An interview of Sidney Gordin conducted 1965 Sept. 2, by Dorothy Seckler, for the Archives of American Art.
Gordin speaks of immigrating to the United States from Shanghai, China in 1922; being the class artist in grade school; attending Brooklyn Technical High School; studying at the WPA art school at the Brooklyn Museum for a summer; attending the Cooper Union School of Art; encountering Cubism; working as a commercial artist and making cartoons; teaching at the Pratt Institute; and alternating, as inspiration strikes, between painting and sculpture; and Constructivist philosophy. Gordin also mentions Ralph Rosenborg, Tom Eldred, Carol and Wallace Harrison, Edward Alden Jewell, Pablo Picasso, Byron Thomas, Morris Kantor, Hans Hofmann, Paul Clay, Jackson Pollock, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Sidney Gordin (1918-1996) was a sculptor and educator from Berkeley, Calif.
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 1 min.
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.
Art teachers -- California -- Berkeley -- Interviews Search this
The processed material in this collection concerns work before 1955. Included are field notebooks, printed material, drafts of manuscripts, notes, catographic material, drawings, photograhs, writings, historical documents, and copies of United States government documents. Incorporated are notes (often comments and suggestion regarding Drucker's work) by Alfred Louis Kroeber, photographs of Nootka by R. Maynard, copies of papers by William Beynon and Viola Garfield, a catalog of an Alaskan Collection of Edward G. Fast, a field notebook relating to the British Columbia coast archeology survey by Richard King Beardsley, notes on Alsea by John Albert, and miscellaneous papers of various authors concerning Micronesia. The latter includes material by Harry K. Uyeharan on Angaur clan organization, J.E. Tobin on the Bikini, and George E. Thompson on education in American Samoa.
Scope and Contents:
These papers reflect the professional life of Dr. Philip Drucker (1911-1982), Assistant Curator for the U. S. National Museum, Ethnologist and Anthropologist for the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE), Staff Anthropologist in the U. S. Navy, farmer, and professor at the Universities of Kentucky, Colorado, and Baylor. Included are notes and fieldnotes from his expeditions into the American Northwest, MesoAmerica, and Oceania, correspondence sent and received by Drucker, drafts and notes of some of his works, element lists, newspapers and newsletters he collected, papers and materials from others in the field, class notes and exams from his years of teaching, photographs, and maps.
Of primary concern are the materials dealing with the Northwest Coast, which contain his most detailed notes. Dr. Drucker was considered to be one of the foremost experts in that region. There is also considerable photographic material on MesoAmerica, the majority of which remains unprocessed. Also included are materials dealing with Southern California, South America, and Oceania.
Correspondents include Margaret Blackman, Joanna Chisholm, William Beynon, John Fox, E. Gartly Jaco, Elizabeth Tooker, Margaret Lantis, Joseph P. Benson, Kenneth Ames, Vera Rubin, Charles M. Tolbert, Robert E. Quirk, James R. Glenn, and Ward H. Goodenough.
The Drucker Papers also include notes, exams, and assignments from his classes as well as a number of papers dealing with topics not directly related to the main series. There are many photographs of the Northwest Coast and MesoAmerica, and a few maps from each of the main regions in which Drucker worked.
(1) Northwest Coast native brotherhoods; (2) Northwest Coast Nootkan tribes; (3) Northwest Coast miscellaneous ethnology (on the Bellabella, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Bellacoola, Wikeno, Haida, Haisla, Xaihais, and Heiltsuk); (4) Northwwest Coast archeology; (5) Northwest Coast cultural element distribution; (6) Oregon Coast and Northern California (including material on the Coos, Alsea, Clckamas, Tolowa, Karuk, Chinook, Karok, and Yurok; (7) southern California (including material on the Diegueno, Akwa'ala, Yaqui, Papago, Luiseno); (8) southwest Yuman-Piman tribes; (9) miscellaneous North American ethnology; (10) Mesoamerican archeology; (11) Micronesia (including material on Kili, Likiep, Jaliut, Ebon, Angaur, and other islands); (12) unprocessed material
Chronology of the Life of Philip Drucker
January 13, 1911 -- Born in Chicago, Illinois
1927 -- Began degree program in Animal Husbandry at Colorado Agricultural College
1929 -- Changed to Liberal Arts program at Colorado College
Summer 1930 -- Field School in Archaeology with the University of New Mexico
1930 -- Began Anthropology Degree at the University of California, Berkeley
1932 -- A. B. Degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley
1933 -- Teaching Fellowship, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
1934-1935 -- Social Science Research (SSRC) pre-doctoral fellowship "Study of Nootkan Indians"
1936 -- Ethnographic Survey of Northwest Coast for the University of California Program in "Cultural Element Distribution" Ph. D. In Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
1938-1939 -- National Research Council (NRC) post-doctoral fellowship(Archaeological Survey of the Northwest Coast)
1940 -- Assistant Curator, United States National Museum (transferred to Bureau of American Ethnology)
1941-1942 -- Olmec Field Trips
1942 -- Commissioned Lt. (Jg) (Line) USNR; active duty
December 1945 -- Released from active duty Ethnologist, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution
October 1948 -- Ordered to active duty, LCdr, USNR. Staff Anthropologist, Staff of Deputy High Commissioner, Trust Territory Of the Pacific Islands (Micronesia)
January 1952 -- Released from active duty Anthropologist for BAE
December 1955 -- Resigned BAE
1955-1966 -- Married Rosario and had two children, Felipe and Rosario Self-employed, farming operation, Vera Cruz, Mexico
October 1966 -- Sold farm and moved to San Andes Tuxtla, Vera Cruz
Spring 1967 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
Summer 1968 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado
1968-1969 -- Visiting professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
1969-1978 -- Professor of Anthropology, University of Kentucky
June 1978 -- Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky
1978-1979 -- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Baylor University
1979—? -- Senior Scientist (Ethnography), Kentucky Longevity Study Project, University of Kentucky
These materials were left by Drucker in his office at the Bureau of American Ethnology when he resigned in December, 1955, and were deposited in the Bureau of American Ethnology Archives ca. 1956 By M. W. Stirling, Chief, Bureau of American Ethnology.
Manuscript 4516 is open for research.
Access to Manuscript 4516 requires an appointment.
The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz measure 31.5 linear feet and 0.696 GB and date from 1929 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz's long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists' research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed and digital materials, and nine scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz measure 31.5 linear feet and 0.696 GB and date from 1929 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz's long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists' research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed and digital materials, and scrapbooks.
Correspondence is with colleagues, artists, museums, and galleries concerning a wide variety of topics, including exhibitions and publications. The bulk of the correspondence consists of alphabetical files (two linear feet) that includes correspondence with artists. Notable correspondents include Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Gordon Onslow Ford, Alberto Giacometti, Morris Graves, Philip Guston, Dimitri Hadzi, Jacques Lipchitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and others. Eight additional files of chronological correspondence is with curators, arts organizations, and publishers. Additional correspondence is found in the professional files, project files, membership files, artists' research files, and exhibition files.
The bulk of the writings series is comprised of files related to Selz's books and includes typescript drafts and galleys, printed and digital material, correspondence, and publishing contracts. Files are found for Art in Our Times, Art of Engagement, Beyond the Mainstream, and Theories of Modern Art. Other writings consist of drafts of articles, essays, notes, and lectures by Selz. Also included are writings by others, including materials related to Paul Karlstrom's biography of Selz.
Professional files document curatorial and teaching positions at the Chicago Institute of Design, Pomona College, University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of Modern Art. The series includes contracts, recommendations, syllabi, and correspondence.
Project files document Selz's professional work on specific art projects, panels, and symposiums. There is extensive documentation of Selz's work as project director of Christo's Running Fence, as well as other environmental art work projects by Christo, the Berkeley Art Project, Disney Art Project, "Funk Art" symposium, and the "Art and Politics in the 20th Century" symposium. Project files contain a wide variety of materials, such as correspondence, printed material, financial records, reports, photographs, and other documents. There are 2 tape reels, 1 VHS, and 1 sound cassette.
Membership and association records document Selz's involvement with or membership in various art councils, trustee boards, such as the College Art Association, Art in Chicago Advisory Committee, Bay Area Rapid Transit (B.A.R.T.) Art Council, and the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum Advisory Board, among others. Materials include meeting minutes, bulletins, correspondence, and memoranda.
Artists' Research Files consist of a wide variety of research materials Selz compiled about artists for lectures, writings, projects, exhibitions, etc. Files vary and may include original and photocopied correspondence, photographic material, resumes, printed and digital material, and writings. There is also 1 sound cassette. Files are found for Bedri Baykam, Max Beckmann, Fletcher Benton, Ciel Bergman, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Bruce Conner, Jean Dubuffet, Lyonel Feininger, Leon Golub, Dimitri Hadzi, Rico Lebrun, Harold Paris, Irving Petlin, among many others.
Exhibition files include catalogs, reviews, clippings, writings, correspondence, and other material documenting exhibitions organized by Selz. Limited materials are found for the MOMA Art Nouveau exhibition. More extensive documentation is found for Seven Decades of Modern Art, 1895-1965, The Joint Show (1967), The American Presidency in Political Cartoons (1976), American Modern Art Between the Two World Wars (1979), German Realism in the Twenties: Artist As Social Critic (1980), Twelve Artists from the German Democratic Republic (1989), a Richard Lindner Retrospective (1996), Spaces of Nature (1999), Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000 (2000), and a Nathan Oliviera Retrospective (2002), among others. Some of the materials are in digital format.
Personal business records are related to the Mark Rothko estate and Kate Rothko's legal case against Marlborough Gallery, Inc. Also included in this series are Peter Selz's school transcripts, bequests, royalty statements, house designs, and other material.
Printed materials include clippings, prints of articles written by Peter Selz, exhibition announcements and invitations, and photocopies of artwork images.
There are nine disbound scrapbooks dating from the 1940s up through 2012 containing clippings, exhibition announcements, and photographs of art events, Selz, and artists. This series also includes materials from the 2018 addition that may have previously been compiled in binders.
This collection is arranged as 10 series. When possible the original order of Peter Selz was maintained. However, multiple accessions were merged and integrated.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-2013 (2.3 linear feet; Box 1-3, Box 37)
Series 2: Writings, 1942- circa 2014 (8.3 linear feet; Box 3-10, OV 32, Box 37, 0.035 GB; ER01, ER12)
Series 3: Professional Files, 1949-2012 (1 linear feet; Box 11, Box 37)
Series 4: Project Files, 1962-2015 (2.8 linear feet; Box 12-14, OV 33, Box 37)
Series 5: Membership and Association Records, 1958-2014 (1.1 linear feet; Box 14-15, Box 37)
Series 6: Artists' Research Files, 1955-2014 (7.9 linear feet; Box 15-22, OV 34-35, 0.520 GB; ER02-ER08)
Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1959-2014 (5.2 linear feet; Box 23-27, Box 38, 0.093 GB; ER09-ER11)
Series 8: Personal Business Records, 1929-2014 (1.2 linear feet; Box 28-29, OV 36, Box 38)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1957-2014 (0.3 linear feet; Box 29, Box 38)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1947-2018 (1.4 linear feet, Box 29-31, Box 38)
Biographical / Historical:
Peter Howard Selz (1919-2019) was a pioneering historian of modern art, professor, and writer who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-1988 and founded and directed the Berkeley Art Museum from 1965-1973.
Selz was born in 1919 in Munich, Germany to Eugene Selz and Edith Drey Selz. In 1936, the family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to the United States. Selz attended Columbia University from 1937 to 1938 and became a naturalized citizen in 1942. During World War II, Selz served in the U.S. Army in the Office of Strategic Services. He married writer Thalia Cheronis in 1948 but they later divorced in 1965; he married several times afterwards.
After the war, Selz attended and taught at the University of Chicago where he received a Ph. D. in German Expressionism. He spent a year in Paris, 1949-1950, at the Sorbonne and École du Louvre on a Fulbright grant. He received a second Fulbright grant in 1953 to study at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Belgium. From 1953-1955, Selz also taught at the Chicago Institute of Design.
In 1955 Peter Selz accepted a position to chair the art history department at Pomona College in Claremont and relocated to California for a few years. He also became director of the college's art gallery.
In 1958 Selz moved to New York City to become curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art and was there through the transformative mid-1960s. While at MOMA, he organized several significant exhibitions of modern art, including the 1960 Jean Tinguely "Homage to New York," a sculpture that destroyed itself (and started a fire) in the sculpture garden of the museum; New Images of Man (1959), the Art Nouveau show (1960), and the Art of Assemblage (1961). He also launched important retrospectives, including the first Rodin retrospective in the United States and a comprehensive exhibition of Alberto Giacometti's work in 1965.
In 1965, Peter Selz returned to California to become the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California, Berkeley, a position he held until 1973. He organized exhibitions of Funk, film, and ceramicists like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. Peter Selz later became project director for Christo's "Running Fence", the 24.5-mile long fabric fence over the Marin County hills in 1976. He also served concurrently as a professor of art history at UC until retiring in 1988.
Peter Selz was a member of the College Art Association's board of directors for two terms, 1958-1964 and 1966-1971. Selz is a prolific writer, and the author or co-author of numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and articles. Notable books include German Expressionist Painting (1957), Art in a Turbulent Era (1965), Art in Our Times (1981), and Sam Francis (1975).
In 1988 Peter Selz was named emeritus professor at University of California, Berkeley. In 1993 he was on the acquisitions committee of the Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco. In 2012, Selz curated The Painted Word exhibition. Selz died in 2019 in Albany, California.
The Archives of American Art also holds oral history interviews of Peter Selz conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom on July 28, 1982, October 12, 1982, and November 3, 1999.
The Peter Howard Selz papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Peter Selz in multiple installments from 1976 through 2014. Additional papers were donated in 2018 by Gabrielle Selz, Peter Selz's daughter.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copies requires advance notice.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; supported by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and by the Marc Pachter Commissioning Fund as part of the first prize, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009