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Hassel Smith papers

Creator:
Smith, Hassel, 1915-2007  Search this
Names:
Gimpel Fils  Search this
New Arts (Art gallery)  Search this
San Francisco Art Institute -- Faculty  Search this
Anglim, Paule  Search this
Bischoff, Elmer, 1916-1991  Search this
Butterfield, Jan  Search this
Emmerich, AndrĂ©  Search this
Fitz Gibbon, John  Search this
Gimpel, Charles  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-  Search this
Still, Patricia  Search this
Swanson, Kathryn  Search this
Thiebaud, Wayne  Search this
Wollard, Robert  Search this
Extent:
4 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Sound recordings
Sketches
Transcripts
Christmas cards
Photographs
Date:
circa 1900-2004
bulk 1930-1995
Summary:
The papers of Southern California painter and instructor Hassel Smith measure 4 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to 2004 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1930-1995. Found within the papers are correspondence, a transcript of an interview conducted by Jan Butterfield in the 1980s, personal business files, teaching files, writings by Smith and others, sketches, printed materials, and photographs of Smith, his family and friends, and his artwork. There are audio recordings of a lecture series organized by Smith and of reviews of Smith's work. Correspondents include Paule Anglim, Elmer Bischoff, Andre Emmerich, Clyfford Still, Wayne Thiebaud, and many others.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Southern California painter and instructor Hassel Smith measure 4 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to 2004 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1930-1995. Found within the papers are correspondence, a transcript of an interview conducted by Jan Butterfield in the 1980s, personal business files, teaching files, writings by Smith and others, sketches, printed materials, and photographs of Smith, his family and friends, and his artwork. There are audio recordings of a lecture series organized by Smith and of reviews of Smith's work. Correspondents include Paule Anglim, Elmer Bischoff, Andre Emmerich, Clyfford Still, Wayne Thiebaud, and many others.

Biographical materials include biographical sketches, curriculum vitae, genealogical materials, ephemera, and personal appointment books from the mid to late 1970s. Also found here is a transcript of an in-depth interview of Smith conducted by Jan Butterfield in the 1980s.

There is personal and professional correspondence with Paule Anglim, Elmer Bischoff, Andre Emmerich, Charles Gimpel of Gimpel Fils, Clyfford and Patricia Still, Kathryn Swanson of the New Arts Gallery, Wayne Thiebaud, family members, and many others.

Personal business records include art sales records, exhibition checklists, conservation and condition reports, and personal finance records. Teaching materials include class schedules, student lists, and syllabi. Also found are notes on topics such as American art and literature, artistic traits and forms, illusion, and women artists.

Writings by Smith include artist statements, creative writings, his thoughts on the art market and art institutions, the San Francisco art community, and social criticism. Writings by others consist primarily of essays about Smith and his work. There are also writings by Smith's friend Robert Wollard. Artwork includes sketches, doodles, and Christmas cards done by Smith, and a handful of artwork by others.

Printed materials include clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and posters. Also found here are printed materials about other artists, schools where Smith enrolled or taught, Smith's general interests, and collages and flyers by Robert Wollard. There is a printed copy of the pictorial edition of the Communist Manifesto edited by Smith and other artists.

Photographic materials are of Smith, family members, artwork, his studio, exhibition openings and other art events, and friends and colleagues. A family photograph dates from circa 1900 and negatives date from 1920. Most of the photographs date from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Sound recordings include 1 sound tape reel of the radio show, Art Review, with host John Fitz Gibbon reviewing Smith's artwork, and nine sound cassettes of student critiques overseen by Smith at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 9 series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1930-2004 (0.25 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1930s-2003 (1.0 linear foot; Boxes 1-2)

Series 3: Personal Business Materials, 1953-2003 (0.25 linear feet; Box 2)

Series 4: Teaching Materials, 1960s-1980s (18 folders; Box 2)

Series 5: Writings, 1940s-1994 (0.25 linear feet; Box 2)

Series 6: Artwork, 1928-1995 (8 folders; Box 2)

Series 7: Printed Materials, 1928-2003 (1.25 linear feet; Boxes 3-4)

Series 8: Photographic Materials, 1900s-2004 (0.5 linear feet; Box 4)

Series 9: Sound Recordings, 1965-1980 (10 items; Box 4)
Biographical Note:
Hassel Smith (1915-2007) was a California Bay area abstract expressionist painter, painting instructor at the California School of Fine Arts, and a lecturer at the University of California. His students included Roy De Forest, Sonia Gechtoff, and Frank Lobdell. Smith was also associated with the famed Los Angeles Ferus Gallery.

Hassel Smith was born on April 27, 1915, in Sturgis, Michigan, settling later with his family in San Mateo, California. He attended Northwestern University with the intention of becoming a chemist, but switched his majors to English and Art History and graduated in 1936. Returning to California, Smith enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), and studied with the painter Maurice Sterne.

In 1937, he left school and shared housing with his adopted brother Lewis in the Haight-Ashbury district, where he maintained a studio on Steiner Street. At the same time, as a social worker for the California Relief State Administration, he worked with men on "skid row" in San Francisco. Declared 4F by the draft board, Smith served various government agencies during World War II, including the Farm Security Administration and the U.S. Forest Service. During this period, he met and married June Meyers. He later described his government service and social work as having a strong influence on his art and politics.

In 1941, Smith was awarded the Abraham Rosenberg Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley, which allowed him to travel and paint outdoors at Angel's Camp in the Mother Lode of the Sierra foothills, along with Richard Hackett.

At the end of the war, Smith began teaching at the CSFA, joining faculty members Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and Clyfford Still. Smith taught there until 1952. His students included Roy De Forest, Sonia Gechtoff, and Frank Lobdell. Smith continued to paint and exhibit work throughout the 1950s, and in 1958 became affiliated with the Ferus Gallery founded by Walter Hopps and Ed Kienholz. His wife June passed away in 1958. One year later, Smith remarried Donna Rafferty Harrington, and they had their son Bruce in 1960.

After an exhibition at the New Arts Gallery in Houston, London-based dealer Charles Gimpel invited Smith to exhibit his work in England. As a result of this, Smith moved to England in 1962, and spent a year living in Mousehole, a fishing village in Cornwall. He moved back to California and between 1963 to 1966 was a visiting lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1966, Smith accepted a position as Senior Lecturer at the West England College of Art in Bristol, England where he stayed until 1978. He finished his teaching career as a Principal Lecturer at the Cardiff College of Arts in Wales from 1978 to 1979.

Smith spent most of the next two decades painting and exhibiting, which included exhibitions at the Oakland Museum and the San Jose Museum of Art. In 1991, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the San Francisco Art Institute (formerly the California School of Fine Arts). Due to failing health, Smith was forced to stop painting in 1997. Smith died in 2007 in Warminster, England, at the age of 91.
Related Material:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Hassel Smith conducted by Paul Karlstrom, September 5, 1978 and a video interview with Hassel Smith conducted by Paul Karlstrom, January 15, 1986.
Provenance:
Hassel Smith donated most of his papers in several increments between 1980 and 1998. His son Joseph donated audio recordings in 1980, and Hassel Smith's widow Donna donated additional materials in 2004.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Art teachers -- California -- Berkeley  Search this
Painters -- California  Search this
Topic:
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Educators -- California -- Berkeley  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Art -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Sketches
Transcripts
Christmas cards
Photographs
Citation:
Hassel Smith papers, circa 1900-2004, bulk 1930-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.smithass
See more items in:
Hassel Smith papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-smithass
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Elmer Bischoff

Interviewee:
Bischoff, Elmer, 1916-1991  Search this
Interviewer:
Karlstrom, Paul J.  Search this
Names:
San Francisco Art Institute  Search this
University of California, San Francisco. School of Fine Arts  Search this
Brown, Joan, 1938-1990  Search this
Brown, William Theo, 1919-2012  Search this
Geis, Bill  Search this
Hudson, Robert, 1938-  Search this
MacAgy, Douglas, 1913-  Search this
Neri, Manuel, 1930-  Search this
Park, David, 1911-1960  Search this
Smith, Hassel, 1915-2007  Search this
Spohn, Clay Edgar, 1898-1977  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-1980  Search this
Wiley, William T., 1937-  Search this
Extent:
82 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1977 August 10-September 1
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Elmer Bischoff conducted 1977 August 10-September 1, by Paul J. Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art.
Bischoff speaks of his family background; the influence of art teachers and attitudes at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1930s; his years of teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (San Francisco Art Institute), first under the directorship of Douglas MacAgy and then under Ernst Mundt and Gurdon Woods; his fellow faculty members Clyfford Still, David Park, Clay Spohn and Hassel Smith, and their work in abstract expressionism. He recalls some of his most successful students, including Joan Brown, Manuel Neri, and William T. Wiley.
Bischoff explains his turning away from abstract expressionism toward figurative painting, and cites the influence of David Park. He credits George Staempfli as the first New York art dealer to be interested in Bay Area figurative painting. He discusses the origins of the Bay Area funk movement. He speaks of teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and reflects on the differences between teaching in a university environment and an art school. He discusses his move away from the figure to large scale abstraction.
Biographical / Historical:
Elmer Bischoff (1916-1991) was a painter and educator from San Francisco, California.
General:
Originally recorded 3 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 5 hr., 24 min.
Provenance:
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.
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Figurative art  Search this
Painters -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.bischo77
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-bischo77

Oral history interview with Frank Lobdell

Interviewee:
Lobdell, Frank, 1921-  Search this
Interviewer:
St. John, Terry  Search this
Names:
Bischoff, Elmer, 1916-1991  Search this
Booth, Cameron, 1892-1980  Search this
Diebenkorn, Richard, 1922-1993  Search this
Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997  Search this
Francis, Sam, 1923-1994  Search this
Hatofsky, Jerry, 1922-  Search this
Hultberg, John, 1922-  Search this
MacAgy, Douglas, 1913-  Search this
Smith, Hassel, 1915-2007  Search this
Spohn, Clay Edgar, 1898-1977  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-1980  Search this
Valvo, Ninfa, 1900-1993  Search this
Zogbaum, Wilfrid, 1915-1965  Search this
Extent:
7 Sound cassettes (Sound recording)
77 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound cassettes
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1980 Apr. 9-May 7
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Frank Lobdell conducted 1980 Apr. 9-1980 May 7, by Terry St. John, for the Archives of American Art.
Lobdell speaks of his youth and family background; his early interest in art; his education; studying with Cameron Booth; his service in the U.S. Army; artist friends and influences; political influences on his work; the community of artists in San Francisco in the 1950s, including Elmer Bischoff and Clyfford Still; his "dark years"; teaching at Stanford; reviews by critics; and the avant-garde art of the 1960s. He recalls Ninfa Valvo, Douglas MacAgy, Hassel Smith, Richard Diebenkorn, Wilfred Zogbaum, Sam Francis, Jerry (Julian) Hatofsky, Claire Falkenstein, Clay Spohn, and John Hultberg.
Biographical / Historical:
Frank Lobdell (1921- ) is a painter, printmaker, and teacher of Stanford, Calif.
Provenance:
These interviews are 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 others.
Topic:
Painters -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.lobdel80
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-lobdel80

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