An interview of Tibor de Nagy conducted 1976 March 29, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. de Nagy disusses his family and educational background; his partnership with John Myers; exhibitions by Carl Andre, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Constantino Nivola, and Larry Rivers at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery; the gallery's clientele including Leo Castelli, Frank O'Hara, Alex Bates, Thomas Hess, and others. De Nagy also speaks of his relationship with museum curators and changes in the art market during the 1950s.
Biographical / Historical:
Tibor de Nagy (1908-1993) was an art dealer from New York, New York.
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 56 min.
This interview is part of the Archives' 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.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Art galleries, Commercial -- Economic aspects Search this
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.
The records of the New York Tibor de Nagy Gallery measure 43.9 linear feet and date from 1941-2016. The records document the activities of the gallery through business records and correspondence, exhibition files, artist files, financial and legal records, inventory records, and a small amount of records of the Houston Branch.
Scope and Contents:
The records of the New York Tibor de Nagy Gallery measure 43.9 linear feet and date from 1941-2016. The records document the activities of the gallery through business records and correspondence, exhibition files, artist files, financial and legal records, inventory records, a small amount of records of the Houston Branch, and exhibition announcements.
Business records include correspondence and administrative files. Business correspondence is with clients, curators, galleries, museums, colleges and universities, organizations, and publications, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Art Dealers Association, National Institute of Arts and Letters, United States Information Agency, The Hirshhorn Museum, Art News, Art in America, Pauli Hirsch, Jacqueline Kennedy, Charles Penney, Nelson Rockefeller, and many others. Correspondence concerns sales, purchases, shipping, loans, general exhibitions, publicity, events, publications and publishing, and other topics. Additional documents found within the correspondence files are purchase invoices, inquiries, shipping receipts, and photographs. Correspondence with artists is found in the Artist Files series. Administrative files concern day-to-day operations and include leases and construction documents, incorporation, insurance, art appraisals, art framing, and other general business affairs.
Exhibition files document many exhibitions held at the Gallery and include clippings and research materials, exhibition catalogs, exhibit and gallery plans, correspondence, and photographs. Some loan agreements and shipping receipts are also included.
Artist files document business affairs with individual artists and also contain collected information on artists. Typically, there are several files on each artist which may include printed materials, biographies, consignments, loans documentation, sales documentation, correspondence, photographic material, publicity, and reviews. Artists well represented among these files include Rosemarie Castoro, Ray Ciarrocchi, Robert Goodnough, Harold Gregor, Red Grooms (including a transcript of "A Conversation with Marison and Red Grooms"), Joyce Kozloff, Peter Reginato, Tony Robbin, Leatrice Rose, and Nancy Witteman-Widrig.
Financial records include incomplete runs of billing statements, expenses and cash disbursements, paid and unpaid invoices, and sales and shipping receipts. Inventory records consist primarily of index cards and/or sheets that document stock, consignments, loans, sales, and shipping.
A relatively small amount of Houston branch records include announcements, clippings, correspondence, financial information including consignments, income, invoices, and statements, photographs, publicity materials and a research file on Houston art museums.
Exhibition announcements promote the gallery's exhibitions for artists including Joe Brainard, Shirley Jaffe, Fairfield Porter, Rosemarie Castoro, Alfred Leslie, and many others.
The Tibor de Nagy Gallery records are arranged into seven series.
Series 1: Business Records and Correpondence, 1950-1993 (10 linear feet; Boxes 1-10)
Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1941-1992 (2 linear feet; Boxes 11-12)
Series 3: Artist Files, 1956-1993 (18.6 linear feet; Boxes 13-31, 46)
Series 4: Financial and Legal Records, 1951-1984 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 31-34)
Series 5: Inventory Records, 1952-1989 (9 linear feet; Boxes 34-43)
Series 6: Houston Branch Records, 1969-1984 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 43-45)
Series 7: Exhibition Announcements, 1953-2016 (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 47-48)
Biographical / Historical:
One of the earliest modern art galleries in New York, Tibor de Nagy Gallery was founded in 1950 by Tibor de Nagy and John Bernard Myers. Initially the gallery featured the work of second generation Abstract Expressionists and continues to operate today with a focus on the Post War second generation New York School.
John B. Myers served as the gallery's first director and De Nagy was the business manager while continuing to work in the banking business. Early on, the gallery introduced and promoted second generation Abstract Expressionists such as Grace Hartigan and Alfred Leslie. The gallery quickly earned a reputation for promoting the work of emerging artists, including Carl Andre, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Red Grooms, Fairfield Porter, and Larry Rivers, among others, giving many of them their first solo shows.
Later the gallery gained a reputation as a space for collaborative artistic ventures and organized exhibitions that combined visual imagery and poetry by several New York School poets. The gallery also published books by poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and James Schuyler, as well as a poetry newsletter entitled Semi-Colon.
In 1973 de Nagy teamed with Marvin Watson to open the Watson/deNagy Gallery in Houston, which closed in 1983. Tibor de Nagy retired from banking in 1970 and continued running the gallery until he died in 1993. The Tibor de Nagy gallery continues operating today at 724 Fifth Avenue under the direction of Andrew Arnot and Eric Brown. It also works with a number of estates, including those of Joe Brainard, Rudy Burckhardt, Donald Evans, and Jess.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are an oral history interview with Tibor de Nagy, March 29, 1976 conducted by Paul Cummings; the John Bernard Myers papers (which do not contain documentation of his work at the gallery); and the Watson/de Nagy Houston gallery records available only on microfilm, a small portion of which may also be duplicated in the original records described in this finding aid.
The records were donated by Tibor de Nagy Gallery in multiple accessions between 1993-1996 and in 2018. Additional material about the exhibition, Digital Explorations: Emerging Visions in art, 1988, donated in 2020 by one of the exhibition curators, Ligia Ercius-DiPaola.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility.
Correspondence; business records; photographs; and gallery files.
REELS 1437-1442: Correspondence and business records include priced lists for works of art, and tax records, 1972-1979. Correspondents include: Ken Greenleaf, Walter Darby, Robert Goodnough, Anthony Caro, and Forrest Moses.
REELS 1484-1488: Artists' files, 1972-1979, containing biographical information; business correspondence; priced lists of works of art; and printed matter.
Artists include Jane Allensworth, John Altoon, Walter Bannard, Nell Blaine, David Bolduc, Frank Bowling, Ken Bowman, Stanley Boxer, Lawrence Brown, Anthony Caro, Dan Christensen, Robert Cole, Stephanie K. Cole, Pat Colville, Rochella Cooper, E. E. Cummings,Bruce Cunningham, Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Friedel Dzubas, Frank Faulkner, Chuck Forsman, Paul Fournier, Sherron L. Francis, Jane Freilicher, Erik Gamble, Maurice Golubov, Robert Goodnough, K. M. Graham, Ken Greenleaf, Red Grooms, David Hare, Tom Holland, Sandria Hu, Andrew Hudson, Darryl Hughto, Richard Johnson, Otis Jones, Wayne Kimball, Joyce Kozloff, Leonard Lehrer, Robert Levers, Mary McLeary, Vincent Mariani, Forrest Moses, Robert Motherwell, Stephen Mueller, Lowell Nesbitt, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Basilios Poulos, Janis Provisor, Archie Rand, Harold Reddicliffe, Peter Reginato, Dan Rizzie, Tony Robbin, Reginald Rowe, Laura Russell, Tom Sayre, Sam Scott, Paul Sloggett, Daniel Solomon, Michael Steiner, Robert Tiemann, Sidney Tillum, Horatio Torres, Robert Utterback, Neil Welliver, Mark Williams, Dadi Wirz, and Ben Woitena. Also included are ex-artists Wayne Amedee,David Budd, Rosemarie Castoro, Robert Dash, Carl Gliko, Jacqueline Gourevitch, Gilah Hirsch, Ian Hornak, Rafael Mahdavi, and Larry Poons.
REEL 1489: Photographs of artists and art work from the artists' files, 1972-1979.
REELS 3366-3367: Gallery files on artist Earl Staley containing correspondence, 1980-1984, of Marvin Watson and Clint Willour of Watson/de Nagy & Company with Staley, the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Western States Arts Foundation, Santa Fe, and others; illustrated postcards, 1981-1983, from Staley to Watson; a checklist of Staley's exhibition FIVE TEXANS IN VENICE, 1984; lists of Staley's paintings; clippings and magazine articles; exhibition announcements and photocopies of catalogs; and newsletters and press releases. [Microfilm label: Earl Staley papers.]
Biographical / Historical:
Art gallery; Houston, Tex. Prior to ca. 1976, Watson/de Nagy & Company was known as Tibor de Nagy Gallery Texas, Inc. - a branch of Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. After 1985 it was known as the Watson Gallery.
Lent for microfilming 1979 & 1984 by Marvin Watson, owner of the gallery. Microfilmed as part of Archives of American Art's Texas project.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.