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Mildred Constantine Papers

Creator:
Constantine, Mildred  Search this
Names:
Cleveland Museum of Art  Search this
Getty Conservation Institute  Search this
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) -- Employees  Search this
Museum of New Mexico  Search this
Ohio State University  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
Rhode Island School of Design  Search this
Abakanowicz, Magdalena  Search this
Albers, Anni  Search this
Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-  Search this
Barragán, Luis, 1902-  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Bourgeois, Louise, 1911-2010  Search this
Buic, Jagoda, 1930-  Search this
Burle Marx, Roberto, 1909-1994  Search this
Cohen, Elaine Lustig, 1927-  Search this
Coiner, Charles T., 1897-  Search this
Corzo, Miguel Angel  Search this
D'Harnoncourt, Anne, 1943-2008  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Dehner, Dorothy, 1901-1994  Search this
Fitch, James Marston  Search this
Goeritz, Mathias, 1915-  Search this
Hart, Allen M., 1925-  Search this
Hicks, Sheila, 1934-  Search this
Koch, Richard H., d. 2009  Search this
Larsen, Jack Lenor  Search this
Lionni, Leo, 1910-  Search this
Reeves, Ruth, 1892-1966  Search this
Reuter, Laurel  Search this
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962  Search this
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 -- Photographs  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Ten Haeff, Ingeborg, 1915-  Search this
Vignelli, Massimo  Search this
Weisman, Donald M.  Search this
Wilder, Elizabeth, 1908-  Search this
Wilke, Ulfert, 1907-1987  Search this
Zeisler, Claire, 1903-1991  Search this
Extent:
5.3 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Illustrated letters
Transcripts
Video recordings
Interviews
Date:
1945-2008
Summary:
The papers of Mildred Constantine measure 5.3 linear feet and are dated 1945-2009. Subject files, writings, photographs, and a scrapbook provide an overview of her curatorial work in the Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art, and subsequent activities as an independent curator, and art consultant. Especially well documented is Whole Cloth, a book written with Laurel Reuter that presents an historical overview of how artists have used cloth in their work.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Mildred Constantine measure 5.3 linear feet and are dated 1945-2008. Subject files, writings, photographs, and a scrapbook provide an overview of her curatorial work in the Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art, and subsequent activities as an independent curator, and art consultant. Especially well documented is the book Whole Cloth that she wrote with Laurel Reuter.

Correspondence, though mostly business related, often touches on personal matters since many of the artists and art world figures with whom she corresponded were also friends. Correspondents include Miguel Angel Corzo, Arthur C. Danto, Dorothy Dehner, Allen Hart (who sent more than 40 illustrated letters), Elizabeth Wilder and Donald L. Weisman. She also corresponded with many art institutions and organizations, among them the Cleveland Museum of Art, Independent International Design Conference, El Museo del Barrio, Museum of New Mexico, Ohio State University, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Estate of David Smith.

Subject files reflect Constantine's activities and interests. A large portion of this series concerns Whole Cloth, a book written with Laurel Reuter that presents an historical look at how artists have used cloth in their work. Correspondence between the two authors, with artists, institutions, and others concerns researching and writing the volume. Also documented are the successes and failures of Constantine's decade long pursuit to publish the book. Other substantive files relate to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Getty Conservation Institute, Sheila Hicks, Jack Lenor Larsen, Rhode Island School of Design, and Soviet Film Posters. Files concerning the University of the Arts' 2003 Commencement include a videocassette.

Writings by Constantine are lecture material and notes. Also found are transcripts of interviews with Constantine and writings by others. Printed material includes newspaper and magazine articles about Constantine and her career. A scrapbook of printed material and photographs documents an exhibition of Latin American posters at the Library of Congress organized by Constantine.

Photographs of people include Mildred Constantine with family, friends, artists and others at public and private events around the world. Notable photographs include: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Alfred Barr, Luis Barragan, Lou Block, Louise Bourgeois, Jagoda Buic, Elaine Lustig Cohen, Charles Coiner, James Marston Fitch, Mathias Goeritz, Ingeborg Ten Haeff, Ann d'Harnoncourt, Sheila Hicks, Richard Koch, Nancy Koenigsberg, Jack Lenor Larsen, Leo Lionni, Roberto Burle Marx, Ruth Reeves, Laurel Reuter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ben Shahn, Massimo Vignelli, Ulfert Wilke, and Claire Zeisler. Also, there are photographs of artwork by a wide range of artists.
Arrangement:
The Mildred Constantine papers are organized into 8 series.

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1947-1997 (Boxes 1, 6; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-2008 (Boxes 1, 6; 1.0 linear feet)

Series 3: Subject Files, 1964-2008 (Boxes 2-5; 3.3 linear feet)

Series 4: Writings, 1991-2008 (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1961-2006 (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 6: Photographs, 1993 (Box 5; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 7: Artwork, 1945 (Box 5; 1 folder)

Series 8: Scrapbook, circa 1940s (Box 6; 0.1 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Curator and writer Mildred Constantine (1913-2008) was associated with the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Architecture and Design from 1943 to 1971. She then became an art consultant and independent curator, and wrote on fiber and textiles, decorative arts, photography, caricature and cartoons.

Mildred Constantine (known as "Connie") began her career at College Art Association. Hired as a stenographer in 1930, she soon was promoted to editorial assistant for Parnassus, the forerunner of Art Journal.

Constantine left the College Art Association in 1937 to study at New York University and earned BA and MA degrees. She then continued her education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 1940, Constantine worked in the Office of Inter-American Affairs at the Library of Congress; it was there that she met René d'Harnoncourt.

Influenced by her 1936 travels in Mexico, Constantine's first curatorial effort was an exhibition of Latin American posters. Drawn from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition was held at the Library of Congress.

At the urging of René d'Harnoncourt, The Museum of Modern Art's Architecture and Design Department hired Constantine in 1943. The majority of her 28 year tenure at the museum was spent working with the department's founder, architect Philip Johnson. As a curator during the 1950s and 1960s, Constantine's innovative exhibitions brought lesser known portions of the museum's collection to public attention. Among her exhibtions were: "Words and Images," that focused on graphic design and posters; "Polio Posters," the first Museum of Modern Art show dedicated to social issues; "Olivetti: Design in Industry;" "Signs in the Street;" and "Lettering by Hand." She also published books on Art Nouveau, contemporary package design, and other subjects.

In 1971, Constantine left the Museum of Modern Art to become an independent curator and art consultant. Exhibitions included "Frontiers in Fiber: The Americans," and "Small Works in Fiber" with Jack Lenor Larsen. Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life, Constantine's book on the photographer, actress, model, and political activist, appeared in 1974. That same year, she and Alan Fern produced Revolutionary Soviet Film Posters that focused on works from the 1920s. Her last published work, Whole Cloth, was written with Laurel Reuter and published in 1997. Constantine continued to research and write, and at the time of her death was working on a large, international survey of the study of thread.

Mildred Constantine and Ralph W. Bettelheim (1909-1993) were married for 50 years. They had two daughters, Judith and Vicki.

Mildred Constantine died from heart failure on December 10, 2008, at home in Nyack, New York.
Related Material:
Oral history interviews with Mildred Constantine were conducted for the Archives of American Art by Harlan Phillips, 1965 October 15, and by Paul Cummings, 1976 May 3-1976 August 26.
Provenance:
The papers were donated to the Archives in 2009 by Mildred Constantine's daughters, Judith Bettelheim and Vicki McDaniel.
Restrictions:
Use of origininal material requires an appointment. 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:
Curators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art consultants -- New York -- New York  Search this
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art historians -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Textile fabrics in art  Search this
Film posters, Russian  Search this
Women museum curators  Search this
Women authors  Search this
Women art historians  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Illustrated letters
Transcripts
Video recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Mildred Constantine papers, 1945-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.consmild
See more items in:
Mildred Constantine Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9ceec1503-7840-4279-b08d-1d44f625df3e
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-consmild
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Charles Henry Alston

Interviewee:
Alston, Charles Henry, 1907-1977  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington), 1920-  Search this
Creator:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
Artists' Union (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Federal Art Project (N.Y.)  Search this
Harlem Artists Guild  Search this
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Public Works of Art Project  Search this
United States. Federal Emergency Relief Administration  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964  Search this
Diller, Burgoyne, 1906-1965  Search this
Dlugoszewski, Lucia, 1931-2000  Search this
Halpert, Edith Gregor, 1900-1970  Search this
Lawrence, Jacob, 1917-2000  Search this
Pachano, Ernest  Search this
Schmoo, Aaron Ben  Search this
Extent:
39 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1965 September 28
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Charles Alston conducted 1965 September 28, by Harlan Phillips, for the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project.
Alston speaks of his work as an art director of a community camp and as director of a boys' club in Harlem; the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and his involvement; the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and his involvement in it; his membership in the Harlem Artists Guild; his contribution to WPA Federal Art Project murals at Harlem Hospital; mural versus easel painting; problems with the Artists Union; and camaraderie among FAP artists. He recalls Lou Block, Stuart Davis, Burgoyne Diller, Edith Halpert, Jacob Lawrence, Ernest Pachano, Aaron Ben Schmoo, and others, and describes his associations with musicians including Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington and Chick Webb.
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) was an African American painter and mural painter in New York, New York.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 24 minutes.
Provenance:
This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Occupation:
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.alston65
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw91958a872-ee7a-44df-99fb-71bbecdd432e
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-alston65
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Max Spivak

Interviewee:
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington), 1920-  Search this
Creator:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Cahill, Holger, 1887-1960  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Knight, Harry  Search this
Krasner, Lee, 1908-1984  Search this
McMahon, Audrey, 1900?-1981  Search this
Rosenberg, Harold, 1906-1978  Search this
Extent:
58 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
circa 1965
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Max Spivak conducted circa 1963, by Harlan Phillips, for the Archives of American Art.
Spivak speaks of how he went from being an accountant to doing art; moving to Paris for three years, and how this experience changed his life; the difference between painting in Europe and painting in America; moving back to New York; why he decided to leave Paris and move back to New York; the importance of intuitive feeling; his involvement with the Gibson Committee; how he and some members of the Gibson Committee thought of the WPA; his experiences with the PWAP at the Whitney Museum; picketing outside the Mirror; his and the other artists experiences with the Project; the development of the Artist Congress; the nature of art; his work on mosaic murals; how art started losing support from the government by the late thirties; doing murals for big companies; the waning moments of the Project. He recalls Arshile Gorky, Holger Cahill, Audrey McMahon, Lee Krasner, Harold Rosenberg, Harry Knight, Lou Block, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Max Spivak (1906-1981) was a painter and designer in New York, N.Y.
General:
Originally recorded 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 32 min.
Interview date changed to circa 1965 because the blackout of November 1965 is discussed in the interview.
Provenance:
Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Restrictions:
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Mosaics  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.spivak63
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9d17d1166-7313-4ab7-a9c8-2168d12a4378
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-spivak63
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Lou Block, 1965 May 31

Interviewee:
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington),, 1920-  Search this
Subject:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Theme:
New Deal  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)11959
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)213322
AAA_collcode_blockl65
Theme:
New Deal
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_213322

Lou Block papers, 1936-1938

Creator:
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Federal Art Project (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Subject:
Index of American Design  Search this
Artists' Union (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
American Artists' Congress  Search this
Place:
United States -- Economic conditions -- 1918-1945
Topic:
New Deal, 1933-1939 -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Federal aid to the arts -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art and state -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Federal aid to public welfare -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Mural painting and decoration, American  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Theme:
African American  Search this
Government Sponsorship of the Arts  Search this
New Deal  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6746
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)208871
AAA_collcode_bloclou
Theme:
African American
Government Sponsorship of the Arts
New Deal
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_208871

Oral history interview with Lou Block

Interviewee:
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington), 1920-  Search this
Creator:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Extent:
42 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1965 May 31
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Lou Block conducted 1965 May 31, by Harlan Phillips, for the Archives of American Art.
Biographical / Historical:
Lou Block (1895-1969) was an art administrator.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 11 min.
Provenance:
Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Occupation:
Arts administrators -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.blockl65
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw907069f1c-fbef-46c6-a91e-c9a8d5750103
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-blockl65

Lou Block papers

Creator:
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Federal Art Project (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Names:
American Artists' Congress  Search this
Artists' Union (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Index of American Design  Search this
Extent:
47 Items ((on partial microfilm reel))
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Place:
United States -- Economic conditions -- 1918-1945
Date:
1936-1938
Scope and Contents:
Papers relating to Block's involvement as a supervisor in the WPA Federal Art Project New York City office and as a member of the Artists Congress.
Frames 825-889: Photographs of murals in New York City, many unidentified, and photographs of strike and picketing by Artists' Union [microfilm title WPA-FAP, New York].
Frames 1013-1300: Correspondence and memoranda regarding rejection of murals for the Harlem Hospital by black artists, and charges of racism and segregation in the FAP; memos and reports by Block on the Index of American Design in New York City, including a roster of master artists on the Index; memos relating to cutbacks and quotas on the FAP; memos from the Supervisors Association of the FAP; Artists Congress report to membership, November 1936; issues of AMERICAN ARTIST; Index of American Design exhibition catalogs; and other printed material.
Biographical / Historical:
Administrator, Federal Art Project; New York, N.Y.
Provenance:
Lent for microfilming 1965 by Louis Block.
Restrictions:
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
Occupation:
Arts administrators  Search this
Topic:
New Deal, 1933-1939 -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Federal aid to the arts -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art and state -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Federal aid to public welfare -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Mural painting and decoration, American  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Identifier:
AAA.bloclou
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9d5caddec-4ac5-4b13-9943-81bbd8cff10c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-bloclou

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