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Oral history interview with Jacob Kainen

Topic:
Art front
Interviewee:
Kainen, Jacob  Search this
Interviewer:
Berman, Avis  Search this
Creator:
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
ACA Galleries  Search this
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project  Search this
Pratt Institute  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Graham, John, 1887-1961  Search this
Hayter, Stanley William, 1901-1988  Search this
Lazzari, Pietro, 1898-1979  Search this
Margo, Boris, 1902-1995  Search this
McNeil, George, 1908-1995  Search this
Noland, Kenneth, 1924-2010  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Schnitzler, Max, 1903-  Search this
Solman, Joseph, 1909-2008  Search this
Thomas, Alma  Search this
Extent:
6 Cassettes (Sound recording, analog.)
108 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Cassettes
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1982 Aug. 10-Sept. 22
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Jacob Kainen conducted 1982 Aug. 10-1982 Sept. 22, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project.
Kainen speaks about his family and educational background; early interest in art; his studies at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute; showing at the ACA Gallery; the community of artists in New York in the late 1930s; writing for ART FRONT; his employment by the graphic arts division of the WPA-FAP in New York; his move to Washington, D.C., in 1942, to work for the Smithsonian Institution; his first marriage to Bertha Friedman and their children; his career in Washinton, D.C. as a curator, painter, printmaker, writer, and teacher; the FBI investigation of his background; and the art scene in Washington, D.C. Kainen also recalls artists he has known including Stuart Davis, Joseph Solman, John Graham, Mark Rothko, Pietro Lazzari, Willem de Kooning, Max Schnitzler, Arshile Gorky, Gene Davis, Alma Thomas, George McNeil, Kenneth Noland, Boris Margo, Stanley Hayter, and Ad Reinhardt. He discusses Mark Rothko's influences, how he "hated the art industry" and was secretive about his art materials. Kainen also recalls encountering Rothko in Provincetown in 1968 and comments on his art and his suicide. Jacob Kainen's wife, Ruth, was also present and contributed her recollections.
Biographical / Historical:
Jacob Kainen (1909-2001) was a painter, printmaker, and curator from Washington, D.C. Studied at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute; died at age 91.
Provenance:
This interview was conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and his Times oral history project, with funding provided by the Mark Rothko Foundation.
Others interviewed on the project (by various interviewers) include: Sonia Allen, Sally Avery, Ben-Zion, Bernard Braddon, Ernest Briggs, Rhys Caparn, Elaine de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Esther Gottlieb, Juliette Hays, Sidney Janis, Buffie Johnson, Louis Kaufman, Jack Kufeld, Katharine Kuh, Stanley Kunitz, Joseph Liss, Dorothy Miller, Betty Parsons, Wallace Putnam, Rebecca Reis, Maurice Roth, Sidney Schectman, Aaron Siskind, Joseph Solman, Hedda Sterne, Jack Tworkov, Esteban Vicente and Ed Weinstein. Each has been cataloged separately.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Printmakers -- Washington (D.C.) -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.kainen82
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9b3fdd057-20aa-4e92-aaae-8b8e30d39212
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-kainen82
Online Media:

Stovall Workshop Inc. Slide Show Interviews

Creator:
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Corcoran Gallery of Art  Search this
Corcoran Gallery--Dupont Center  Search this
Stovall Workshop Inc.  Search this
Bronson, David  Search this
Cook, Dana  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Fralin, Frances  Search this
Gilliam, Sam, 1933-2022  Search this
Hopps, Walter  Search this
McGowin, Ed, 1938-  Search this
McNeill, Lloyd  Search this
Stovall, Di Bagley, 1947-  Search this
Stovall, Lou  Search this
Collection Creator:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
2 Sound recordings (open reel, 1/4 inch)
Type:
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Interviews
Place:
Washington (D.C.)
Atlanta (Ga.)
United States
Date:
1983
Scope and Contents:
Interviews with Dana Cook, Francis Fralin, and David Bronson for Stovall Workshop Inc. Slide Show, which focused on the formation of Workshop by Lou Stovall and Lloyd McNeill from its origins at the Corcoran Gallery of Art to its current location in northwest Washington, D.C. Cook, an illustrator and printmaker, discusses her experience working with and learning from Stovall at Workshop. Fralin speaks of Walter Hopps' outreach program idea leading to a relationship between Stovall and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, development of the Workshop at the Corcoran Gallery Dupont Circle, Stovall's and McNeill's poster collaboration, Stovall's silkscreening and drawing, Di Stovall's art and imagination, and other Workshop and Corcoran artists, including Sam Gilliam, David Bronson and Gene Davis. Bronson, a technician and craftsman, discusses his role at Workshop: helping to set up Workshop at Corcoran, learning silk screen process, working in woodshop, and creating prints for artists, including Ed McGowin for Name Change exhibition at Baltimore Museum of Art. All speak of Stovall's personality as a person, teacher and leader, particularly his perfectionist nature and high standards.
Interviews for slide show about Stovall Workshop Inc. Part of Through Their Eyes: The Art of Lou and Di Stovall Audiovisual Records. Dana Cook interview dated 19830801: AV003309-1. Frances Fralin interview dated 19830809: AV003309-1 and AV003309-2. David Bronson interview dated 19830810: AV003314. All recordings have some distortions or skips in sound recording.
Biographical / Historical:
Stovall Workshop Inc. Slide Show is related to an exhibition featuring the works of Washington, D.C. artists, Lou and Di Stovall, organized by the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum and held there from September 18, 1983 - March 4, 1984. The exhibition, Through Their Eyes: The Art of Lou and Di Stovall, showcased 84 works - silkscreen prints, drawings, and arcylic paintings - illustrating the artists' progression from posterists to master printmaker and miniaturist, respectively. The art was complemented by audiovisual presentations on the technique of silkscreen printing and a biographical essay on the artists.;Lou Stovall was born Luther McKinley Stovall in Athens, Georgia in 1937. When Stovall was four years old, his family moved north to Springfield, Massachusetts to find work. At age of fifteen, he was an apprentice to Al LaPierre in his silkscreen sign shop at the Growers Outlet Super Market. In 1956, Stovall received a grant and scholarship to attend Rhode Island School of Design. After the first semester, his father became ill so Stovall returned home to support his family for about five or six years. When he returned to school, Stovall attended Howard University, where he received a B.F.A. in 1965. James Lesesne Wells introduced to Stovall to silkscreen as a fine art rather than a commercial medium. Stovall also learned about collaboration in printmaking (artist and printer combining ideas and skills to create a work of art) from Wells. In 1968, Stovall received a grant to buy printmaking equipment. However, he made most of the tools and tables himself creating a full scale printmaking, wood making, and metal workshop in Washington, D.C. Under his direction, Workshop Inc. has grown from a small but active studio primarily concerned with community posters into a professional printmaking outfit. Stovall creates his own original silkscreen prints and is the printmaker of choice for other master artists including Elizabeth Catlett, David C. Driskell, and Sam Gilliam. For each work of art, he finds new and unique ways to replicate as closely as possible a painting supplied by the artist. He has the ability to make the medium do just about anything he and the artist(s) want it to do. Stovall's innovative techniques and distinctive style is credited by artists and critics with helping to transform the concept of silkscreen printmaking from a commercial craft to a true art form. In 1971, Stovall married Di Bagley, a painter who specializes in acrylic on paper and incorporates miniature images into many of her works.;Stovall Workshop Inc. was formed as a result of a poster collaboration between printmaker Lou Stovall and designer Lloyd McNeill in 1966. Printmaking, sculpture, photography, and furniture making were directed by Stovall in Workshop, first located at the Concoran Gallery of Art [Corcoran Gallery Dupont Circle]. By 1973, Stovall moved Workshop to northwest DC.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV003309-2

ACMA AV003314
Series Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at acmarchives@si.edu.
Occupation:
Artists  Search this
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
African American printmakers  Search this
Printmakers  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Art  Search this
Prints  Search this
Screen prints  Search this
Posters  Search this
Landscapes  Search this
Prints -- Technique  Search this
Serigraphy  Search this
Color in art  Search this
Museum exhibits  Search this
Exhibitions  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Stovall Workshop Inc. Slide Show Interviews, Exhibition Records AV03-001, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.03-001, Item ACMA AV003309-1
See more items in:
Through their eyes: the art of Lou and Di Stovall exhibition records
Through their eyes: the art of Lou and Di Stovall exhibition records / Series ACMA AV03-001: Through Their Eyes: The Art of Lou and Di Stovall audiovisual records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa7e787faf3-2445-469d-92c0-fc3ed72efc9e
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-03-001-ref70

Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Baro, Gene  Search this
Wall, Donald  Search this
Greenberg, Clement  Search this
Colby, Carl  Search this
Davis, Douglas  Search this
Davis, Florence  Search this
McGowin, Ed  Search this
Naifeh, Steven  Search this
Nordland, Gerald  Search this
North, Percy  Search this
Seitz, William C. (William Chapin)  Search this
Thomas, Alma  Search this
White House (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Photographs
Interviews
Video recordings
Citation:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Color-field painting  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Theme:
Lives of artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7153
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209287
AAA_collcode_davigene
Theme:
Lives of artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209287
Online Media:

Interview with Gene Davis

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Swift, Mary, 1929-2022  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1978 October 8
Citation:
Gene Davis and Mary Swift. Interview with Gene Davis, 1978 October 8. Mary Swift papers, 1973-2004. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)23364
See more items in:
Mary Swift papers, 1973-2004
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_23364

Oral history interview with V. V. Rankine

Interviewee:
Rankine, V. V., 1920-2004  Search this
Interviewer:
Kirwin, Liza  Search this
Names:
Betty Parsons Gallery  Search this
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)  Search this
David Herbert Gallery  Search this
Institute of Contemporary Arts (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Jefferson Place Gallery  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Bader, Franz, 1903-1994  Search this
Brooks, James, 1906-1992  Search this
Callahan, Harry M.  Search this
Cunningham, Merce  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
De Kooning, Elaine  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997  Search this
Denney, Alice  Search this
Dorrance, Nesta  Search this
Downing, Thomas, 1928-1985  Search this
Duncan, Augustin  Search this
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983  Search this
Gabo, Naum, 1890-1977  Search this
Gilliam, Sam, 1933-2022  Search this
Gorky, Agnes  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Graham, John, 1887-1961  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Halle, Kay  Search this
Hare, David, 1917-1992  Search this
Helburn, Theresa, 1887-1959  Search this
Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995  Search this
Kennedy, Kit  Search this
Kiesler, Frederick  Search this
Kinney, Gilbert H.  Search this
Krasner, Lee, 1908-1984  Search this
Lassaw, Ibram, 1913-2003  Search this
Leopold, Richard  Search this
Louis, Morris, 1912-1962  Search this
Magruder, Esther  Search this
Merrill, Kevin  Search this
Nelson, Wretha  Search this
Nevelson, Louise, 1899-1988  Search this
Newman, Bonnie  Search this
Noland, Kenneth, 1924-2010  Search this
Ozenfant, Amédée, 1886-1966  Search this
Pace, Stephen, 1918-2010  Search this
Parsons, Betty  Search this
Penn, Arthur, 1922-  Search this
Phillips, Duncan, 1886-1966  Search this
Pollock, Jackson, 1912-1956  Search this
Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008  Search this
Renault, Jean  Search this
Richman, Robert  Search this
Russo, Alexander  Search this
Sheridan, Walt  Search this
Sherman, Saul  Search this
Snelson, Kenneth, 1927-2016  Search this
Soyer, Moses, 1899-1974  Search this
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987  Search this
Sweeney, James Johnson, 1900-  Search this
Thomas, Dylan, 1914-1953  Search this
Truitt, Anne, 1921-2004  Search this
Warhol, Andy, 1928-1987  Search this
Yektai, Manoucher, 1922-  Search this
Youngerman, Jack, 1926-2020  Search this
Extent:
34 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Interviews
Sound recordings
Date:
1990 Mar. 2-22
Scope and Contents:
An interview of V. V. Rankine conducted 1990 Mar. 2-22, by Liza Kirwin, for the Archives of American Art.
Rankine discusses the evolution of her nickname, V.V.; discovering her dyslexia; growing up in Boston; auditioning for a part in, "The Philadelphia Story"; her art studies with Amedee Ozenfant from 1944 to 1946; her studies at Black Mountain College with Josef Albers and Willem De Kooning in 1947; her friendship with Morris Louis and watching him work; living with her brother-in-law Arshile Gorky, in New York City; her first one-woman show at the David Herbert Gallery in New York in 1962; exhibiting at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York and at the Jefferson Place Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Robert Richman and the Institute of Contemporary Arts; the relationship between her painting and her sculpture; favorite shapes and materials; and her summer home in East Hampton and artist friends there. Rankine also recalls Robert Rauschenberg, Jack Youngerman, Manoucher Yektai, Betty Parsons, Ibram Lassaw, Buckminster Fuller, Elaine De Kooning, Arthur Penn, Richard Leopold, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Ken Noland, Morris Louis, Ray Johnson, Kenneth Snelson, David Hare, Frederick Kiesler, Raphael Soyer, Moses Soyer, Jean Renault, Agnes Gorky, Esther Magruder, James Johnson Sweeney, Jim Brooks, John Graham, Phillip Guston, Duncan Phillips, Theresa Helburn, Augustine Duncan, Tom Downing, Gene Davis, Alice Denney, Nesta Dorrance, Kevin Merrill, Sam Gilliam, Dylan Thomas, Kay Halle, Kit Kennedy, Naum Gabo, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Anne Truitt, Wretha Nelson, Franz Bader, Louise Nevelson, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Bonnie Newman, Alexander Russo, Walt Sheridan, Gilbert Kinney, Saul Sherman, Steve Pace, Lee Krasner, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
V.V. Rankine (1920-2004) was a painter and sculptor from Washington, D.C. Variable forms of the artist's name are notably E. R. (Elvine Richard) Rankine, Vivian Scott Rankine, and her married name, Mrs. Paul Scott.
General:
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 53 min.
Provenance:
These interviews are 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 others.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Sculptors -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Women artists  Search this
Women painters  Search this
Women sculptors  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Identifier:
AAA.rankin90
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9962313c4-a6e1-43b3-b0a1-2b3ae06a7b90
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-rankin90
Online Media:

Clement Greenberg papers

Creator:
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
Names:
American Committee for Cultural Freedom  Search this
Avedisian, Edward, 1936-2007  Search this
Bannard, Walter Darby, 1934-  Search this
Baziotes, Ethel  Search this
Bush, Jack, 1909-  Search this
Caro, Anthony, 1924-  Search this
Connolly, Cyril, 1903-1974  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Diebenkorn, Richard, 1922-1993  Search this
Dorazio, Piero, 1927-  Search this
Dzubas, Friedel, 1915-  Search this
Emmerich, André  Search this
Feeley, Paul, 1910-1966  Search this
Francis, Sam, 1923-1994  Search this
Frankenthaler, Helen, 1928-2011  Search this
Fuller, Peter, 1947-1990  Search this
Goodnough, Robert, 1917-  Search this
Gottlieb, Adolph, 1903-1974  Search this
Hofmann, Hans, 1880-1966  Search this
Hosaisson, Philippe  Search this
Kainen, Jacob  Search this
Krauss, Rosalind E.  Search this
Moffett, Kenworth  Search this
Motherwell, Robert  Search this
Newman, Barnett, 1905-1970  Search this
Noland, Kenneth, 1924-  Search this
O'Faolin, Nuala  Search this
Olitski, Jules, 1922-2007  Search this
Pepper, Beverly  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Sander, Ludwig, 1906-  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Smith, Kimber, 1922-1981  Search this
Solomon, Deborah  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-  Search this
Truitt, Anne, 1921-2004  Search this
Waddington, Leslie  Search this
Wisenski, Kurt  Search this
Extent:
8.6 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Transcripts
Interviews
Etchings
Photographs
Reports
Date:
1937-1983
Summary:
The papers of art critic, author, and lecturer Clement Greenberg measure 8.6 linear feet and date from 1937 to 1983. The bulk of the collection consists of letters from art critics, artists, family, friends, galleries, and museums. Notable correspondents include Jack Bush, Anthony Caro, Richard Diebenkorn, Friedel Dzubas, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Robert Motherwell, Charles Pollock, Jules Olitski, David Smith, and Anne Truitt among others. Also found are biograpical materials, personal business and financial records, an etching by Kurt Wisneski, printed materials, and two reports by Greenberg concerning his travels.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg measure 8.6 linear feet and date from 1937 to 1983. The bulk of the papers (7 feet) consists of letters from art critics, artists, family, friends, galleries, and museums, with some letters from Greenberg. Correspondents include Edward Avedisian, Darby Bannard, Ethel Baziotes, Jack Bush, Anthony Caro, Gene Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Piero Dorazio, Friedel Dzubas, Andre Emmerich, Paul Feeley, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Goodnough, Adolf Gottleib, Hans Hofmann, Philippe Hosiasson, Jacob Kainen, Rosalind Krauss, Robert Motherwell, Ken Moffett, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Beverly Pepper, Ludwig Sander, David Smith, Kimber Smith, Clyfford Still, Anne Truitt, and Leslie Waddington.

Biographical materials include a transcript of an interview with Greenberg conducted by Deborah Solomon in 1983. Greenberg's personal business and financial records include correspondence regarding his lectures and seminars, requests for his writings, student queries, documents regarding his television and radio appearances, royalty statements, and receipts for gifts of works of art. Also found within business records are documents relating to Greenberg's testimony at the Mark Rothko Trial in 1974.

Artwork consists of one etching by Kurt Wisenski entitled "Spring." The papers contain very few of Greenberg's writings about art. Found are lists of artists, and reports written by Greenberg on the state of art in Japan and India in 1967, likely related to his membership in the American Committee for Cultural Freedom. Printed material includes scattered clippings concerning art and exhibition announcements.

One series of ACCESS RESTRICTED papers contains documents relating to Greenberg's role as a trustee in the David Smith estate; correspondence between Greenberg with Andre Emmerich and Peter Fuller, Nuala O'Faolain, and the Greenberg family; and some financial materials regarding the sale and loan of Greenberg's art collection.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 7 series:

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1950s-1983 (Box 1; 2 folders)

Series 2: Business and Financial Records, 1940-1983 (Box 1; 12 folders)

Series 3: Correspondence, 1937-1983 (Boxes 1-8; 7 linear feet)

Series 4: Artwork, 1973 (Box 8; 1 folder)

Series 5: Writings and Notes, 1967-1983 (Box 8; 3 folders)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1950-1982 (Box 8; 2 folders)

Series 7: David Smith Estate Materials (Boxes 9-11; 1.2 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Clement Greenberg was a highly influential art critic working in New York City from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was an advocate of modern art, particulary the abstract expressionist movement, and one of the first critics to recognize the significance of Jackson Pollock's work.

Greenberg was born in 1909 to Russian immigrants in Bronx, New York. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1930, he married and had a child, David. He settled in New York City while working at the United States Customs Department as an appraiser.

In the late 1930s, Clement Greenberg attended a meeting of the U.S. Works Progress Administration and heard Hans Hofmann speak of avant-garde art. In 1939, he wrote one of his first important critical pieces "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" for the Partisan Review. Greenberg argued that the avant-garde art movement rose out of the need to defend and maintain high art standards against the decline in taste brought about by America's consumerism and capitalist culture.

In 1940, Greenberg joined Partisan Review as an editor. He became art critic for the Nation in 1942, and was associate editor of Commentary from 1945 until 1957. In December 1950, he joined the CIA-fronted American Committee for Cultural Freedom.

Throughout the 1940s through the 1960s Greenberg continued to write and, in his essays and articles, he promoted the work of Abstract Expressionists, among them Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Hans Hofmann, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still. He particularly championed Jackson Pollock. Greenberg wrote several seminal essays that defined his views on art history in the 20th century. "Greenberg on Collage" was one one of his most important.

Greenberg's views on pop art were mixed. He also became less enamored with Abstract Impressionism, particularly the second generation. However, he became very interested in the Color-Field and Hard-Edge painters.

Through the 1960s Greenberg's views informed a younger generation of art critics including Michael Fried and Rosalind E. Krauss. Some writers maintain that Greenberg's views were so well-respected that he had too much of an influence on the world of art. In time, Greenberg's antagonism to Postmodernist theories and other modern art movements caused him to lose much of his credibility among both artists and art critics.

Greenberg died at the age of eighty-five in 1994.

Since his death, letters edited by his widow, Janice Van Horne and a re-evaluation of his writings have helped to restore his reputation within the art world.
Related Material:
The Portland Art Museum holds Clement Greenberg's private art collection as well as a library of exhibition catalogs.
Separated Material:
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels N69-91, N70-7, and N737). Most, but not all, of these papers were later donated by Greenberg. Loaned materials not donated at a later date remain with the lender and are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Provenance:
Clement Greenberg initally lent material for microfilming in 1968-1969. He donated most of this material with additional papers in several accretions between 1984 to 1991.
Restrictions:
This collection is temporarily closed to researchers due to archival processing and digitization. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
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.
Occupation:
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Art criticism -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Japan  Search this
Art -- India  Search this
Modernism (Art)  Search this
Art -- Economic aspects  Search this
Genre/Form:
Transcripts
Interviews
Etchings
Photographs
Reports
Citation:
The Clement Greenberg papers, 1937-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.greeclep
See more items in:
Clement Greenberg papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9583b0d2a-ad31-4fa9-a3b5-eacce3cb0313
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-greeclep
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Gene Davis, 1981 April 23

Interviewee:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Interviewer:
Pennington, Estill Curtis  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Gene Davis, 1981 April 23. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)12129
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)212614
AAA_collcode_davis81
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_212614
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Gene Davis

Interviewee:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Interviewer:
Pennington, Estill Curtis  Search this
Extent:
43 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1981 April 23
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Gene Davis conducted 1981 April 23, by Estill Curtis Pennington, for the Archives of American Art, at the artist's home.
Davis speaks of his early career as a pulp writer and his subsequent painting activities including outdoor works, installations and micro-paintings.
Biographical / Historical:
Gene Davis (1920-1985) was a painter from Washington, D.C.
General:
Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 26 min.
Provenance:
This interview is part of the Archives' 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 others.
Restrictions:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.davis81
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9d17ab76a-0511-46f2-b5bd-a790e83f3bfe
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-davis81
Online Media:

Gene Davis: artist file, [photographs]

Artist:
Davis, Gene 1920-1985  Search this
Physical description:
1 folder
Type:
Photograph
Artist files
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Image number:
VFM VF000784
See more items in:
Photograph Study Collection
Data Source:
Photograph Study Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_jul_138105

Video Puzzle

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Type:
Videorecording
Date:
circa 1971
Citation:
Gene Davis. Video Puzzle, circa 1971. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Conceptual art  Search this
Performance art  Search this
Video art  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)10688
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_10688

Lecture entitled "Contemporary Painting"

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1969 August 26
Citation:
Gene Davis. Lecture entitled "Contemporary Painting", 1969 August 26. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)11636
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_11636

Henri Ehrsam, Alexandria, Virginia letter to Gene Davis, Washington, D.C.

Creator:
Ehrsam, Henri (Henrietta)  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Henri Gallery (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1965 June 29
Citation:
Henri (Henrietta) Ehrsam. Henri Ehrsam, Alexandria, Virginia letter to Gene Davis, Washington, D.C., 1965 June 29. Henri Gallery records, circa early 1900s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19710
See more items in:
Henri Gallery records, circa early 1900s, bulk 1957-1995
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19710

Gene Davis' typescript on Harry S. Truman's sartorial distinction

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
circa 1945
Citation:
Gene Davis. Gene Davis' typescript on Harry S. Truman's sartorial distinction, circa 1945. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)608
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_608

The president's vacation cruise

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1946
Citation:
Gene Davis. The president's vacation cruise, 1946. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)609
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_609

Harry Truman at Gettysburg

Photographer:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1946
Citation:
Gene Davis. Harry Truman at Gettysburg, 1946. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)610
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_610

Harry Truman in Key West, Florida

Photographer:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1947
Citation:
Gene Davis. Harry Truman in Key West, Florida, 1947. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)611
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_611

Photograph of Harry Truman

Photographer:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Truman, Harry S.  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1946
Citation:
Gene Davis. Photograph of Harry Truman, 1946. Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)612
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_612

Structured color : Anuszkiewicz / Benjamin / Davis / Downing / Hinman / Stanczak / Tadasky

Author:
Weber, Emily 1966-  Search this
D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc  Search this
Subject:
Anuszkiewicz, Richard  Search this
Benjamin, Karl  Search this
Davis, Gene 1920-1985  Search this
Downing, Thomas 1928-1985  Search this
Hinman, Charles B. 1932-  Search this
Stanczak, Julian 1928-2017  Search this
Kuwayama, Tadaaki 1932-  Search this
Physical description:
43 p. : col. ill. ; 23 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibitions
Date:
2011
C2011
20th century
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Call number:
ND212 .D34 2011
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_958333

Fischbach Gallery records

Creator:
Fischbach Gallery  Search this
Names:
Thiabaut Galley  Search this
Altoon, John, 1925-  Search this
Antonakos, Stephen, 1926-2013  Search this
Bladen, Ronald, 1918-1988  Search this
Chamberlain, Wynn  Search this
D'Arcangelo, Allan, 1930-  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Dunn, Anne  Search this
Gilardi, Piero, 1942-  Search this
Hesse, Eva, 1936-1970  Search this
Katz, Alex, 1927-  Search this
Krushenick, Nicholas, 1929-1999  Search this
Levine, Les, 1935-  Search this
Mangold, Robert, 1937-  Search this
Ohlson, Douglas Dean, 1936-  Search this
Ryan, Anne, 1889-1954  Search this
Ryman, Robert, 1930-  Search this
Slavin, Arlene, 1942-  Search this
Smith, Tony, 1912-  Search this
Sugarman, George, 1912-1999  Search this
Swain, Robert, 1940-  Search this
Extent:
39.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Gallery records
Photographs
Date:
1937-2015
bulk 1963-1977
Summary:
The records of New York City Fischbach Gallery measure 39.5 linear feet and date from 1937 to 2015, with the bulk of materials dating from 1963 to 1977. The majority of the collection consists of artists files containing a wide variety of materials documenting the gallery's relationship with its stable of modern and avant garde artists, as well as gallery exhibitions. Files include biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, and photographs. Gallery records also include general business correspondence, access-restricted financial records; and additional printed materials. The 2015 addition of 14 linear feet consists of inventory and client sales records in the form of card indexes. The 2019 addition consists of material related to Marilyn Fischbach's art collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The records of New York City Fischbach Gallery measure 39.5 linear feet and date from 1937 to 2015, with the bulk of materials dating from 1963 to 1977. The majority of the collection consists of artists files containing a wide variety of materials documenting the gallery's relationship with its stable of modern and avant garde artists, as well as gallery exhibitions. Files include biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, and photographs. Gallery records also include general business correspondence, access-restricted financial records; and additional printed materials.

Artists and Exhibition Files contain information on over one hundred Fischbach Gallery artists and measure 18 linear feet. The contents of each file varies, but typically may include biographical information; correspondence between the artist, museums, and other galleries; scattered consignment information; printed materials including articles, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and press releases; photographs of the artist, installations, constructions, and works of art; and negatives, slides, and transparencies. Substantial files are found for John Altoon, Stephen Antonakos, Ronald Bladen, Wynn Chamberlain, Allan D'Arcangelo, Gene Davis, Anne Dunn, Piero Gilardi, Eva Hesse, Alex Katz, Nicholas Krushenick, Les Levine, Robert Mangold, Doug Ohlson, Anne Ryan, Robert Ryman, Arlene Slavin, Tony Smith, George Sugarman, and Robert Swain, among others. Also included are files pertaining to group exhibitions including "According to the Letter" (1963), "Hard Center" (1963), "Six Women" (1965), "Game Without Rules" (1966), "Direct Representation" (1969), and "Eccentric Abstraction" (1966) which was organized by Lucy Lippard.

General gallery correspondence is business correspondence between the gallery and companies, individuals, museums, galleries, dealers, new or non-Fischbach artists, and institutions. Additional business records consist of an address book, lists of Fischbach artists, gallery plans, a notebook, as well as guest lists, mailing lists, and press lists.

Financial records are access restricted and require written permission from the donor's representative for use. The files document financial transactions for many of the artists represented in the artists files and includes sales records, invoices, artists' payments, and correspondence about sales and possible sales. The alphabetical financial files document routine gallery business, such as framing, shipping, insurance, messenger, publicity, etc. and are organized by name of business. General financial files consist of accounting ledgers, banking documents, insurance claims, and travel accounts.

Printed materials consist of various business cards, clippings concerning the Fischbach Gallery, and a pamphlet by Ron Williams as a guide to New York galleries. The bulk of printed materials are found in the Artists and Exhibition Files.

A small series of photographs include those from the Thiabaut Gallery, and unidentified photos of landscapes. It is likely that Fischbach Gallery occupied the space previously used by the Thiabaut Gallery and some materials were included in the collection for that reason. The bulk of photographic materials are found in the Artists and Exhibition Files.

In 2015, 14 feet of records were added to the collection. The addition consists of inventory and client sales records in the form of card indexes. The addition is access-restricted until 2065.

A 2019 addition of 0.2 linear feet, consisting of material related to Marilyn Fischbach's art collection, was processed in 2020.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 9 series.

Missing Title

Series 1: Artists and Exhibitions Files, 1937-1977 (Boxes 1-18, 28; 18 linear feet)

Series 2: Gallery Correspondence, 1962-1974 (Boxes 18-19; 1.75 linear feet)

Series 3: Business Records, 1969-1971 (Box 27; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 4: Financial Records, 1963-1975 (Boxes 20-25; 4.5 linear feet)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1963-1972 (Box 26; 6 folders)

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1960s (Box 26; 2 folders)

Series 7: Inventory Card Indexes, circa 1960s-2015 (12.1 linear feet; Box 29-41)

Series 8: Client Sales Card Index, circa 1970s-2000s (1.9 linear feet; Box 41-42)

Series 9: Marilyn Fischbach Collection Records, circa 1975-2000 (0.2 linear feet; Box 43)
Historical Note:
The Fischbach Gallery was founded in 1960 by Marilyn Cole Fischbach at 799 Madison Avenue in New York City. The gallery was noted for its stable of minimalist young artists in the 1960s, and the work of the painterly realists in the 1970s. The gallery remains open today.

During its early years, the gallery was among the first to focus on 1960s avant-garde and minimalist artists. Marilyn possessed a talent for discovering young artists and for helping them advance their careers. Many of these young artists became well-known, including Ronald Bladen, Eva Hesse, and Alex Katz. Other artists represented by the gallery include Allan D'Arcangelo, Les Levine, Robert Mangold, Robert Ryman, George Sugarman, and Robert Swain.

The gallery also had an active exhibition schedule and organized and hosted group exhibitions of modern art, including "According to the Letter" (1963), "Hard Center" (1963), and "Direct Representation" (1969). Additionally, the Fishbach Gallery hosted "Eccentric Abstraction" in 1966, an exhibition organized by Lucy Lippard.

Later, the gallery moved to W. 57th Street in Manhattan. Fischbach hired A. Aladar Marberger as director of the gallery. Under his direction, the Fischbach Gallery shifted from the avant-garde to contemporary American realism and minimalist sculpture. In the 1980s, Marilyn Fischbach brought three investors into the gallery. She remined a co-owner, but lived in Paris, France for many years prior to her death at the age of seventy-two. The Fischbach Gallery remains open at 210 West 11th Street at 25th Street in New York City.
Provenance:
Gallery founder Marilyn C. Fischbach and director A. Aladar Marberger donated the majority of the Fischbach Gallery records in 1978. Additional records were donated in 2001 by Maureen Dawley on behalf of the Carnegie Mellon University and in 2015 and in 2019 by John Fischbach, Marilyn C. Fischbach's son.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Written permission from the donor is also required to view the series of financial records and the 2015 addition of card indexes. Contact the Reference Services Department for more information.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Minimal art -- United States  Search this
Artists -- United States  Search this
Function:
Art galleries, Commercial -- New York (State)
Genre/Form:
Gallery records
Photographs
Citation:
The Fischbach Gallery records, 1937-2015, bulk 1963-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.fiscgall
See more items in:
Fischbach Gallery records
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw9250bd192-6986-4fdd-bec0-08a93a98e4ed
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-fiscgall
Online Media:

Gene Davis papers

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Names:
White House (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Baro, Gene  Search this
Colby, Carl  Search this
Davis, Douglas  Search this
Davis, Florence  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
McGowin, Ed, 1938-  Search this
Naifeh, Steven, 1952-  Search this
Nordland, Gerald  Search this
North, Percy, 1945-  Search this
Seitz, William C. (William Chapin)  Search this
Thomas, Alma  Search this
Wall, Donald  Search this
Extent:
17.7 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Photographs
Interviews
Video recordings
Date:
1920-2000
bulk 1942-1990
Summary:
The papers of the artist Gene Davis measure 17.7 linear feet and date from 1920-2000, with the bulk of materials dating from 1942-1990. Papers document Davis's personal life and his career as an artist and educator, as well as his career as a journalist in the 1940s and 1950s, through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, business records, estate records, writings by and about Gene Davis, printed materials concerning Davis's art career, personal and art-related photographs, and artwork by Davis and others.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of the artist Gene Davis measure 17.7 linear feet and date from 1920-2000, with the bulk of materials dating from 1942-1990. Papers document Davis's personal life and his career as an artist and educator, and to a lesser degree his early career as a journalist in the 1940s and 1950s, through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, business records, estate records, writings by and about Gene Davis, printed materials concerning Davis's art career, personal and art-related photographs, and artwork by Davis and others.

Biographical materials include birth and death certificates, awards, biographical narratives by Gene Davis and others, CVs, résumés, personal documents from Davis's family and childhood, documents related to his work as a White House correspondent, documentation related to his death and memorial service, and papers for the family pets. A video documentary about Davis by Carl Colby is found on one videocassette.

Correspondence is mainly of a professional nature, and correspondents include gallery and museum curators, private art collectors, publishers, fellow artists, art educators, academics, and students. Letters document exhibitions, sales, book projects, teaching jobs, visits to studios, local art community events in the Washington, D.C. area, and other projects. Significant correspondents include Gene Baro, Douglas Davis, Clement Greenberg, Gerald Nordland, William Seitz, Alma Thomas, and Donald Wall. Interviews and lectures include sound recordings and transcripts. Many of the interviews were broadcast or published. Also found is a single lecture by Davis given in 1969 at the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, entitled "Contemporary Painting." Sound recordings are found for three of the interviews and for the lecture, on 4 sound reels and 1 sound cassette.

Business records include artwork documentation, price lists, sales records, contracts, financial and legal records, gallery and museum files documenting sales and exhibitions, records related to the construction of Davis's home studio in 1970, and a few teaching records. Estate records mainly reflect Florence Davis's efforts to document the works of her husband, and to manage their exhibition, promotion, and sale after his death in April 1985. Estate records include an inventory of artworks, documentation of gifts to museums, correspondence, legal, and financial records. Writings include notes, drafts of essays, artist statements, and articles by Davis, and many articles by others about Davis. Several of Davis's articles reflect specifically on the Washington, D.C. art scene. Also found are drafts of monographs on Davis including one by Donald Wall (1975) and one by Steven Naifeh (1982). Records of Naifeh's book also include photographs of all black and white and color plates from the published book. Among the writings are also notes and research files of Percy North, who worked on an update to Naifeh's 1982 bibliography after Davis's death.

Printed materials include annual reports of museums, published arts-related calendars, auction catalogs, brochures from organizations with which Davis had some affiliation, exhibition announcements and invitations, exhibition catalogs, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, newsletters, posters, press releases, and other published material. Photographs include personal photographs of Gene and Florence Davis and their families, portraits of Gene Davis, photographs of Gene Davis with artworks and working in the studio, Davis' art classes and students, installations of site-specific works, conceptual and video works, exhibition openings, and photographs of artwork, both installed in exhibitions and individually photographed. Found among the photographs are also four videocassettes documenting the Gene Davis retrospective as installed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in 1987.

Artwork includes photographs, drawings, moving images, and documentation of conceptual art. Works by Davis include documentation of the 1969 "Giveaway" with Douglas Davis and Ed McGowin, "The Artist's Fingerprints Except for One which belongs to someone else," documentation of his "Air Displacement" happening, a short film entitled "Patricia," and a video entitled "Video Puzzle." Other moving images include four reels of film of Davis's stripe paintings, and other experiments with motion picture film and photographs.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 8 series.

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1930-1987 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 1, 17)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1943-1990 (1.7 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)

Series 3: Interviews and Lectures, 1964-1983 (0.3 linear feet; Box 3)

Series 4: Business and Estate Records, 1942-1990 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 3-5, 17, OV 20)

Series 5: Writings, 1944-1990 (2 linear feet; Boxes 5-6, 17, OV 19)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1942-1990 (5.5 linear feet; Boxes 7-11, 17-18, OV 20, FC 35-37)

Series 7: Photographs, 1920-2000 (3.8 linear feet; Boxes 11-15, 17, OV 19)

Series 8: Artwork, 1930-1985 (2.2 linear feet; Boxes 15-16, 18, FC 21-34)
Biographical / Historical:
Gene Davis (1920-1985) was a Washington, D.C.-based artist and educator who worked in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, collage, video, light sculpture, and conceptual art. Davis is best known for his vertical stripe paintings and his association with the Washington Color School.

Davis was born in 1920 in Washington, D.C. and began his career as a writer. In his twenties he wrote pulp stories and worked as a journalist, reporting for United Press International and serving as a White House correspondent for Transradio Press Service during the Truman administration. Later, he worked in public relations for the Automobile Association of America. A self-taught artist, Davis began painting while still working full-time as a writer, influenced by the prevailing abstract expressionist artists of the time, his frequent visits to the Corcoran Gallery and Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and by his friend and mentor, Jacob Kainen. His first one-man show was held in the lobby of the Dupont Theater in Washington in 1952. He had a drawing accepted in the Corcoran Area Show in 1953, and won several local art prizes in the 1950s. He began showing work regularly in galleries around Washington, such as the Watkins Gallery at American University, the Gres Gallery, and the Henri Gallery, and had solo exhibitions at Jefferson Place Gallery in 1959 and 1961. Many of the painters who made up what became known as the Washington Color School also showed there, including Kenneth Noland, Howard Mehring, and Sam Gilliam. In 1965, the Washington Gallery of Modern Art held a seminal exhibition entitled Washington Color Painters, which included Davis, Noland, Mehring, Morris Louis, Thomas Downing, and Paul Reed.

Davis began showing outside of Washington regularly in the 1960s, including the Poindexter and Fischbach galleries in New York City, and in several important group shows at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He had three works shown in the 1964 exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction, organized by the influential art critic Clement Greenberg at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In the late 1960s, he began teaching art classes at the Corcoran School, and spent the summer of 1969 as artist in residence at Skidmore College's "Summer in Experiment" program.

Davis experimented with form continuously throughout his career, including a period of conceptual work in the late 1960s. In 1969 he participated in the "Giveaway," organized by Douglas Davis and Ed McGowin, in which multiple copies of a Davis painting were given away to invited guests in a gesture intended to subvert the art market. Davis also began experimenting with scale, creating a series of tiny paintings he called "Micro-paintings," which were exhibited at Fischbach Gallery in 1968. Around this time he also began working with film and video, recruiting models from his art classes to enact tightly choreographed movement pieces that played with rhythm and interval. Convinced by a lawyer that his videos were a liability without having obtained releases from the models, Davis destroyed all but one of his video works. The surviving video, "Video Puzzle," shows a foreshortened view of a model on the floor of a gallery spelling out a statement by Clement Greenberg at predetermined intervals.

Davis made several large-scale site-specific works using the stripe motif in public places. The first of these was created in the Bal Harbour, Florida, Neiman Marcus department store in 1970. Later works included Franklin's Footpath, executed in the road leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1972, and Niagara (1979) at ArtPark in Lewistown, NY, promoted at the time as the largest painting in the world. Interior large-scale works were created twice at the Corcoran Gallery, with Magic Circle (1975) and Ferris Wheel (1982), both executed in the museum's rotunda. Black Yo-Yo was created for the Cranbrook Academy in 1980, and Sun Sonata (1983), an illuminated wall of colored liquid-filled tubes, was created as an architectural feature of the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Virginia. Plans for an unexecuted work called "Grass Painting," for a site near the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., were exhibited in the 1974 "Art Now" festival.

In the late 1970s and 1980s Davis consistently exhibited his work in several solo gallery shows a year, and also had numerous solo exhibitions in major museums. A major exhibition, Recent Paintings, was organized by the Walker Art Center in 1978, and traveled to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1979. A drawing retrospective was held at the Brooklyn Museum of art in 1983, and the same year the Washington Project for the Arts organized an exhibition entitled Child and Man: A Collaboration, featuring drawings Davis made in response to childrens' drawings. Davis died suddenly in April 1985 at the age of 65, and a major retrospective of his work was held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in 1987.
Related Materials:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Gene Davis conducted by Estill Curtis Pennington on April 23, 1981. A transcript is available on the Archives of American Art website.
Provenance:
Donated 1981 by Gene Davis and 1986 by his wife, Florence. Additional material donated 1991 and 1993 from Smithsonian American Art Museum via a bequest to them from the Gene and Florence Davis estate. Much of the 1993 addition was assembled by art historian Percy North at the request of Florence Davis. An additional folder of photographs of Davis taken in 1969 but printed in 2000 was later added to the collection.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
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.
Occupation:
Reporters and reporting -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Video artists -- Washington, D.C.  Search this
Conceptual artists -- Washington, D.C  Search this
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Collagists -- Washington, D.C  Search this
Topic:
Color-field painting  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Photographs
Interviews
Video recordings
Citation:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.davigene
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw90a230f67-650f-483a-acdf-50b6ca91fe59
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-davigene
Online Media:

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