The Howard W. and Jean Lipman papers measure 46.6 linear feet and span the years 1916 to 2000, with one brochure maintained in a research file dating to 1848. The bulk dates for the collection are 1932 to 1992. The papers primarily concern the art collecting activities and interests of the Lipmans which included modern American sculpture, American folk art, and other contemporary American paintings. Found within the papers are correspondence files, notes and printed material that served as research and reference material, along with financial material. The collection also contains writings, notes, and editorial material used by Jean Lipman in her dual roles as an editor for Art in America magazine and as a respected art critic and author.
Scope and Content Note:
The Howard W. and Jean Lipman papers measure 46.6 linear feet and span the years 1916 to 2000. A copy of an 1848 brochure, retained by Jean Lipman in her research and writings files accounts for the early span date listed in the title of the collection. The bulk dates for the collection are 1932 to 1992. The records include correspondence, notes and printed material that served as research and reference material, along with some financial material that documents the art collecting activities and interests of the Lipmans. The collection also contains writing and editorial material used by Jean Lipman in her dual roles as an editor for Art in America magazine and as a respected author.
The Personal Files describe the social activities and associations of the Lipmans and include biographical information, personal and family correspondence, gift giving activities, the art career of Jean Lipman, and relationships maintained by the Lipmans with various art organizations.
The Howard and Jean Lipman Art Collection Files describe the art collecting activities and interests of the Lipmans throughout their lifetime. The General Files section consists of reference files on art organizations and galleries with whom the Lipmans maintained relationships. Also included are particular topics or exhibitions of interest to the Lipmans. The Sculptors and Painters of Interest section served as reference files about the activities of artists in whom the Lipmans were interested and whose works they owned, or considered owning. The Folk Art Collection section documents the collecting and purchasing activities of the Lipmans as they amassed and then subsequently sold their two significant folk art collections.
The Artists Files document the friendship and projects that developed between the Lipmans and three major American artists: Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith. Of special interest to researchers will be some original Calder artwork mixed into the correspondence between the Lipmans and Calder, as well as drawings, sketches, prints, and posters found in the associated oversize folder. Also found in the Calder subseries are some proofs from Calder's Circus, edited by Jean Lipman.
The Research and Writing Files is divided into five sections dealing with research and writing projects undertaken by Jean Lipman. The first three sections deal with biographical projects that resulted in books or articles about three significant American primitive artists: Jurgan Frederick Huge, Rufus Porter, and Samuel Wood Gaylor. The fourth section deals with writing projects that resulted in the publication of several generalized books on the topic of American folk art. The final section consists of materials associated with the published articles and other authored works of Jean Lipman on a variety of American art topics.
The Art in America Editorial Files consists of editorial material maintained by Jean Lipman during her tenure (1941-1971) as editor of Art in America. The Financial Files reflect the early financial activities of the magazine during the brief period when the Lipmans owned it.
During the period that Jean Lipman served as editor, a variety of distinguished art historians, artists, architects, novelists, and poets contributed articles, columns, or artwork to the magazine. A sampling of correspondents that can be found in the general correspondence of this series include: Joseph Albers, Marcel DuChamp, John Dos Passos, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Sheeler, and Andrew Wyeth. The General Correspondence Files also document the two subsequent changes of ownership and the growth of subscribers that occurred during the period of Lipman's editorship.
Editorial material related to individual magazine issues is found within this series, as well as information pertaining to the innovative advertising and special projects undertaken by the magazine as it sought to expand its readership and prestige. The Art in America series also chronicles the changes at the magazine that led to Lipman's resignation as editor in 1971.
The collection is arranged as five series. Arrangement is generally alphabetical by subject heading or type of material. Items within folders are arranged chronologically by year.
Series 1: Personal Files (Boxes 1-3; 3 linear ft.)
Series 2: Howard and Jean Lipman Art Collection (Boxes 3-15; 12 linear ft.)
Series 3: Artists Files (Boxes 15-18, 46-47, OV 50-52; 3.6 linear ft.)
Series 4: Research and Writings Files (Boxes 18-28, 48; OV 50, 53; 10.3 linear ft.)
Series 5: -- Art in America -- Editorial Files (Boxes 28-45; 49, OV 50; 17.3 linear ft.)
Howard W. and Jean Lipman shared a lifetime sponsorship of art. The Lipmans' personal art collection, acquired throughout their marriage, was eventually divided into three separate parts: The Howard W. Lipman Foundation collection that was donated and merged into the modern sculpture holdings of the Whitney Museum of American Art; an American folk art collection that was later sold through two separate auctions in 1950 and 1981 and is now part of the holdings of the New York Historical Association and the Museum of American Folk Art; and a personal collection that was retained and displayed in the Lipmans' various residences in Connecticut, New York, and Arizona.
Married in 1933, the Lipmans began jointly collecting American folk art at a time when few art museums or institutions recognized the historical and artistic value of early primitive, self-taught artists. By the late 1940s, the Lipmans had amassed a large, significant collection that was highly regarded for its quality and scope.
During the early 1950s, the Lipmans also began actively collecting sculpture, focusing upon American contemporary sculptors. In the late 1950s they created the Howard W. Lipman Foundation, with an initial inventory of forty sculptures and three paintings by contemporary American artists. The purpose of the foundation was to acquire significant works by emerging American sculptors and to make them available through loans or donations to various art institutions.
In 1965 the Howard W. Lipman Foundation approached the Whitney Museum of American Art with a proposal to coordinate the foundation's efforts and goals with the museum's contemporary sculpture program. The foundation offered a majority of its growing collection of sculpture and acquisition funds towards the development of the evolving permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Thereafter, the Howard W. Lipman Foundation served in an advisory role to the museum's acquisitions, and the foundation supplied the necessary funds to acquire works of sculpture desired by the Whitney for its permanent collection.
In addition to their folk art and foundation collections, the Lipmans also acquired important works by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith, through their lifelong association and friendship with these artists. Many of these pieces were retained in the Lipmans' personal collection throughout their lives.
Individually the Lipmans also expressed their interest in art through various means. Jean Lipman served as editor of Art in America magazine from 1940 to 1970, which provided her with continuous exposure to emerging artists and trends in American art. Jean Lipman's abiding interest in folk and contemporary art was also expressed through her voluminous writings. Throughout her life she wrote and edited highly acclaimed books and articles about major themes and artists in American art, and she was a recognized folk art authority and connoisseur. Some of her best known works include: The Flowering of American Folk Art; Rufus Porter, Yankee Wall Painter; and Calder's Universe.
Jean Lipman, born in 1909, was also an amateur artist in her later years, creating paintings and assemblages that often dealt with the theme of "art about art." She was represented by a gallery in New York City, as well as one in Arizona, and she had several solo exhibitions.
Howard W. Lipman, born in 1905, showed an early interest in art. By the mid 1920s he had gone to Paris to study painting, but Lipman found himself more attracted to sculpture and he began studying with a German wood carver. In the late 1930s, after returning to the New York City area, Lipman began stone carving with the Clay Club on Eighth Street, adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was represented by a New York City gallery and participated in local exhibitions.
Deciding that his sculptural talent was not sufficient for professional pursuit, Lipman began his business career as a stockbroker in Neuberger and Berman, a prominent New York investment management firm that he helped to establish in 1939. Lipman subsequently channeled his artistic endeavors toward collecting and supporting the work of established and emerging American sculptors. He also served on the boards of both the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Archives of American Art.
Howard and Jean Lipman maintained long and close relationships with three prominent American artists: Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith. Jean Lipman, in particular, was involved in promoting and documenting Calder and his works through numerous articles, books, and exhibitions that she helped produce as editor of the magazine Art in America and publications director for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Calder's Universe, which she edited to accompany a major Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective exhibition of his works in 1976, was considered by Calder to be his "official" biography. The book went to fourteen printings, one of the largest ever, in the history of art books.
The Lipmans were also great admirers of Louise Nevelson and her work. They purchased her artwork for their own collection, as well as donating pieces to various art museums and institutions. Jean Lipman wrote articles about Nevelson and edited the book, Nevelson's World.
David Smith and the Lipmans established a friendship in the late 1950s that lasted until Smith's untimely death in May 1965. The Lipmans purchased several Smith sculptures, which they placed on the grounds of their Wilton, Connecticut, home. They also purchased Smith works for donation to public institutions, such as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The Lipmans retired to Carefree, Arizona, a private residential community renowned for its sensitivity to ecologically-based, architectural design. Howard Lipman died in 1992. Jean Lipman remained active in art and community affairs until her death in 1998.
The papers of Howard and Jean Lipman were initially donated to the Archives of American Art by Howard and Jean Lipman from 1965-1989. Subsequent additions to the original gift were made by Jean Lipman in 1998 and by Peter and Beverly Lipman in 2001. Several small portions of these early accessions were microfilmed.
An associated gift that was originally accessioned as the Art in America Magazine Records was made by Howard and Jean Lipman from 1970-1973. This group, which largely consisted of Jean Lipman's editorial files from her years as editor of the magazine, was subsequently merged with the Howard W. and Jean Lipman records in 2004.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Howard W. and Jean Lipman 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.
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