drawing and painting at the National Academy of Design from 1904-1908 and had his first exhibition, "Oils by Eight American Artists," at the Artists' Gallery in 1907. In 1916, Benn participated in the "Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters" at the Anderson Galleries, along with artists Thomas Hart Benton, Oscar Bluemner, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Man Ray, Abraham Walkowitz, and others. The exhibition was important in advancing the cause of modern art in American, particularly the American avant-garde and was recreated by the Whitney in 1983.
The Ben Benn papers were donated by Benn's nephew Peter Rosenberg to the Archives of American Art in 1988.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001