An interview of Mary Fuller McChesney conducted 1994 Sept. 28, by Susan Landauer, for the Archives of American Art, Women in the Arts in Southern California Oral History Project, at the artist's home, on Sonoma Mountain, Calif.
Fuller McChesney discusses her childhood and growing up during the Depression; her student days at the University of California, Berkeley; the political response on the campus to WWII and the Japanese interment; her experience working as a welder in the shipyards which she considers her introduction to sculpture; her introduction to the art community in San Francisco through the cooperative Artists' Guild Gallery; her association with the Abstract Expressionists at the California School of Fine Arts in the 1940s; her foray into writing fiction and her success as a mystery writer; her work on the Archives of American Art's oral history project documenting the WPA art project in California; her first significant publication on the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, Period of Exploration, and the interviews she conducted in the mid-late 1960s for the project.
She describes her attitudes and philosphies about art; living at Point Richmond with her husband Robert McChesney, Edward Corbett, Hassel Smith, and poet Weldon Kees during the late 1940s; her impressions of the Cedar Bar and New York artists during the mid-late 1960s; her own artistic evolution and career as a sculptor; the intellectual and artistic sources of her work; her subjects and techniques; her public commissions; her audience and market; and her experiences and perspectives as a woman artist and feminist. She recalls Edward Corbett, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Weldon Kees, Douglas MacAgy, Bea Mandelman, Conrad Marca-Relli, Agnes Martin, Robert McChesney, David Park, Ad Reinhardt, Louis Ribak, Hassel Smith, Clay Spohn, Clyfford Still, and Esteban Vicente.
Biographical / Historical:
Mary Fuller McChesney (1922-2022) was a sculptor and art historian in San Francisco and Petaluma, Calif.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 58 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. Funding for this interview was provided by the Margery and Harry Kahn Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund of New York.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
The papers of New York School painter and sculptor Fritz Bultman, 1928-2010, bulk 1940s-1990s, measure 11.9 linear feet. They document Bultman's professional activities, ties to the Abstract Expressionist movement, and his personal life. Letters from friends and family include many from Hans and Maria Hofmann. Letters by Bultman are mostly to family; also found are a few drafts and copies of business and personal letters. Writings and notes are by and about Bultman. Notebooks/sketchbooks (39 volumes) include autobiographical writings, notes on dreams and thoughts while in psychoanalysis, many sketches and some completed drawings. Subject files reflect Bultman's professional activities, interests, and relationships; Hans Hofmann is the most thoroughly documented subject. Extensive printed material concerns Bultman's activities and exhibitions; also included are his published writings. Most photographs are of artwork, Bultman, his family and friends. Also found are biographical materials, 4 diaries, 6 interviews with Fritz Bultman and Jeanne Bultman, and a small amount of artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of New York School painter and sculptor Fritz Bultlman, 1928-2010, bulk 1940s-1990s, measure 11.9 linear feet. They document Bultman's professional activities, ties to the Abstract Expressionist movement, and his personal life. Letters from friends and family include many from Hans and Maria Hofmann. Letters by Bultman are mostly to family; also found are a few drafts and copies of business and personal letters. Writings and notes are by and about Bultman. Notebooks/sketchbooks (39 volumes) include autobiographical writings, notes on dreams and thoughts while in psychoanalysis, many sketches and some completed drawings. Subject files reflect Bultman's professional activities, interests, and relationships. Extensive printed material concerns Bultman's activities and exhibitions; also included are his published writings. Most photographs are of artwork, Bultman, his family and friends. Also found are biographical materials, 4 diaries, 6 interviews with Fritz Bultman and Jeanne Bultman, and a small amount of artwork.
Biographical materials include school records and notice of Bultman's army classification.
Most letters are addressed to Fritz Bultman and his parents. Fritz's education in Munich and studying with Hans Hofmann is well-documented. Many letters are from Miz Hofmann and Hans Hofmann. Also found are a smaller number of letters from museums, galleries, universities, and arts organizations. The surviving letters by Bultman are mainly to his family. Most were written when he was a student in Munich or traveling in Europe. There are some drafts and copies of letters concerning professional activities, arrangements for lectures, exhibitions, and Cynthia Goodman's editing "Form and Color in the Creative Process: The Painter's Primer" by Hans Hofmann.
Most interviews focus on Bultman's career. An interview with Jeanne and Fritz Bultman is about John Graham, and one of the interviews with Jeanne Bultman concerns Hans Hofmann.
Bultman's writings and notes include articles, lectures and talks about Hans Hofman, lectures about his own work, and a book review. Among the writings about Bultman are articles, a catalog essay and exhibition review.
Notebooks/sketchbooks (39 volumes) contain a variety of writings and notes, including some that are autobiographical, along with sketches and several finished drawings. Some volumes consist of writings and notes with a few sketches and doodles while others are mainly sketchbooks containing a few stray notes and brief writings; many contain approximately the same amount of text and drawings.
Diaries (4 volumes) contain entries about his work, professional and personal activities. One volume is a record of his October 1978 trip to Istanbul.
Subject files contain varying combinations of correspondence, photographs, printed material, and manuscripts. The most extensive file relates to Hans Hofmann and includes copies of writings by him. Other files of note concern Joseph Cornell, the exhibitions "Forum '49" and "Forum '49 Revisited," Weldon Kees, Tony Smith, and Donald Windham.
The largest series, printed material, consists of exhibition catalogs, announcements, reviews, articles and clippings about or mentioning Bultman.
Noteworthy among the small amount of artwork by Bultman is an early print; also found are loose drawings and paintings on paper.
Photographs of artwork document the full range of Bultman's production --paintings, sculpture, drawings, collage, stained glass, interior design and decoration. Also found are a few photographs of works by other artists. Photographs of Fritz Bultman include many by Renate Ponsold. Other indentified individuals include parents Fred and Pauline Bultman, sister Muriel Bultman, childhood nurse Katie Belle, son Johann Bultman, Sherman Drexler, Hans Hofmann, Miz Hofmann, Miss Katsura, Lee Krasner, Annalee Newman, Barnett Newman, Alfonso Ossorio, Jeanne Reynal, Thomas Sills, Jack Tworkov, and Wally Tworkov. A group portrait of the artists of Long Point Gallery includes: Varujan Boghosian, Fritz Bultman, Carmen Cicero, Sideo Fromboluti, Budd Hopkins, Rick Klauber, Lee Manso, Sidney Simon, Robert Motherwell, Judith Rothschild, Nora Speyer, and Tony Vevers. Also found in this series are photographs of Bultman exhibition installations and views of miscellaneous places.
The collection is arranged in 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials,1928-2003 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 2: Letters, 1930-1995 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, 1968-1998 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1935-circa 1980s (Boxes 1-2; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 5: Notebooks/Sketchbooks, 1937-circa 1979 (Boxes 2-3, 11; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 6: Diaries, 1977-1979 (Box 3; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Subject Files, 1942-2010 (Boxes 3-5, 11; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1941-2006 (Boxes 5-9, OV 12; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Artwork, circa 1930s-1956 (Boxes 9, 11; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 10: Photographs, 1935-1997 (Boxes 9-10; 0.6 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Fritz Bultman (1919-1985), a New York School painter and sculptor who lived and worked in Provincetown, Massachusetts and New York City, was also a collagist, stained glass artist, and educator.
Anthony Fred Bultman, III --always known as Fritz --was from a prominent and cultured New Orleans family. He began studying art as a boy and one of his teachers was Morris Graves, a family friend. His last 2 years of high school were spent at the Munich Preparatory School, boarding with Mrs. Hans Hofmann whose husband was working in New York for an extended period. Bultman attended the New Bauhaus in Chicago before studying for three years with Hans Hofmann in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. As well as being a major influence on Bultman's development as a painter, Hofmann became a life-long friend.
Fritz Bultman met dancer and model Jeanne Lawson (1918-2008), when she was posing in Hofmann's studio during the summer of 1941. They married in 1943 and the following year bought a house in Provincetown. In 1945, Bultman built a studio designed by a friend from the New Bauhaus, sculptor and architectural designer Tony Smith, who also helped with its construction.
His first solo exhibition was held in 1947 at the Hugo Gallery, New York; others followed in 1950, again at Hugo Gallery and at Kootz Gallery, New York. After receiving an Italian Government Grant for Exchange Fellowship, Bultman spent 1950-1951 in Florence, Italy, where he learned the process of casting and began making metal sculpture. In 1952 the Bultmans moved to New York City. Depressed and beset by anxiety, Bultman began Freudian psychoanalysis, and between 1952 and 1956 produced very little artwork.
In 1958 Bultman resumed exhibiting and continued to show regularly for the remainder of his life. He enjoyed solo exhibitions in New York City, Paris, New Orleans, North Carolina, Provincetown, and other venues. Between 1958 and 1963 Bultman taught painting at Hunter College and was an instructor in design and painting at Pratt Institute. Bultman spent 1964-1965 in Paris on a Fulbright Grant painting and sculpting, studying European methods of bronze casting, and meeting French artists. Bultman maintained his reputation as a highly regarded art instructor and in later years was a sought after guest lecturer at a various colleges. While artist-in-residence at Kalamazoo College, Michigan in 1981, he designed and produced a stained glass mural with technical assistance from his wife, Jeanne Bultman, a skilled artisan.
Fritz Bultman died of cancer in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1985.
An oral history interview with Fritz Bultman, 1986 January 6, was conducted by Irving Sandler for the Archives of American Art (available on microfilm reel 3196).
Gift of Fritz Bultman in 1984, which included material lent for microfilming in 1970 and 1971. Additions donated by Jeanne Bultman, his widow, in 1988 and 2000, and by his sons, Anthony F. Bultman, IV and Ellis Johann Bultman, in 2013.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.