An interview of Eleanor M. Garvey conducted 1997 February 28-June 13, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art in Garvey's office, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Garvey discusses her childhood in Worcester, Massachusetts; majoring in art history at Wellesley College under Serape der Nersessian, Alexander Campbell, Agnes Abbott, and Kenneth Conant; study of education at Clark University, with drawing classes at the art school of the Worcester Art Museum; and the extremely useful experience working at the Museum under Charles Sawyer and Louisa Dresser.
Working as an art librarian and museum curator at Wellesley College (1947-1952), and art history professors John McAndrew, Sidney Freedberg, James O'Gorman; moving on to the Newark Museum (1952-1953) and its collections and administration under Katherine Coffey.
Joining the Dept. of Printing and Graphic Arts of the Houghton Library in 1953 beginning as secretary to curator Philip Hofer; Hofer's work on illustrated books; the development of the Houghton Library from the so-called "Treasure Room" of the main Harvard Library under the direction of George Parker Winship; Garvey's close relationship with William Bentinck-Smith, a Houghton patron and an authority on type design; the status of women professionals at Harvard.
Continued discussion of Houghton patron William Bentinck-Smith; publications and exhibitions while at Houghton, including: "The Artist and the Book, 1860-1960" (1961), "The Turn of a Century, 1885-1970" (1970), "Henry Hobson Richardson and His Office: Selected Drawings" (1974), and "Artists of the Book in Boston, 1890-1910" (1988), as well as her current project producing a catalog of 18th century Venetian illustrated books and her involvement in seminars on artists' books.
Biographical / Historical:
Eleanor M. Garvey (1918- ) is a curator and writer from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes as X digital wav files. Duration is 3 hrs., 30 min.
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.
An interview of Rockwell Kent conducted 1969 Feb. 26-27, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art. Kent speaks of his family background; his early interest and talent in art; studying painting with Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase; his early studies and work in architecture; Kenneth Hayes Miller as a teacher; experiences which influenced him and inspired him; his travels and explorations; his work in book design and illustration; mural commissions; the American Artists Group; his political life and public affairs. He recalls Merle Armitage and Carl Zigrosser.
Biographical / Historical:
In addition to being a successful painter, printmaker, illustrator, designer, and commercial artist, Kent pursued careers as a writer, professional lecturer, and dairy farmer. He travelled extensively, and was a political activist who supported the causes of organized labor, civil liberties, civil rights, anti-Fascism, and peace and friendship with the Soviet Union.
These interviews are 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.
Transcript: Patrons must use microfilm copy.
Book-plate designers -- New York (State) -- Interviews Search this
1 Photograph (lantern slide, hand-colored, 3.25 x 4 in.)
Georgia -- Augusta
Chafee House (Augusta, Georgia)
United States of America -- Georgia -- Richmond County -- Augusta
[between 1914 and 1949?]
The formal beds are charmingly planted in many varieties of jonquils and tulips as well as other types of early flowering bulbs. The outlines of the parterres are sharply marked, giving almost the effect of a book design. This is very will done and gives a delightful effect.
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
United States -- Economic conditions, 1918-1945 -- Washington (State)
The papers of artist, photographer, museum director, anthropologist, and writer Robert Bruce Inverarity are dated circa 1840s-1997 and measure 12.7 linear feet. Biographical information, correspondence, writings and notes, subject files, art work, scrapbooks, sound recordings, printed material and photographs are found within the papers. They document Inverarity's work as Director of the Federal Art Project in Seattle and Director of the Art and Craft Project for the State of Washington, as well as his other professional work. Nineteenth century material consists of a Japanese print, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of artist, photographer, museum director, anthropologist, and writer Robert Bruce Inverarity are dated circa 1840s-1997 and measure 13.8 linear feet. Biographical information, correspondence, writings and notes, subject files, art work, scrapbooks, sound recordings, printed material and photographs are found within the papers. They document Inverarity's work as Director of the Federal Art Project in Seattle and Director of the Art and Craft Project for the State of Washington, as well as his other professional work. Nineteenth century material consists of a Japanese print, printed material, and photographs.
Among the biographical information are awards and certificates, biographical and genealogical notes, and educational records. Correspondence concerns Inverarity's activities as Director of the WPA Federal Arts Project in Washington State, 1936-1941. Additional personal and professional correspondence, 1929-1993, documents his activities as a museum director, consultant, collector, and writer. Among the friends and colleagues with whom he corresponded are: Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, Rockwell and Sally Kent, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Wolfgang Palen, Juliet and Man Ray, Mark Tobey, Edward Weston, and various individuals associated with the WPA.
Manuscripts of a few of Inverarity's many articles on topics such as anthropology, museology, and information storage and retrieval are among his writings and notes. Also included are the manuscript of an unpublished book, Tobey Remembered, along with drafts, notes, correspondence, research materials, and photocopies of Tobey's letters to him and others. Other writings consist of book reviews, children's books, a catalog of the Inverarity Collection, and a copy of his 1946 master's thesis, "The Social-Economic Position of the American Artist." Several journals, 1928-1966, survive, including one that records his 1932 trip to study the Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Subject files include general subjects such as "Folk Art" and "Preservation." Files on the museums where Inverarity was the director contain some official records as well as general information. Art work by Inverarity includes eight volumes of sketch books, 1928-1942, commercial work for Boeing, notes and drawings for book designs. Among the work by other artists are drawings, paintings and prints by friends. Of particular interest are display panels for a small exhibit on airbrush stencil prints produced by the Washington State WPA Federal Art Project. Other noteworthy items are pencil sketches and a watercolor by Mark Tobey, and prints by Hiroshige and Jan Matulka.
Five scrapbooks, 1928-1979, contain newspaper clippings, miscellaneous printed items, and a small number of photographs and letters. Three volumes document his career as an artist and museum director. One consists of biographical information and items designed by Inverarity, and another concerns publication and marketing of his monograph Art of the Northwest Coast Indians.
Sound recordings consist of interviews and conversations. An extensive interview with Inverarity about his life and career was conducted by Craig Gilborn in 1990. Bruce and Jane Inverarity in conversation with former colleague Ernie Johnson and his wife Helen about his departure from the Museum of International Folk Art were recorded in 1980. Also included is a 1981 conversation with Grace T. Stevenson containing references to Mark Tobey and Morris Graves.
Printed material includes many items about or produced by the WPA Federal Art Project. Among the items written by Inverarity are many articles on a wide variety of topics, his book Art of the Northwest Coast Indians, and two published portfolios. Printed material by other authors includes articles, books and reports about or mentioning Inverarity, and books designed or illustrated by him. Among the miscellaneous printed items are catalogs and brochures of the schools where Inverarity taught and studied, and a few ephemeral items designed by him.
Photographs are of art work, people, places, the Washington State WPA Federal Art Project, and miscellaneous subjects. All photographs known to be by Inverarity are clearly marked. Art work includes views of Inverarity's collection of his own work and that of other artists hanging in his home. Photographs of people include artists, friends, colleagues, and various groups. Of special interest are Inverarity's portraits of artists, among them Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Morris Graves, Hilaire Hiler, Rico Le Brun, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Man Ray, Dorothea Tanning, and Mark Tobey. Photographs of places include the museums where Inverarity was director, places in which he lived, and travel pictures. Of note are a large group of photographs (copy prints) taken in 1932 while studying the Haida Indians in British Columbia. Nineteenth century photographs of family homes, Europe, and South America may have been taken by his father. Photographs of the Washington State WPA Federal Arts Project are of individual works of art, exhibition installations, mosaic procedures and local art centers. Many, probably intended for display, are mounted in groups on large cardboard panels. Miscellaneous subjects include art photographs by Inverarity and the microreader he invented.
The collection is arranged as nine series. Correspondence is in chronological order, Biographical Information and Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Other series have been organized into subseries and arrangement is as described in the Series Descriptions/Container List below. Unless noted otherwise, material within folders is arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1934-1997, undated (Box 1, OV 18; 0.25 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1928-1993, undated (Box 1; 0.75 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1928-1993, undated, (Boxes 2-3; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 4: Subject Files, 1938-1990, undated (Boxes 3-6, OV 19-20; 2.5 linear ft.)
Series 5: Art Work, circa 1840s-1969, undated (Boxes 6, 12, 16, OV 21; 1.3 linear ft.)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1928-1991, undated (Boxes 7-8; 1.1 linear ft.)
Series 7: Sound Recordings, 1980-1990 (Box 8; 3 folders)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1902-1995, undated (Boxes 8-11, 13, OV 22; 3.4 linear ft.)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1870s-1990, undated (Boxes 11, 14-17, OV 23; 3.0 linear ft.)
Robert Bruce Inverarity (1909-1999) showed artistic leanings as a boy, and from an early age was fascinated by puppetry and Northwest Coast native culture. During much of his youth, Inverarity's family lived in Canada, but returned to their native Seattle when he was a teenager. After graduating from high school, he made a 500 mile journey on foot along the coasts of the Vancouver Islands, collecting Indian artifacts and studying the area's tribal legends.
He studied briefly with Mark Tobey in Seattle, where the two shared a studio; when Tobey departed for Chicago, Inverarity succeeded him as an art teacher at the Cornish School. He spent the next few years in California working as an artist, exhibiting, and occasionally teaching. From there, he moved to Vancouver where he was Director of the School of Creative Art. In 1932, Inverarity made a three month trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, for the purpose of studying the Haida Indians.
Upon his return to the United States in 1933, Inverarity joined the University of Washington Drama School as a puppetry instructor; in 1938 he published a highly regarded Manual of Puppetry. During 1936-37, he took a leave of absence from the university to assume the position of State Director of the Federal Art Project, where he remained until 1939. He then became State Director of the Art and Crafts Project (1939-1941). The U.S. Navy appointed Inverarity Chief of Design for Camouflage (1941-1943) and he later served as an Official Navy War Artist (1943-1945).
During his early years as a teacher and administrator, Inverarity continued making art and participated in a wide variety of exhibitions. He published a portfolio, 12 Photographs by R. B. Inverarity (1940). In the following year, Movable Masks and Figures of the North Pacific Coast Indians, a portfolio of his watercolors reproduced as silkscreen prints, appeared. Although Inverarity stopped exhibiting in 1941, he continued to produce art; notable work of this period includes photographic portraits of a number of artist friends (Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray).
After World War II, Inverarity completed his formal education. He earned a Bachelor's degree in art and anthropology from the University of Washington (1946), and then studied with Hilaire Hiler at Freemont University in Los Angeles, where he was awarded a Master's degree in fine arts (1947) and a Ph.D. (1948).
Inverarity began his museum career in 1949 when he was appointed the first director of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a position that combined his interest in, and knowledge of, anthropology and art. While in Santa Fe, he published Art of the North West Coast Indians (1950). During his five year tenure as director, the museum participated in a pilot study for coding visual files, a project of the anthropological group, Human Resources Area Files, Inc. When Inverarity was dismissed from the Museum of International Folk Art in 1954, most of the staff resigned in protest, and the American Association of Museums investigated the situation.
Inverarity then became the first director of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York, where he remained for eleven years. In addition to planning the museum's building, and developing collections and programs, Inverarity continued his involvement with the visual files project of the Human Resources Area Files, Inc., studying information storage and retrieval, developing a "microreader," and publishing Visual Files Coding Index (1960). In addition, he published many articles on a variety of topics and was active in organizations for anthropologists and museum professionals.
After his 1965 departure from the Adirondack Museum, Inverarity went to California and worked as an illustrator and book designer at the University of California Press. He returned to the east coast in 1969 to assume the directorship of the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. During this period, he remained active in professional associations and traveled to study museums abroad. He retired in 1976 and moved to La Jolla, California.
Robert Bruce Inverarity died in 1999.
Originals of most of the drawings and sketches loaned by Mr. Inverarity were returned to him after filming and were not subsequently donated. This material is available on 35 mm microfilm reel D/NDA/I, frames 392-409.
Robert Bruce Inverarity donated his papers to the Archives in several installments between 1965 and 1993. Additional papers were received from his estate in 1999. He also loaned a small number of additional drawings and sketches for microfilming which were returned to him. A few of these drawings were included with the papers he subsequently donated to the Archives of American Art.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The Robert Bruce Inverarity 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.
General correspondence files contain all communications that do not pertain to a specific project. Because Friedman's personal life and business were so interconnected, many of his business associates also shared personal correspondence with the designer.,Materials in this collection document Friedman's work from 1967, as a student, until his death in 1995.
Files that document his affiliations with Yale University and the State University of New York at Purchase include administrative memos, proposals, lecture outlines, syllabi, bibliographies, examples of students' work, and design projects Friedman did for each school. A copy of the goals and objectives of the Division of Visual Arts within the School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase written by Friedman is included.
Project files include business correspondence, invoices, sketches, contracts, clippings, photographs, and slides. In the case of his graphic projects, some samples of stationery and brochures are included. Extensive documentation exists for Friedman's projects for Citibank, WilliWear, National Public Radio, and Bonwit Teller. Some correspondence is in German. Friedman's lecture notes, proposals for articles and books, and drafts of many articles are included. Clippings of articles on the designer and his work are arranged chronologically.
Research files consist of articles and Friedman's notes on topics of interest to him, such as typography, structure, simultaneity, and information theory. Photographs, slides, and transparencies of many of Friedman's projects, his sources of inspiration, and the work of his students are included.
Record Groups include:
1: General Correspondence
2: University Affiliations
3: Project Files
4: Lectures and Writings
6: Research Materials
7: Photographs and Slides
Biographical / Historical:
Educator, graphic and furniture designer. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1945. Friedman recieved a BFA from Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburg, PA. He studied graphic design at Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Ulm, and studied with Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart at Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, Basel. Friedman returned to America in 1969 and began his career as graphic designer for large corporations.
He worked with the firm Anspach Grossman Portugal as a senior designer from 1975 to 1977. Friedman contributed significantly to what came to be known as "post-modern" or "new wave" typography in the 1970s. He taught graphic design at Yale University, 1970-73. He became Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Board of Study in Design at the State University of New York at Purchase, 1972-1975. Friedman designed catalogs and brochures for both universities. Friedman worked with Pentagram Design in New York City from 1979 to 1984. He designed corporate identity programs, posters, publications, packaging, letterheads, and logos, for clients such as Citibank, and Williwear.
Friedman was a long-time friend of artist Keith Haring, and designed the book, "Keith Haring", 1982. He was the author of "Dan Friedman: Radical Modernism", 1994, and co-authored with Jeffrey Deitch, "Cultural Geometry", 1988, and "Artificial Nature", 1990. He designed the books "New Italian Design", 1990, and "Post Human", 1992. He also designed furniture, lighting, screens, wall elements, and interiors. Many of his furniture designs were done especially for Galerie Noetu in Paris. Among his best known furniture designs are the 1989 Virgin Screen, 1989 Zoid sofa and chair, and the Three Mile Island lamps.
Friedman served as the Frank Stanton Professor of Graphic Design at the Cooper Union in New York city, from 1994 until his death in 1995.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Drawings and Prints Department
Hundreds of designs for letterheads, logos, business cards, invitations, greeting cards, furniture, lighting, screens, office interiors, shoppings bags and gift boxes, calendars, packaging, weather pattern diagrams and maps, book covers, and posters
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Applied Arts Department
"U.S.A." table and dome-shaped floor lamp.,.
Friedman's work can be found in the collections of the following museums: Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Museum of Decorative Arts, Montreal, Canada; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Seibu, Tokyo; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; and Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
This collection was donated to the museum by the designer's brother, Ken Friedman in 1995.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
5.1 Linear feet ((partially microfilmed on 5 reels))
Scope and Contents:
Correspondence, typescripts of books, publications and clippings relating to Bolton's published and unpublished works on American art.
UNMICROFILMED: Included are drafts for AMERICAN BOOK ILLUSTRATORS (N.Y., 1938), EARLY AMERICAN PORTRAIT PAINTERS IN OILS, DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ARTISTS, A WORKING BIBLIOGRAPHY...RELATING TO ART IN PENNSYLVANIA...NOTES FOR A REVISION (Philadelphia, 1948), a portion of Sinclair Hamilton's EARLY AMERICAN BOOK ILLUSTRATORS, 1670-1870 (Princeton, 1958), "A Brief History of the French Impressionists," "Annotated Bibliography of Early American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers to 1860," A Brief History of Colonial American Painting" (1942); 75 typewritten pages of a working bibliography of books, magazine articles and catalogs relating to art in Pennsylvania by Harold E. Dickson and Bolton, 1948; catalogs of works of several artists; notes on artists, Greek vases and architecture, the Dutch masters, the Museum of San Marco, painting technique, the French Impressionists, Early American Painting, and English historical painting. Also included are checklists of books illustrated by Howard Pyle, Katharine Pyle and Joseph Pennell; articles by R. P. Tolman and related correspondence; sketches and drawings by Bolton; and clippings and book reviews relating to Bolton.
REEL N140: A revised typescript, 1958, of AMERICAN BOOK ILLUSTRATORS.
REELS D9 & D10: A letter from book designer Bruce Rogers, annotated by Bolton, February 14, 1945 regarding Rogers' design of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS; 2 letters from Ruel Pardee Tolman, June 12, 1949 and May 19, 1953, regarding his own painting and miniatures and other paintings he is buying and studying; and 5 letters from illustrator Thornton Oakley, undated and March 10-April 19, 1946.
REELS 439-440: Copy of a photograph - probably from a book, of Winslow Homer (reel 439); and a photograph, ca. 1850, of (L to R.): Henry Kirke Brown, Henry Peters Gray and Asher Brown Durand and Emanuel Leutze, photographer unknown. [A similiar photo filmed on reel NY59-19, fr. 1-2, Mary Bartlett Cowdrey artists' files pictures William Kemble (non-artist) on Brown's right.]
Biographical / Historical:
Art historian, scholar and librarian of the Century Association; New York, N.Y. Died 1973. He specialized in book illustration and portrait miniatures.
From 1956-1959, Bolton donated 3 feet of material to the Archives and 2 feet to the Library of the National Museum of American Art, which subsequently transferred it to the Archives, 1981. There is some duplication within the two groups of material.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of sculptor and painter Fletcher Benton measure 8.2 linear feet and 1.47 GB and date from 1934 to 2014. They document his career as a sculptor with international presence through certificates, personal photographs, legal papers, correspondence, exhibition and commission documentation, clippings, exhibition-related printed materials, broadcast materials, publications about his work, an editioned kinetic Christmas card, and photographs, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film documenting his work and career.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of sculptor and painter Fletcher Benton measure 8.2 linear feet and 1.47 GB and date from 1934 to 2014. They document his career through personal photographs, legal papers, correspondence, exhibition and commission documentation, clippings, exhibition-related printed materials, broadcast materials, publications about his work, an editioned kinetic Christmas card, photographs, sound and video recordings motion picture film, some of which also appears in digitized form.
Biographical Materials include personal photographs, legal documents related to a court case with book designer Ed Marquand, biographical texts, interview transcripts, and a home video made by the artist. Correspondence is with other artists, friends, galleries, museums and other institutions, including George W. Neubert, André Emmerich Gallery, Pieter Sanders, Pol Bury, George Rickey, Ulfert Wilke, Marlene Louchheim, DeWain Valentine, Lillian E. Jones, and Edward Lucie-Smith. Interviews include sound recordings of interviews with Benton by academics and journalists, including Edward Lucie-Smith, Dan Tooker, and Dan De Wilde.
Exhibition and Commission Files consist of correspondence with galleries, museums and commission patrons; financial records; shipping and subcontracting documentation; motion picture film, video, and sound recordings related to exhibitions and installations; and planning and design materials. Series includes a significant amount of oversized drawings and plans for site-specific work. There is a large volume documentation from the Folded Circle-Arc commission by Stanley Consultants, Inc. in Muscatine, Iowa; the California/International Arts Foundation Traveling Sculpture Exhibition; Double Folded Circle Ring in Brussels and Double Circle Folded by Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Printed Materials include news clippings related to Benton's career, as well as brochures, exhibition catalogs, posters and other printed materials related to exhibitions and commissions. Broadcast materials include television news footage, radio and television interviews, documentaries, and promotional materials made by galleries and other cultural institutions.
Photographic and Moving Image Materials include art-related images showing Benton in his studio and images of exhibitions, installations and inaugurations. Also found are still photographs and motion picture films of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and kinetic drawings, and a series of photographs of sculptures taken by David Finn.
Artwork consists of an editioned art Christmas card created by Benton for Galeria Bonino in New York from 1969. An American Artist Moving Image Materials consist of 13 videocassettes (VHS) which document the production process of the documentaryFletcher Benton: An American Artist by Morgan Cavett. There is footage from interviews with Benton and with curator George W. Neubert, footage of San Francisco with comments from Benton about his time there, interviews with the artist's studio assistants, images of his studio in Dore street and a couple of almost finished rough versions of the documentary.
This collection is arranged as nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Material (0.3 linear feet; boxes 1, 9)
Series 2: Correspondence (1 linear foot; boxes 1, 2, OV 10)
Series 3: Interviews (0.3 linear feet; box 2)
Series 4: Exhibition and Commission Files (2 linear feet, 0.50 GB; boxes 2-4, OV 11-13, RD 14, FC 15, ER01)
Series 5: Printed Materials (2.3 linear feet; boxes 4-6, OV 10)
Series 6: Broadcast Materials (1.1 linear foot; boxes 6-7)
Series 7: Photographic and Moving Image Materials (0.5 linear feet, 0.97 GB; boxes 7, 9, FC 16-17, ER02)
Series 8: Artwork (1 item; box 7)
Series 9: -- An American Artist -- Video Recordings (0.6 linear feet; boxes 7-8)
Biographical / Historical:
Fletcher Benton was born in Jackson, Ohio in 1931 to Fletcher and Nell Cavett Benton and was the oldest of three children. Benton graduated from Jackson High School in 1949. After serving in the Navy he graduated from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1956 and moved to San Francisco, where he started working as an instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1959. He was in San Francisco during the flourishing of the Beat generation, where he had a studio in the North beach area and exhibited at coffee house galleries.
After travelling around Europe in 1960, Benton moved to New York City where he tried to make his living through painting and teaching privately. During those years he was supported by Jackson's local arts patron and family friend, Lillian E. Jones. In 1960 he had his first solo exhibition at Gump's gallery in San Francisco, but his work was taken down after one day because it was considered obscene for including female nudes. He returned to San Francisco in late 1961.
In 1966 Fletcher started teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute and established himself as a primary figure of American kinetic art. In 1966, Peter Selz included his work in the exhibition Directions in Kinetic Sculpture at the University Art Gallery in Berkeley, CA. During the exhibition Benton met the artists Pol Bury and George Rickey with whom he became friends. The exhibition, along with an article "The Movement Movement" that appeared in Time magazine the same year, established Benton's reputation as a significant American Kinetic artist. He also started teaching at the California State University in San José in 1967 where he continued working until 1986.
By 1974 Benton abandoned kinetic art to continue exploring sculpture in three dimensions in a style that became known as "new constructivism." The artworks were conceived in the series Folded Circles and Folded Square Alphabets and were produced in bronze, aluminum and steel. It was also during the 1970s that he started doing large-scale commissions such as the 1977 IBM commission.
Between 1981 and 1984 Benton constructed his studio in Dore Street in the Market district of San Francisco where he continues to work today. During the 1980s Benton started his Balanced/Unbalanced series, which introduced the idea of gravity using geometric forms in different formats and sizes.
From 1984 he began to show more work in Europe, especially in Germany, where in 1993 he got a major commission to create a colossal public sculpture in Cologne entitled Steel Watercolor Triangle Ring. It was also in Germany where Benton encountered the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, and he began work on his Construct Relief series in reponse, which he dedicated to Kandinsky. These geometric constructions are flat, canvas-like steel structures that combine features of painting and sculpture. As the series evolved, the work became more like painting, constructed to hang on the wall without a back piece, so they seem to be floating in the space.
Benton continues to live and work in San Francisco and is represented by multiple galleries in the United States and Germany.
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Fletcher Benton conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom, 1989 May 2-4 is available on the Archives of American Art website.
Donated 2005-2006 and 2014 by Fletcher Benton. Benton's wife, Bobbie Benton, organized the material by subject matter and date.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of audiovisual material without a duplicate copy requires advanced notice.
The Fletcher Benton 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.