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James Melchert papers

Melchert, Jim, 1930-  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
National Endowment for the Arts  Search this
Cotton, Paul, 1939-  Search this
Tucker, Marcia  Search this
Voulkos, Peter, 1924-2002  Search this
7 Linear feet
12.28 Gigabytes
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
circa 1949-2021
The papers of ceramicist, educator, and arts administrator James Melchert measure 7.0 linear feet and 12.28 Gigabytes, and date from circa 1949 to 2021. The collection documents Melchert's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, professional files documenting Melchert's teaching, residences, exhibitions, and other professional activities, writings, printed material documenting exhibitions and more, photographic material including images of Melchert and his artwork, and artwork comprising slide projection works.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of ceramicist, educator, and arts administrator James Melchert measure 7 linear feet and 12.28 Gigabytes, and date from circa 1949 to 2021.

Biographical material includes biographies and résumés, travel documents, and student records. Correspondence is professional and personal in nature and includes letters from artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Adrian Piper, Sol Lewitt, Hetty Huisman, and Peter Voulkos; gallerists and curators including Holly Solomon, Paul Kotula, Marcia Tucker, Lucy Lippard, and Harald Szemann; and notable former students including Paul Cotton and Theresa Cha. Professional files include records and correspondence from Melchert's tenures at the American Academy in Rome, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the University of California Berkeley, in addition to documenting other professional activities.

The writings series includes interviews, talks, panels, symposia, notes, artist statements, and autobiographical texts. Printed material includes clippings and exhibition documentation. Photographic material includes images of Melchert and his artwork from various stages of his career. Artwork includes Melchert's slide projection works represented by slides, and an artist multiple by Nam June Paik.
The collection is arranged in seven series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1949-2019 (0.1 Linear feet: Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1953-2021 (3.1 Linear feet: Boxes 1-4; 3.93 Gigabytes: ER01-ER02)

Series 3: Professional Files, circa 1965-2020 (0.8 Linear feet: Box 4)

Series 4: Writings, circa 1960s-2020 (0.7 Linear feet: Box 5; 8.35 Gigabytes: ER03-ER05)

Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1960s-2020 (1.4 Linear feet: Boxes 5-7)

Series 6: Photographic Material, circa 1952-2017 (0.6 Linear feet: Box 7)

Series 7: Artwork, circa 1968-1990 (0.3 Linear feet: Box 7)
Biographical / Historical:
James Melchert (1930-2023) was a ceramicist and educator who lived in Oakland, California. Melchert was known for his uniquely conceptualist approach to ceramics which draws from other disciplines including painting and performance art.

Born in New Bremen, Ohio, Melchert's education followed an unorthodox path: upon finishing his undergraduate degree in Art History in 1952, he spent four years in Japan teaching English at a high school, during which time he met his wife to be, a missionary and collage artist named Mary Ann Hostetler, with whom he would have three children. Melchert received a first master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1957 in painting, followed by a second master's degree in ceramics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961. He shifted his focus to ceramics while completing his painting degree and attended a five-day workshop with the highly innovative and influential Peter Voulkos, with whom he would study at Berkeley and for whom he would serve as studio assistant. Melchert's career as a ceramicist began with a close association to Voulkos and the California Funk art movement.

Melchert's evolving interests led to his work including performance art and slide projection works, one of which was exhibited at Documenta 5 curated by Harald Szeemann in Kassel, Germany. After a trip to Europe in the eighties, Melchert began his experimental investigations with ceramic tile, working with cracks and imperfections in tiles and painting on the resulting works, a theme that would be an occupation of his studio practice to this day. Melchert taught fairly steadily throughout the early stages of his career and is known as a dedicated instructor to artists of various disciplines, including Paul Cotton and Theresa Cha.

Notably Melchert served as a faculty member at University of California at Berkeley from 1964-1994, with a stint living in Washington D.C. serving as the Director of Visual Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1977 to 1981, and in Rome, Italy as the Director of American Academy, Rome from 1984 to 1988. As an artist, in addition to being exhibited around the world, Melchert's ceramic works including commissions are held in numerous collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Yale University Museum of Art.
Related Materials:
Related materials include Archives of American Art's Oral history interview with James Melchert, 1991 Apr. 4-5, and Oral history interview with James Melchert, 2002 September 18-October 19.
Donated 2004 and 2019-2021 by James Melchert as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
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. Contact References Services for more information.
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.
Ceramicists -- California -- Oakland  Search this
Educators -- California -- Berkeley  Search this
Arts administrators -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Interviews  Search this
Conceptual art  Search this
Funk  Search this
Ceramics  Search this
James Melchert papers, circa 1949-2021. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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James Melchert papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art

Oral history interview with Barbara Bloom

Bloom, Barbara, 1951-  Search this
McElhinney, James Lancel, 1952-  Search this
Bennington College -- Students  Search this
Biennale di Venezia  Search this
California Institute of the Arts -- Students  Search this
Baldessari, John, 1931-  Search this
Berger, John  Search this
Brock, Paul  Search this
Broodthaers, Marcel  Search this
Byars, James Lee  Search this
Castelli, Leo  Search this
Cotton, Paul, 1939-  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Fischl, Eric, 1948-  Search this
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983  Search this
Gorney, Jay, 1896-1990  Search this
Gould, Claudia, (Art museum curator)  Search this
Higgins, Dick, 1938-1998  Search this
Irwin, Robert, 1928-  Search this
Kappe, Ray, 1927-  Search this
Kienholz, Edward, 1927-  Search this
Knowles, Alison, 1933-  Search this
Mullican, Matt, 1951-  Search this
Mulvey, Laura  Search this
Orr, Eric, 1939-1998  Search this
Paik, Nam June, 1932-  Search this
Palestine, Charlemagne  Search this
Paz, Octavio, 1914-  Search this
Ruppersberg, Allen, 1944-  Search this
Ruscha, Edward  Search this
Salle, David, 1952-  Search this
Sontag, Susan, 1933-2004  Search this
Tcherepnin, Serge  Search this
Tillim, Sidney, 1925-  Search this
Trockel, Rosemarie, 1952-  Search this
Wheeler, Doug, 1939-  Search this
Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900  Search this
Young, La Monte  Search this
9 Items (Sound recording: 9 sound files (6 hr., 12 min.), digital, wav)
132 Pages (Transcript)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Europe -- description and travel
Germany -- description and travel
Germany (East) -- Description and Travel
Holland -- Description and Travel
Netherlands -- description and travel
2012 October 18-2013 January 31
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Barbara Bloom conducted 2012 October-2013 January 31, by James McElhinney, for the Archives of American Art, at Bloom's home and studio, in New York, New York.
Bloom speaks of growing up in Brentwood, California; her first experience with art; her childhood and exposure to creativity; the influence of art and philosophy; going to museums as a kid; living in Monte Factor and then Los Angeles; her creative process, influences, and life as an artist; art mentors and art lessons with Cathy Herman; traveling with her family; her mom being an actress; attending Bennington College in Vermont, the 1960s, the and collage aesthetic; attending CalArt; the changes in art education at the university level; drugs use; Fluxus; John Cage and attending 4'33; living in Europe and specifically Netherlands, Germany, and Holland; books and love of reading; her daughter; the post-studio era; film and meta-movies; making "The Diamond Lane;" images and objects' connection to meanings; The Gaze; undressing the wall; Homage to Jean Seberg, Godard, Berlin; East Germany; being agnostic and Jewish; Venice Biennale; collectors; cycle of shows; MFA programs; The Tip of the Iceberg; surgeries; hospital visit, personal training, and recovery; The Seven Deadly Sins; her father; Tellus Magazine; Judaism; fabrications and drawings; archives; relationship between the artist and the viewer; her husband;; recent show; and As It Were, So To Speak. Bloom also recalls Monte and Betty Factor, Ed Kienholz, Ron Kappe, Robbie Robe, Ray Kappe, Matt Mullican, Eric Orr, Robert Irwin, Doug Wheeler, Total: digital recordings; Claire Steinman, Rosemarie Trockel, Ash Grove, James Lee Byars, Frances Rey, Sidney Tillim, Norman O. Brown, Paul Cotton, Paul Brock, Buckminster Fuller, John Baldessari, Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Serge Tcherepnin, Simone Forte, Charlemagne Palestine, La Monte Young, David Salle, Eric Fischl, Marcel Broodthaers, Susan Sontag, Tim Maul, Caroline Tisdale, Marcel Duchamp, Laura Mulvey, John Berger, Oscar Wilde, Ed Ruscha, Isabella Kacprzak, Octavio Paz, Leo Castelli, Allen Ruppersberg, Jay Gorney, Claudia Gould, Susan Bronstein, Donald Judd, Robert DuGrenier, Pistoletto, Anthony Coleman, Mel Bochner, and Ken Saylor.
Biographical / Historical:
Barbara Bloom (1951- ) is a photographer, designer, and installation artist in New York, New York. James McElhinney (1952- ) is an artist and professor in New York, 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.
Designers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Photographers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Installation artists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Fluxus (Group of artists)  Search this
Judaism  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Women photographers  Search this
Women designers  Search this
Sound recordings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
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