The papers of art critic, writer, and painter Theodore F. Wolff measure 8 linear feet and date from 1920-2013, with the bulk of the material dating from 1977-2013. The collection documents Wolff's career through biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings, subject files, printed material, a small amount of artwork, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art critic, writer, and painter Theodore F. Wolff measure 8 linear feet and date from 1920-2013, with the bulk of the material dating from 1977-2013. The collection documents Wolff's career through biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings, subject files, printed material, a small portion of artwork, and photographs.
Biographical material consists of biographical data, curriculum vitae, and awards. Included are outgoing and incoming letters that document Wolff's activities as an art critic, appraiser, and fine arts consultant. A large portion of his correspondence is with artists. Among the correspondents are Richard Diebenkorn, Alexander Hogue, Ynez Johnston, Armin Landeck, Melissa Miller, Robert Natkin, Theodoros Stamos, Athena Tachna, Jerome Witkin, and the writer Tom Wolfe. There is significant correspondence with Morris Graves, James Hubbell, Clyfford Still, and Stow Wengenroth relating to their work and Wolff's writings.
Interviews consist of three interviews with Theodore F. Wolff as well as a panel discussion with Wolff and other artists. Found are interviews with Enrico Donati and James Turrell. Recordings are on five sound cassettes and three videocassettes.
Writings consist of Wolff's reviews, mostly tearsheets for The Christian Monitor and draft versions of a book. Also included are talks and lectures on art and art education recorded on seven videocassettes and six sound cassettes. Subject files document Wolff's professional interests and relate to his writing projects, exhibitions, talks, and presentations. Included are interviews with artists that were used by Theodore Wolff as source material.
Printed material includes Theodore F. Wolff's published critical writings on art, artists, and education. Included are exhibition catalogs, brochures, journals, and monographs. Artwork consists of seventeen sketches by Wolff done early in his career. Photographs are of Theodore F. Wolff and with friends and colleagues, many of them unidentified. Included are photographs of Wolff with Ida Kohlmeyer.
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1982-2013 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920, 1951-2011 (Box 1; 0.75 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, circa 1990-2002 (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, Talks, and Lectures, circa 1977-2005 (Boxes 2-4; 2.8 linear feet)
Series 5: Subject Files, circa 1940, 1964-2004 (Boxes 4-6; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1956-2006 (Boxes 6-8; 2.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, 1942-1948 (Box 7, 1 folder)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1980-circa 2011 (Box 7; 0.25 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Theodore F. Wolff (1926-2012) was an art critic, writer, and painter in New York City.
Wolff attended the University of Wisconsin, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education in 1949 and a Masters degree in Art and Art History the following year. By the early 1950s, Wolff was living in San Francisco, where he began his professional career as a painter. In 1956, he and his wife, Collette Wolff, moved to New York. During this period, Wolff also worked as an art appraiser and fine arts consultant for collectors, galleries, and museums. In 1977, Wolff began writing art criticism for The Christian Science Monitor and held the post of art critic at the publication until 1990. In addition to his art columns to The Monitor, Wolff contributed critical and introductory essays on artists for exhibition catalogs and journals. Theodore F. Wolff taught and lectured on art and art education at museums, universities, and conferences. In 1982, he received the National Headliners Award for Consistently Outstanding Column on Art and the Art World Award for Distinguished Newspaper Art Criticism in 1983. In 1990, Theodore Wolff retired from The Christian Science Monitor. He devoted the latter part of his career to painting, writing, lecturing, and teaching.
Theodore F. Wolff died in 2012 in New York City. He is survived by his wife, Collette Wolff.
A small amount of material was donated in 1999 by Theodore F. Wolff. Additional papers were donated in 2013 by Collette Wolff, widow of Theodore F. Wolff.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
The records of the New York Tibor de Nagy Gallery measure 43.9 linear feet and date from 1941-2016. The records document the activities of the gallery through business records and correspondence, exhibition files, artist files, financial and legal records, inventory records, and a small amount of records of the Houston Branch.
Scope and Contents:
The records of the New York Tibor de Nagy Gallery measure 43.9 linear feet and date from 1941-2016. The records document the activities of the gallery through business records and correspondence, exhibition files, artist files, financial and legal records, inventory records, a small amount of records of the Houston Branch, and exhibition announcements.
Business records include correspondence and administrative files. Business correspondence is with clients, curators, galleries, museums, colleges and universities, organizations, and publications, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Art Dealers Association, National Institute of Arts and Letters, United States Information Agency, The Hirshhorn Museum, Art News, Art in America, Pauli Hirsch, Jacqueline Kennedy, Charles Penney, Nelson Rockefeller, and many others. Correspondence concerns sales, purchases, shipping, loans, general exhibitions, publicity, events, publications and publishing, and other topics. Additional documents found within the correspondence files are purchase invoices, inquiries, shipping receipts, and photographs. Correspondence with artists is found in the Artist Files series. Administrative files concern day-to-day operations and include leases and construction documents, incorporation, insurance, art appraisals, art framing, and other general business affairs.
Exhibition files document many exhibitions held at the Gallery and include clippings and research materials, exhibition catalogs, exhibit and gallery plans, correspondence, and photographs, some in digital form. Some loan agreements and shipping receipts are also included.
Artist files document business affairs with individual artists and also contain collected information on artists. Typically, there are several files on each artist which may include printed materials, biographies, consignments, loans documentation, sales documentation, correspondence, photographic material, publicity, and reviews. Artists well represented among these files include Rosemarie Castoro, Ray Ciarrocchi, Robert Goodnough, Harold Gregor, Red Grooms (including a transcript of "A Conversation with Marison and Red Grooms"), Joyce Kozloff, Peter Reginato, Tony Robbin, Leatrice Rose, and Nancy Witteman-Widrig.
Financial records include incomplete runs of billing statements, expenses and cash disbursements, paid and unpaid invoices, and sales and shipping receipts. Inventory records consist primarily of index cards and/or sheets that document stock, consignments, loans, sales, and shipping.
A relatively small amount of Houston branch records include announcements, clippings, correspondence, financial information including consignments, income, invoices, and statements, photographs, publicity materials and a research file on Houston art museums.
Exhibition announcements promote the gallery's exhibitions for artists including Joe Brainard, Shirley Jaffe, Fairfield Porter, Rosemarie Castoro, Alfred Leslie, and many others.
The Tibor de Nagy Gallery records are arranged into seven series.
Series 1: Business Records and Correpondence, 1950-1993 (10 linear feet; Boxes 1-10)
Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1941-1992 (2 linear feet; Boxes 11-12)
Series 3: Artist Files, 1956-1993 (18.6 linear feet; Boxes 13-31, 46)
Series 4: Financial and Legal Records, 1951-1984 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 31-34)
Series 5: Inventory Records, 1952-1989 (9 linear feet; Boxes 34-43)
Series 6: Houston Branch Records, 1969-1984 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 43-45)
Series 7: Exhibition Announcements, 1953-2016 (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 47-48)
Biographical / Historical:
One of the earliest modern art galleries in New York, Tibor de Nagy Gallery was founded in 1950 by Tibor de Nagy and John Bernard Myers. Initially the gallery featured the work of second generation Abstract Expressionists and continues to operate today with a focus on the Post War second generation New York School.
John B. Myers served as the gallery's first director and De Nagy was the business manager while continuing to work in the banking business. Early on, the gallery introduced and promoted second generation Abstract Expressionists such as Grace Hartigan and Alfred Leslie. The gallery quickly earned a reputation for promoting the work of emerging artists, including Carl Andre, Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Red Grooms, Fairfield Porter, and Larry Rivers, among others, giving many of them their first solo shows.
Later the gallery gained a reputation as a space for collaborative artistic ventures and organized exhibitions that combined visual imagery and poetry by several New York School poets. The gallery also published books by poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and James Schuyler, as well as a poetry newsletter entitled Semi-Colon.
In 1973 de Nagy teamed with Marvin Watson to open the Watson/deNagy Gallery in Houston, which closed in 1983. Tibor de Nagy retired from banking in 1970 and continued running the gallery until he died in 1993. The Tibor de Nagy gallery continues operating today at 724 Fifth Avenue under the direction of Andrew Arnot and Eric Brown. It also works with a number of estates, including those of Joe Brainard, Rudy Burckhardt, Donald Evans, and Jess.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are an oral history interview with Tibor de Nagy, March 29, 1976 conducted by Paul Cummings; the John Bernard Myers papers (which do not contain documentation of his work at the gallery); and the Watson/de Nagy Houston gallery records available only on microfilm, a small portion of which may also be duplicated in the original records described in this finding aid.
The records were donated by Tibor de Nagy Gallery in multiple accessions between 1993-1996 and in 2018. Additional material about the exhibition, Digital Explorations: Emerging Visions in art, 1988, donated in 2020 by one of the exhibition curators, Ligia Ercius-DiPaola.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
The Victor D. Spark papers measure 22.2 linear feet and date from circa 1830 to 1983, with the bulk of the material from 1930 to 1970. The papers document Spark's career as a New York City art dealer and appraiser who was most active from World War II through the 1970s, focusing on Old Masters paintings and 19th and early 20th century American art. Found within the papers are biographical materials, artist files, client files, financial records, legal records, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The Victor D. Spark papers measure 22.2 linear feet and date from circa 1830 to 1983, with the bulk of the material from 1930 to 1970. The papers document Spark's career as a New York City art dealer and appraiser who was most active during World War II up through the 1970s with a focus on Old Masters paintings as well as 19th and early 20th century American art. Found within the papers are biographical materials, artist files, client files, financial records, legal records, printed material, and photographs.
Biographical materials contain greeting cards and post cards, annotated appointment calendars, miscellaneous notes and lists, and an apartment lease.
Artists' files include photographs of artwork, artist biographies, printed materials, and some correspondence with and about the artist. Many of the photographs are annotated. Files are found for Old Masters and American artists, including James G. Clonney, Jon Singleton Copley, Jeremiah P. Hardy, Martin Johnson Heade, Rembrandt Peale, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, Thomas Sully, and many others. There is also a letter written in 1924 by Ruth Moran along with a photograph of a painting by the artist Thomas Moran, signed by him on the verso.
Extensive client files include notes, correspondence, bills, receipts, and clippings regarding sales and appraisals. Spark's clients included museums, collectors, art dealers, most of which are represented in the files. Notable clients and colleagues include Jacob S. Berliner, Charles W. Engelhard, Alfred V. Frankenstein, Hubert L. Grigaut, Charlotte W. Hardy, Robert Lehman, and Leon Medina. There are also files for many universities, businesses, museums, and galleries.
Financial records comprise the largest series in the collection and include ledgers, stock books, consignment records, scattered banking records, bills, tax documents, auction price lists, check stubs, and cancelled checks.
A small amount of legal records document two legal cases: Rauch v. IRS and Kaufman v. Phoenix (Travelers) Insurance Company for which Spark provided testimony.
Printed materials include clippings, exhibition and auction catalogs, newsletters, bulletins, a membership roster for the San Diego Arts Society, and several 19th century printed items.
Two black and white photographs are of a steam locomotive and an unidentified portraitist in his studio.
This collection is arranged as 7 series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1906, 1948-1981 (1.7 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Series 2: Artist Files, 1905-1983 (4 linear feet; Box 2-6, 22)
Series 3: Client Files, 1904, 1927-1981 (7.1 linear feet; Box 6-13)
Series 4: Financial Records, 1930-1981 (8.7 linear feet; Box 13-20, 22-29)
Series 5: Legal Records, 1970-1972 (0.2 linear feet; Box 20)
Series 6: Printed Materials, circa 1830-1872, 1948-1982 (0.2 linear feet; Box 20-22)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1898-circa 1940 (0.1 linear feet; Box 21)
Biographical / Historical:
Victor D. Spark (1898-1991) was a prominent New York City appraiser and art dealer who specialized in Old Masters paintings as well as 19th and early 20th century art.
Spark was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1898. When he was two years old, the Spark family moved to Harlem. His father worked in the hotel business and owned hotels in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Europe. Spark briefly attended the City College of New York before transferring to New York University, where he studied for half a year, then enlisted in the Marines Corps during World War I and served overseas for 2 years. After his discharge, Spark returned to NYU where he majored in French, an interest he acquired during his military service. After graduation, Spark married Nina and went to Europe to help his father manage a summer hotel. There, he became interested in art.
Spark returned to the U.S., continuing to work for his father until 1929. Spark was involved with decorating and furnishing the hotels and often purchased antiques, artwork, and furniture, furthering his arts interests and knowledge. He began working in a gallery, acquiring works of art and dividing the sales profits with the gallery owners. Spark had no formal art education and his taste and eye for art was gained primarily through his travels in Europe. He also had a good business sense about what might sell for profit in the U.S.
Spark made frequent art buying trips across the United States to cities such as Boston and Philadelphia and returned to New York with paintings that he sold. Spark never owned a gallery, but he occasionally held exhibits, such as one titled "101 American Painters," inside the apartment. Although Spark specialized in 19th to early 20th century American art, he also sold European art work acquired during trips to Europe following World War II.
Spark continued his work selling paintings to museums, collectors, and other art dealers, until the 1970s. He was most active from the 1930s through World War II. As a prominent dealer for over four decades, Spark came to know many luminaries of the New York art scene, such as art dealer and gallery owner Edith Halpert. Spark died in 1991.
The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of Victor D. Spark conducted August 5, 1975 by Paul Cummings.
The National Gallery of Art maintains 12,000 photographs and negatives of artwork in their Victor D. Spark photograph collection.
The Victor D. Spark papers were acquired between 1954 and 1996. The first accession of 19th century printed materials and a letter by Ruth Moran was donated by Spark in 1954. The bulk of the collection was purchased jointly by the Archives of American Art and the National Gallery of Art at auction in July 1987. Subsequently, photographs of works of art documenting the collections of the National Gallery of Art were separated and retained by the National Gallery of Art. The papers remained at the Archives of American Art; three letters were later transferred to the Archives from the National Gallery of Art in 1996.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Victor D. Spark papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Art appraisers -- New York (State) -- New York Search this