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Simon Lissim Papers

Collector:
Lissim, Simon, 1900-1981  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archives  Search this
Names:
Carl Sorensen & Son  Search this
Castleton China, Inc.  Search this
City University of New York. City College  Search this
Claude Boulme, Inc.  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archive  Search this
Georg Jensen, Inc.  Search this
Jonals & Co.  Search this
Lenox China (Firm)  Search this
Manufacture nationale de Sèvres  Search this
Boulme, Claude  Search this
Donor:
Dee, Elaine Evans  Search this
Author:
Philip, Prince, consort of Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1921-  Search this
Extent:
1.5 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photostats
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Correspondence
Contracts
Drawings
Photographs
Slides
Catalogs
Brochures
Invoices
Press releases
Date:
1924 - 1981
Scope and Contents:
This collection covers the period 1924-81 and consists of exhibition catalogs, correspondence, photographs, slides, drawings, photostats, contracts, book proofs, and related biographical material on Lissim. Extensive material on the designer's work for the Sevres porcelain factory includes correspondence, original contracts, photographs of porcelains and designs for porcelains, slides, drawings, and invoices.

Most of the material relating to Sevres is in French. A copy of the brochure for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, 1925, is included, which features many of his designs. Also included are his designs for commencement caps and gowns, and other related ephemera for the City University of New York's City College.

The collection contains a mock-up of his 1952 publication, "How to be an Artist", which describes different techniques and how to apply them to greeting cards, porcelains, and textiles. Copies of the introduction and biographical sections of his book "An Artist's Interpretation of Nature", published in 1958 are included.

A scrapbook consists of articles, reviews, personal correspondence, press releases, and brochures. Among Lissim's personal correspondence are letters exchanged with Prince Philip of England, an avid collector of his work. Material on Lissim's work for the theater consists of exhibition brochures, correspondence, and lists of institutions in possession of his work. In addition, the collection contains photographs of Lissim's designs for jewelry, flatware, and textiles.
Biographical / Historical:
Porcelain, theater, and metalwork designer. Born, Kiev, Russia, 1900. Lissim left Russia in 1919 and moved to Paris where he resided until 1940. In all of Lissim's designs, his appreciation for nature is apparent in his use of fish, birds, flowers, and other motifs.

In 1921, he began designing scenery and costumes for the Theatre de l'Oeuve in Paris. In 1924, he created his first designs for the Sevres porcelain factory. His relationship with Sevres lasted for more than 40 years and some of his designs are still being produced. His work achieved a gold medal at the 1929 Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Barcelona. Lissim made his first journey to the United States in 1935, and by 1936, his designs for the theater were featured in exhibitions in this country. His porcelains were featured in exhibitions at The Smith College Museum of Art, 1939, and Georg Jensen, Inc., 1941.

Lissim became Head of the Art Education Project at the New York Public Library in 1942. In 1947 he began teaching at the City Univerity of New York's City College campus, where he also designed commencement costumes for the Chancellor, President, and Chief Marshal. In 1952, Lissim became an art consultant for Castleton China, Inc. in New Castle, Pennsylvania. His work was featured in the exhibition, "A Designer's Interpretation of Nature", held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1953. In 1954, Lissim created his first silver pieces of jewelry and flatware manufactured by Carl Sorensen & Son, Copenhagen, Denmark. In the early 60s, Lissim created three designs for plates that were executed by Claude Boulme. He continued to work and hold exhibitions at his studio in Dobbs Ferry, New York, until his death in 1981.
Related Archival Materials:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Applied Arts Department

A Lenox vase, plates, cups, and saucers. A sterling silver pin, paperweight, and cutlery.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Department of Drawings and Prints

Designs for plates, vases, and other porcelain pieces, silver cutlery, stage designs, playing cards, and greeting cards. Drawings of commencement robes, a gavel, and a mace designed for City College. Poster for the Musée Céramique de Sévres.

Additional archival materials can be found at The New York Public Library, Theater Division; City University of New York, City College Archives; and Columbia University Libraries, Bakhmeteff Archive, New York City.

Porcelains designed by Lissim are in the collections of the following museums: Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; and The Museum of the City of New York, New York City, among others.
Provenance:
These materials were donated to Cooper-Hewitt by the museum's former Curator of Drawings and Prints, Elaine Evans Dee, in 1996. Transferred to the Archives Center in 2012.
Restrictions:
Collection open for research on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Theater designers  Search this
Theater design -- History -- 20th century  Search this
Porcelain design -- History -- 20th century -- France  Search this
Designers -- Porcelain  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photostats
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Correspondence
Contracts
Drawings
Photographs -- 20th century
Slides
Catalogs
Brochures
Invoices
Press releases
Citation:
Simon Lissim Papers, 1924-1981, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1276
See more items in:
Simon Lissim Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1276

Charles Henry Alston papers

Creator:
Alston, Charles Henry, 1907-1977  Search this
Names:
City University of New York. City College -- Faculty  Search this
Bearden, Anna Alston  Search this
Bearden, Romare, 1911-1988  Search this
Browne, Byron, 1907-1961  Search this
Lawrence, Jacob, 1917-2000  Search this
Logan, Myra, 1909-1977  Search this
Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001  Search this
Woodruff, Hale, 1900-1980  Search this
Wright, Louis T. (Louis Tompkins), 1891-1952  Search this
Extent:
0.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
1924-1980
Summary:
The scattered papers of African-American and Harlem Renaissance painter, muralist, illustrator, sculptor, and educator Charles Henry Alston measure 0.9 linear feet and date from 1924-1980. Included are biographical materials, correspondence, commission and teaching files, writings and notes, printed materials, and photographs. Notable correspondents include Romare Bearden, Byron Browne, Jacob Lawrence, and Hale Woodruff.
Scope and Content Note:
The scattered papers of African-American and Harlem Renaissance painter, muralist, illustrator, sculptor, and educator Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) measure 0.9 linear feet and date from 1924-1980. The bulk of the collection documents his personal and professional relationships with figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Researchers should note that this collection contains very little documentation on Alston's actual federal WPA work with the Harlem Art Workshop, the Harlem Artists Guild, or his Harlem Hospital murals completed in 1940. A photograph of Alston in 1937 is likely the only reference to the actual WPA murals in this collection.

Scattered correspondence includes general correspondence; letters concerning Alston's artistic endeavors; and personal letters from friends and family. Found is a copy of a thank you note from Eudora Welty to John Woodburn for a jacket design presumably by Alston; letters from Harlem Renaissance figures and personal friends Romare Bearden, Byron Brown, Jacob Lawrence, and Hale Woodruff.

Commission files are for Alston's murals including those in the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building in Los Angeles, California (1947); and the addition to the Harlem Hospital (1965); and the Family and Criminal Courts Building in the Bronx, New York (1976). There is one file concerning teaching at City College New York (CUNY).

Writings and notes includes scattered notes and three short stories probably by Alston entitled "Bitsy O'Wire," "Body and Soul," and "Gigi."

Printed materials include illustrations by Alston in the Columbia University literary magazine, The Morningside, and medical illustrations done for Dr. Louis T. Wright. Also found are scattered clippings, exhibition announcements, press releases, and materials from the First Conference on Aesthetic Responsibility.

Photographs are of Alston, Alston with his wife, Myra Logan, his mother Anna Alston Bearden, Romare Bearden, and Hale Woodruff. Photographs of note include one of Alston holding a self-portrait, and one of the artist in 1937 with works that are most likely preliminary sketches of his WPA murals at Harlem Hospital. There are also photographs of Alston's works of art.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 6 series:

Series 1: Biographical Information, 1924-1977 (Box 1; 3 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-1977(Box 1; 7 folders)

Series 3: Commission and Teaching Files, 1947-1976 (Box 1; 4 folders)

Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1940s-1970s (Box 2-3; 4 folders)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1928, 1946-1980(Box 2-3; 5 folders)

Series 6: Photographs, 1925-1968 (Box 2; 2 folders)
Biographical Note:
Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) worked primarily in New York city as a painter, muralist, illustrator, and educator. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1930s and helped form the Harlem Art Workshop and the Harlem Artists Guild.

Charles Henry "Spinky" Alston was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 28th, 1907. His parents were the Reverend Primus Priss and Anna Miller. After the death of his father, Alston's mother married Henry Pierce Bearden (Romare Bearden's uncle) in 1913 and the family moved to New York City.

At DeWitt Clinton High School in New York, Alston served as art editor of the school's literary magazine. Alston majored in fine arts and history at Columbia University, graduating in 1929. He became active in the Harlem community and accepted a position as director of Utopia House, a boy's camp, where he started an art program. He returned to Columbia and recieved a Masters degree in art education from Columbia's Teachers College. While still a student, he illustrated album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington and book covers for poet Langston Hughes.

Alston played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance Movement of the period. During the Great Depression, he and sculptor Henry Bannarn directed the Harlem Art Workshop which was funded by the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. There he taught and mentored African-American painter Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, among others.

In the 1950s, Alston embarked on a series of portraits of African-American figures. He also taught at the Art Students League and later with the City College of New York (CUNY). Along with his wife, Myra Logan, a surgeon at Harlem Hospital, Alston lived in Harlem and remained an active member of the community until the end of his life. Charles Alston died in 1977.
Related Material:
Also found in the Archives of American Art are two oral history interviews with Charles Henry Alston, one conducted by Harlan Phillips on September 28, 1965 and another by Al Murray on October 19, 1968.

Additional Charles Henry Alston papers are located at the University of North Carolina's Southern Historical Collection at the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library.
Separated Material:
In 1970, Charles Alston loaned materials for microfilming, including correspondence with Henry Epstein, Langston Hughes, Robert Riggs, Harry Sternberg, J. Johnson Sweeney, Hale Woodruff and others. Also loaned for microfilming were sketchbooks, printed materials, and photographs. Subsequently, some of the photographs were later donated by Alston's sisters. The loaned materials are available only on microfilm reel N70-23 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. These materials are not included in the container listing of this finding aid.
Provenance:
Charles Alston lent portions of the collection for microfilming in 1970. Aida Winters and Rousmaniere Alston Wilson, Charles Alston's sisters, donated additional materials to the Archives of American Art in 1982 and 1984.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Charles Henry Alston 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.
Occupation:
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Harlem Renaissance  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Citation:
Charles Henry Alston papers, 1924-1980. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.alstchar
See more items in:
Charles Henry Alston papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-alstchar
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