An interview with Robert Pincus-Witten, conducted 2016 March 23-24, by Francis M. Naumann for the Archives of American Art at Pincus-Witten's home in New York, New York.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Pincus-Witten (1935-2018) was a professor of art history emeritus at CUNY in New York, New York. Interviewer Francis M. Naumann (1948- ) is an art historian and art dealer in Yorktown Heights, New York.
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.
The papers of art historian and educator Milton Wolf Brown date from 1908 to 1998 and measure 26.0 linear feet and 0.225 GB. The collection documents Brown's career through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, publishers, colleagues, artists, museums, and art organizations, travel journals, files for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, exhibition, research, teaching, and organization files, printed and digital material, and scattered photographs. A large portion of this collection consists of writings by Brown including notebooks, draft writings for books and other publications, lectures, and his writings as a student.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art historian and educator Milton Wolf Brown date from 1908 to 1998 and measure 25.8 linear feet and 0.225 GB. The collection documents Brown's career through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, publishers, colleagues, artists, museums, and art organizations, travel journals, files for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, exhibition, research, teaching, and organization files, printed and digital material, and scattered photographs. A large portion of this collection consists of writings by Brown including notebooks, draft writings for books and other publications, lectures, and his writings as a student.
Biographical material includes academic records, travel documents, financial documents, Brown's military records, and a transcript of a 1997 interview. Correspondence is with students, museums, universities, publishers, art organizations, and others. The bulk of these letters document Brown's professional activities, but also found are scattered letters from friends, artists, and colleagues such as Russell Lynes, Stanley Meltzoff, Louis Lozowick, Erwin Panofsky, and Paul Sachs.
This collection also contains 33 detailed travel journals written primarily by Milton Brown's wife, Blanche, documenting their travels in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world. Within the writings series are notebooks from the period that Brown was a student and while traveling in Europe in 1959 and 1960; book project files, which include draft writings as well as related correspondence, research material, notes, photographs and other material. Files are found for American Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Decorative Arts, Photography (1979), American Painting, From the Armory Show to the Depression (1955), The Story of the Armory Show (1963, 1988 2nd ed.), and other books. Among the writings are files for lectures written by Brown; essays, articles, and scripts written for various publications; general research notes and student writings; and writings by others sent to Brown for review and feedback.
Brown maintained a set of files documenting his work on the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, which consist of correspondence, drafts, reports, and research materials, including notes on twenty meetings with Mrs. Prendergast. Exhibition files document Brown's work as curator on several major exhibitions, including a Jacob Lawrence exhibition at the Whitney Museum, and his contributions to others. Also found here are three interviews of Milton Brown and Marcel Duchamp concerning the 50th Anniversary of the Armory Show and anniversary exhibition. Research files include notes, research material, and printed material on various art-related subjects that were maintained by Milton and Blanche Brown for regular use for lectures, teaching, and writing projects. Brown's teaching files contain scattered lecture notes, syllabi, correspondence, faculty records, and other materials from his time at CUNY, Brooklyn College, and other visiting professorships. Organization Files contain correspondence, reports, planning documents, and event materials. These records document his membership or advisory role in various organizations such as the Archives of American Art and Century Association.
This collection also contains printed material, such as exhibition announcements, newsletters, brochures, journals, event programs, and magazine and newspapers clippings compiled by Brown. Scattered photographs include nine photographs of Milton Brown, a few photographs of friends, and photographs of artwork.
The collection is arranged as 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1932-1998 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1908, 1934-1998 (Boxes 1-3; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Travel Journals, 1941-1996 (Boxes 3-4; 1.6 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, circa 1929-1990s (Boxes 4-13, 25; 8.7 linear feet)
Series 5: Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project, circa 1952-1990 (Boxes 13-14, 25; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Exhibition Files, 1962-circa 1997 (Boxes 14-16, 28; 2.0 linear feet, ER01; 0.225 GB)
Series 7: Research Files, circa 1930s-1986 (Boxes 16-19; 3.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Teaching Files, circa 1946-1993 (Boxes 19-21; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 9: Organization Files, 1959-1995 (Boxes 21-22; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 10: Printed Material, 1925-1990s (Boxes 22-24, 26, 27; 3.2 linear feet)
Series 11: Photographs, circa 1956-1990s (Boxes 25, 27; 0.2 linear feet)
Milton Wolf Brown (1911-1998) was an art historian and educator in New York City.
Known to his friends as "Mainey," Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1911. At a young age he intended to be a painter and studied with Louis Lozowick. However, instead of attending art school, he entered New York University to study education and eventually received his master's and doctorate in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. While there he took courses with Walter Friedlander, Erwin Panofsky, and Mayer Schapiro. He also received fellowships to the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1934 and Brussels in 1937, and studied from 1938-1939 at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. In 1938 he married fellow student Blanche Levine. After serving in World War II, he began teaching in the art department at Brooklyn College in 1946. There he developed a specialization in American art history and his doctoral dissertation, American Painting from the Armory Show to the Depression, was published in 1955. In 1963 he participated in the fiftieth anniversary exhibition of the 1913 Armory Show. The publication of his book Story of the Armory Show coincided with this event.
In 1971 Brown established the graduate program in Art History at the City University of New York, which became preeminent in the areas of modern art and American art history. During the 1980s he remained a resident professor at CUNY, though he retired in 1979, and he held visiting professorships at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. From 1983 to 1987 he had a senior fellowship at Williams College for the Prendergast Catalogue Raisonne Project.
Over the course of his career Brown curated exhibitions, including an exhibition on the works of Jacob Lawrence and The Modern Spirit: American Painting and Photography, 1908-1935, and wrote for numerous publications. He also served as an active member of several professional societies. Brown was close friends with art scholars and artists, such as Jack Levine, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Ad Reinhardt, and Paul Strand. In 1991 he returned to painting landscape watercolors, and had the opportunity to exhibit his work before his death in 1998.
Also at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Milton Wolf Brown, conducted in 1976 by Paul Cummings.
The Milton Wolf Brown papers were donated in 2000 and 2001 by Blanche R. Brown, Brown's widow. Three reel-to reel sound recordings were lent for duplication to cassette and transcript in 1986 by Milton Brown. A cassette copy of the Martha Deane interview was donated in 2006 by Milton Brown's estate, via Naomi Rosenblum. Additional material was donated in 2002 and 2004 by Naomi Rosenblum, executor for the estate of Blanche R. Brown, who died in 2002.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Milton Wolf Brown 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.
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Search this
24.96 Linear feet (59 document boxes plus 1 oversize box)
Monte Castello di Vibio (Italy)
The Sydel Silverman papers, 1939-2010 (bulk 1949-2010) document her field research in Italy, her work as an educator and foundation executive, and her involvement in professional organizations. Sydel Silverman taught at Queens College in New York, was Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, and served as president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Her primary fields of research have been agrarian communities in Italy and the history and practice of anthropology. Materials in the collection include field notes, journals, correspondence, calendars, published and unpublished writings, conference papers and lectures, teaching files, student files, photographs and slides, and sound recordings.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains the professional papers of anthropologist Sydel Silverman. Included are research materials consisting of field notes, journals, other scholars' publications, and newspaper clippings; correspondence; postcards; calendars; published and unpublished writings; conference papers and lectures; brochures; itineraries; conference meeting notes; teaching files, including syllabi and reading lists; student files such as class notes and papers from Silverman's years as an anthropology student; photographs and slides; and sound recordings.
The materials in this collection document Silverman's travels through Italy while conducting field research, her role as an educator and academic administrator, and her involvement in professional organizations such as the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Anthropological Association. Silverman participated heavily in conferences and seminars across the U.S. and internationally. A copious note taker, Silverman recorded her reflections on many of these experiences. Her notes can be found throughout the collection.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
The collection is organized into 10 series: (1) Field Research, 1939-2002 [bulk 1960-1987]; (2) Correspondence, 1959-2009; (3) Writings, 1963-2009; (4) Wenner-Gren Foundation Files, 1985-2009; (5) Professional Activities, 1961-2010; (6) Teaching Files, 1958-2005; (7) Biographical Files, 1961-2008; (8) Student Files, 1949-65; (9) Photographs, 1961-2002; (10) Sound Recordings, 1960-61
Sydel Silverman was an anthropologist known for her work as a researcher, writer, academic administrator, and foundation executive. Her career in anthropology began with her graduate studies at the University of Chicago (1952-1957) and Columbia University (1957-63). After graduation she started teaching at Queens College in New York (1962-75) and became Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology (1975-86). After leaving CUNY, she moved on to the Wenner-Gren Foundation, serving as president of the Foundation from 1987 to 1999.
Silverman was born on May 20, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. Sydel, the youngest of seven siblings, was raised in the Jewish neighborhood of Lawndale on the west side of Chicago. Silverman credited her Uncle Hirschel for inspiring her to learn about foreign cultures and traditions, writing that her time spent with him reading about mysticism and oriental religions "may have been the beginnings of what became my interest in anthropology" (Silverman 2008).
Silverman graduated from high school in January 1951 and entered the University of Illinois at Navy Pier as a pre-med student. At the end of her second year at the University of Illinois, she entered the University of Chicago's program in Committee on Human Development, which combined study in biology, psychology, and sociology-anthropology. The program allowed students to enter with only two years of college with a special exam, which Silverman passed. She completed her Masters in 1957 and enrolled in the PhD program in Anthropology at Columbia University, during which she decided to focus her research on central Italy.
Silverman's first experience in Italy was in 1955 when she spent a year traveling through Europe with her first husband, Mel Silverman. They moved from city to city, beginning in Naples and then Rome, the city that Sydel writes was "the instant beginning of my love affair with Italy" (Silverman 2008). Upon their return from Europe the couple moved to New York. Sydel began working as a secretary but she soon decided to go back to school. She "picked anthropology, because it was the closest thing to being multi-disciplinary while still having a label, and Columbia was the obvious place to go in New York" (Silverman 2008). She was inspired to focus on the Mediterranean for her fieldwork because of Conrad Arensberg's cultural anthropological work in Europe.
In August of 1960 Sydel left for Italy to conduct a community study of the village Montecastello di Vibio. Silverman confessed in her memoirs that she was "never good at fieldwork," but she formed relationships with many of the locals who helped her collect data for her dissertation. Her research in Italy was one of the first social-anthropological studies of Central Italy and is known for its description of the traditional agrarian system of that area (the mezzadria) shortly before it was abolished by law. Silverman's dissertation research resulted in a book, Three Bells of Civilization, and numerous journal articles. She was awarded her Ph.D. in 1963.
Silverman's subsequent research in Italy included a study of a land reform area in the South (1967) and several field seasons (1980-85) devoted to a comparative study of competitive festivals in Central Italy. Most notable from this work are her publications on the Palio of Siena.
Silverman's other primary research interest has been in the history and practice of anthropology. She edited Totems and Teachers (1981, rev. 2004), a text about prominent anthropologists, and co-authored One Discipline Four Ways (2005). Her book The Beast on the Table (2002) analyzes twenty-five international symposia that she organized and led while at the Wenner-Gren Foundation and is a record of the living history of anthropology. She later became interested in parallels between the history of anthropology and that of the movies, which she presented as the 2006 Distinguished Lecture to the American Anthropological Association (published in The American Anthropologist Volume 109, Issue 3). In addition, she initiated an effort to save the primary documents of anthropology, co-authoring with Nancy Parezo the book Preserving the Anthropological Record (1992, rev. 1995) and co-organizing CoPAR (the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records).
Silverman's career as an administrator began in 1970 when she was elected as departmental chair at Queens College. In 1975 she was chosen as the Executive Officer of the CUNY Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, and under her leadership the program went from disarray and the threat of elimination to being cited as one of the ten top anthropology doctoral programs in the country. She also led a successful effort to retain full anthropology departments at all the senior CUNY colleges during the New York City budget crises of 1965-76. In 1987 she was appointed president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and acted as the spokesperson for the Foundation, overseeing fellowship and grant funding and advocating for the field of anthropology. She retired from Wenner-Gren in 1999.
Silverman died of cancer on March 25, 2019 at age 85.
Roberts, Sam. "Sydel Silverman, 85, Dies; Defended Anthropology in Academia." New York Times, April 5, 2019.
1933 -- Born May 20 in Chicago, Illinois
1951 -- January: Entered University of Illinois at Navy Pier, pre-med, through August 1952
1952 -- Entered University of Chicago, Program in Human Development
1953 -- December 27: Married Mel Silverman
1957 -- September: Entered Columbia University, Department of Anthropology Received M.A. from University of Chicago
1960-1961 -- Conducted fieldwork in Montecastello di Vibio
1962 -- September: Began teaching classes at Queens College, CUNY
1963 -- PhD awarded
1966 -- Mel Silverman died
1968 -- Fall semester: Acting Chairman, Dept. of Anthro., Queens Tenure awarded, Queens College
1970-1973 -- Department Chairman, Anthropology, Queens
1972 -- March 18: Married Eric R. Wolf
1975 -- Executive Officer of Ph.D. Program in Anthropology, CUNY Graduate School (through June 1982)
1980-1982 -- Festival research and travels in Italy: Siena, Perugia, Gubbio, Rome, Florence, Geneva
1982-1983 -- September: Acting Dean of the Graduate School, CUNY
1987 -- President of Wenner-Gren Foundation
1999 -- Eric R. Wolf died Retired from Wenner-Gren presidency
2019 -- Silverman died of cancer on March 25 at age 85
1968 -- Silverman, Sydel F. "Agricultural Organization, Social Structure, and Values in Italy: Amoral Familism Reconsidered." American Anthropologist 70 (February 1968): 1-20.
1970 -- Silverman, Sydel F. "'Exploitation' in Rural Central Italy: Structure and Ideology in Stratification Study." Comparative Studies in Society and History 12 (July 1970): 327-339.
1975 -- Silverman, Sydel. Three Bells of Civilization: the Life of an Italian Hill Town. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975.
1976 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropology and the Crisis at CUNY." Anthropology News 17, no.10 (December 1976): 7-10.
1981 -- Silverman, Sydel, ed. Totems and Teachers: Key Figures in the History of Anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.
1984 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropological Perspectives on Suicide." In Suicide: The Will to Live vs. The Will to Die, edited by Norman Linzer, 225-233. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1984.
1986 -- Silverman, Sydel. "Anthropology and History: Understanding the Boundaries." Historical Methods 19 (Summer 1986): 123-126.
1992 -- Silverman, Sydel and Nancy J. Parezo, eds. Preserving the Anthropological Record. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1992.
2002 -- Silverman, Sydel. The Beast on the Table: Conferencing with Anthropologists. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2002.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by Sydel Silverman in April 2011.
Files containing Silverman's students' grades and papers have been restricted, as have grant and fellowships applications sent to Silverman to review and her comments on them. For preservation reasons, the computer disks from The Beast on the Table are also restricted.
Access to the Sydel Silverman papers requires an appointment.
Ethnographic overview and assessment , Fire Island National Seashore / Setha M. Low, principal investigator ; Dana H. Taplin, project director and author ; Andrew Kirby and Mara Heppen, field researchers