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Oral history interview with Fairfield Porter, 1968 June 6

Interviewee:
Porter, Fairfield, 1907-1975  Search this
Porter, Fairfield, 1907-1975  Search this
Interviewer:
Cummings, Paul, 1933-1997  Search this
Subject:
Coryllis, Peter  Search this
Benton, Thomas Hart  Search this
De Kooning, Elaine  Search this
De Kooning, Willem  Search this
Greenberg, Clement  Search this
Hess, Thomas B.  Search this
Katz, Alex  Search this
Maroger, Jacques  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Topic:
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State)  Search this
Art criticism -- United States  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)12873
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211982
AAA_collcode_porter68
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_211982
Online Media:

Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001, bulk 1924-1975

Creator:
Porter, Fairfield, 1907-1975  Search this
Porter, Fairfield, 1907-1975  Search this
Subject:
Schuyler, James  Search this
Schloss, Edith  Search this
Rivers, Larry  Search this
Porter, Ruth W.  Search this
Padgett, Ron  Search this
O'Hara, Frank  Search this
Myers, John Bernard  Search this
Vasilieff, Nicholas  Search this
Stankiewicz, Richard  Search this
Shapiro, David  Search this
Lichtenstein, Roy  Search this
Giardelli, Arthur  Search this
Guest, Barbara  Search this
Evergood, Philip  Search this
Frielicher, Jane  Search this
Downes, Rackstraw  Search this
Elmslie, Kenward  Search this
Button, John  Search this
Day, Lucien B.  Search this
Morse, Carl  Search this
Koch, Kenneth  Search this
Laning, Edward  Search this
Katz, Alex  Search this
Hartl, Léon  Search this
Hess, Thomas B.  Search this
Burkhardt, Rudy  Search this
Brainard, Joe  Search this
Tibor de Nagy Gallery  Search this
Hirschl & Adler Galleries  Search this
Type:
Travel diaries
Sketches
Sketchbooks
Photographs
Topic:
Works of art  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Southampton  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century  Search this
Poets  Search this
Lithographers -- New York (State)  Search this
Theme:
Diaries  Search this
Sketches & Sketchbooks  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)8946
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211133
AAA_collcode_portfair
Theme:
Diaries
Sketches & Sketchbooks
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211133
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Fairfield Porter

Interviewee:
Porter, Fairfield  Search this
Interviewer:
Cummings, Paul  Search this
Names:
Benton, Thomas Hart, 1889-1975  Search this
Coryllis, Peter  Search this
De Kooning, Elaine  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
Hess, Thomas B.  Search this
Katz, Alex, 1927-  Search this
Maroger, Jacques, 1884-1962  Search this
Extent:
65 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1968 June 6
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Fairfield Porter conducted 1968 June 6, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.
Porter speaks of his family background and Harvard education; the Art Students League; his involvement with Marxism and his work as an art critic for "Art News" and "The Nation". He discusses his portrait commissions, his choice of subject matter, theories of realism versus abstraction and drawing versus color, and the role of the unconscious and the accidental in his art. He recalls Thomas Hart Benton, Jacques Maroger, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Walter Auerbach, Thomas B. Hess, Clement Greenberg, and Alex Katz.
Biographical / Historical:
Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) was a painter and critic from Southampton, N.Y.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 24 min.
Provenance:
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 others.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Occupation:
Art critics -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State)  Search this
Art criticism -- United States  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.porter68
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-porter68

Rose Slivka papers

Creator:
Slivka, Rose  Search this
Names:
American Craft Council  Search this
Craft Horizons  Search this
Craft International  Search this
World Crafts Council  Search this
De Kooning, Elaine  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Kunitz, Stanley, 1905-2006  Search this
Larsen, Jack Lenor, 1927-2020  Search this
Nevelson, Louise, 1899-1988  Search this
Slivka, David, 1913-  Search this
Voulkos, Peter, 1924-2002  Search this
Interviewee:
Cage, John, 1912-1992  Search this
Extent:
20.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Diaries
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Date:
circa 1947-2006
Summary:
The papers of craft expert Rose Slivka, an editor, writer, critic, and educator, measure 20.8 linear feet and date from circa 1947-2006. The papers reflect Slivka's work with associations and universities to encourage the recognition of crafts as an international and broadly defined art form. The routine business of publishing Craft Horizons magazine and the founding and operation of Craft International magazine are documented by correspondence and subject files. Correspondence is mainly professional with some scattered personal letters. Subject files concern various organizations, individuals and events related to Slivka's work and interests. Among the writings are manuscripts, notes, and research materials for her book about Peter Voulkos; also included are shorter writings on a variety of topics, poems, 2 diaries, lectures and talks. There are many interviews with craftspeople and artists conducted by Slivka and others, some undertaken as research for articles. Photographs include views of Slivka, craftspeople she observed when traveling abroad, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of craft expert Rose Slivka, an editor, writer, critic, and educator, measure 20.8 linear feet and date from circa 1947-2006. The papers reflect Slivka's work with associations and universities to encourage the recognition of crafts as an international and broadly defined art form. The routine business of publishing Craft Horizons magazine and the founding and operation of Craft International magazine are documented by correspondence and subject files. Correspondence is mainly professional with some scattered personal letters. Subject files concern various organizations, individuals and events related to Slivka's work and interests. Among the writings are manuscripts, notes, and research materials for her book about Peter Voulkos; also included are shorter writings on a variety of topics, poems, 2 diaries, lectures and talks. There are many interviews with craftspeople and artists conducted by Slivka and others, some undertaken as research for articles. Photographs include artwork, views of Slivka, and craftspeople she observed when traveling abroad.

Interviews with craftsmen and other artists were conducted by Rose Slivka and others. Peter Voulkos is espcially well-documented. Among the artists interviewed are: Elaine de Kooning, Philip Guston, Jack Lenor Larsen, Louise Nevelson, and David Slivka. Also found are intereviews with John Cage, Stanley Kunitz, and Rose Slivka.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 7 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1947-2005 ( Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1950-2004 (Boxes 1-4: 3.6 linear feet)

Series 3: Interviews, 1974-2001 (Boxes 5-6; 1.6 linear feet)

Series 4: Writings, Notes, and Related Research, 1954-2001 (Boxes 6-11, OV 23; 4.8 linear feet)

Series 5: Subject Files, 1958-2004 (Boxes 11-18, 22, OV 23; 7.4 linear feet)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1952-2006 (Boxes 18-20, OV 23; 1.9 linear feet)

Series 7: Photographs, circa 1947-1990s (Boxes 20-21; 1 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Crafts expert Rose Slivka (1919-2004) was an editor, educator, and critic in New York City and East Hampton, NY. Slivka edited Craft Horizons magazine from 1957-1979, and then founded Crafts International, which published its first issue in 1980.

Rose Slivka was very active in the American Crafts Council and World Crafts Council, and promoted crafts by participating in conferences around the world, acting as a juror of competitions, writing, and teaching. The author of books and articles about crafts, including the entry on "Handicrafts" in the 1961 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, Slivka was tireless in her search for information pertaining to crafts of all nations. Her study of the subject was integrated into a strong, far-reaching campaign to include sculpture as a craft and promote crafts on a par with fine art. She was also interested in poetry and taught courses in art criticism at New York University and the New School for Social Research.

Many of Slivka's articles on craft, painting and sculpture have been published in periodicals such as Art in America, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times. Books and exhibition catalogs include The Crafts of the Modern World (1964); The Object as Poet (1976), Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC; Peter Voulkos: A Dialogue in Clay (1978); California Clay (1979), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and The Book as Art and Artist (1979), Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY. Slivka's writings have been translated into at least 7 languages.

Slivka was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Critics Fellowship in 1976 and between 1980 and 1982 conducted a research project on "Criticism and Scholarship in Modern Craft" also sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. She was awarded The Rhode Island School of Design President's Fellows Award in 1982, and its highest honor, the Athena Medal. In addition, she served on the boards of directors for several New York City organizations including Clayworks Studio Workshop, New York Experimental Glassworks, and Center for Book Arts.

Following her career as a magazine editor, international speaker on crafts, writer, and educator, Slivka moved to East Hampton, Long Island, where she continued to write poetry and was art critic for The East Hampton Star newspaper.

Rose Slivka's was married to sculptor David Slivka; the couple had 2 children and eventually divorced. She died of heart failure in Southampton, NY, on September 2, 2004.
Provenance:
The Rose Slivka papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Slivka's daughter, Charlotte Slivka, in 2008 and 2012.
Restrictions:
Use of original materials requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington D.C. research center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
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:
Editors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Interviews  Search this
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Diaries
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Citation:
Rose Slivka papers, circa 1947-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.slivrose
See more items in:
Rose Slivka papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-slivrose

Fairfield Porter papers

Creator:
Porter, Fairfield  Search this
Names:
Hirschl & Adler Galleries  Search this
Tibor de Nagy Gallery  Search this
Brainard, Joe, 1942-  Search this
Burkhardt, Rudy  Search this
Button, John, 1929-1982  Search this
Day, Lucien B., 1916-  Search this
Downes, Rackstraw  Search this
Elmslie, Kenward  Search this
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973  Search this
Frielicher, Jane  Search this
Giardelli, Arthur  Search this
Guest, Barbara  Search this
Hartl, Léon, 1889-  Search this
Hess, Thomas B.  Search this
Katz, Alex, 1927-  Search this
Koch, Kenneth, 1925-  Search this
Laning, Edward, 1906-1981  Search this
Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-1997  Search this
Morse, Carl  Search this
Myers, John Bernard  Search this
O'Hara, Frank, 1926-1966  Search this
Padgett, Ron  Search this
Porter, Ruth W., 1875-1942  Search this
Rivers, Larry, 1925-  Search this
Schloss, Edith, 1919-  Search this
Schuyler, James  Search this
Shapiro, David, 1947-  Search this
Stankiewicz, Richard, 1922-  Search this
Vasilieff, Nicholas  Search this
Extent:
9.3 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Travel diaries
Sketches
Sketchbooks
Photographs
Date:
1888-2001
bulk 1924-1975
Summary:
The papers of New York-based painter, lithographer, art critic, and poet Fairfield Porter measure 9.3 linear feet and date from 1888 to 2001, with the bulk of material dating from 1924 to 1975. Papers document Porter's life and career through correspondence, writings, business records, printed materials, photographs, and artwork.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of New York-based painter, lithographer, art critic, and poet Fairfield Porter measure 9.3 linear feet and date from 1888 to 2001, with the bulk of material dating from 1924 to 1975. The collection includes a biographical chronology; certificates, awards, and diplomas; letters to Fairfield and Anne Porter; scattered outgoing correspondence; and reviews, essays, notes, poems, and translations written by Porter and others. Among the writings are poetry manuscripts written by several New York School Poets including Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch. Also found are gallery records, inventories and appraisals, financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, posters, and records of Anne Porter's efforts to place his collection and document and publish his work after his death. Photographs of Porter, his homes, and his family are also present, as well as sketchbooks, loose sketches, and drawings spanning his entire career.

Significant correspondence is present from the Porters' many poet friends, including Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Ron Padgett, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Carl Morse, David Shapiro, and others. Among the letters are poetry manuscripts by Koch, Morse, Schuyler, Padgett, and Shapiro. Some letters are actually written in verse, especially those from Kenneth Koch.

Artists with letters in the collection include Joe Brainard, Rudy Burkhardt, John Button, Lucien Day, Rackstraw Downes, Philip Evergood, Jane Frielicher, Arthur Giardelli, Leon Hartl, Alex Katz, Edward Laning, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Richard Stankiewicz, Nicolas Vasilieff, among others. Other art world figures represented include John Bernard Myers, curator at the Tibor de Nagy gallery (New York), and Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews. Artwork found within the correspondence includes an illustrated letter from Ron Padgett and an original print on a holiday card by Edith Schloss.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into the following nine series. See the series descriptions below for more information about the content of each series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1916-1975 (Box 1 and 11; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1918-1996 (Boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear feet)

Series 3: Writings by Fairfield Porter, 1924-1975 (Box 2; 0.6)

Series 4: Writings by Others, 1888-1992 (Boxes 2-3; 0.7 linear feet)

Series 5: Personal Business Records, 1944-1996 (Boxes 3-4; 1 linear foot)

Series 6: Anne Porter's Posthumous Projects, 1980-1988 (Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 7: Printed Materials, 1934-2001 (Boxes 4-6 and 11; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880-1990 (Boxes 6 and 11; 0.6 linear feet)

Series 9: Artwork, 1918-1975 (Boxes 7-10 and 12-17; 2.2 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Fairfield Porter was born near Chicago in 1907, the fourth of five children of James and Ruth Furness Porter. His father was an architect, his mother a poet from a literary family, and Porter grew up in an environment where art and literature were highly valued. His father designed the family homes in Winnetka, Illinois and on Great Spruce Head Island, an island in Maine that he purchased for the family in 1912. Fairfield Porter spent summers there from the age of six, and views of the island, its structures, and neighboring towns were the subjects of many paintings.

Porter attended Harvard from 1924 to 1928, studying fine art with Arthur Pope and philosophy with Alfred North Whitehead. After graduating from Harvard, Porter moved to New York City and took studio classes at the Art Students League from 1928 until 1930, studying with Boardman Robinson and Thomas Hart Benton, and immersing himself in the art and radical politics of Greenwich Village. In the 1940s, he studied at Parson's School of Design with art restorer Jacques Maroger, adopting the Maroger recipe for an oil medium in his own painting.

To further his education as an artist, Porter traveled to Europe in 1931, where he spent time with expatriate art theorist Bernard Berenson and his circle. When he returned to New York, he allied himself with progressive, socialist organizations, and like many of his contemporaries, worked at creating socially relevant art. He did artwork for the John Reed Club, a communist group; taught drawing classes for Rebel Arts, a socialist arts organization; wrote for their magazine, Arise!; and created a mural for the Queens branch of the Socialist Party. Living in the Chicago area for several years in the 1930s, he illustrated chapbooks for the socialist poet John Wheelwright's Poems for a Dime and Poems for Two Bits series. Porter's financial contributions to the radical Chicago publication Living Marxism kept it afloat for several years.

In 1932, Porter married Anne Channing, a poet from Boston, and they settled in New York. The Porters had five children, and their first son, born in 1934, suffered from a severe form of autism. In the next decade, they had two more sons, and spent three years in Porter's hometown of Winnetka, where he had his first solo exhibition of paintings. When they returned to New York in 1939, the Porters became friends with Edwin Denby, Rudy Burkhardt, and Elaine and Willem de Kooning. Porter became an earnest admirer of Willem de Kooning's artwork and was among the first to review and purchase it.

In 1949, the Porters moved to the small, seaside town of Southampton, New York. Their two daughters were born in 1950 and 1956. Like the family home on Great Spruce Head Island, Southampton became the setting of many of Porter's paintings. In fact, almost all of his mature paintings depict family homes, surrounding landscapes, family members, and friends. Porter was an individualistic painter who embraced figurative art in the late 1940s and 1950s, when abstract expressionism was the prevailing aesthetic trend. Porter once made a comment that his commitment to figurative painting was made just to spite art critic Clement Greenberg, a respected critic and ideologue who had championed abstract expressionism and denigrated realism as passé.

Porter established his reputation as a painter and as a writer in the 1950s. John Bernard Myers of the vanguard Tibor de Nagy gallery gave Porter his first New York exhibition in 1951 and represented him for the next twenty years. That same year Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews, hired Porter to write art features and reviews. Porter went on to contribute to ArtNews until 1967 and also became art editor for The Nation beginning in 1959, the same year his article on Willem de Kooning won the Longview Foundation Award in art criticism. As a critic, Porter visited countless galleries and studios, and he gained a reputation for writing about art with the understanding and vested interest of an artist, and with the same independence from fashionable ideas that he demonstrated in his artwork.

The 1950s and 1960s were prolific years for Porter's writing and art, and saw the development of his critical ideas and the maturation of his painting. Porter enjoyed an elder status among a circle of younger artists such as Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, and Alex Katz, and their many poet friends, now known as the New York School of Poetry: Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest, and others. Porter himself wrote poetry and was published in the 1950s, sometimes alongside poems by his wife, who had been publishing poetry since the 1930s (twice in the vanguard Chicago journal, Poetry). The Porters' correspondence is laced with poems they and their friends sent back and forth, often about and dedicated to each other.

Besides his annual exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy and later Hirschl and Adler Galleries, Porter exhibited regularly at the Whitney, and had one-man exhibitions at many museums including the Rhode Island School of Design (1959), The University of Alabama (1963), Cleveland Museum of Art (his first retrospective, 1966), Trinity College (1967), the Parrish Art Museum (1971), the Maryland Institute of Art (1973), and the 1968 Venice Biennale. He also had residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1964) and Amherst College (1969). Porter died in 1975 at age 68. A full-scale retrospective of his artwork was held at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston in 1983, and a study center and permanent home for his artwork was established at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton through a donation made by Anne Porter. A posthumous collection of his poems was published by Tibor de Nagy Editions in 1985, and a catalogue raisonnée, edited by Joan Ludman, was published in 2001.

This biography relies heavily on information found in Justin Spring's biography of Porter, Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art (Yale University Press, 2000).
Related Material:
The Archives of American Art holds an oral history of Fairfield Porter conducted by Paul Cummings in 1968.
Provenance:
The papers of Fairfield Porter were given to the Archives of American Art by the artist's wife, Anne Porter, in five separate accessions between 1977 and 1997.
Restrictions:
The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not digitized requires an appointment.
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 critics -- New York (State) -- Southampton  Search this
Topic:
Works of art  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Southampton  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century  Search this
Poets  Search this
Lithographers -- New York (State)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Travel diaries
Sketches
Sketchbooks
Photographs
Citation:
Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001 (bulk 1924-1975). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.portfair
See more items in:
Fairfield Porter papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-portfair
Online Media:

John Bernard Myers papers

Creator:
Myers, John Bernard  Search this
Names:
Ingram Merrill Foundation  Search this
Southampton Artists' Theatre Festival  Search this
Tibor de Nagy Gallery  Search this
Cady, Arthur  Search this
Canaday, John, 1907-1985  Search this
Davenport, Guy  Search this
Grooms, Red  Search this
Marisol, 1930-2016  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Interviewee:
Spivy-Anderson, C. Alexandra, 1942-  Search this
Interviewer:
Sturdevant, Alfred  Search this
Extent:
2 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Color slides
Photographs
Diaries
Color transparencies
Date:
circa 1940s-1987
bulk 1970-1987
Summary:
The John Bernard Myers papers span the period circa 1940s to 1987, bulk 1970-1987. The collection measures 2.0 linear feet and documents Myers's work as a writer, editor, and gallery director, and includes correspondence, writings, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The John Bernard Myers papers, which measure 2.0 linear feet, date from circa 1940s to 1987, bulk 1970-1987, and document his work as a writer, editor, and gallery director.

Personal and professional correspondence consist mainly of incoming letters from colleagues, friends, and admirers. Among the correspondence is business and fan mail concerning Tracking the Marvelous and Parenthése, letters from writer and English professor Guy Davenport, and invitations to speak and teach. Also included are letters to The New York Times and Art In America complaining about critic John Canaday's behavior and comments during a visit to the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

Myers' published and unpublished writings are the collection's most significant series. These consist of manuscripts for his autobiography, Tracking the Marvelous, published in 1984 ; Forward and Backward: A Chronicle, circa 1976, about Mark Rothko's suicide and the subsequent lawsuit brought by his daughter against Marlborough Galleries (a revised version was published later as part three of Myers' autobiography); and Knowing What I Like, 1985, an unpublished collection of his own essays and criticism compiled and edited by Myers. Among his other writings are articles, essays, and reviews. Also included are his diariess dated 1969 and 1974-1983. Entries record daily activities and reactions to his experiences, news of friends, and reflections on his life and relationships. Excerpts from much earlier diaries (not part of the John Bernard Myers Papers) are quoted extensively in Tracking the Marvelous.

Printed Matter consists of writings by Myers - Tracking the Marvelous: A Life in the New York Art World; a selection of articles, essays, and criticism published mainly in art periodicals; and exhibition catalogs. Also included are a few articles about Myers and issues of publications he edited. Other printed matter consists of clippings on art subjects, exhibition catalogs, and miscellaneous publications.

Miscellaneous items are artwork, biographical information, minutes and memoranda of the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and transcripts of interviews conducted by and with Myers. Also included are records of the Southampton Artists' Theatre Festival, produced by John Bernard Myers, consisting of director's notes and notes and music for "Gertrude Stein's 'First Reader.'"

Photographs are of Myers and unidentified friends, interior views of his home in Brewster, N.Y. and one of the back yard. Also included are many photographs of puppets.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 5 series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1960-1986, undated (box 1, 6 folders)

Series 2: Writings, 1959-1987, undated (boxes 1-2, 1.0 linear ft.)

Series 3: Printed Matter, 1951-1987, undated (box 2, 0.5 linear ft.)

Series 4: Miscellaneous, circa 1962-1987, undated (box 2, 0.25 linear ft.)

Series 5: Photographs, circa 1940s-1985, undated (box 2, 6 folders)
Biographical Note:
During his youth in Buffalo, New York, John Bernard Myers developed life-long interests in poetry, puppets, and painting. As a teenager, he wrote poetry and established his own marionette theater. He first learned about modern art and became especially interested in Surrealism through reading European magazines and exhibition catalogs in the library of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Through helping to edit Upstate, an avant garde literary magazine, he met many like-minded friends. Myers was deemed unqualified for military service due to ruptured eardrums, so instead went to work in an airplane factory. But his membership in the Young Communist League and participation in efforts led by a Socialist Workers party colleague to upgrade job assignments and pay for qualified minorities created problems and Myers soon departed. His final two years in Buffalo were spent working in a bookstore.

In 1944, Myers sent issues of Upstate to Parker Tyler, editor of View, whom he had met a few years earlier through mutual friends involved with the Communist party. A few months later Tyler offered him the position of managing editor of View, a magazine devoted to the Neo-Romantics and Surrealists in exile. Myers moved to New York City and remained with the magazine until it ceased publication in 1947. A large portion of his time at View was spent selling advertising space. Since this involved calling on gallery owners each month, he came to know many dealers, had the opportunity to study the exhibitions and meet many of the artists. During this period he began attending art history courses taught by Meyer Schapiro at the New School. His responsibilities at View also included assisting with editing and layout, and he became well-acquainted with Marcel Duchamp and André Breton when special issues devoted to them were published. His association with the magazine resulted in many invitations; Myers enthusiastically attended parties practically every night of the week, enlarging his already impressive circle of friends and acquaintance in the art and literary worlds.

Puppets were another of Myers' special interests. After View ceased publication in1947, he edited poetry and art publications, but to earn his living he resumed puppeteering. Around 1948 Myers met Tibor de Nagy, a cultured Hungarian immigrant with a background in banking and finance, who, for immigration purposes, needed a business that bore his name. The Tibor de Nagy Marionette Company gave performances at schools in and around New York City and staged elaborate productions for both children and adults at fine hotels. After several years of physically exhausting work with the marionette company and falling profits, the two decided to try another business venture.

Over the years, several of Myers' friends and acquaintances had suggested he open an art gallery. Myers was interested and had many appropriate contacts, but lacked sufficient capital and had no business experience. An old friend, Dwight Ripley, offered to back a gallery and in 1951 the Tibor de Nagy Gallery opened at 219 East 53rd Street with John Bernard Myers as the gallery director. Tibor de Nagy was the gallery's business manager, and at the same time pursued a full-time career in banking. Following the good advice of his friends Jackson Pollock,Lee Krasner, and Clement Greenberg, Myers decided to seek out and promote the artists of his own generation. Artists affiliated with the Tibor de Nagy Gallery included Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Goodnough, Red Grooms, Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Fairfield Porter, and Larry Rivers.

Myers and de Nagy remained partners in the Tibor de Nagy Gallery for 19 years. In 1970 Myers left in to open a gallery which he ran for about five years under his own name. After retiring from the gallery, he was a private dealer and lecturer; he also served as a consultant to the Kouros Gallery. He continued to organize exhibitions including a Joseph Cornell exhibiton at A.C.A. Gallery in 1977, and "Tracking the Marvelous" at the Grey Gallery, New York University in 1981.

For more than thirty years after View ceased publication, a number of art and poetry publications benefitted from Myers' editorial skills. Among them were Prospero Pamphlets, a series of chapbooks produced between 1946 and 1948, featuring contemporary poets Wallace Stevens, Charles Henri Ford, Parker Tyler, and Paul Goodman. Brunidor Editions, a portfolio of graphics by Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Kurt Seligmann, Max Ernst, Wilfredo Lam, Matta, and William Stanley Hayter was issued in 1948. From 1953 until 1956, Tibor de Nagy Gallery published Semi-Colon, a poets' newsletter edited by Myers. Gallery Editions, a series of pamphlets paired the work of a poet and painter, among them: John Ashbury and Jane Freilicher, Frank O'Hara and Larry Rivers, Kenneth Koch and Nell Blaine, and Barbara Guest and Robert Goodnough. Myers devoted a great deal of time to Parenthése, a magazine of words and pictures, that was published between 1975 and 1979. In addition, he compiled and edited Poets of the New York School, an anthology with photographs by Francesco Scuvullo published by the University of Pennsylvania Art Department in 1968.

For much of his life, John Bernard Myers kept a diary recording daily activities and his reactions to an reflections on his experiences. His autobiography, Tracking the Marvelous: A Life in the New York Art World, published in 1984, quotes extensively from diaries written as early as 1939. He wrote many book reviews, exhibition reviews, and articles about art and art criticism that were published in Art in America, Arts, Artforum, Art and Literature, Art International, Art News, Art/World, Craft Horizons, and Smithsonian. Knowing What I Like, a selection of his own essays and articles that Myers compiled and edited in 1983, remains unpublished. He also wrote poetry and song lyrics.

John Bernard Myers died July 26, 1987.

1919 or 1920 -- Born, Buffalo, New York

circa 1939 -- Began puppeteering and eventually established his own puppet theater

circa 1942-1944 -- Assisted with editing Upstate, an avant garde literary magazine

1942 -- Rejected from military service due to ear problems; employed in airplane factory, and later at Ulbrich's Bookstore in Buffalo

1944-1947 -- Managing Editor, View, a magazine devoted to the Neo-Romantic and Surrealist artists in exile

1946-1948 -- Editor, Prospero Pamphlets, a series of chapbooks featuring Wallace Stevens, Charles Henri Ford, Parker Tyler, and Paul Goodman

1948 -- Editor, Brunidor Editions, portfolios of graphics featuring Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Kurt Seligmann, Max Ernst, Wilfredo Lam, Matta, and William Stanley Hayter; started a professional marionette company with Tibor de Nagy as business manager

1951 -- Tibor de Nagy Gallery opens at 219 East 53rd Street, backed by Dwight Ripley, with Myers as gallery director and de Nagy its business manager

1953 -- Tibor de Nagy Gallery moves to 24 East 67th St.

1953-1956 -- Editor, Semi-Colon, a poets' newsletter emphasizing brief prose and verse

1954-1970 -- Producer and Artistic Advisor, The Artists' Theater; during this time 36 plays by poets, with appropriate décors and music by modern painters and composers

1959-1970 -- Editor, Gallery Editions, a series of poetry pamphlets pairing poets and painters (Frank O'Hara and Larry rivers, Kenneth Koch and Nell Blaine, Barbara Guest and Robert Goodnough)

1968-1968 -- Producer, Southampton Artists' Theatre Festival, Long Island University

1970 -- Leaves Tibor de Nagy Gallery and opens John Bernard Myers Gallery at 50 West 57th Street

1974 -- Closes his gallery and in retirement becomes a private dealer

1975-1979 -- Editor, Parenthése, a little magazine of words and pictures

1981 -- Editor, Parenthése Signatures, each deluxe limited edition portfolios paired an artist and poet

1981 -- Tracking the Marvelous, exhibition at Grey Gallery, New York University

1984 -- Publication of Tracking the Marvelous: A Life in the New York Art World

1985-1987 -- Consultant to Kouros Gallery, New York

1987 -- Dies July 26, Danbury, Conn.
Related Material:
Other material relating to John Bernard Myers in the Archives of American Art includes an interview with Myers conducted by Barbara Rose, circa 1969.
Provenance:
The collection was a gift of the Estate of Ricky Dale Horton, 1990.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
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 critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Art criticism  Search this
Puppet making  Search this
Works of art  Search this
Puppets  Search this
Genre/Form:
Color slides
Photographs
Diaries
Color transparencies
Citation:
John Bernard Myers papers, circa 1940s-1987, bulk 1970-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.myerjohn
See more items in:
John Bernard Myers papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-myerjohn
Online Media:

Rackstraw Downes research material concerning Fairfield Porter

Creator:
Downes, Rackstraw  Search this
Names:
Porter, Fairfield  Search this
Extent:
1 Linear foot
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
1962-2000
bulk 1970-1979
Summary:
TThe Rackstraw Downes research material concerning Fairfield Porter measure 1.0 linear foot and date from 1962 to 2000, with the bulk of the material dating from 1970-1979. Downes used the material to compile, edit and write the introduction to Fairfield Porter: Art In Its Own Terms - Selected Criticism 1935-1975 published in 1979. Research materials include articles about Porter, exhibition catalogs, photocopies of letters and some original correspondence, theses and manuscripts. Also included are project files for the publication of Art In Its Own Terms.
Scope and Contents:
The Rackstraw Downes research material concerning Fairfield Porter measure 1.0 linear foot and date from 1962 to 2000, with the bulk of the material dating from 1970-1979. Downes used the material to compile, edit and write the introduction to Fairfield Porter: Art In Its Own Terms - Selected Criticism 1935-1975 published in 1979. Research materials include articles about Porter, exhibition catalogs, photocopies of letters and some original correspondence, theses and manuscripts. Also included are project files for the publication of Art In Its Own Terms.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into two series:

Series 1: Research Material, 1962-2000 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 2: Files on -- Fairfield Porter: Art In Its Own Terms, Selected Criticism 1935-1975 -- , 1973-1992 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1)
Biographical / Historical:
Rackstraw Downes (1939-), a landscape painter and author in New York City, edited and wrote the introduction to Fairfield Porter: Art In It's Own Terms: Selected Criticism 1935-1975. Born in Kent, England, Downes received a B.A. in English literature from Cambridge University in 1961 and earned an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Arts in 1961. Downes was personally acquainted with Porter.

Fairfield Porter (1907-1975), a painter, art critic and poet, resided in Southampton, New York. Porter was a strong advocate for figure painting. He wrote for ArtNews and The Nation, and eventually became art editor for The Nation.
Provenance:
Donated by Rackstraw Downes in 2012.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
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 critics -- New York (State) -- Southampton  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Citation:
The Rackstraw Downes research material concerning Fairfield Porter, 1962-2000, bulk 1970-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.downrack
See more items in:
Rackstraw Downes research material concerning Fairfield Porter
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-downrack

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