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Claire Falkenstein papers

Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997  Search this
Coos Art Museum  Search this
Fresno Art Museum  Search this
Galerie Anderson-Mayer  Search this
Galerie Stadler  Search this
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts (Los Angeles, Calif.)  Search this
John Bolles Gallery (San Francisco, Calif.)  Search this
Los Angeles Museum of Art  Search this
Malvina Miller  Search this
Martha Jackson Gallery  Search this
Merging One Gallery  Search this
Mills College -- Faculty  Search this
Pond Farm Workshop  Search this
San Francisco Museum of Art  Search this
University of California, San Francisco. School of Fine Arts -- Faculty  Search this
Green, Ray, 1908-1997  Search this
Guggenheim, Peggy, 1898-1979  Search this
Kuh, Katharine  Search this
O'Donnell, May, 1906-2004  Search this
Sawyer, Kenneth B.  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-  Search this
Still, Patricia  Search this
Tapie, Michel  Search this
Temko, Allan  Search this
Tobey, Mark  Search this
Wildenhain, Frans, 1905-1980  Search this
42.8 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
circa 1914-1997
bulk 1940-1990
The papers of sculptor, painter, jewelry designer, and teacher Claire Falkenstein measure 42.8 linear feet and date from 1917 to her death in 1997. There is extensive correspondence with fellow artists, collectors, critics, friends, museums, and galleries. The collection also contains biographical materials, much of it collected and organized by Falkenstein, personal and business records, writings, diaries, exhibition files, commission files, teaching files, photographs, original artwork, scrapbooks, and printed materials. There is a short motion picture film of an interview with Falkenstein featuring the windows she designed for St. Basil's Church in Los Angeles.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of sculptor, painter, jewelry designer, and teacher Claire Falkenstein measure 42.8 linear feet and date from 1917 to her death in 1997. There is extensive correspondence with fellow artists, collectors, critics, friends, museums, and galleries. The collection also contains biographical materials, much of it collected and organized by Falkenstein, personal and business records, writings, diaries, exhibition files, commission files, teaching files, photographs, original artwork, scrapbooks, and printed materials. There is a short motion picture film of an interview with Falkenstein featuring the windows she designed for St. Basil's Church in Los Angeles.

Biographical material includes appointment calendars, awards and honorary degrees, interview transcripts, passports, resumes, wills, and scrapbooks. Scrapbooks were compiled by Falkenstein and focus primarily on her exhibitions at the Galerie Stadler and Gallery Meyer in 1959 and 1960. Also of interest are the "biography files" created and arranged by Falkenstein. These files contain material that she personally felt was the most important in documenting her activities each year. They include correspondence, exhibition catalogs, printed material, and invitations.

Measuring nine linear feet, correspondence is extensive and comprehensively documents Falkenstein's work, social life, relationships, and other business and personal activities. Correspondence dates from 1941 to 1997 and includes business letters and correspondence with friends and family. Her communications with friends, family, clients, gallery owners, collectors, museums, publishers, foundations, and grant agencies reveal many of her ideas and techniques. Individual correspondents include Ray Green, Peggy Guggenheim, Katharine Kuh, May O'Donnell, Ken Sawyer, Clyfford and Pat Still, Michel Tapie, Allan Temko, Mark Tobey, and Frans Wildenhain. Gallery and museum correspondence is with the San Francisco Museum of Art, Coos Art Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Art, Galerie Stadler (Paris), Gallery Mayer (Paris), Malvina Miller (New York), Martha Jackson Gallery (New York), Jack Rutberg Fine Arts (Los Angeles), Galerie Anderson-Mayer (Paris), and Bolles Gallery. Correspondence is also found in the Commission Files and Exhibition Files.

Personal and business records contain a wide variety of material documenting Falkenstein's business, financial, legal, professional, and personal transactions. Files are found for sales and prices, art inventories, smaller jewelry commissions, her work as a juror, her business with galleries, legal affairs and contracts, expenses, records of arts organizations to which she belonged, conferences, grants and fellowships, studio and house renovations, her Paris studio and Paris expenses, travel, donations, loans and consignments, conservation, art shipping, insurance, and taxes. Oversized visitor's logs contain comments from visitors to Falkenstein's studio in Venice, California.

Falkenstein maintained comprehensive documentation of her exhibitions from her first exhibition in the 1930s to the last one at the Merging One Gallery in 1996. Files include both a chronological record and individual record for nearly all of her exhibitions. Found with the files are correspondence, photographs, loan and shipping records, catalogs, announcements, clippings, articles, and other records. Most of the photographs related to exhibitions are found in the Photographs Series. The files for exhibitions at the Fresno Art Museum, Martha Jackson Gallery and Jack Rutberg Fine Art Gallery are particularly rich.

Commission files document nearly all of Falkenstein's public and private large-scale projects and often contain a visual record of the work, as well as correspondence, design notes, contracts, and expense reports. There is documentation of the St. Basils Church windows in Los Angeles; the Peggy Guggenheim gate in Venice, Italy; and the fountain at the California Savings and Loan, in Los Angeles; and many others. There is also a chronological record of her commissions. The bulk of the photographs of commissions are found in the Photograph series. Also, most of Falkenstein's jewelry design commissions are found in the Personal and Business Records series.

Falkenstein's work as a prolific writer, particularly in the 1940s and 1950s, is well-documented here through her numerous published articles in Arts and Architecture magazine, and the New York Herald-Tribune. Her work for Arts and Architecture was primarily written for the "Art Comments from San Francisco" section. She was living in Paris when she contributed an art news column to the New York Herald-Tribune. Also found here are five diaries and one journal dating from circa 1929-1978. The entries are inconsistent and concern mostly travel. The diaries from 1929 and 1934 are more personal. Falkenstein also maintained extensive notes and notebooks about artwork ideas, observations about art, research, and even drafts of letters. There are also many notes about various topics, including art and class notes. Additional writings are eclectic and cover a wide range of topics, including music, poetry, the script for Falkestein's film entitled Touching the Quick, and drafts of her unpublished book on murals. A handful of writings by others are found, most with annotations by Falkenstein.

Teaching files include Falkenstein's numerous lectures given while teaching at Mills College, Pond Farm Workshops, and California School of Fine Arts, and various symposiums and conferences. Also found are lesson plans, contracts, scattered correspondence, and notes. The files on her tenure at the Pond Farm Workshops are particularly interesting, with notes about her fellow teacher Frans Wildenhain and correspondence with workshop owners, Jane and Gordon Herr.

There are extensive photographs of Falkenstein, her family and friends, colleagues, commissions, exhibitions, and works of art. Included are many images of Falkenstein, of Falkenstien with her art, of Falkentstien working, and of Falkenstein's studio. There are numerous photographs of Falkenstein with friends, family, and colleagues in social or work settings. Also found are photographs of exhibition openings, installation views, and works of art exhibited. Additional photographs document Falkenstein's commissions, including images of her at work. Additional images of commissions may also be found in the Commission Series, but the bulk are filed here. There are numerous photographs of Falkenstein's works of art, including drawings, sculpture, jewelry, murals, lamps, and ceramics.

Falkenstein's papers include a large amount of sketches, sketchbooks, and drawings. Many of the sketches and drawings relate to her ideas about commissions and large sculpture, jewelry designs, and general sketches. Sketches are also found in the Commission Files. Also included are drawings by Mark Tobey and Michel Tapie, and others.

Finally, printed materials include general exhibition catalogs, newspapers clippings, and clippings of articles by and about Falkenstein. Also included are books that have been inscribed and signed by the author.
The collection is arranged into 9 series:

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1934-1997 (Box 1-4, 41; 4.3 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-1997 (Box 5-13; 9 linear feet)

Series 3: Personal and Business Records, 1936-1997 (Box 14-17, 41, 46-49; 4.2 linear feet)

Series 4: Exhibitions, 1930-1996 (Box 18-21, 42, OV 50; 3.3 linear feet)

Series 5. Commissions, 1930-1992 (Box 21-22, OV 50-54 ; 2.0 linear feet)

Series 6: Writings, circa 1929-1993 (Box 22-26, 42, 55; 4.6 linear feet)

Series 7: Teaching Files, 1929-1995 (Box 26; .8 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1917-1997 (Box 27-35, 43, 55-56; 9.5 linear feet)

Series 9: Artwork, circa 1937-1995 (Box 36-37, 44, 57; 2.0 linear feet)

Series 10: Printed Materials, circa 1914-1990 (Box 37-40, 45, 58; 3.9 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) spent the majority of her life working as an artist, sculptor, jewelry designer, teacher, and writer in California.

Claire Falkenstein was born in 1908 and grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon. In 1920, Falkenstein and her family moved to Berkeley, California, where she attended high school and then college at the University of California at Berkeley, studying philosophy, anthropology, and art. She graduated in 1930. Falkenstein had her first solo show at the East-West Gallery in San Francisco in 1930, the only member of her class to have an exhibition before graduation.

During the early 1930s, Falkenstein studied at Mills College with modernist sculptor Alexander Archipenko. There she also met Bauhaus artists Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy Kepes. Falkenstein married her high school sweetheart, Richard McCarthy in 1936.

In 1944, Falkenstein had her first New York exhibition at the Bonestall Gallery. At that time, Falkenstein's primary mediums were stone and wood. However, she became increasingly experimental with new materials that included sheet aluminum, Cor-Ten steel, glass, plastics, and welded wire rods while maintaining a connection to organic and natural forms. Her work in jewelry design was an outlet for exploring these new materials, forms, and techniques on a small scale. As her work grew physically larger, so did her recognition and it was her work in sculpture that won her a faculty appointment at the California School of Fine Arts from 1947-1949. It was here that she met Patricia and Clyfford Still, Hassel Smith, and Richard Diebenkorn.

In 1948, Falkenstein was invited to exhibit at the Salon des Realites Nouvelle in Paris, her first European show. She eventually moved to Europe in 1950 and had studios in Paris, Venice, and Rome. While in Europe, Falkenstein executed a number of large scale commissions, including the stair screen for Galerie Stadler (1955), grotto gates for Princess Pignatelli's villa in Rome (1957), and the bronze, steel, and the glass gate at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice (1961). While in Paris, she became acquainted with noted art critic Michel Tapie, with whom she maintained a life-long friendship.

During the 1940s and 1950s Falkenstein was a regular contributor to Arts and Architecture magazine, most often writing the "Art Comments from San Francisco" section. While in Paris, she also wrote a column on art news for the New York Herald Tribune.

Falkenstein returned to the United States in 1962, eventually renovating a studio space in Venice, California. It was here that she conceived her largest commissions. In 1965, Falkenstein received a commission from the California Savings and Loan to create a sculpture for a large fountain at the front of the bank in downtown Los Angeles. The copper tube fountain, entitled "Structure and Flow #2," was the first of many large scale public art commissions that Falkenstein completed during her years in California. Her most important commission in the United States, completed in 1969, was for the doors, rectory gates and grills and stained-glass windows for St. Basil's Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The eight doors and fifteen rectory screens, including 80 foot high windows in the nave, were an expansion of the "never ending screen" concept that Falkenstein executed with the Pignatelli commission in Rome. She continued to use this motif in her work throughout her career.

Claire Falkenstein worked as an arts instructor, visiting artist, and guest lecturer at many colleges, workshops, and schools in California. Her first position was at Mills College from 1946-1947. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed to the faculty at the California School of Fine Arts and later taught in the Extension Divisions of the University of California, Berkeley. She taught classes at California State Polytechnic University, California State University at Davis, and the Anna Head School. Falkenstein also taught art at the Pond Farm Workshops in California, and lectured at numerous colleges and museums. She served on many juried art shows in Southern California.

Falkenstein was acquainted with many artists, writers, instructors, collectors, gallery owners, and critics. Close friends included Esther and Bob Robles, Clyfford and Patricia Still, Michel Tapie, Allan Temko, Mark Tobey, Frans Wildenhain, and other notable figures in the art world.

Falkenstein continued to complete large scale private and public commissioned sculptures during the 1960s through the 1980s, including work for the University of Southern California, Hyland Biological Laboratory, California State University at Dominquez Hills and the California State Department of Motor Vehicles. Throughout her career, Falkenstein's work was featured in numerous exhibitions across the country. Her sculpture and other artwork can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Coos Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museum, University of Southern California Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Tate Gallery.

Falkenstein died in 1997 at the age of 89.
Related Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds two oral history interviews with Claire Falkenstein. The interview on April 13, 1965 was conducted by Betty Hoag and the one on March 2 and 21, 1995 was conducted by Paul Karlstrom.
The Claire Falkenstein papers were donated in 1997 by Steffan Wacholtz and Nancy Kendall, trustees for the Claire Falkenstein Trust.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
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.
Sculptors -- California  Search this
Painters -- California  Search this
Jewelers -- California  Search this
Educators -- California  Search this
Authors -- California  Search this
Art patronage  Search this
Artists' studios  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Women painters  Search this
Women designers  Search this
Women educators  Search this
Women authors  Search this
Claire Falkenstein papers, circa 1914-1997, bulk 1940-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Claire Falkenstein papers
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Archives of American Art
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Oral history interview with Leo Holub

Holub, Leo, 1916-2010  Search this
Karlstrom, Paul J.  Search this
Art Schools in California Oral History Project  Search this
Art Schools in California Oral History Project  Search this
Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.)  Search this
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Calif.)  Search this
Stanford University. Dept. of Art  Search this
University of California, San Francisco. School of Fine Arts -- Faculty  Search this
University of California, San Francisco. School of Fine Arts -- Students  Search this
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984  Search this
Arnautoff, Victor Mikhail, 1896-1979  Search this
Barnes, Matthew Rackham, 1880-1951  Search this
Corbett, Edward, 1919-  Search this
Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976  Search this
Gaw, William A., 1891-1973  Search this
Hackett, Dick  Search this
Holub, Florence  Search this
Mackey, Spencer, 1880-1958  Search this
Mondale, Walter F., 1928-  Search this
Oldfield, Otis, 1890-1969  Search this
Packard, Emmy Lou, 1914-1998  Search this
Piazzoni, Gottardo, 1872-1945  Search this
Randolph, Lee F., b. 1880  Search this
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957  Search this
Sinel, Joseph Claude, 1889-1975  Search this
Smith, Hassel, 1915-2007  Search this
Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957  Search this
Weston, Edward, 1886-1958  Search this
White, Minor  Search this
Wilson, Charis, 1914-2009  Search this
2 Sound cassettes (Sound recording (90 min), analog)
34 Pages (Transcript)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound cassettes
Sound recordings
1997 July 3
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Leo Holub conducted 1997 July 3, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, in San Francisco, Calif.
Holub discusses his background, being born in Arkansas, moving to New Mexico, and then to Oakland, Calif. (1923); early educational experiences in Oakland, and later at the Art Institute of Chicago; seeing Edward Weston's photographic work at an exhibition in Chicago, and admiring Weston's nude studies of Charis Wilson; his return to the Bay Area; his studio on Montgomery St. (Monkey Block); meeting painter Matthew Barnes, who had assisted Diego Rivera with his murals at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), 1931-1932; his experiences as a student at CSFA- its program and instructors which included Maurice Sterne, Gottardo Piazzoni, Lee Randolph, Dick Hackett, Otis Oldfield, William Gaw, Spencer Mackey, and Victor Arnautoff; fellow students including Hassel Smith, Ed Corbett, and Florence Michelson (his future wife); and his beginning awareness of modernism.
Holub discusses his involvement with the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939); apprenticeship with industrial designer Joe Sinel and the advent of the product design era; his founding of Design Development Associates, and staying only a year before moving to Grass Valley, Calif. for his son's health; his return to the Bay Area, succeeding Emmy Lou Packard at the San Francisco Planning Office graphic arts dept.; working at the housing agency and redevelopment agency and as chief designer for the Bay Area Rapid Transit report.
He recalls his encounter with Ansel Adams at the 1955 Yosemite workshop where Holub produced a pictorial map of Yosemite; Adam's "zone system" of exposing for shadows and developing for highlights; going on to teach at CSFA (1955-1957), where Imogen Cunningham was a guest instructor; Minor White replacing him; his ten years at Stanford University's planning office (1960-1970); his campus views "Stanford Scene" that were used by the university to appeal for more space for the art dept., and his shows at Stanford's art gallery in 1964 and at the Washington, D.C. home of Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980.
Biographical / Historical:
Leo Holub (1916-2010) was a photographer, lithographer, and teacher from San Francisco, Calif.
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.
Photographers -- California -- San Francisco -- Interviews  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching -- California  Search this
Photography  Search this
Photography -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area  Search this
Art Schools -- California
Sound recordings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
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