This collection, which measures 7.9 linear feet and dates from 1851 to 1995 (bulk 1913-1995), documents the life and career of muralist, sculptor, and educator Reuben Kadish. The papers contain biographical material, letters, personal business records, an exhibition file, notes, writings, artwork, printed material, photographs, and artifacts.
Scope and Content Note:
The Reuben Kadish papers measure 7.9 linear feet and date from 1851 to 1995 with the bulk of the material dating from 1913 to 1995. The collection documents the life and career of muralist, sculptor, and educator Reuben Kadish and contains biographical material, letters, personal business records, an exhibition file, notes, writings, artwork, printed material, photographs, and artifacts.
Biographical material, 1938-1992, includes résumés and personal identification items. Letters are from friends and colleagues including Herman Cherry, Philip Guston, Hilaire Hiler, Jules Langsner, Urban Neininger, Charles Pollock, and Jackson Pollock. One letter from the Leonard Stark family contains a small photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Personal business records, 1952-1995, consist of legal documents, including estate papers for Ida and Reuben Kadish, and financial records. The only specific exhibition file documents the 1990 exhibition Reuben Kadish: Works from 1930 to the Present at the New Jersey State Museum in 1990.
Notes include unbound notes on mural painting, printmaking, sculpture, and other art-related topics, and handwritten translations by William H. Thomson of thirty classic texts by Homer, Horace, and Demosthenes. Writings, 1975-1992, consist of an autobiographical manuscript by Kadish, and typescripts concerning Kadish and other art-related topics by other authors including Dore Ashton, Herman Cherry, Howard Conant, and Judd Tully.
Artwork, undated and 1981-1992, includes a hundred sketches and seventeen watercolors by Kadish, and a drawing for DIG (Archeology) by Barbara Kadish. Printed material relates primarily to exhibitions for Kadish and others but also includes a baseball program autographed by Darryl Strawberry. Photographs include prints of Kadish and other artists working on murals, and photographs picturing family and friends.
The collection is arranged into ten series, based on type of material. Although acquired as a gift before the rest of the collection was loaned to the Archives of American Art in 1998, eight photographs are described in Series 9: Photographs, with those included in the 1998 loan.
Each series is arranged chronologically, except Series 2: Letters and Series 6: Writings, which are arranged alphabetically according to the surname of the writer.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1938-1992 (box 1, 3 folders)
Series 2: Letters, 1934-1995, undated (boxes 1-3, 2.5 linear ft.)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1952-1995 (boxes 3-4, 37 folders)
Series 4: Exhibition File, 1989-1991 (box 4, 1 folder)
Series 5: Notes, 1851-1853, 1937-1992, undated (boxes 4-5, 35 folders)
Series 6: Writings, 1963-1992, undated (box 5, 14 folders)
Series 7: Artwork, 1981-1992, undated (boxes 5, 10, 8 folders)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1934-1993, undated (boxes 5-7, 76 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, 1913-1992, undated (boxes 7-9, sol 10, 2.0 linear ft.)
Series 10: Artifacts, undated (box 9, 1 folder)
Reuben Kadish was born in Chicago on January 29, 1913. His father and mother were from Latvia and the Ukraine respectively.
In 1921, the family moved to East Los Angeles, California, where Kadish studied painting under Lorser Feitelson. During this time, he befriended Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston, who attended the Manual Arts High School.
During a trip to New York City in 1930, Kadish was impressed with the modern art, especially the work of the Surrealists, which he saw there. Upon his return to Los Angeles the following year, Kadish attended the Otis Art School, the Stickney School of Art in Pasadena, and Los Angeles City College. He also shared a studio with Philip Guston.
In 1933, Kadish, Guston and Jules Langsner were apprenticed to Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros. Their most notable work being the mural "Triumph of Good Over Evil", at the University of Morelia in Mexico. During the next three years, the three young artists collaborated on painting murals in California and Mexico. After another visit to New York, Kadish was invited to San Francisco by Bill Gaskin to head the art division of the WPA project there, a position he occupied until 1940.
From 1940, Kadish worked as a coppersmith and welder at the Bethlehem Steel Works in San Francisco until 1942, when he joined the Army as a member of the War Artist Unit, serving in India and Southeast Asia during World War II. In 1944, he rejoined his wife Barbara in the Bay Area, but they soon returned to New York City, where Kadish worked for Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17. In the summer of 1945, the Kadish painted with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in a shared Long Island house on Slow's Point in Amagansett.
In 1946, the Kadishes moved to a dairy farm in Vernon, New Jersey, where they supported themselves by farming until 1957. A catastrophic fire in the studio destroyed most of Kadish's paintings in 1947, causing him to turn his interest to creating sculpture.
After teaching art and design at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art in 1957, Kadish taught sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum Art School from 1958-1959. In 1960, he began his thirty-year teaching career at Cooper Union, which ended only a few months before his death on September 20, 1992 in Manhattan.
Other resources relating to Reuben Kadish in the Archives of American Art include an oral history interview with Kadish, April 15, 1992.
The eight photographs on Reel 5660 were donated to the Archives of American Art in 1984 by Reuben Kadish. The other material on Reels 5655-5660 was lent for filming in 1998 by Morris and Ruth Kadish, brother and sister-in-law of Reuben Kadish, and executors of his estate, and subsequently donated to the Archives of American Art in 2002.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment. Microfilmed portion must be consulted on microfilm.
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews Search this