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Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers

Creator:
Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978  Search this
Names:
Federal Art Project (Calif.)  Search this
Benjamin, Karl  Search this
Butterfield, Jan  Search this
Hammersley, Frederick, 1919-2009  Search this
Kadish, Reuben, 1913-1992  Search this
Langsner, Jules, 1911-1967  Search this
Longstreet, Stephen, 1907-  Search this
Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999  Search this
McCoy, Esther  Search this
McLaughlin, John, 1898-  Search this
Miller, Dorothy Canning, 1904-2003  Search this
Moran, Diane De Gasis  Search this
Rattner, Abraham  Search this
Seldis, Henry  Search this
Sheets, Millard, 1907-1989  Search this
Extent:
15.6 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sketches
Poetry
Writings
Drawings
Sound recordings
Photographs
Date:
circa 1890s-2002
Summary:
The papers of Los Angeles painters and art instructors Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg measure 15.6 linear feet and date from circa 1890s to 2002. The papers document the careers of the two artists, including their establishment of the Post-surrealism movement in southern California, their work for federal arts programs, and their later abstract artwork. Found are biographical materials, correspondence, personal business records, exhibition files, printed materials, photographs, and one sound recording.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Los Angeles painters and art instructors Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg measure 15.6 linear feet and date from circa 1890s to 2002. The papers document the careers of the two artists, including their establishment of the Post-surrealism movement in southern California, their work for federal arts programs, and their later abstract artwork. Found are biographical materials, correspondence, personal business records, exhibition files, printed materials, photographs, and one sound recording.

Biographical documentation is found for both artists. Lundeberg's early life is documented by school notebooks, yearbooks, diplomas, calendars, awards, and a "memory book." Feitelson's biographical materials include family certificates and documents compiled by Lundeberg regarding Feitelson's funeral. Also found are curriculum vitae and biographical sketches for both artists.

Correspondence is extensive and includes both personal and professional correspondence for both Feitelson and Lundeberg. Materials consist of letters with critics, museums, artists, and friends, including Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, Reuben Kadish, John McLauglin, Diane Moran, and Abraham Rattner. Of special interest is Feitelson and Lundeberg's correspondence with Museum of Modern Art curator Dorothy Canning Miller.

A small amount of exhibition materials, mostly loan agreements and checklists, are found in the papers documenting exhibitions and loans of their artwork to exhibitions. Personal business records concern the management of their artwork and personal collections. Found here are lists of artwork, price lists, appraisal reports, sales invoices, purchase receipts, tax documents, and a set of index cards for their artwork. There are a few scattered legal documents as well. In addition to personal business records, there is a series of records of the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Foundation, established by Lundeberg in 1978.

Scattered research and teaching files are mostly Feitelson's. They document his personal research, teaching activities, and television programs, particularly the program Feitelson on Art. Writings, however, are found for both artists and include artist statements, writings about art and art styles and movements, writings about each artist, and writings about the Federal Arts Program in southern California. Of interest are numerous writings by other contemporary writers and critics, including Jan Butterfield, Jules Langsner, Stephen Longstreet, Esther McCoy, Diane Moran, Henry Seldis, and Millard Sheets.

A small amount of artwork is found within the collection by Feitelson and Lundeberg, mostly sketches and drawings. There is one print by Hans Burkhardt.

Printed materials include newsclippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, lecture announcements, posters, press releases, and printed reproductions of Feitelson's and Lundeberg's artwork. There are also pamphlets produced by the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Program and Lundeberg's poetry.

Photographs are extensive and include many of Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg, as well as of family, friends, and students. There are four photo albums and numerous photographs of Feitelson's and Lundeberg's artwork, including some exhibition installations.

There is one circa 1957 reel-to-reel sound recording of an episode of Feitelson on Art, focusing on Paul Gauguin.

An addition of 0.2 linear feet received in 2014 includes Feitelson's art history and teaching notes, writings by Feitelson, and photographs and contact sheets of Feitelson and works of art.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 11 series:

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1922-1995 (Boxes 1-2, 19; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1998 (Boxes 2-4; 2.5 linear feet)

Series 3: Exhibition Records, 1936-1989 (Boxes 4-5; 0.25 linear feet)

Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1943-1998 (Boxes 5-6; 1.0 linear feet)

Series 5: Feitelson and Lundeberg Foundation Records, 1978-1997 (Boxes 6-7, 19; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 6: Research and Teaching Materials, 1940s-1960s (Boxes 7-8; 0.75 linear feet)

Series 7: Writings, 1930-1989 (Boxes 8-9; 1.0 linear feet)

Series 8: Artwork, 1920s-1991 (Boxes 9, 19; 9 folders)

Series 9: Printed Materials, 1923-2002 (Boxes 9-11, 20; 2.0 linear feet)

Series 10: Photographs, circa 1890s-1993 (Boxes 11-14, 16-19, and OV 21-22; 4.3 linear feet)

Series 11: Audio Recording, circa 1957 (Box 15; 1 item)

Series 12: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1919-1978 (Box 23; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Art instructor and painter Lorser Feitelson (1898-1978) lived and worked in Los Angeles with his wife Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999), also one of southern California's leading painters. Together, Feitelson and Lundeberg founded the movement known as Subjective Classicism, or Post-surrealism. Their work had a great influence on southern California art and they formed many relationships with artists and critics of the area.

Lorser Feitelson was born in Savannah, Georgia on February 11, 1898, and grew up in New York City. By the age of twelve, he was painting in oils, and three years later he began to paint in earnest after attending the Armory Show. At the age of eighteen, Feitelson had his own studio in New York City. Over the next few years, he met other artists, including Arthur Davies, Walter Pach, and John Sloan. From 1919 to 1926, Feitelson lived in Paris and traveled to New York to exhibit; he also spent some time in Italy. In 1927, Feitelson moved to Los Angeles, the city that would remain his home for the rest of his life. There he met his wife and artist, Helen Lundeberg, and married in 1933.

Feitelson taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and the Stickney Memorial School of Art, became involved in the operations of the Centaur Gallery, and helped to found the Stanley Rose Gallery and the Hollywood Gallery of Modern Art. Beginning with the first Post-surrealist exhibition 1934, Feitelson and Lundeberg's work was exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and was included in the Museum of Modern Art's Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism exhibition of 1937. Feitelson continued to create Post-surrealist paintings until 1942. During this same time, Feitelson also served as the Supervisor of Murals, Painting, and Sculpture for the Southern California Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project.

In 1944, Feitelson began to paint abstract shapes that he referred to as "magical forms." Feitelson continued working in an abstract manner throughout the fifties, and in 1959 was included by Jules Langsner in the exhibition Four Abstract Classicists along with Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, and John McLaughlin. From this exhibition emerged the term "hard edge" painting, which referred to the presence of geometric shapes and flat pictorial space in the work of these artists. During the final two decades of his life, Feitelson continued to work regularly, and continued to explore abstraction.

Feitelson taught for many years at the Art Center School and was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He also hosted the television program Feitelson on Art from 1956-1963, as well as serving as a frequent guest on the program Cavalcade of Books to discuss art publications. Lorser Feitelson died in 1978.

Helen Lundeberg was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 24, 1908. At the age of four, her family moved to Pasadena, where she attended Pasadena High School and Junior College. In the spring of 1930, a family friend sponsored Lundeberg's tuition to attend classes at the Stickney Memorial School of Art. That summer Lundeberg met Lorser Feitelson, who had recently taken over the teaching of her construction and composition class. The following year, Lundeberg's work was included in an exhibition for the first time. By 1933, Lundeberg had a solo exhibition at the Stanley Rose Gallery. Throughout the 1930s, Lundeberg painted in a Post-surrealist manner and created some of her best known works including "Double Portrait of the Artist in Time" (1935). She also began working for the California Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project in 1936. Over the next six years, she designed murals for libraries, high schools, and parks. She and Feitelson married in 1933.

During the next five decades, Lundeberg created a distinctive and diverse body of work that included surreal images of floating mountains and falling skies, austere landscapes and architectural forms, and abstract works with brilliant colors. She remained from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1999 one of the leading and most respected figures in southern California art. Her work has been exhibited in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Related Material:
Found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Lorser Feitelson conducted by Betty Lochrie Hoag, May 12, 1964; with Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg conducted by Betty Lochrie Hoag, March 17, 1965; and with Helen Lundeberg conducted by Jan Butterfield, July 19 and August 29, 1980. Also found are Lorser Feitelson lectures recorded by Bonnie Trotter, 1973-1974.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reel LA 1) including a scrapbook of clippings primarily concerning Lorser Feitelson's activities with the federal Works Progress Administration. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
In 1964, Feitelson loaned for microfilming a scrapbook of clippings primarily concerning his activities with the federal Works Progress Administration. The scrapbook was microfilmed on Reel LA1 and returned to Feitelson. It is not included in the container inventory in this finding aid.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg 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 -- Study and teaching  Search this
Painters -- California -- Los Angeles  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sketches
Poetry
Writings
Drawings
Sound recordings
Photographs
Citation:
Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.feitlors
See more items in:
Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-feitlors
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Esther McCoy, 1987 June 7-Nov. 14

Interviewee:
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Interviewer:
Giovannini, Joseph  Search this
Subject:
Neutra, Richard Joseph  Search this
Robert, Tim  Search this
Dreiser, Theodore  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Topic:
Architectural writing  Search this
Architectural historians  Search this
Architecture  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)12069
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)212139
AAA_collcode_mccoy87
Theme:
Latino and Latin American
Architecture & Design
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_212139
Online Media:

Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989

Creator:
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Subject:
O'Gorman, Juan  Search this
Shulman, Julius  Search this
Neutra, Richard Joseph  Search this
Bradbury, Ray  Search this
Rand, Marvin  Search this
Barragán, Luis  Search this
Soriano, Rafael  Search this
Hollein, Hans  Search this
Maybeck, Bernard R.  Search this
Jones, A. Quincy (Archie Quincy),  Search this
Schindler, Rudolph Michael  Search this
Worlidge, T. (Thomas),  Search this
Ain, Gregory  Search this
Davidson, Julius Ralph  Search this
Gill, Irving  Search this
Grotz, Dorothy Rogers  Search this
Dreiser, Theodore  Search this
Watanabe, Makoto  Search this
Ellwood, Craig  Search this
Historic American Buildings Survey  Search this
Society of Architectural Historians  Search this
University of California, Los Angeles.School of Architecture and Urban Planning  Search this
Type:
Drawings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Topic:
Architecture, Domestic  Search this
Feminism  Search this
Architecture, Modern  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)5502
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)210977
AAA_collcode_mccoesth
Theme:
Latino and Latin American
Art Theory and Historiography
Architecture & Design
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_210977
Online Media:

Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, bulk 1919-1999

Creator:
Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978  Search this
Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999  Search this
Subject:
Hammersley, Frederick  Search this
Butterfield, Jan  Search this
Sheets, Millard Owen  Search this
Rattner, Abraham  Search this
Moran, Diane De Gasis  Search this
McLaughlin, John  Search this
Langsner, Jules  Search this
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Seldis, Henry  Search this
Longstreet, Stephen  Search this
Miller, Dorothy Canning  Search this
Kadish, Reuben  Search this
Benjamin, Karl  Search this
Federal Art Project (Calif.)  Search this
Type:
Drawings
Sound recordings
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7341
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209494
AAA_collcode_feitlors
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209494
Online Media:

Esther McCoy papers

Creator:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Names:
Historic American Buildings Survey  Search this
Society of Architectural Historians  Search this
University of California, Los Angeles. School of Architecture and Urban Planning  Search this
Ain, Gregory, 1908-1988  Search this
Barragán, Luis, 1902-  Search this
Bradbury, Ray, 1920-  Search this
Davidson, Julius Ralph, b. 1889  Search this
Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945  Search this
Ellwood, Craig  Search this
Gill, Irving, 1870-1936  Search this
Grotz, Dorothy  Search this
Hollein, Hans, 1934-  Search this
Jones, A. Quincy (Archie Quincy), 1913-1979  Search this
Maybeck, Bernard R.  Search this
Neutra, Richard Joseph, 1892-1970  Search this
O'Gorman, Juan, 1905-  Search this
Rand, Marvin  Search this
Schindler, R. M. (Rudolph M.), 1887-1953  Search this
Shulman, Julius  Search this
Soriano, Rafael, 1920-  Search this
Watanabe, Makoto  Search this
Worlidge, T. (Thomas), 1700-1766  Search this
Extent:
44.4 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Diaries
Etchings
Photographs
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Slides (photographs)
Transcripts
Drawings
Memoirs
Date:
circa 1876-1990
bulk 1938-1989
Summary:
The papers of Southern California architectural historian, critic, and writer Esther McCoy measure 44.4 linear feet and date from 1876 to 1990 (bulk 1938-1989). The collection documents McCoy's career, as well as her family and personal life through biographical material, extensive correspondence, personal and professional writings, project files, Southern California architects' files, clippings and other printed material, a large collection of photographs and slides, and taped interviews of Southern California modern architects.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Southern California architectural historian, critic, and writer Esther McCoy measure 44.4 linear feet and date from 1876 to 1990 (bulk 1938-1989). The collection documents McCoy's career, as well as her family and personal life through biographical material, extensive correspondence, personal and professional writings, project files, Southern California architects' files, clippings and other printed material, a large collection of photographs and slides, and taped interviews of Southern California modern architects.

Biographical and family material consists of awards, resumes, identification documents, and other documentation of McCoy's personal life. Included are a transcript of a 1984 interview of McCoy by Makoto Watanabe and material relating to her friend, Theodore Dreiser.

Correspondence focuses on her personal relationships with family, friends, and lovers, and general correspondence relating primarily to her work as a writer. McCoy's personal correspondence is valuable to researchers who are interested in her personal life, her struggles as a young writer, and the way in which her family, friends, lovers, mentors, and colleagues helped to shape her work and career. As documented in this correspondence, her life offers a glimpse into twentieth-century American social and political history, especially the radical leftist movements of the 1920s and 1930s. Researchers interested in the roots of feminism in the United States should also find these papers useful in documenting the life of a creative and productive woman who was successful in a field then almost entirely dominated by men. Correspondents of note include her husband Berkeley Tobey, lovers Geoffrey Eaton and Albert Robert, writers Ray Bradbury and Theodore Dreiser, and artists and architects, such as Dorothy Grotz, Craig Ellwood, A. Quincy Jones, Hans Hollein, and J. R. Davidson. General correspondence is primarily with researchers, professors, architects, publishers, and professional organizations.

Personal writings include McCoy's diaries, notebooks, and memoirs, and writings by others including friends, lovers, and colleagues. Also included are drafts of McCoy's fictional works, both published and unpublished, including short stories, teleplays, and novels.

The collection contains in-depth documentation of McCoy's pioneering study of the modernist work of twentieth-century architects in Southern California. The bulk of her papers consist of her writing files for books, exhibition catalogs, articles, and lectures on architecture. Because many of the architects about whom McCoy wrote were her contemporaries, she developed personal relationships with several of them through her research and writing. Her writing files include drafts, notes, research material, photographs, and correspondence. McCoy also traveled extensively, particularly in Italy and Mexico, and wrote about architecture, craft, and culture in those countries. Project files document McCoy's other activities related to architectural history, such preservation projects, juries, grants, the Dodge House Preservation Campaign and related film project, her work for the Society of Architectural Historians and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and her work at the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Planning, compiling a slide library and cataloging the Richard Neutra's papers. McCoy also maintained architect files which may contain correspondence, notes, photographs, research material, interview transcripts, about architects and their works. Among these extensive records, the files documenting the careers of R. M. Schindler, Irving Gill, Richard Neutra, and Juan O'Gorman are particularly rich.

Printed material in this collection documents McCoy's career as well as her personal interests. Included are books, clippings, magazines, newsletters, press releases, as well as publications arranged by subject such as architecture, art, Italy, and Mexico. McCoy also collected literary and leftist publications. The small amount of artwork in this collection consists of artwork sent to her by friends, including a drawing of her by Esther Rollo and etchings by various artists including Thomas Worlidge.

There are personal photographs of family and friends and of McCoy at different times in her life, as well as photographs gathered during the course of her research on architecture. Found here are photographs of architects and their works, including a large number depicting the work of Gregory Ain, Luis Barragan, J. R. Davidson, Irving Gill, Bernard Maybeck, Juan O'Gorman, R. M. Schindler, and Raphael Soriano. Many of these photographs were taken by notable architectural photographers Julius Shulman and Marvin Rand. Also found are photographs of architecture designed for the Case Study House program of Arts & Architecture magazine; exhibition photographs, primarily for the exhibition "Ten Italian Architects" in 1967; and other research photographs primarily documenting architecture and craft in other countries and the history of architecture in California. This series also includes approximately 3,600 slides of architecture.

Audio and video recordings include a videocassette of McCoy's 80th birthday party and 55 taped interviews with architects, people associated with architectural projects, and artists.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 10 series:

Series 1: Biographical and Family Material, 1881-1989 (boxes 1, 48; 0.6 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1896-1989 (boxes 1-6, 4.9 linear feet)

Series 3: Personal Writings, 1919-1989 (boxes 6-14; 8.1 linear feet)

Series 4: Architectural Writings, 1908-1990 (boxes 14-24, 42, 49, 50; 10.2 linear feet)

Series 5: Projects, circa 1953-1988 (boxes 24-26, 47, FC 53-56; 2.5 linear feet)

Series 6: Architect Files, 1912-1990 (boxes 26-28, 42; 2.2 linear feet)

Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1885-1990 (boxes 28-31, 42; 2.9 linear feet)

Series 8: Artwork, 1924-1967, undated (box 31; 0.4 linear feet)

Series 9: Photographs and Slides, circa 1876-1989 (boxes 31-38, 41-46, 51; 8.7 linear feet)

Series 10: Audio and Video Recordings, 1930-1984 (boxes 38-40, 47; 2.5 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Esther McCoy (1904-1989) is remembered best for her pioneering work as an architectural historian, critic, and proponent of Southern California modern architecture of the early to mid-twentieth century. Although her professional interests ranged from writing fiction to studying the folk architecture and crafts of Mexico, McCoy achieved her most notable success for her numerous articles, books, and exhibitions about Southern California architecture and the architects associated with the modernist movement.

Born in Arkansas in 1904, Esther McCoy grew up in Kansas and attended various schools in the Midwest. In 1926 she left the University of Michigan to launch a writing career in New York, where she moved in avant-garde literary circles and conducted research for Theodore Dreiser. She began writing fiction in New York and continued to write after moving to Los Angeles in 1932, working on short stories, novels, and screenplays. She published numerous short stories between 1929 and 1962, with works appearing in the New Yorker, Harper's Bazaar, and university quarterlies. Her short story, "The Cape," was reprinted in Best Short Stories of 1950. Many of the novels that she wrote from the mid-1960s through the 1980s were related thematically to architects and architecture.

During the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, McCoy participated in the politically radical movements of the period and wrote for leftist publications. Her interest in the lowcost housing projects of modern architects was prompted by one of her articles about slums for Epic News. During World War II she entered a training program for engineering draftsmen at Douglas Aircraft and in 1944 was hired as an architectural draftsman for the architect R.M. Schindler. As she became increasingly interested in modern architecture and design, she combined her two major career interests and began to focus her energies on architectural research, writing, and criticism. Her first article on architecture, "Schindler: Space Architect," was published in 1945 in the journal Direction.

McCoy began writing about architecture in earnest in 1950 as a free-lance contributor to the Los Angeles Times. From then until her death in 1989, she wrote prolifically for Arts & Architecture magazine, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Architectural Record, L'Architectura, Zodiac (Italy), Progressive Architecture, Lotus (Italy), and Architectural Forum. In addition to her numerous articles, McCoy wrote several books on Southern California modern architecture and architects. Her first major work, Five California Architects, published in 1960, is now recognized as a classic work in modern architectural history. It promoted a serious study of modern architecture in Southern California and introduced to the world several leading California architects and their work: Bernard Maybeck, Irving Gill, Charles and Henry Greene, and R.M. Schindler. That same year, she published another important book focusing on the work of the California architect Richard Neutra. Other books by McCoy include Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses (1962), Craig Ellwood (1968), Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys (1979), and The Second Generation (1984).

In addition to these books, McCoy organized and wrote catalogs for several significant exhibitions focusing on contemporary architects. Her first was the R.M. Schindler Retrospective, a 1954 exhibition at the Landau Art Gallery in Los Angeles. Her other exhibitions and accompanying catalogs include Roots of California Contemporary Architecture, 1956, Los Angeles Municipal Art Department; Felix Candela, 1957, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Irving Gill, 1958, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Juan O'Gorman, 1964, San Fernando Valley State College; and Ten Italian Architects, 1967, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Moreover, McCoy contributed numerous essays to other exhibition catalogs and publications, lectured at the University of Southern California, participated in preservation projects, organized tours for the Society of Architectural Historians, and contributed to a number of documentary films. Her energy and interests also led her to catalog and transcribe Richard Neutra's papers at the University of California Los Angeles Archives.

McCoy received national recognition from the American Institute of Architects for her seminal and prolific work in the field of Southern California modern architectural history and criticism. Her interests, however, were not exclusively bound to California. She traveled the world and was interested in both Italian and Mexican architecture as well as the folk art and crafts of Mexico and South America. She made five extended trips to Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, publishing regularly about the architecture there and curating the exhibition Ten Italian Architects. She was a contributing editor to two Italian journals, Zodiac and Lotus, and was awarded the Star of Order of Solidarity in 1960 by the Republic of Italy for her research and writing.

Esther McCoy died of emphysema on December 30, 1989, at the age of eighty-five. Her last contribution was an essay for the exhibition catalog Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study House. The show opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles one month before her death.

1904 -- Born November 18 in Horatio, Arkansas. Raised in Kansas.

1920 -- Attended preparatory school at Central College for Women, Lexington, Missouri.

1922-1925 -- College education: Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; University of Michigan.

1924 -- Visited Theodore Dreiser in Michigan.

1926-1938 -- Began writing in New York City.

1926-1938 -- Researched and read for Theodore Dreiser.

1926-1938 -- Worked for editorial offices and publishers.

1926-1938 -- Traveled to write in Paris (1928), Key West, Florida (1930), and Los Angeles, California (1932-1935).

1938 -- Moved to Santa Monica, California.

1941 -- Married Berkeley Greene Tobey.

1942-1944 -- Employed as engineering draftsman at Douglas Aircraft.

1944-1947 -- Worked as architectural draftsman for R.M. Schindler.

1945 -- Began architectural writing career.

1950 -- Wrote script for film Architecture West.

1950 -- Joined editorial board of Arts & Architecture.

1950-1968 -- Worked as free-lance writer for the Los Angeles Times.

1951-1955 -- Traveled to, researched, and wrote about Mexico and Mexican art and architecture.

1954 -- R.M. Schindler Retrospective exhibition at the Landau Art Gallery, Los Angeles.

1956 -- Roots of California Contemporary Architecture exhibition, Los Angeles Municipal Art Department.

1957 -- Felix Candela exhibition, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

1958 -- Irving Gill exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Traveled to Italy.

1959-1968 -- Contributing editor to Italian periodicals Zodiac and Lotus.

1960 -- Five California Architects (New York: Reinhold).

1960 -- Richard Neutra (New York: G. Braziller).

1960 -- Awarded Star of Order of Solidarity by the Republic of Italy for reporting on arts and crafts in Italy.

1962 -- Death of Berkeley Greene Tobey.

1962 -- Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses (New York: Reinhold) (reprinted as Case Study Houses, Los Angeles: Hennessey and Ingalls, 1978).

1963 -- Resident Fellow at Huntington Hartford Foundation.

1964 -- Juan O'Gorman exhibition, San Fernando Valley State College, Northridge, Calif.

1965 -- Consultant for the California Arts Commission.

1965-1966 -- Wrote and produced the film Dodge House.

1965-1968 -- Lecturer at University of California at Los Angeles, School of Architecture and Urban Planning.

1966 -- Resident Fellow at MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire.

1967 -- Ten Italian Architects exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

1967 -- Honorary Associate of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

1967 -- Regents' Lecturer at University of California, Santa Barbara.

1968 -- Craig Ellwood (New York: Walker).

1968 -- Distinguished Service Citation from the California Council of AIA.

1969-1970 -- Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

1969-1989 -- Contributing editor of Progressive Architecture.

1971-1978 -- Graham Foundation Grants.

1974 -- Regents' Lecturer at the University of California,Santa Cruz.

1979 -- Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys (Santa Monica, Calif.: Arts & Architecture Press).

1979 -- Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

1981 -- Los Angeles Chapter Women's Architectural League Honorary Member.

1982 -- Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Modern and Contemporary Art Council Award for Distinguished Achievement.

1983 -- Home Sweet Home: The California Ranch House exhibition at California State University.

1984 -- The Second Generation (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books).

1985 -- American Institute of Architects, Institute Honor.

1986 -- High Styles exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

1987 -- Vesta Award for outstanding scholarship.

1989 -- Award from the Historical Society of Southern California.

1989 -- Award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

1989 -- Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study House exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Died in Santa Monica, California, December 30.
Related Material:
Also in the Archives of American Art are eight sound cassettes of a transcribed interview with Esther McCoy conducted by Joseph Giovannini, June 8-November 14, 1987.
Provenance:
The collection was given to the Archives of American Art by Esther McCoy in 1986. Before her death in 1989, McCoy assisted in the organization and identification of the papers. Original pre-print film elements for Dodge House 1916 were donated to the Archives of American Art by the Academy Film Archive in 2018.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of audiovisual recordings without access copies requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Esther McCoy 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.
Occupation:
Art critics -- California  Search this
Topic:
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- Mexico  Search this
Architectural historians -- California  Search this
Architects -- Italy  Search this
Architecture, Domestic -- California  Search this
Authors -- California  Search this
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- California  Search this
Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- Europe  Search this
Architects -- California  Search this
Feminism  Search this
Genre/Form:
Diaries
Etchings
Photographs
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Slides (photographs)
Transcripts
Drawings
Memoirs
Citation:
Esther McCoy papers, circa 1876-1990, bulk 1938-1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.mccoesth
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-mccoesth
Online Media:

Esther McCoy passport

Creator:
United States. Dept. of State.  Search this
Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Legal Documents
Date:
1927
Topic:
Travel  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10181
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10181

Esther McCoy and Albert Robert

Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
ca. 1933
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10182
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10182

Esther McCoy and Albert Robert

Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
ca. 1933
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10183
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10183

Esther McCoy visiting ancient ruins

Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
19--
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10189
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10189
Online Media:

Esther McCoy in Greece

Photographer:
Diamantis, Tassos  Search this
Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Athens, Greece
Date:
1958 or 1959
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10251
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10251
Online Media:

Schindler's draftsmen

Photographer:
Sullivan, Carl  Search this
Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1954 May 24
Topic:
Draftsmen (artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10350
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10350
Online Media:

Esther McCoy

Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
ca. 1944
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10361
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10361

Berkley Tobey and Esther McCoy

Subject:
McCoy, Esther  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
ca. 1945
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10363
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10363

Interview with Christopher Alexander

Creator:
Alexander, Christopher, 1936-  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1964
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10891
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10891

Interview with Gunnar Birkerts

Creator:
Birkerts, Gunnar, 1925-  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1964
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10892
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10892

Interview with Charles Brewer

Creator:
Brewer, Charles  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1964
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10893
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10893

Interview with Mario Ciampi

Creator:
Ciampi, Mario, 1907-2006  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1964
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10894
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10894

Interview with Edgardo Contini

Creator:
Contini, Edgardo, 1913 or 1914-1990  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1969 January 29
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10895
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10895

Interview with David Crane

Creator:
Crane, David Alford, 1927-  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1964
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10896
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10896

Interview with Julius Ralph Davidson

Creator:
Davidson, Julius Ralph, 1889-1977  Search this
McCoy, Esther, 1904-1989  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1974
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10897
See more items in:
Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990, bulk, 1938-1989
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10897

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