An interview of S. Lane Faison conducted 1981 December 14, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Faison discusses his activities during World War II teaching aircraft and ship recognition, gathering information related to art looted by the Nazis, preparing a report that described how Hitler's art collection was formed, and the distribution of unclaimed furniture; the role of the College Art Association during the 1950s-1960s; and his guide to art museums in New England.
Biographical / Historical:
S. Lane Faison (1907-2006) was an art historian in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel and 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 40 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 others.
Art historians -- Massachusetts -- Interviews Search this
An interview of Reuben Kadish conducted 1992 Apr. 15, by Stephen Polcari, for the Archives of American Art. Kadish discusses designing murals for the WPA in the 1930s; working as an artist in the South Pacific for the U.S. Army during World War II; the N.Y. art scene in the 1940s; and his views on government support of the arts and on art censorship. He recalls Jackson Pollock.
Biographical / Historical:
Reuben Kadish (1913-1992) was a painter, sculptor, and mural painter from New York, N.Y.
These interviews are 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.
Dore Ashton papers, 1849, circa 1928-2014. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of a portion of this collection was provided the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund
The papers of painter Ogden M. Pleissner measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1928-1976. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters, artwork, nine scrapbooks, over one foot of printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter Ogden M. Pleissner measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1928-1976. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters, artwork, eight scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Biographical material includes Pleissner's U. S. Army Certificate of Service, an autobiographical essay, and miscellaneous notes. Scattered letters dating from 1942-1976 primarily concern Pleissner's service in the U. S. Army. There are also letters from colleagues and friends including artists Harrison Cady and Stow Wengenroth.
Nine scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters from art organizations and colleagues including Juliana Force, Charles Vezin, and Stow Wengenroth. An additional 1.2 linear feet of printed material consists primarily of clippings, and exhibition catalogs and announcements. Also found within the papers is one etching, and photographs of Pleissner, his colleagues, exhibitions and artwork.
The collection is arranged into 6 series. All series are arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1943-1971 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Letters, 1942-1976 (Box 1; 13 folders)
Series 3: Art Work, undated (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1930-1953 (Boxes 1-2; 29 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1928-1975 (Box 2; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1958-1974 (Boxes 3-4; 31 folders)
Ogden Minton Pleissner was born on April 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, son of George W. and Christine Minton Pleissner. He began his education at the Brooklyn Friends School. One summer while a teenager, he was sent to Charlie Moore's ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, in order to improve his health. During pack trips, camping, and trout fishing in Yellowstone Park and the Buffalo Forks country, Pleissner became devoted to the outdoor life, developing his skills as a hunter and fisherman. He began drawing images of horses, cowboys, Native Americans, and scenery and realized that his interest in art was strong enough to pursue it in school.
From 1924 to 1927 Pleissner attended the Art Students League in New York, studying under George Bridgman and Frank V. DuMond. Pleissner continued his studies with DuMond in Cape Breton, where he also met Mary Corbett whom he married in 1929. In the following year, Pleissner held his first solo exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Although he maintained a studio in New York City, Pleissner and his wife spent many summers in Wyoming, later expanding their travel to Europe.
In 1940 Pleissner was elected a National Academician. Two years later, he was commissioned by the U.S. Office of Emergency Management on the advice of the Section of Fine Arts to visit various war industries to make a group of 10 paintings depicting the work in these plants.
In 1943, Pleissner was commissioned as Captain in the Army Air Forces to work as an artist with the Historical Division, painting a record of the Air Force activities. After training, he was deployed to Anchorage, Alaska, and from there he visited many of the Aleutian Islands. Due to lack of funding, his original mission was changed, and he was put on inactive duty in November 1943, in order to continue his work as a War Art Correspondent for Life magazine. This allowed him to complete his paintings of the Aleutian Islands. In the spring of 1944, he flew to headquarters in London, England, later following the Normandy invasion through northern France, he painted scenes from the critical battle at St. Lo. In the summer of 1945, Life magazine sent him on a tour of Europe to make a series of paintings of the most significant battle sites, including Omaha Beach, Remagen, and Anzio.
During his post-war career, Pleissner participated in many organizations, including his service as vice-president of the National Academy of Design, director of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and trustee at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. He was also a member of the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum.
In the 1970s Pleissner traveled extensively in Europe and spent summers at his studio in Pawlet, Vermont.
Ogden M. Pleissner died of a heart attack on October 24, 1983 in London, England.
Ogden M. Pleissner donated his papers to the Archives in 1972 and 1976.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88.0 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Scope and Content Note:
The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the papers are highlighted in an article by Garnett McCoy ("The Rockwell Kent Papers," in the Archives of American Art Journal, 12, no. 1 [January 1972]: 1-9), recommended reading for researchers interested in the collection. The collection is remarkably complete, for in the mid 1920s Kent began keeping carbon copies of all outgoing letters, eventually employing a secretary (who became his third wife and continued her office duties for the remainder of Kent's life).
Series 1: Alphabetical Files contain Kent's personal and professional correspondence, along with business records of the dairy farm and associated enterprises; also included are printed matter on a wide variety of topics and promotional literature relating to organizations and causes of interest to him. Voluminous correspondence with his three wives, five children, and other relatives, as well as with literally hundreds of friends, both lifelong and of brief duration, illuminates Kent's private life and contributes to understanding of his complex character. Among the many correspondents of note are: his art teachers William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller; fellow artists Tom Cleland, Arthur B. Davies, James Fitzgerald, Hugo Gellert, Harry Gottleib, Marsden Hartley, Charles Keller, and Ruth Reeves; collectors Duncan Phillips and Dan Burne Jones; critics J. E. Chamberlain and Walter Pach; and dealers Charles Daniel, Felix Wildenstein, and Macbeth Galleries. Kent corresponded with such diverse people as Arctic explorers Peter Freuchen, Knud Rasmussen, and Vilhjalmar Steffanson; composer Carl Ruggles and songwriters Lee Hays and Pete Seeger; civil rights pioneers Paul Robeson and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois; writers Bayard Boyesen, Scott and Helen Nearing, and Louis Untermeyer; and art historian and print curator Carl Zigrosser.
Kent's interest and involvement in the labor movement are reflected in correspondence with officials and members of a wide variety and large number of unions and related organizations, among them: the Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America, Farmers' Union of the New York Milk Shed, International Workers Order, National Maritime Union, and United Office and Professional Workers of America. Of special interest is his participation, often in leadership roles, in various attempts to organize artists. Files on the American Artists' Congress, Artists League of America, The Artists Union, United American Artists, and United Scenic Artists contain particularly valuable material on the movement.
A supporter of New Deal efforts to aid artists, Kent was actively interested in the various programs and often was critical of their limitations; he advocated continuing federal aid to artists after the Depression abated. The Kent papers include correspondence with the Federal Arts Project, Federal Fine Arts Project, Federal Writers Project, and the War Department, as well as correspondence with the Citizens' Committee for Government Art Projects and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the subject.
Kent's professional correspondence documents exhibitions, sales, consignments, and reproduction of prints and paintings. He kept meticulous records of his advertising commissions and illustration work. Detailed correspondence with publishers and printers indicates Kent's involvement in the technical aspects of production and provides a good overview of the publishing industry during the mid-twentieth century.
Business records of Asgaard Farm include records of the dairy and transfer of ownership to its employees, tax and employee information, and documents concerning several related business ventures such as distributor ships for grain, feed, and farm implements.
Series 2: Writings consists of notes, drafts, and completed manuscripts by Rockwell Kent, mainly articles, statements, speeches, poems, introductions, and reviews. The Kent Collection given to Friendship House, Moscow, in 1960, was augmented later by a set of his publications and the illustrated manuscripts of many of his monographs. Also included are a small number of manuscripts by other authors.
Series 3: Artwork consists mainly of drawings and sketches by Kent; also included are works on paper by other artists, many of whom are unidentified, and by children.
Series 4: Printed Matter consists of clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, brochures, broadsides, programs, and newsletters. These include items by and about Kent and his family, as well as articles written and/or illustrated by him, and reviews of his books. There is also material on a variety of subjects and causes of interest to him. Additional printed matter is included among the alphabetical files, mainly as attachments to correspondence.
Series 5: Miscellaneous includes biographical material, legal documents, and memorabilia. Artifacts received with papers include textile samples, a silk scarf, dinnerware, ice bucket, and rubber stamp, all featuring designs by Rockwell Kent. Also with this series are a variety of documents including a phrenological analysis of an ancestor, lists of supplies for expeditions, a hand-drawn map of an unidentified place, and technical notes regarding art materials and techniques.
Series 6: Photographs includes photographs of Kent, his family and friends, travel, and art number that over one thousand. Also included here are several albums of family and travel photographs.
The collection is arranged into six series. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically. The arrangement of the remaining series is explained in each series description. Note that sealed materials that became available in 2000 were microfilmed separately on reels 5740-5741, but have integrated into this finding aid.
Series 1: Alphabetical Files, circa 1900-1971, undated (Reels 5153-5249, 5256, 5740-5741)
Series 2: Writings, 1906-1978, undated (Reels 5249-5252, 5741)
Series 3: Art Work, 1910-1972, undated (Reels 5252, 5741)
Series 4: Printed Matter, 1905-1993, undated (Reels 5252-5254)
Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1859-1969, undated (Reels 5254, 5741)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1840-1970, undated (Reels 5254-5255, 5741)
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), an energetic and multitalented man, pursued many interests and careers during his very long and active life. At various times he was an architect, draftsman, carpenter, unskilled laborer, painter, illustrator, printmaker, commercial artist, designer, traveler/explorer, writer, professional lecturer, dairy farmer, and political activist.
While studying architecture at Columbia University, Kent enrolled in William Merritt Chase's summer school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He then redirected his career ambitions toward painting and continued to study with Chase in New York. Kent spent a summer working and living with Abbott H. Thayer in Dublin, New Hampshire, and attended the New York School of Art, where Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller were his teachers.
Critically and financially, Kent was a successful artist. He was very well known for his illustration work--particularly limited editions of the classics, bookplates, and Christmas cards. He was a prolific printmaker, and his prints and paintings were acquired by many major museums and private collectors. During the post-World War II era, Kent's political sympathies resulted in the loss of commissions, and his adherence to artistic conservatism and outspoken opposition to modern art led to disfavor within art circles. After many years of declining reputation in this country and unsuccessful attempts to find a home for the Kent Collection, Kent gave his unsold paintings--the majority of his oeuvre--to the Soviet Union, where he continued to be immensely popular.
An avid traveler, Kent was especially fascinated by remote, Arctic lands and often stayed for extended periods of time to paint, write, and become acquainted with the local inhabitants. Between 1918 and 1935, he wrote and illustrated several popular books about his experiences in Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kent was much in demand as a lecturer, making several nationwide tours under the management of a professional lecture bureau; he spoke mainly about his travels, but among his standard lectures were some on "art for the people."
In 1927, Kent purchased Asgaard Farm at AuSable Forks, New York, in the Adirondacks, where he lived for the remainder of his life, operating a modern dairy farm on a modest scale for many years.
As a young man, Kent met Rufus Weeks, became committed to social justice, and joined the Socialist Party. Throughout his life, he supported left-wing causes and was a member or officer of many organizations promoting world peace and harmonious relations with the Soviet Union, civil rights, civil liberties, antifascism, and organized labor. Kent was frequently featured as a celebrity sponsor or speaker at fund-raising events for these causes. In 1948, he ran unsuccessfully as the American Labor Party's candidate for Congress. Kent's unpopular political views eventually led to the dissolution of his dairy business, resulted in a summons to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport, an action that subsequently was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kent wrote two autobiographies, This Is My Own (1940) and It's Me, O Lord (1955). In 1969, he was the subject of an oral history interview conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art.
1882 -- born, Tarrytown, New York
1887 -- death of Rockwell Kent, Sr.
1894-1896 -- attended Cheshire Academy
1895 -- toured Europe with Aunt Jo
1896 -- attended Horace Mann School, New York City
1900-1902 -- studied architecture at Columbia University
1900-1902 -- attended William Merritt Chase's summer school, Shinnecock Hills, Long Island
1903 -- studied with William Merritt Chase, New York City
1904 -- first sale of a painting
1904 -- met Rufus Weeks and attended first Socialist meeting
1905 -- lived and worked with Abbott H. Thayer, Dublin, New Hampshire
1905 -- first painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine
1907 -- first one-man show, Claussen Galleries, New York City
1908 -- marriage to Kathleen Whiting
1908 -- studied with Robert Henri
1908 -- joined Socialist Party
1909 -- birth of Rockwell, III
1910 -- ran Monhegan Summer School of Art
1910 -- first trip to Newfoundland
1910 -- helped to organize first Independent Exhibition
1911 -- birth of Kathleen
1912 -- moved to Winona, Minnesota
1913 -- birth of Clara
1914 -- settled in Newfoundland
1915 -- deported from Newfoundland
1915 -- birth of Barbara
1917 -- served as full-time organizer and administrator of Independent Exhibition
1918-1919 -- in Alaska with son Rocky
1919 -- purchased Egypt Farm, Arlington, Vermont
1919 -- incorporated self
1920 -- publication of Wilderness
1920 -- birth of Gordon
1922 -- traveled to Tierra del Fuego
1924 -- publication of Voyaging
1925 -- trip to France
1925 -- divorced from Kathleen
1926 -- marriage to Frances Lee
1926 -- traveled to Ireland
1927 -- purchased Asgaard Farm, AuSable, New York
1927 -- editor of Creative Art
1927 -- helped organize National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Washington, D.C.
1929 -- sailed to Greenland on Direction
1930 -- publication of N by E
1932-1933 -- returned to Greenland
1934-1935 -- final trip to Greenland
1935 -- publication of Salamina
1936 -- trip to Puerto Rico
1937 -- trip to Brazil
1937-1938 -- Post Office Department mural commission and controversy over Eskimo-language message interpreted as encouraging Puerto Rican independence
1939 -- divorced from Frances
1939 -- General Electric Co. mural commission for New York World's Fair
1940 -- publication of This Is My Own
1940 -- marriage to Shirley Johnstone (Sally)
1942 -- solo exhibition, Know and Defend America, at Wildenstein Galleries, New York City
1946 -- elected to Executive Committee of American Labor Party
1948 -- congressional candidate, American Labor Party
1948 -- transferred ownership of dairy to remaining employees after boycott resulting from support of Wallace for president
1949 -- attended World Congress for Peace, Paris
1950-1958 -- denied U.S. passport; lawsuit, appeals, and Supreme Court decision reinstating right to travel
1953 -- testified before House Un-American Activities Committee
1955 -- publication of It's Me, O Lord
1958 -- one-man show at Hermitage Museum, Leningrad
1959 -- publication of Of Men and Mountains
1960 -- gift of Kent Collection to Friendship House, Moscow
1960 -- exhibition at Pushkin Museum, Moscow
1963 -- publication of Greenland Journal
1966 -- elected to Academy of Arts of the USSR
1967 -- awarded Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow
1969 -- oral history interview, Archives of American Art
1969 -- home at Asgaard destroyed by fire; papers survived with some water and smoke damage
1969 -- first installment of Rockwell Kent Papers donated to Archives of American Art
1971 -- died, Plattsburgh, New York
1971 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
1979 -- gift of textile samples to the Archives of American Art
1996 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
2000 -- death of Sally [Shirley Johnstone] Kent Gorton
2000 -- previously sealed correspondence of wives Frances and Sally (Series 1) opened to researchers
2001 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent papers to the Archives of American Art from the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton
In 1969, Rockwell Kent donated his papers to the Archives of American Art; textile samples were received in 1979, and his widow gave additional papers in 1971 and 1996. Letters to Rockwell Kent from wives Frances and Sally, sealed during Sally Kent Gorton's lifetime, became available for research after her death in 2000, and further material was donated to the Archives of American Art in 2001 by the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton.
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not microfilmed or digitized requires an appointment.
Biographical material, letters, art works, 2 contracts, notes, writings, subject files, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs document the journalism and portraiture of S.J. Woolf. His subjects included many of the twentieth century's most influential figures.
Scrapbook I contains circa 400 photographs of charcoal portraits of noted figures in politics, business, science, and the arts, drawn by Woolf between 1918 and 1948 for the "New York Times" magazine series "Drawings from Life." The other three scrapbooks contain clippings, 1923-1948, of the brief biographies, written by Woolf from his conversations with his subjects as he drew them, which were published with the drawings. The third scrapbook also includes an original drawing of Alfred E. Smith and Woolf's obituaries.
Birth announcements for Woolf, 1880; a passport, 1929; documents relating to Woolf's work as a war correspondent, 1942-1944; letters, 1847-1903, mentioning musical and theatrical activities of Woolf's relatives including his grandfather Edward Woolf and his great-uncle Benjamin Woolf; letters to Woolf concerning his work, 1910-1949; an essay "My Brownstone Aunts" by Woolf's wife Edith Truman Woolf; 2 essays by Woolf on his career; 5 drawings by Woolf, including portraits of Calvin Coolidge and Alfred Sloan; a caricature of Woolf by "V.D.S."; a cariacture of English actor Farren by Edward Woolf, 1835; a design to decorate a bar by Muriel Hobson; 350 subject files, 1904-1986, containing letters, clippings, and typescripts concerning noted figures in politics, business, science, and the arts, such as Irving Berlin, Albert Einstein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Mark Twain; and files on the Snyder-Grey trial, 1927, the Bruno Hauptmann execution, 1936, Woolf's book, "Here Am I," 1941-1942, and Woolf's work at the front during both World Wars; 4 scrapbooks, 1900-1948, containing clippings, letters, drawings, war zone passes, and Woolf's birth certificate and photograph; clippings, 1903-1980, including articles about Benjamin Woolf and Edith Truman Woolf; 2 exhibition catalogs, 1919 and 1935; photographs, 1890-1941, of Woolf, his family and colleagues, an art class, an exhibition installation, and works of art.
Biographical / Historical:
S. J. Woolf (1880-1948) was a graphic artist, journalist, illusrator in New York, N.Y. Born into a family long active in the arts, Woolf studied at the Art Students League and at the National Academy of Design. He developed a reputation as a portraitist, primarily drawing celebrities for "Collier's", and, beginning in 1923, combining his portraits with his written accounts of his "personality interviews" for the "New York Times." Woolf also served as a special correspondent during both world wars.
Scrapbooks on reels 4065-4066 lent for microfilming, and remainder donated by Dr. Deborah Hobson, Woolf's granddaughter, through the National Portrait Gallery, which received the papers along with 107 drawings by Woolf of prominent Americans. The papers were transferred to the Archives of American Art, 1988 and 1992.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Access to original papers requires an appointment. Access to audiovisual recording with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
To his cousin Constance, 1943 Feb. 7, Biddle writes about being named chairman of the War Department's Art Advisory Board which entailed selecting and sending artists (including himself) to North Africa and Italy to create a pictorial war record. "...not factual reportage," he adds, "but the emotional impact of the war on an artist...I am very interested to [sic] in inducting writers into the set-up. John Steinbeck is one of my Committee and I hope to make up that question with McCloy [assistant Sec. of War] next week."
In the second letter, 1945 Mar. 27, written from San Angel, Mexico, Biddle mostly describes a stabbing accident undergone by his son, Michael; he briefly discusses the gloomy economic situation in Mexico.
Biographical / Historical:
Biddle, a painter, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., is known as the person responsible for recommending to Franklin Roosevelt a federal art program for artists, giving rise to the Public Works of Art Project and subsequent art projects of the Treasury Department and Works Progress Administration.
Biddle's drawings from World War II were published in Artist At War (New York: The Viking Press, 1944)
Lent for microfilming 1994 by Helen Zimmermann, who was raised by Constance Biddle and her sister; the letters were among Constance's effects at her death.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.