An interview of Emerson Woelffer conducted 1999 March 26, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art's Art Schools in California Project, in Woelffer's studio/home, Los Angeles, California.
Woelffer briefly discusses his own student experience at the Art Institute of Chicago (1933-1937), and focuses more on his teaching at Moholy Nagy's Institute of Design in Chicago, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1954-1960) where he was head of the fine arts department, and the many years in Los Angeles as an educator at Chouinard Art School (now California Art Institute) and Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design). Woelffer recalls Chouinard students who were the most "far out," among them Larry Bell, Joe Goode, and Ed Ruscha. He credited the free-wheeling stimulation of Los Angeles itself as the source for these experimental artists who were different from those in Chicago. In his final remarks, Woelffer emphasized the importance of drawing to the training of an artist.
Biographical / Historical:
Emerson Woelffer (1914-2003) was a painter and educator from Los Angeles, California. One of the leading senior modernists working in Los Angeles, Woelffer was invited in 1960, by Mitch Wilder, to head the fine arts department at Chouinard Art Institute where he taught until it was moved to Valencia and transformed into California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 50 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Art teachers -- California -- Los Angeles -- Interviews Search this
Funding for the transcription of this interview is provided by the Bente and Gerald E. Buck Collection. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.