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Oral history interview with Athena Tacha

Interviewee:
Tacha, Athena, 1936-  Search this
Creator:
Berman, Avis  Search this
United States. General Services Administration. Design Excellence and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
United States. General Services Administration. Design Excellence and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Extent:
5 Items (sound files (6 hr., 47 min.), digital, wma)
127 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
2009 December 4-6
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Athena Tacha conducted 2009 December 4-6, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's U.S. General Services Administration, Design Excellence and the Arts oral history project, at Tacha's studio, in Washington, D.C.
Tacha speaks of her family and her childhood in rural Greece; of growing up during World War II and the Greek Civil War; her early interests in art; traveling to France on a Greek government sponsored scholarship; her education at the School of Fine Arts; obtaining a Master's at Oberlin College on a Fulbright scholarship; obtaining a Ph.D. in aesthetics and art history from the Sorbonne in Paris; her decision to move to the United States; her first job as a museum curator at Oberlin's Allen Memorial Art Museum; her early shows in Ohio museums and galleries; her marriage to art historian Richard Spear; her decision to teach sculpture courses at Oberlin; her fellowship at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, a turning point in her career; her use of sculpture, light, and the environment to develop site-specific public art pieces and installations, thoroughly discussing all recent projects; her retirement from Oberlin College and move to Washington, DC; her creative process; the influences of her travels around the world on her environmentally-conscious art works; her thoughts on the American aesthetics, change, and temporary versus permanent sculpture; recent shows at Marsha Mateyka Gallery and Katzen Art Center and her recent public art installations in the Washington, DC area. Tacha also recalls her close friendship with Oberlin professor Ellen Johnson, André Chastel, and various art dealers and former students from Oberlin College.
Biographical / Historical:
Athena Tacha (1936- ) is an conceptual artist and photographer in Washington, D.C.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 compact disc. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 47 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 administrators.
Restrictions:
This transcript is open for research. Access to the entire recording is restricted. Contact reference Services for more information.
Occupation:
Photographers -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Conceptual artists -- Washington, D.C  Search this
Topic:
Women artists  Search this
Women photographers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.tacha09
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw999fe51f8-23eb-41f0-91ab-75fbc58e222c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-tacha09
Online Media:

Clarence Ward papers, 1943-1949

Creator:
Ward, Clarence, 1884-  Search this
Citation:
Clarence Ward papers, 1943-1949. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Church architecture -- Conservation and restoration -- Ohio  Search this
Theme:
Architecture & Design  Search this
Research and writing about art  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6953
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209082
AAA_collcode_wardclar
Theme:
Architecture & Design
Research and writing about art
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209082

Wolfgang Stechow papers, 1943-1974

Creator:
Stechow, Wolfgang, 1896-1974  Search this
Citation:
Wolfgang Stechow papers, 1943-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Art, Renaissance -- Europe, Northern  Search this
Theme:
Research and writing about art  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9473
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211671
AAA_collcode_stecwolf
Theme:
Research and writing about art
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211671

Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1872-2018, bulk 1921-1992

Creator:
Johnson, Ellen H., 1910-1992  Search this
Subject:
Hesse, Eva  Search this
Tworkov, Jack  Search this
Cézanne, Paul  Search this
Milles, Carl  Search this
Wilke, Wendell  Search this
Kensett, John Frederick  Search this
Saunders, David  Search this
Picasso, Pablo  Search this
Oldenburg, Claes  Search this
Tacha, Athena  Search this
Stieglitz, Alfred  Search this
Venturi, Robert  Search this
Archipenko, Alexander  Search this
Dine, Jim  Search this
American-Scandinavian Foundation  Search this
Oberlin College  Search this
College Art Association (U.S.)  Search this
Allen Memorial Art Museum  Search this
Place:
Ossabaw Island (Ga.)
Citation:
Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1872-2018, bulk 1921-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Art, Scandinavian  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 19th century -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Study and teaching  Search this
Pop art  Search this
Women authors  Search this
Women art critics  Search this
Women art historians  Search this
Women educators  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Research and writing about art  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6514
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)215772
AAA_collcode_johnelle
Theme:
Women
Research and writing about art
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_215772
Online Media:

Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Creator:
Jacques Seligmann & Co  Search this
Container:
Box 112, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1963-1965
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records / Series 1: Correspondence / 1.4: Museum Correspondence
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9346d6141-01bc-4c47-a715-04bae25a18a7
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-jacqself-ref11825
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Oral history interview with Athena Tacha, 2009 December 4-6

Interviewee:
Tacha, Athena, 1936-  Search this
Interviewer:
Berman, Avis, 1949-  Search this
Subject:
United States. General Services Administration. Design Excellence and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Athena Tacha, 2009 December 4-6. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Women artists  Search this
Women photographers  Search this
Theme:
Women  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)15749
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)287094
AAA_collcode_tacha09
Theme:
Women
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_287094
Online Media:

Athena Tacha papers

Creator:
Tacha, Athena, 1936-  Search this
Names:
Oberlin College  Search this
Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957  Search this
Johnson, Ellen H.  Search this
Lippard, Lucy R.  Search this
Rodin, Auguste, 1840-1917  Search this
Extent:
36.04 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Sound recordings
Motion picture film
Date:
1959-2019
Summary:
The papers of sculptor and educator Athena Tacha measure 36.04 linear feet and date from 1959 to 2019. Found are biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, research and writing files, commission and project files, teaching files from her position at Oberlin College, professional activities files, subject files, printed material, and photographic material. Of note are files documenting Tacha's numerous public art commissions throughout the United States.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of sculptor and educator Athena Tacha measure 36.04 linear feet and date from 1959 to 2019. Found are biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, research and writing files, commission and project files, teaching files from her position at Oberlin College, professional activities files, subject files, printed material, and photographic material. Of note are files documenting Tacha's numerous public art commissions throughout the United States.

Biographical materials include resumes, scattered personal business records, and small sketches and handmade cards by Tacha. Largely, Tacha's correspondence comments on her professional career and includes letters from Ellen H. Johnson and Lucy Lippard and other artists, art historians, colleagues, and institutions. Writings by Tacha include her PhD thesis, drafts of articles, and an interview. More extensive files are found for Brancusi's Birds, and Rodin Sculpture.

The largest series contains material concerning Tacha's commissions and projects, both completed and unrealized. Files may contain detailed designs and construction information, correspondence, financial records, video recordings, and photographs. Professional activity and organization files concern Tacha's exhibitions of her works of art, and her participation with various groups such as the College Art Association and the New Organization for the Visual Arts. Subject files and photographic materials may include extensive source material used by Tacha to create her sculpture. Found are photographs, slides, sound and video recordings, and born-digital material.

There is a one item addition to this collection donated in 2022 that includes a handwritten notebook of works sold by Athena Tacha. The notebook dates from circa date from circa 1964-2017.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 11 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1960s-2000s (0.2 linear feet; Box 1, OV 37)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1961-2016 (5.3 linear feet; Boxes 1-6)

Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1959-2019 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 6-7)

Series 4: Research and Writing Files, circa 1960-1974 (2.7 linear feet; Boxes 7-9, OV 37)

Series 5: Commission and Project Files, circa 1974-2016 (9.2 linear feet; Boxes 9-18, OV 37)

Series 6: Teaching Files, 1963-circa 2000 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 18-19)

Series 7: Professional Activities Files, 1968-2000 (2.2 linear feet; Boxes 20-22)

Series 8: Subject Files, 1960s-2000s (5.0 linear feet; Boxes 22-27)

Series 9: Printed Material, 1963-2013 (3.1 linear feet; Boxes 27-30, OV 37)

Series 10: Photographic Material, 1960s-2015 (6.8 linear feet; Boxes 30-36, OV 37)

Series 11: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1964-2017 (.01 linear feet, Folder 38)
Biographical / Historical:
Athena Tacha (1936-) is a Greek-born sculptor, and educator active in Oberlin, Ohio.

Athena Tacha was born in Larissa, Greece in 1936. She studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Athens and was accepted at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio under a Fulbright scholarship in 1960. There, she became close with her mentor Ellen H. Johnson. She continued her education at The Sorbonne, University of Paris where she completed her PhD. Returning to Oberlin, Tacha became assistant curator at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in the mid-1960s and later taught sculpture at Oberlin College until 1998.

Tacha began exhibiting her works throughout Ohio including at the annual Cleveland May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art and around the United States. She held solo shows at Zabriskie Gallery and the Max Hutchinson Gallery. In the 1970s, Tacha focused on large environmental public sculpture, using brick, LED lighting plants, steel, stone, and water.

Athena Tacha married art historian Richard Spear in 1965. Together, they traveled extensively through the United States, Asia, South America, and Europe. They live in Washington, D.C.
Related Materials:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an interview of Athena Tacha conducted 2009 December 4-6, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's U.S. General Services Administration, Design Excellence and the Arts oral history project.

Athena Tacha donated her teaching files, as well as her research files relating to Ellen Johnson's Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oberlin, Ohio, to Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, and her early and student writings to the Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia, Pa. Tacha was the executor of Ellen Johnson's estate, and worked with the Archives in donating Johnson's papers in 1994 (cataloged separately under Johnson).
Provenance:
Donated 1998, 2019, 2021 and 2022 by Athena Tacha.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.

Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.
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:
Sculptors -- Ohio  Search this
Educators -- Ohio  Search this
Topic:
Women artists  Search this
Women sculptors  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Motion picture film
Citation:
Athena Tacha papers, 1959-2019. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.tachathe
See more items in:
Athena Tacha papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw90ac65eeb-dc08-4492-8b46-dd92edc72594
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-tachathe

Wolfgang Stechow papers

Creator:
Stechow, Wolfgang, 1896-1974  Search this
Extent:
6.4 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
1943-1974
Scope and Contents:
Art history subject files, including correspondence; photographs; notes; writings; articles; rough drafts; and printed material. Most material relates to Northern European Renaissance artists, including Bruegel, Rubens, van Ruysdael, Durer, and Rembrandt.
Biographical / Historical:
Art historian; Oberlin, Ohio.
Related Materials:
Wolfgang and Ursula Stechow Papers, 1894-1998, are located at Oberlin College Archives.
Provenance:
Donated 1975-1978 by Ursala Stechow, Stechow's widow.
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.
Occupation:
Art historians -- Ohio -- Oberlin  Search this
Topic:
Art, Renaissance -- Europe, Northern  Search this
Identifier:
AAA.stecwolf
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw94877ed95-4c41-40da-b667-8a87a9b56fa3
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-stecwolf

Ellen Hulda Johnson papers

Creator:
Johnson, Ellen H.  Search this
Names:
Allen Memorial Art Museum  Search this
American-Scandinavian Foundation  Search this
College Art Association (U.S.)  Search this
Oberlin College -- Faculty  Search this
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964  Search this
Cézanne, Paul, 1839-1906  Search this
Dine, Jim, 1935-  Search this
Hesse, Eva, 1936-1970  Search this
Kensett, John Frederick, 1816-1872  Search this
Milles, Carl, 1875-1955  Search this
Oldenburg, Claes, 1929-  Search this
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973  Search this
Saunders, David  Search this
Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946  Search this
Tacha, Athena, 1936-  Search this
Tworkov, Jack  Search this
Venturi, Robert  Search this
Wilke, Wendell  Search this
Extent:
61.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Place:
Ossabaw Island (Ga.)
Date:
1872-2018
bulk 1921-1992
Summary:
The papers of art historian, art critic, author, librarian and educator Ellen Hulda Johnson measure 61.5 linear feet and date from 1872-2018, with the bulk of the material dating from 1921-1992. The papers include biographical materials; personal and family files; personal, professional, and business correspondence; extensive research and writing files; teaching files; subject files; professional and curatorial files; and artists' files. Johnson's papers reflect the full range of her career, interests, and close relationships with many artists. There is a 0.2 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2021 that includes letters to Ellen Johnson from others, letters from Johnson to Carl Gerber, and a sketch by Johnson. Materials date from circa 1956-1991.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art historian, art critic, author, librarian and educator Ellen Hulda Johnson measure 61.5 linear feet and date from 1872-2018, with the bulk of the material dating from 1921-1992. The papers include biographical materials; personal and family files; personal, professional, and business correspondence; extensive research and writing files; teaching files; subject files; professional and curatorial files; and artists' files. Johnson's papers reflect the full range of her career, interests, and close relationships with many artists. There is a 0.2 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2021 that includes letters to Ellen Johnson from others, letters from Johnson to Carl Gerber, and a sketch by Johnson. Materials date from circa 1956-1991.

Personal papers consist of biographical materials and personal and family files, including "memorabilia" files compiled by Johnson. Correspondence is a mix of personal, business, and professional correspondence. Significant correspondents include David Saunders (who painted a portrait of Johnson), Claes Oldenburg, Jack Tworkov, Robert Venturi, the American Scandinavian Foundation. A folder of correspondence compiled for the Archives includes letters from Alfred Stieglitz, Wendell Wilkie, Carl Milles, Jim Dine, and Alexander Archipenko.

Extensive and comprehensive writing and research project files include articles, lectures, presentations, manuscripts, notes and notebooks, including her class notebooks from courses she attended in Paris in 1935, and additional notes and notebooks on a wide variety of subjects. The numerous articles, lectures, papers, and drafts were written primarily by Johnson for the College Art Association, the Allen Memorial Art Museum bulletin, and numerous additional publications and presentations; but there are also writings by others included in the research files. Major writing projects and related research files cover Scandinavian art, the Ossabaw Island artist's colony, Cezanne, Eva Hesse, John Frederick Kensett, Claes Oldenburg, Picasso, David Saunders, Athena Tacha, Pop Art, and many other topics. Johnson's research files, manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs for major exhibitions, including one on Eva Hesse (1982) and for her published books including American Artists on Art from 1940-1980 (1982), Claes Oldenburg (1971), Fragments Recalled at 80: The Art Memoirs of Ellen H. Johnson (1993), and Modern Art and Object (1976) are arranged with the writing project files. Johnson's bibliographic index cards are found here as well.

The collection contains extensive teaching files for courses taught by Johnson at Oberlin and as a visiting professor at other institutions; professional and curatorial files reflecting her curatorial career at Allen Memorial Art Museum, as a consultant, jury member, and continuing education courses she later attended, including the Baldwin Lecture Series; and 18 linear feet of artist's files assembled by Johnson.
Arrangement:
The Ellen Hulda Johnson papers are arranged into seven series:

Missing Title

Series 1: Personal Papers, circa 1905-2009 (5 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 56-59)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1927-2009 (5.5 linear feet; Boxes 3-7, 60)

Series 3: Writing and Research Projects, 1872, 1932-1994 (15.5 linear feet; Boxes 7-20, 56, 61-62)

Series 4: Subject Files, 1930-1993 (5 linear feet; Boxes 21-25, 62)

Series 5: Teaching Files, 1928-1989 (6 linear feet; Boxes 26-31, 62)

Series 6: Professional and Curatorial Files, 1936-1991 (6 linear feet; Boxes 32-37, 56)

Series 7: Artists Files, 1935-1992 (18.3 linear feet; Boxes 37-55, 62)

Series 8: Unprocessed Addition, 1956-1991 (0.2 linear feet; Box 63)
Biographical / Historical:
Ellen Hulda Johnson (1910-1992) was an art historian, critic, and professor who worked and taught at Oberlin College in Ohio for most of her career.

Ellen Hulda Johnson was born in 1910 in Warren, Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in art history at Oberlin in 1933 and 1935. She worked briefly at the Toledo Museum of Art before returning to Oberlin as the art librarian. In 1940 she started Oberlin's art rental program, the first of its kind in the country. She was appointed to the faculty in 1948 and taught nineteenth and twentieth century art, American art from colonial times to the present, contemporary art, and Scandinavian art. She was a member of the Allen Memorial Art Museum's acquisition committee and appointed honorary curator of modern art in 1973. She remained at Oberlin her entire career, retiring from teaching in 1977.

Johnson was a scholar of Cézanne, Claes Oldenburg, Eva Hesse, Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, John F. Kensett and other modern masters, as well as Scandinavian art. In 1962 she wrote the first important article on Claes Oldenburg and, in 1970, assisted curator Athena Tacha commission his first permanent large sculpture (3-Way Plug) for the grounds of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. She was the first to show the black-striped paintings that established Frank Stella's reputation. Her efforts in promoting acquisitions of young contemporary artists helped make the Allen Memorial Art Museum a leading institution in contemporary art. Her Oberlin lectures on modern art became so popular that they had to be held in the college's largest auditorium and influenced generations of students, many of whom went on to signficant positions in the field. A new wing of the museum designed by Robert Venturi opened in 1977 and was named in honor of Johnson.

Johnson was the author of numerous articles, books, and exhibition catalogs including Cezanne (Penquin, 1967); Claes Oldenburg (Penquin, 1971); American Artists on Art from 1940-1980 (Harper and Row, 1982); and Modern Art and the Object (Thames and Hudson, 1976).

In 1968, Johnson purchased the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Weltzheimer house in Oberlin, and spent a considerable part of her time and money restoring the building where she lived the rest of her life. She bequethed the house and her significant art collection to Oberlin upon her death in 1992.
Related Materials:
Papers of Ellen H. Johnson, 1933-1992, are also located at Oberlin College Archives.
Separated Materials:
Shortly after aquisition, the Archives transferred Ellen Hulda Johnson's vertical file (16 linear feet) of clippings, press releases, and exhibition announcements to the library of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.
Provenance:
The Ellen Hulda Johnson papers were donated in 1994, 1998, 2019 and 2021 by the estate of Ellen Hulda Johnson via exectutor Athena Tacha.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington D.C. Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. 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:
Librarians -- Ohio  Search this
Authors -- Ohio  Search this
Art critics -- Ohio  Search this
Art historians -- Ohio -- Oberlin  Search this
Educators -- Ohio -- Oberlin  Search this
Topic:
Art, Scandinavian  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 19th century -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Study and teaching  Search this
Pop art  Search this
Women authors  Search this
Women art critics  Search this
Women art historians  Search this
Function:
Artist colonies -- Georgia
Citation:
Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1872-2018, bulk 1921-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.johnelle
See more items in:
Ellen Hulda Johnson papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-johnelle
Online Media:

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