The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and his wife and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980 (bulk 1900 to 1980), and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage and their friendships with many notable artists in the New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. The papers of Dasburg (6 linear feet) and Johnson (2.8 linear feet) include biographical materials; extensive correspondence with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, and Ward Lockwood; writings by Dasburg, Johnson, and others; scattered legal, financial, and business records; clippings; exhibition materials; numerous photographs of Johnson and Dasburg, friends, family, and artwork; and original artwork, including two sketchbooks by Johnson.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1900 to 1980, and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection is divided into the papers of Andrew Dasburg (6 linear feet) and the papers of Grace Mott Johnson (2.8 linear feet), and documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage, and friendships with many notable artists in New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. Found are scattered biographical, legal, and financial materials. Extensive correspondence (particularly in Dasburg's papers) is with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, Vera Spier Kuhn, and Ward Lockwood. Dasburg's papers also include letters to Johnson and his two later wives.
Johnson's correspondence is also with numerous artist friends and others, including John F. and Margaret Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Jo Davidson, Florence Lucius, Walter Frankl, Lila Wheelock Howard, Henry Lee McFee, Mary Riley, Lee Simonson, Lindsey Morris Sterling, Alice Morgan Wright, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Vera Spier Kuhn. Letters to her son Alfred are quite detailed and revealing. Writings are by Dasburg, Johnson, and others. Johnson's writings include a very brief diary and her poetry. Writings by others are about the Taos and New Mexico art communities. Printed materials about both artists include clippings and exhibition catalogs. There are numerous photographs of Dasburg and Johnson, individually and together, and with friends and family. Of note are a group photograph of Birge Harrison's art class in Woodstock, New York, which includes Johnson and Dasburg, and a photograph of Dasburg with friends Konrad Cramer and John Reed. Dasburg's papers also include snapshots of Florence Lucius, Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer, Frieda and D. H. Lawrence, and Mabel Dodge Luhan. Original artwork by the two artists include two sketchbooks by Johnson and three prints and two drawings by Dasburg.
The collection is arranged into 2 series of each artist's papers:
Series 1: Andrew Dasburg Papers, circa 1900-1980 (Box 1-7; 6.0 linear feet)
Series 2: Grace Mott Johnson Papers, 1833-1963 (Box 7-10; 2.8 linear feet)
Andrew Michael Dasburg (1887-1979) was born in Paris, France, to German parents. After his father died and when he was five, Dasburg and his mother moved to New York City. In 1902 Dasburg started attending classes at the Art Students' League and studied with Kenyon Cox and Frank Du Mond. He also took night classes with Robert Henri. In 1907 he received a scholarship to the Art Students' League summer school in Woodstock, New York and spent three summers studying there in Birge Harrison's painting class. While in school he became friends with many young artists, including Morgan Russell and his future wife, Grace Mott Johnson.
Grace Mott Johnson (1882-1967) was born in New York City. She began drawing when she was four years old, and when the family moved to a farm in 1900 she enjoyed sketching horses and other farm animals. At the age of 22 she left home to study at the Art Students' League with sculptors Gutzon Borglum and James Earle Fraser, and also attended Birge Harrison's painting class in Woodstock. Throughout her career she would sculpt animals from memory, and would often attend circuses and farms for inspiration.
In 1909 Johnson and Dasburg went to Paris and joined the modernist circle of artists living there, including Morgan Russell, Jo Davidson, and Arthur Lee. During a trip to London that same year they were married. Johnson returned to the United States early the next year, but Dasburg stayed in Paris where he met Henri Matisse, Gertrude and Leo Stein, and became influenced by the paintings of Cezanne and Cubism. He returned to Woodstock, New York in August and he and Johnson became active members of the artist community. In 1911 their son Alfred was born. Both Dasburg and Johnson showed several works at the legendary Armory Show in 1913, and Dasburg also showed at the MacDowell Club in New York City, where he met the journalist and activist John Reed who later introduced him to Mabel Dodge (Luhan), a wealthy art patron and lifelong friend. In 1914 Dasburg met Alfred Stieglitz and became part of his avant-garde circle. Using what he had seen in Paris, Dasburg became one of the earliest American cubist artists, and also experimented with abstraction in his paintings.
Dasburg and Johnson lived apart for most of their marriage. By 1917 they had separated and Dasburg began teaching painting in Woodstock and in New York City. In 1918 he was invited to Taos, New Mexico by Mabel Dodge, and returning in 1919, Johnson joined him there for a period of time. Also in 1919, Dasburg was one of the founding members of the Woodstock Artists Association with John F. Carlson, Frank Swift Chase, Carl Eric Lindin, and Henry Lee McFee. In 1922 Dasburg and Johnson divorced, and also at that time he began living most of the year in Santa Fe with Ida Rauh, spending the rest of the year in Woodstock and New York City. Dasburg became an active member of the Santa Fe and the Taos art colonies, befriending many artists and writers living in these communities, and remaining close friends with Mabel Dodge Luhan. Here he moved away from abstraction, and used the southwestern landscape as the inspiration for his paintings.
In 1928 he married Nancy Lane. When that marriage ended in 1932, he moved permanently to Taos, and with his third wife, Marina Wister, built a home and studio there. Dasburg periodically taught art privately and at the University of New Mexico. In 1937 he was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which left him unable to paint again until 1946. In 1945 he and his wife Marina separated. Dasburg was recognized for his career as an artist in a circulating retrospective organized by the American Federation of Arts in 1959. He also had retrospectives in Taos in 1966 and 1978. His artwork influence several generations of artists, especially in the southwest, and he continued creating art until his death in 1979 at the age of 92.
Grace Mott Johnson lived in the Johnson family home in Yonkers, New York during the 1920s and later moved to Pleasantville, New York. In 1924 she went to Egypt to study ancient Egyptian sculpture. During the 1930s she became a civil rights activist. She produced very little art during the last twenty years of her life.
Also found in the Archives of American Art are two oral history interviews with Andrew Dasburg, July 2, 1964 and March 6, 1974. Additional related collections at other repositories include the Andrew and Marina Wister Dasburg Papers at the New Mexico State Archives, the Andrew Dasburg Papers at Syracuse University Library, and the Grace Mott Johnson Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming. Reel 2803 contains photocopies of ten Morgan Russell letters to Dasburg. Reels 4276-4278 include biographical material, subject files, photographs, correspondence, writings, and exhibition material. The photocopies on reel 2803 were discarded after microfilming, and the items on 4276-4278 were returned to the lender. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
The Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers were donated by their son, Alfred Dasburg, in 1980. Syracuse Univresity lent materials for microfilming in 1978 and 1989.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson 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.
The papers of painter, printmaker, and photographer Konrad Cramer and his wife, painter and printmaker Florence Ballin Cramer, measure 8.5 linear feet and date from 1897 to 1968. Papers document both artists' personal and professional lives and are especially rich in documentation of the art community of Woodstock, New York, where Florence Ballin first attended art classes in 1906, and where the couple settled in 1911. Records include biographical materials, correspondence, a Christmas card album, diaries, writings, business records, personal financial records, printed materials, photographs, and artwork.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of painter, printmaker, and photographer Konrad Cramer and his wife, painter and printmaker Florence Ballin Cramer, measure 8.5 linear feet and date from 1897 to 1968. Papers document both artists' personal and professional lives and are especially rich in documentation of the art community of Woodstock, New York, from 1906, when Florence first attended art classes there, and where the couple resided until their deaths in the 1960s. Records include biographical materials, correspondence, a Christmas card album, business records, diaries, writings, personal financial records, printed materials, photographs, and artwork.
Correspondence is between the Cramers and other artists, curators, gallery staff, editors, writers, and personal friends and family. Many drafts and carbons of outgoing letters are also present. The Christmas card album brings together original cards made by their artist friends in the 1920s and early 1930s. Diaries are of both artists, mostly from 1949 onward, with notes and excerpts from earlier diaries present. Writings include technical and biographical essays by Konrad Cramer, and autobiographical and historical essays by Florence Ballin Cramer; notebooks and notes relate to art, travel, photography, and other subjects. Personal Business Records include price lists, receipts, and gallery correspondence with dealers and exhibitors; correspondence, accounting records, and writings related to Florence Ballin Cramer's Florence Gallery in New York City (1919-1920); records related to Woodstock arts and civic organizations in which the Cramers were involved; and personal financial records.
Printed Materials include publicity materials related to the Cramers' various endeavors and the activities of Woodstock arts and civic organizations, as well as dozens of books, little magazines, and journals by and about members of the Woodstock artist's colony. Photographs depict the Cramers and their friends, including early Art Students League Classes and the annual Maverick festival in the 1920s. Also found are a small number of photo-collages and experiments with color photography, and a series of early twentieth century photographs in the pictorialist style. Artwork includes early sketchbooks of both artists; loose sketches, drawings, and designs; textile designs by Konrad Cramer; and prints and printing blocks.
The collection is arranged into 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1898-1955 (3 folders; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1900-1964 (2.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-3, 9)
Series 3: Christmas Card Album, 1921-1961 (0.8 linear feet; Box 3)
Series 4: Diaries, 1906-1962 (1 linear foot; Box 4)
Series 5: Writings, 1897-1962 (0.7 linear feet; Box 5, OV 11)
Series 6: Personal Business Records, 1918-1962 (0.3 linear feet; Box 5, OV 10)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1906-1968 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, 9, OV 11)
Series 8: Photographs, 1906-1960 (0.5 linear feet; Box 7)
Series 9: Artwork, 1897-1954 (1 linear foot; Boxes 8-9, OV 10-11)
Konrad Cramer was born in Wurtzburg, Germany, in 1888, and studied at the Karlsruhe Academy of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1908 with Ludwig Schmidt-Reutte and Ernest Schurth. After a year in the German army, he returned to Karlsruhe to set up a studio, making frequent trips to Munich, where he was exposed to the experimental artists of the Blaue Reiter group, including Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
Florence Ballin was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1884. She studied at the Woodstock, New York, summer school of the Art Students League beginning in 1906 under Birge Harrison along with fellow students John Carlson, Grace Mott Johnson, and Andrew Dasburg. She served as secretary for the League in 1906, and had a studio on 59th Street in Manhattan, where she held her first exhibition in 1909. In 1911, she traveled to Europe and met Konrad Cramer in Munich and joined him on visits to exhibitions and studios of the vanguard artists. The two married, moved to the United States, and settled permanently in Woodstock, New York.
Konrad Cramer is often credited as being an important link between German and American modernism in art, and his experimentations with abstraction and expressionism during his first years in Woodstock would seem to bear this out. In 1912 and 1913, he painted a series he called "Improvisations" (after Kandinsky) which was shown in a group exhibition at the MacDowell Club in 1913 along with Andrew Dasburg, Oliver Chaffee, and Paul Rohland. Cramer was photographed by Alfred Stieglitz and wrote an essay about the 291 Gallery for Stieglitz's magazine, Camera Work, in 1914.
The Cramers had two daughters, in 1914 and 1917, and Konrad Cramer became an American citizen in 1917. For income, he began designing textiles for department stores using stencils and batiks around 1918. In his painting, he turned from abstract experiments to the traditional subjects of landscape, still life, and figure in a more representational style that blended modern and regional influences. Florence Ballin Cramer opened a gallery on 57th Street in 1919, encouraged by the sculptor Elie Nadelman. The mission of the Florence Gallery, as it was called, was to exhibit and sell the work of living artists. Although it only survived the season, it was the first gallery to show work by Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alexander Brook, Ernest Fiene, and Stefan Hirsch, and generated important sales for several young artists in her circle.
Konrad Cramer returned to Europe in 1920 on a Rockefeller grant to study educational methods for craftsmen in Germany and France, and on his return he taught at the Woodstock School of Painting and Allied Arts. Cramer also studied lithography with Bolton Brown in Woodstock around this time, and both Cramers took up printmaking and began publishing prints in local arts magazines. The Cramers were deeply immersed in Woodstock life, participating in the annual Maverick festivals, the Woodstock Artists Association, the Historical Society, and other organizations, hosting meetings and serving as officers of many committees and organizations that presented and supported artwork in their community. They enjoyed a rich social life there among fellow artists at frequent parties and festivals, where Konrad provided entertainment with his fiddle and both Cramers memorialized events in countless photographs.
Konrad Cramer exhibited at the Whitney Studio Club in 1924, and taught at the Children's University School (now the Dalton School), where he painted a mural in 1929. The 1930s were busy years in both Cramers' professional lives. Konrad's exhibitions included the Carnegie International (1929 and 1933), and a two-man show at the Dudensing Gallery (1930), where Cramer and Adolph Gottlieb had been selected the most deserving unknown American painters of the year. He was also included in the exhibit Abstract Painting in America at the Whitney Museum (1935). Florence Ballin Cramer exhibited at Marie Harriman Gallery (1931 and 1933), Macy Galleries (1933), the Pennsylvania Academy (1934 and 1936), and the Corcoran (1935 and 1937). Both Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer were included in a traveling exhibition of Woodstock artists organized by the College Art Association (1931), the first and second Whitney Biennials (1933 and 1935), and the Wanamaker Regional Art Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting (1934).
In 1934, the Cramers traveled to Mexico, where they produced many paintings and drawings. Konrad Cramer joined the Federal Art Project briefly in 1935, administering the regional program in Woodstock with Judson Smith. It was around this time that he began to learn photography. He became a sort of community photographer, taking photographs of friends' artwork and commissioned portraits, as well as informal photographs of friends. Cramer experimented with photographic techniques such as solarization and collage, using prisms, panes of glass, or composite printing. He first exhibited photographs in 1936 at the Albany Institute, and established the Woodstock School of Miniature Photography (the "miniature" referring to the then-new format of 35mm film) in 1937. He also taught courses in photography at Bard College in the 1940s, and his photographs and articles about photography were published in national magazines.
For the remainder of his life, Cramer continued to teach, write, and produce photographs, occasionally returning to painting, drawing, and printmaking, creating gouaches, wax resist drawings, and stencils of landscapes and figures, with an increasing interest in abstract styles and automatic techniques. Three of his early paintings were included in the 1946 Whitney Museum exhibition Pioneers of Modern Art in America, and the same year, he exhibited abstract photographs at the Woodstock Artists Association. In the late 1940s, he built an automatic drawing machine which he called the sympalmagraph, which rendered precise, geometric forms. In the late 1950s, he collaborated on a traveling exhibition and book of abstract photographs with Manuel Komroff and Nathan Resnik called The Third Eye.
Florence Ballin Cramer held her last exhibitions at the Woodstock Town House gallery (1953) and at Long Island University (1957). She died in 1962. Konrad Cramer died the following year. Both were memorialized in an exhibition at the Woodstock Artists Association Gallery in 1968.
Separated Materials note:
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 1027, D170, and D171) including photographs, diaries, and sketches. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
A portion of the papers in this collection were loaned to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1964 by Aileen Cramer and Margot Cramer Taylor, daughters of Florence and Konrad Cramer. While selected diaries, sketches, and photographs were returned to the donors, some, but not all, of the original loan was subsequently donated with additional materials, in 1975.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer 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.