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Leon Polk Smith papers

Creator:
Smith, Leon Polk, 1906-1996  Search this
Names:
Brooklyn Museum  Search this
Butler Institute of American Art  Search this
East Central Oklahoma State University  Search this
Galerie Denise René  Search this
Meyers/Bloom Gallery  Search this
Washburn Gallery (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Wilhelm-Hack-Museum  Search this
Buck, Robert T.  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Galloway, David D.  Search this
Gego  Search this
Humblet, Claudine, 1946-  Search this
Jamieson, Robert  Search this
Johnson, Ray, 1927-  Search this
Extent:
7.2 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Transcripts
Video recordings
Scrapbooks
Essays
Interviews
Date:
1921-1997
Summary:
The papers of New York abstract painter Leon Polk Smith measure 7.2 linear feet and date from 1921 to 1997. The papers consist of biographical material, business and personal correspondence, interview transcripts and an interview video recording, writings, financial records for the corporate entity Leon Polk Smith, Inc., printed material, photographic material, and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of New York abstract painter Leon Polk Smith measure 7.2 linear feet and date from 1921 to 1997. The papers consist of biographical material, business and personal correspondence, interview transcripts and an interview video recording, writings, financial records for the corporate entity Leon Polk Smith, Inc., printed material, photographic material, and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.

Biographical material includes official affidavits, certificates, passports, expense receipts, and a travel expense notebook. A curriculum vitae, family history, and medical records are also included in the series.

Correspondence, both business and personal, comprises the bulk of the collection. This includes correspondence between Smith and his life companion, Robert Jamieson; art critics Arthur C. Danto, Claudine Humblet, and David Galloway; and artists Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt) and Ray Johnson. Business correspondence relates to Smith's various gallery and museum exhibitions, loans, and sales. There is extensive correspondence between Smith and the Brooklyn Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Di Laurenti Gallery, Edition and Galerie Hoffmann, Galerie Denise Rene, Meyers/Bloom Gallery, Washburn Gallery, and the Wilhelm-Hack Museum. The business subseries also includes correspondence between Smith and his alma mater, East Central University, formerly known as Oklahoma State University.

Interviews consist of six typewritten transcripts of interviews conducted with Smith over the course of his professional career from 1950 to 1993, a 1995 video interview of museum director Robert T. Buck discussing the Brooklyn Museum's exhibition of Leon Polk Smith for the television program National Arts, and a 1965 interview transcript with gallery owner Lucile Horsley.

Writings include sixteen published and unpublished scholarly essays on Smith and his work. The series also includes notes and a brief artist's statement by Smith regarding the pros and cons of modern art galleries.

Financial records are 1978-1989 federal income tax filings and routine tax preparation and payment receipts for the corporate entity Leon Polk Smith, Inc. Smith's personal filing records from 1987-1989 are also included in this series.

Printed material consists of two books, including the Brooklyn Museum's monograph Leon Polk Smith: American Painter, newspaper clippings reviewing Smith's work, and exhibition announcements and catalogs of Smith's museum and gallery shows from 1941 to 1997.

A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings documenting Smith's years as an educator and artist in Oklahoma in the 1930s and 1940s.

Photographs are of Smith and his acquaintances circa 1920-1960, and a representative selection of photographs and color slides of Smith's artwork from 1939 to 1960.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1938-1994 (Box 1, OV 10; 11 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1939-1997 (Boxes 1-5, 9, OV 10; 5 linear feet)

Series 3: Interviews, 1950-1995 (Boxes 5-6; 8 folders)

Series 4: Writings, 1963-1996 (Box 6; 13 folders)

Series 5: Financial Records, 1979-1990 (Box 6; 15 folders)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1941-1997 (Boxes 6-7, 9; .5 linear feet)

Series 7: Scrapbook, 1930-1940 (Box 8; 1 folder)

Series 8: Photographic Material, 1920-1990 (Box 8; 8 folders)
Biographical/Historical note:
Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996) worked primarily in New York City as a painter, educator, and lecturer. He is considered one of the founders of the hard edge style of minimalist abstract art.

Smith was born in Chickasha, Indian Territory one year before its formal incorporation into the Oklahoma Territory. Both of his parents were of Cherokee ancestry and he was raised in a small farming community that included Cherokee and Choctaw Indians. After receiving his teaching degree in 1934, Smith worked as an educator in rural Oklahoma communities and, at the same time, took the opportunity to introduce arts programs to local schools. In 1936, he enrolled in Columbia University's Teachers College to pursue a graduate degree in arts education and began painting full time. That summer, he visited the Albert E. Gallatin Gallery of Living Art at New York University, where he was first introduced to the work of the European modernists Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, and most importantly, Piet Mondrian.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Smith accepted university teaching positions at Rollins College in Florida, and New York University and Mills College of Education in New York. During this time, Smith moved beyond his early explorations of neo-plasticism and began to paint in a more hard edge style, typified by geometric lines, curving shapes of color, and the use of tondo (disk shaped) canvases. In 1958, Betty Parson's Section Eleven Gallery showcased his new work in two one-man exhibitions, which introduced him to a wider audience of museum curators and art collectors. In the 1960s, Smith's work was included in two of his most important group exhibitions, The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art (1965) and Systemic Painting at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1966). In 1995, the Brooklyn Museum curated Leon Polk Smith: American Painter, a retrospective exhibition of Smith's career.

Smith produced works exploring shapes and lines, minimalist use of color, and modularity well into the 1990s and exhibited at a number of affiliated galleries, including the Stable Gallery, Galerie Chalette, Galerie Denise Rene, Washburn Gallery, and ACA Galleries. Smith died in 1996 in his home in Manhattan, at the age of 91.
Provenance:
The papers of Leon Polk Smith were donated by the artist's partner, Robert Jamieson, in 1998 and 2002.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Leon Polk Smith 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.
Topic:
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painting, Abstract -- United States  Search this
Art galleries, Commercial  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Transcripts
Video recordings
Scrapbooks
Essays
Interviews
Citation:
Leon Polk Smith papers, 1921-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.smitleon
See more items in:
Leon Polk Smith papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-smitleon
Online Media:

Mildred Constantine Papers

Creator:
Constantine, Mildred  Search this
Names:
Cleveland Museum of Art  Search this
Getty Conservation Institute  Search this
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) -- Employees  Search this
Museum of New Mexico  Search this
Ohio State University  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
Rhode Island School of Design  Search this
Abakanowicz, Magdalena  Search this
Albers, Anni  Search this
Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-  Search this
Barragán, Luis, 1902-  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Bourgeois, Louise, 1911-2010  Search this
Buic, Jagoda, 1930-  Search this
Burle Marx, Roberto, 1909-1994  Search this
Cohen, Elaine Lustig, 1927-  Search this
Coiner, Charles T., 1897-  Search this
Corzo, Miguel Angel  Search this
D'Harnoncourt, Anne, 1943-2008  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Dehner, Dorothy, 1901-1994  Search this
Fitch, James Marston  Search this
Goeritz, Mathias, 1915-  Search this
Hart, Allen M., 1925-  Search this
Hicks, Sheila, 1934-  Search this
Koch, Richard H., d. 2009  Search this
Larsen, Jack Lenor  Search this
Lionni, Leo, 1910-  Search this
Reeves, Ruth, 1892-1966  Search this
Reuter, Laurel  Search this
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962  Search this
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 -- Photographs  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Ten Haeff, Ingeborg, 1915-  Search this
Vignelli, Massimo  Search this
Weisman, Donald M.  Search this
Wilder, Elizabeth, 1908-  Search this
Wilke, Ulfert, 1907-1987  Search this
Zeisler, Claire, 1903-1991  Search this
Extent:
5.3 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Illustrated letters
Transcripts
Video recordings
Interviews
Date:
1945-2008
Summary:
The papers of Mildred Constantine measure 5.3 linear feet and are dated 1945-2009. Subject files, writings, photographs, and a scrapbook provide an overview of her curatorial work in the Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art, and subsequent activities as an independent curator, and art consultant. Especially well documented is Whole Cloth, a book written with Laurel Reuter that presents an historical overview of how artists have used cloth in their work.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Mildred Constantine measure 5.3 linear feet and are dated 1945-2008. Subject files, writings, photographs, and a scrapbook provide an overview of her curatorial work in the Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art, and subsequent activities as an independent curator, and art consultant. Especially well documented is the book Whole Cloth that she wrote with Laurel Reuter.

Correspondence, though mostly business related, often touches on personal matters since many of the artists and art world figures with whom she corresponded were also friends. Correspondents include Miguel Angel Corzo, Arthur C. Danto, Dorothy Dehner, Allen Hart (who sent more than 40 illustrated letters), Elizabeth Wilder and Donald L. Weisman. She also corresponded with many art institutions and organizations, among them the Cleveland Museum of Art, Independent International Design Conference, El Museo del Barrio, Museum of New Mexico, Ohio State University, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Estate of David Smith.

Subject files reflect Constantine's activities and interests. A large portion of this series concerns Whole Cloth, a book written with Laurel Reuter that presents an historical look at how artists have used cloth in their work. Correspondence between the two authors, with artists, institutions, and others concerns researching and writing the volume. Also documented are the successes and failures of Constantine's decade long pursuit to publish the book. Other substantive files relate to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Getty Conservation Institute, Sheila Hicks, Jack Lenor Larsen, Rhode Island School of Design, and Soviet Film Posters. Files concerning the University of the Arts' 2003 Commencement include a videocassette.

Writings by Constantine are lecture material and notes. Also found are transcripts of interviews with Constantine and writings by others. Printed material includes newspaper and magazine articles about Constantine and her career. A scrapbook of printed material and photographs documents an exhibition of Latin American posters at the Library of Congress organized by Constantine.

Photographs of people include Mildred Constantine with family, friends, artists and others at public and private events around the world. Notable photographs include: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Alfred Barr, Luis Barragan, Lou Block, Louise Bourgeois, Jagoda Buic, Elaine Lustig Cohen, Charles Coiner, James Marston Fitch, Mathias Goeritz, Ingeborg Ten Haeff, Ann d'Harnoncourt, Sheila Hicks, Richard Koch, Nancy Koenigsberg, Jack Lenor Larsen, Leo Lionni, Roberto Burle Marx, Ruth Reeves, Laurel Reuter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ben Shahn, Massimo Vignelli, Ulfert Wilke, and Claire Zeisler. Also, there are photographs of artwork by a wide range of artists.
Arrangement:
The Mildred Constantine papers are organized into 8 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1947-1997 (Boxes 1, 6; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-2008 (Boxes 1, 6; 1.0 linear feet)

Series 3: Subject Files, 1964-2008 (Boxes 2-5; 3.3 linear feet)

Series 4: Writings, 1991-2008 (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1961-2006 (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 6: Photographs, 1993 (Box 5; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 7: Artwork, 1945 (Box 5; 1 folder)

Series 8: Scrapbook, circa 1940s (Box 6; 0.1 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Curator and writer Mildred Constantine (1913-2008) was associated with the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Architecture and Design from 1943 to 1971. She then became an art consultant and independent curator, and wrote on fiber and textiles, decorative arts, photography, caricature and cartoons.

Mildred Constantine (known as "Connie") began her career at College Art Association. Hired as a stenographer in 1930, she soon was promoted to editorial assistant for Parnassus, the forerunner of Art Journal.

Constantine left the College Art Association in 1937 to study at New York University and earned BA and MA degrees. She then continued her education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 1940, Constantine worked in the Office of Inter-American Affairs at the Library of Congress; it was there that she met René d'Harnoncourt.

Influenced by her 1936 travels in Mexico, Constantine's first curatorial effort was an exhibition of Latin American posters. Drawn from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition was held at the Library of Congress.

At the urging of René d'Harnoncourt, The Museum of Modern Art's Architecture and Design Department hired Constantine in 1943. The majority of her 28 year tenure at the museum was spent working with the department's founder, architect Philip Johnson. As a curator during the 1950s and 1960s, Constantine's innovative exhibitions brought lesser known portions of the museum's collection to public attention. Among her exhibtions were: "Words and Images," that focused on graphic design and posters; "Polio Posters," the first Museum of Modern Art show dedicated to social issues; "Olivetti: Design in Industry;" "Signs in the Street;" and "Lettering by Hand." She also published books on Art Nouveau, contemporary package design, and other subjects.

In 1971, Constantine left the Museum of Modern Art to become an independent curator and art consultant. Exhibitions included "Frontiers in Fiber: The Americans," and "Small Works in Fiber" with Jack Lenor Larsen. Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life, Constantine's book on the photographer, actress, model, and political activist, appeared in 1974. That same year, she and Alan Fern produced Revolutionary Soviet Film Posters that focused on works from the 1920s. Her last published work, Whole Cloth, was written with Laurel Reuter and published in 1997. Constantine continued to research and write, and at the time of her death was working on a large, international survey of the study of thread.

Mildred Constantine and Ralph W. Bettelheim (1909-1993) were married for 50 years. They had two daughters, Judith and Vicki.

Mildred Constantine died from heart failure on December 10, 2008, at home in Nyack, New York.
Related Material:
Oral history interviews with Mildred Constantine were conducted for the Archives of American Art by Harlan Phillips, 1965 October 15, and by Paul Cummings, 1976 May 3-1976 August 26.
Provenance:
The papers were donated to the Archives in 2009 by Mildred Constantine's daughters, Judith Bettelheim and Vicki McDaniel.
Restrictions:
Use of origininal material requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Mildred Constantine 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.
Topic:
Film posters, Russian  Search this
Textile fabrics in art  Search this
Curators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Illustrated letters
Transcripts
Video recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Mildred Constantine papers, 1945-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.consmild
See more items in:
Mildred Constantine Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-consmild
Online Media:

Arthur Coleman Danto papers

Creator:
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Extent:
0.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
1979-1998
Scope and Contents:
Correspondence; notes; writings; articles; exhibition announcements and invitations; catalog; printed matter; and monographs. Letters from artists, Audrey Flack, Guerilla Girls, Dick Higgins, Robert Mangold, Cindy Sherman, among others, 1981-1997. Numerous letters from Robert Motherwell; a booklet, L'Humanisme De L'Abstraction" by Robert Motherwell, inscribed: "For Arthur Danto With Great Esteem, Robert Motherwell," 1991 (text in French). Typescripts (and chapter drafts) for The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, 1979, and The State of the Art 1987; and miscellaneous writings, 1988-1989. Also included are THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE COMMONPLACE, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), and THE STATE OF THE ART, (NY: Prentice Hall Press, 1987).
Biographical / Historical:
Art critic; New York, N.Y. Danto was Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Since 1984, he has been art critic for The Nation.
Provenance:
Donated 1998 by Arthur C. Danto.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Occupation:
Art critics  Search this
Artists -- United States  Search this
Topic:
Art criticism  Search this
Art, Modern -- United States  Search this
Identifier:
AAA.dantarth
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-dantarth

Oral history interview with John Cederquist

Interviewee:
Cederquist, John  Search this
Interviewer:
Riedel, Mija, 1958-  Search this
Creator:
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Names:
California State University -- Students  Search this
Franklin Parrasch Gallery  Search this
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston  Search this
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America  Search this
Oakland Museum  Search this
Saddleback College -- Faculty  Search this
Bennett, Garry Knox, 1934-  Search this
Clark, Garth, 1947-  Search this
Cooke, Edward S., 1954-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Gaines, Tom  Search this
Hughes, Robert  Search this
Largin, Roberta Smith  Search this
Makepeace, John  Search this
Maruyama, Wendy, 1952-  Search this
Parrasch, Franklin  Search this
Snidecor, John  Search this
Straight, Bob  Search this
Straight, Chris  Search this
Turnbull, George  Search this
Zuecher, Gary  Search this
Extent:
11 Items (Sound recording: 11 sound files (4 hr., 54 min.), digital, wav file)
111 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
2009 April 14-15
Scope and Contents:
An interview of John Cederquist conducted 2009 April 14-15, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Cederquist's studio, in San Clemente, California.
John Cederquist speaks of his recent series Dollar Bill; his long-standing interest in perspective and use of tool imagery in his work; his childhood in Southern California; his early interest in art through custom car art; high school art instruction and focusing on craft; earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at California State University, Long Beach in the late 1960s and early 1970s; teaching at Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, California, starting in the early 1970s; work in wood and leather; other brief teaching jobs in Southern California universities; early exhibitions; exhibition and demonstrations at Parnham House, Beaminster, England, 1978; starting to teach perspective at Saddleback; Number One; the Egg and the Eye gallery/cafe, Los Angeles, California; Game Table [1982]; Auntie Macassar Goes West, 1987-88; philosophical and aesthetic differences between wood artists on the East and West coasts; exhibition: "Material Evidence: Master Craftsmen Explore ColorCore," Workbench: the Gallery, New York, New York, 1984; "California Woodworking," the Oakland Museum [of California, 1980; Thonet catalog as source material]; influence of animation in film and television; the perceptual and conceptual issues in translating two dimensions into three, and vice versa; the nature of illusion and perception; inclusion of work in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1989; the influence of How to Wrap Five Eggs: Traditional Japanese Packaging, Hideyuki Oka, Trumbull, Connecticut: Weatherhill, 1967; use of the Thomas Chippendale book (1754) as source material; subtle influence of cubism on Ghost Boy [1992] piece; his choice of furniture as the vehicle for his aesthetic exploration; series Furniture That Builds Itself (1991-2007), and continued influence of cartoons and animation; his choice of different kinds of wood; series How to Wrap Five Crates; series Kimonos and the influence of Japanese aesthetics; When Machines Dream of Hokusai [1995]: Road to Dreamland; series Wave (early to mid-1990s), and Tubular [1990], the first in the series; series Kosode; series This Is Not Lunch; historical Japanese tattoos as a source of inspiration; "Furniture That Builds Itself," Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, New York, 2003; sense of humor and "goofiness" in his work; Flat Foot Floogie Builds a Bench. [2003]; influence of photography on his work; his pieces as functional furniture and the artistic potential therein; social commentary in his recent Kosode pieces; Heavenly Victory; how his pieces get named; "The Art of John Cederquist: Reality of Illusion," Oakland Museum of California, 1999-2000; Breakthrough series: Steamer, early 1990s; Top Drawer (1985); Space Age Wave Machine (1999); use of thick wood instead of veneer; strengths and weaknesses of a university setting for art studies; the importance of being part of the craft movement; the role of Garth Clark's gallery in the movement; the importance of working with the Franklin Parrasch gallery; his admiration for art critic Robert Hughes; the role of online media in art journalism and criticism and journalism. He also recalls Gary Zuercher, Franklin Parrasch, John Snidecor, George Turnbull, John Makepeace, Edward S. Cooke, Garry Knox Bennett, Wendy Maruyama, Tom Gaines, Bob and Chris Straight, Arthur Danto, and Roberta Smith.
Biographical / Historical:
John Cederquist (1946- ) creates fine art furniture and wood sculpture. Cederquist is known for using trompe l'oeil in his work. He was educated at Long Beach State University and teaches at Saddleback College.
General:
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 11 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 54 min.
Provenance:
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.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Topic:
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Cabinetmakers -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Decorative arts  Search this
Furniture designers -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Sculptors -- California -- Interviews  Search this
Woodworkers -- California -- Interviews.  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.cederq09
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-cederq09

Arnold Mesches papers

Creator:
Mesches, Arnold, 1923-  Search this
Names:
New York University  Search this
Ciment, Jill, 1953-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Marshall, Kerry James, 1955-  Search this
Miami Dade College  Search this
Miller, Henry, 1891-  Search this
Motherwell, Robert  Search this
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Siqueiros, David Alfaro  Search this
Storr, Robert  Search this
Wayne, June, 1918-2011  Search this
Zinn, Howard, 1922-2010  Search this
Extent:
13.6 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Collages
Diaries
Drawings
Sketches
Date:
1939-2015
Summary:
The papers of New York City and Gainesville, Florida based painter Arnold Mesches (1923-2016) measure 13.6 linear feet and date from 1939-2015. The collection documents Mesches' politically-engaged career and work process through biographical material, correspondence, writings, gallery and exhibition files, project files, subject files, teaching files, personal business records, printed material, and photographic material. Project files comprise a bulk of the collection and include grant files, activism files, project notebooks, and over 100 art project files containing drawings, source material, and photographic material for individual artworks.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of New York City and Gainesville, Florida based painter Arnold Mesches (1923-2016) measure 13.6 linear feet and date from 1939-2015. The collection documents Mesches' politically engaged career and work process through biographical material, correspondence, writings, gallery and exhibition files, project files, subject files, teaching files, personal business records, printed material, and photographic material.

Biographical material includes addresses, family papers, interview transcripts, life documents, identification cards, a residency file, resumes, biographical statements, and travel records. Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature and is with wife, novelist Jill Ciment, family, friends, artists, museums, galleries, and magazines. Notable correspondents include Arthur Danto, Robert Storr, June Wayne, and Howard Zinn. Single items of correspondence are from Kerry James Marshall, Henry Miller, Robert Motherwell, and Ben Shahn.

Writings include manuscripts of unpublished novels and short stories, autobiographical writings, recordings of dreams, introductions to artists, a journal, memorials, project proposals, statements on art and politics, notes from Mesches' psychotherapy sessions, as well as numerous outlines, fragments, and notes.

Gallery and exhibition files document dozens of Mesches' gallery and museum exhibitions, including his 2013 retrospective at Miami Dade College, Arnold Mesches: A Life's Work.

Project files consist of grant files, activism files, project notebooks, and art projects. Activism files pertain to the Los Angeles Peace Tower, Arts Coalition for Freedom of Expression, and the pardon of muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Project notebooks contain preliminary sketches, technical notes including color palette and paint formulas, Polaroids of in-process works, and source material. Over 100 art project files further detail individual works, and include preliminary drawings in pen, pencil and charcoal, as well as collages, source material, and Polaroids. Several of Mesches' serial works are well represented here, including Anomie, Comings Attractions, and The FBI Files.

Subject files consist of a sequence of alphabetical files maintained by Mesches as reference material. Teaching files document posts at New York University and other institutions and include course descriptions, lists of materials, course notes, newsletters, reference articles, and correspondence.

Personal business records include documentation related to donations, Mesches' estate, gallery representation, inventories, properties, artwork shipment, supplies, and website design.

Printed material documents Mesches' career as both political illustrator and fine artist. Found here are brochures, leaflets, and Frontier and The Nation magazines featuring illustrations by Mesches. Calendars, newsletters, clippings, announcements, exhibition catalogs, and press releases document Mesches' gallery and museum exhibitions.

Photographic material includes hundreds of photographic prints, contact sheets, slides, and negatives of Arnold Mesches, Mesches' family and friends, studio, and artworks from his seven decade long career.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as ten series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1960s-2012 (0.2 linear feet, Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1949-2014 (0.8 linear feet, Box 1)

Series 3: Writings, 1958-2013 (1.1 linear feet, Box 2-3)

Series 4: Gallery and Exhibition Files, 1979-2015 (0.8 linear feet, Box 3)

Series 5: Project Files, 1950s-2014 (5.3 linear feet, Box 3-8, 15, OV 16-19)

Series 6: Subject Files, 1939-2000s (1.3 linear feet, Box 8-9)

Series 7: Teaching Files, 1992-2004 (0.2 linear feet, Box 9-10)

Series 8: Personal Business Records, 1983-2015 (0.5 linear feet, Box 10)

Series 9: Printed Material, 1950s-2000s (1.5 linear feet, Box 10-11, 15, OV 20)

Series 10: Photographic Material, 1940s-2010s (1.9 linear feet, Box 12-15)
Biographical / Historical:
Arnold Mesches (1923-2016) was a painter in New York, New York and Gainesville, Florida. Born in the Bronx and raised in upstate Dunkirk, New York, Mesches studied advertising design in high school before moving to Los Angeles in 1943 to study art at the Jepson Art Institute and Chouinard Art Institute.

Mesches began his career as a scenic painter for Hollywood while honing his own style as a fine artist and illustrator influenced by the political landscape and social realism. As a result of his political activity and involvement in the Communist Party, the FBI opened a file on Mesches in the 1950s, and began tracking his activities. The file, obtained by Mesches through a Freedom of Information Act request in 1999, became the basis for one of his most famous series, The FBI Files.

Throughout his life, Mesches was a socially-oriented figurative painter working in an expressionist style, mining the daily news and the current political landscape for subject matter, including the Cold War, the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the Vietnam War. Mesches was also one of the organizers of the 1966 Peace Tower artwork in Los Angeles and contributed illustrations to Frontier magazine throughout the 1950s, and The Nation magazine from 1960s-1980s.

In the early 1980s, Mesches relocated to New York City with wife, novelist Jill Ciment.

Mesches held several teaching posts over the course of his career, including at the New School, New York University, and the University of Florida.
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives of American Art in 2017 by Jill Ciment, Mesches' widow.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Arnold Mesches 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.
Topic:
Art -- Political aspects  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- California -- Los Angeles  Search this
Painters -- Florida  Search this
Painting -- Technique  Search this
Politics in art  Search this
Interviews  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Transcripts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Collages
Diaries
Drawings
Sketches
Citation:
Arnold Mesches papers, 1939-2015. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.mescarno
See more items in:
Arnold Mesches papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-mescarno
Online Media:

Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998

Creator:
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Topic:
Art criticism  Search this
Art, Modern -- United States  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6163
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)216396
AAA_collcode_dantarth
Theme:
Art Theory and Historiography
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_216396

Red Grooms, New York, N.Y. letter to Arthur Coleman Danto

Creator:
Grooms, Red, 1937-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Subject:
Gordon, David  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1991?
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)12769
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_12769

Ray Johnson letter to Arthur Coleman Danto

Creator:
Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Subject:
De Kooning, Willem  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1985 March 24
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)12770
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_12770

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt Christmas card to Arthur Danto

Creator:
Lanigan-Schmidt, Thomas, 1948-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1992
Topic:
Collage  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)12773
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_12773
Online Media:

Cindy Sherman postcard to Arthur Danto

Creator:
Sherman, Cindy  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Subject:
Sherman, Cindy  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1995 March 8
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)17613
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_17613
Online Media:

Arthur Coleman Danto letter to Robert Burns Motherwell

Creator:
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Motherwell, Robert Burns, 1915-1991  Search this
Subject:
Danto, Arthur Coleman  Search this
Motherwell, Robert Burns  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1985 March 10
Topic:
Art criticism  Search this
Philosophy  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)17847
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_17847
Online Media:

Guerrilla Girls letter to Arthur Coleman Danto

Creator:
Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists)  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1995 May 20
Topic:
Books and reading  Search this
Feminism  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)6613
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_6613

Dale Chihuly letter to Arthur Coleman Danto

Creator:
Chihuly, Dale, 1941-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman, 1924-  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1996 Jan. 8
Topic:
Books and reading  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)6615
See more items in:
Arthur Coleman Danto papers, 1979-1998
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_6615
Online Media:

Eric Fischl, 1970-2000

Author:
Fischl, Eric 1948-  Search this
Danto, Arthur Coleman 1924- Formation, success, and mastery: Eric Fischl through three decades  Search this
Enright, Robert Desiring ambiguity: the art of Eric Fischl  Search this
Enright, Robert Fischl on Fischl  Search this
Martin, Steve 1945- Barbeque  Search this
Subject:
Fischl, Eric 1948- Themes, motives  Search this
Physical description:
312 p. : col. ill. ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
2000
C2000
Call number:
N6537.F475 F57 2000
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_616145

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