An interview of Charles Alan conducted 1970 August 20-25, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.
Alan speaks of studying scene and stage design; attending Yale School of Drama; doing illustrations for various publications; traveling and studying in Europe; working as a set designer for MGM and Warner Brothers; his experiences working at the Downtown Gallery; his thoughts and recollections about Edith Halpert; leaving Downtown Gallery and starting his own gallery; his opinions on the future of small galleries in New York; museum purchases; Edith Halpert's art collection; selling his gallery to Felix Landau; and various thoughts concerning the art world. He recalls Norman Bell Geddes, Edith Halpert, Stuart Davis, Julien Levy, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Kirk Askew, Raymond Breinin, Ben Shahn, George Washburn, Edward Root, Joe Hirshhorn, John Marin, John Marin Jr., Lawrence Allen, Georgia O'Keeffe, William Harnett, Julian Levi, Jack Levine, Karl Zerbe, Bruce Conner, Richard Baker, Paul Sachs, and many others.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Alan (1908?-1975) was an art dealer from New York, New York. Alan attended Horace Mann School, graduating in 1924. Attended Yale School of Drama in 1925, then worked as a set designer for MGM and Warner Brothers. In 1930, Alan became a theatrical set designer and director. After serving in the Army in World War II, he worked for Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery. In 1952, he opened the Charles Alan Gallery, specializing in contemporary art. Alan closed the gallery in 1970 to become a private dealer.
Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 58 min.
These interviews are 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
Set Designers -- United States -- Interviews Search this
This material does not cover all clients and projects undertaken by Dreyfuss. This collection consists of theater design materials, industrial design materials, primarily, though not exclusively, from the 1950s and 60s, draft copies of his books, including extensive research files for the "Symbol Sourcebook," texts of lectures delivered by Dreyfuss, and biographical material. Included is Dreyfuss's Brown Book which provides an outline of his achievements. Photographs and slides of many of his designs are included. Materials relating to three publications include original drafts of the books with author notes, drawings, photographs, correspondence, and research materials. Also contains materials relating to the symbols exhibition held at the Hallmark Gallery in New York City in 1972.This collection was the source of many of the objects and issues addressed in Cooper-Hewitt's 1997 exhibition, "Henry Dreyfuss: Directing Design", and companion book, "Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer: The Man in the Brown Suit", both conceived by Russell Flinchum. 311 reels of microfilm documenting most of the projects undertaken by Dreyfuss Associates were created by the firm and added to the collection later.
Materials are arranged into four record groups: 1) Biographical information; 2) Theater design; 3) Industrial design; and 4) Publications.
The biographical material is arranged into four sub groups:1) Lectures and Articles by Dreyfuss; 2) Articles about Dreyfuss; 3) Dreyfuss firm promotional mailings; and 4) Other material (photos, awards, etc.).Each sub-group is filed chronologically.
The Industrial Design records are divided into two sub groups:Early Industrial Design, 1929-1935, and Industrial Design, 1936-1969, and arearranged alphabetically by client name.
The publication materials arearranged alphabetically by title of publication.
Industrial and stage designer. Born New York, March 2, 1904. Attended Society for Ethical Culture High School in New York. Apprenticed to designer Norman Bel Geddes, 1922-1924. Established his own industrial design firm in 1929. His clients included Bell Telephone Laboratories, Deere & Company, Honeywell, Inc., Polaroid Corporation, General Electric, the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World's Fairs, New York Central Railroad, Hoover Company, Singer Sewing Machine Company, Royal Typewriter Co., Lockheed Aircraft, McCall's magazine, and others.
Dreyfuss was a founding member of the Society of Industrial Designers, and the first president of the Industrial Designers Society of America. He is best known for his designs for the Bell 500 and Trimline telephones, the Westclox Big Ben alarm clock, Deere & Company tractors, Polaroid's Automatic 100, Swinger, and SX-70 Land Cameras, and New York Central Railroad's 1938 Twentieth Century Limited. In the 1950s, Dreyfuss was one of the pioneers in the application of anthropometrics (the study of human dimensions and capabilities) in his designs. In 1969, Dreyfuss retired from his firm, but remained active as a corporate consultant. He was the author of several important books including: "Designing for People", 1955; "Measure of Man", 1959; and "Symbol Sourcebook", 1972.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Applied Arts Department. Models and realized objects including control knobs for GM and Deere vehicles, plastic plates and various ceramic pieces with international symbols, Trimline telephones, an RCA Victor radio, a Westclox "Big Ben" alarm clock, and a Presco "AirClip" hair clipper.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Drawings and Prints Department. Hundreds of drawings of designs for tractors, train, plane, and ship interiors, television and radio cabinets, product labels, logos, packaging, office buildings, and costumes.
Other archival repositories containing Dreyfuss materials include: AT&T Archives, Warren, New Jersey; Deere & Co. Archives, Moline, Iowa; Honeywell Archives, Minneapolis, MN; Hoover Company, Canton, Ohio; Polaroid Archives, Cambridge, MA; Billy Rose Theater Collection, New York Public Library; Ethical Culture/Fieldson School Archives, New York; New York Central System Historical Society, Inc.
United Scenic Artists Local 829 Archives, New York; New York World's Fair 1939-40 Archives, Manuscript Division, New York Public Library; and San Diego Aerospace Museum Archives.
Henry Dreyfuss and Doris Marks donated his papers to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in the fall of 1972.
Additional materials were transferred to the museum in 1973 from the University of California at Los Angeles, which held a small collection of material deeded by Henry Dreyfuss in 1962.
311 reels of microfilm were donated to the museum in 1992.
Unrestricted research use onsite by appointment. Permission of staff required to photograph material.
Biographical material, reminiscences, art works, scrapbooks about Alexandre Iacovleff and Ivanov-Rinov's career, and a photograph album document his Russian childhood, painting, and set design.
Biographical material consists of a biographical sketch and an obituary (1966). In a 1935 manuscript, Ivanov-Rinov reminisces about his boyhood in Russia. Art works consist of 16 sketchbooks (1941-1968), over 300 sketches including set designs, and 2 etching plates. Some sketches are in watercolor, gouache and oil. A scrapbook about Alexandre Iacovleff contains photographs of Iacovleff and his work, reproductions of his work, an exhibition catalog, and 5 drawings by Bill Barss. A photograph album contains photographs of Ivanov-Rinov, his family, friends, and views from his travels within the United States (ca. 1920s).
Four scrapbooks (1902-1974) contain a passport (1921), certificates (1922-1932, 1938), 10 drawings by Ivanov-Rinov including a portrait of Joshua Logan (1931) and 4 set designs for the St. Louis Community Playhouse, 6 drawings by Bill James including a watercolor portrait of Ivanov-Rinov (1941), 5 letters from Alexander James (1937-1940), clippings (1932-1968), exhibition catalogs (1941-1957), and photographs of Ivanov-Rinov, his family in Russia, China, and the United States, friends, his studio, art works, and exhibitions. One group photograph shows the University Players including Henry Fonda and Joshua Logan (1931).
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, art instructor, and set decorator. Born in Russian Siberia to a Siberian Cossack family. His father was the military governor of Turkestan. During the Russian civil war, the family fled to Tientsin, China. Immigrating to the United States in 1922, Ivanov-Rinov became interested in art and studied with Alexander Iacovleff at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston during the 1930s. He designed stage sets for the University Players in the early 1930s and for the St. Louis Community Playhouse from the late 1930s until the early 1940s. Settling in Dublin, New Hampshire, with his second wife, Muriel, he befriended painter Alexander James and conducted art classes in Dublin and Keene, New Hampshire.
Material has been annotated by Ivanov-Rinov's widow Muriel Ivanov-Rinov, who donated the collection.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.