The papers of New York artist Lillian Kiesler and architect and sculptor Frederick Kiesler measure 49.1 linear feet and 0.001 GB and date from circa 1910s-2003, with the bulk of the material from 1958-2000. The collection documents their personal and professional lives and the legacy of Frederick Kiesler's work through biographical material, correspondence, legal, financial and business records, teaching files, exhibition and performance files, artwork, subject files, printed and digital material, writings and interviews, monographs, photographic material, and sound and video recordings. Also found are papers related to Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann and the papers of artist Alice Hodges.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of artist, performer, and arts educator Lillian Kiesler and sculptor, architect, set designer, educator, and writer Frederick Kiesler measure 49.1 linear feet and 0.001 GB and date from circa 1910s-2003, with the bulk of the material from 1958-2000. The collection documents their personal and professional lives and the legacy of Frederick Kiesler's work through biographical material, correspondence, legal, financial and business records, teaching files, exhibition and performance files, artwork, subject files, printed and digital material, writings and interviews, monographs, photographic material, and sound and video recordings. Also found are papers related to Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann and the papers of artist Alice Hodges.
The collection is arranged into two series: the Lillian Kiesler Papers (Series 1) and the Frederick Kiesler Papers (Series 2). Measuring 41.1 linear feet, the Lillian Kiesler Papers (Series 1) make up the bulk of the collection and document her personal life and professional career as an artist, actor, teacher, arts benefactor and promoter of Frederick Kiesler's legacy. The series spans her lifetime, although most of the material is dated after 1965. Among her papers are biographical materials, correspondence, legal and financial records, teaching files, exhibition and performance files, artwork, subject files, printed material, monographs, papers related to Frederick Kiesler and his legacy, papers of and related to Hans Hofmann, papers of Alice Hodges, photographic material, and sound and video recordings.
Found among Lillian Kiesler's personal papers are address books, numerous calendars and appointment books, and diaries and journals. Her correspondence is extensive and contains business correspondence with John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, and Erick Hawkins Dance Foundation, and personal letters and greeting cards from friends, family, artists, scholars, and researchers, including Etel Adnan, Alcopley, Fritz Bultman, Steve Buscemi, Mike Diamond, Burgoyne Diller, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Piero Dorazio, Jean Dubuffet, Jay Gottlieb, Erick Hawkins, Burgess Meredith, Henry Miller, James Purdy, and Herrel Thomas. Of interest is a letter from Harry Holtzman postmarked March 13, 1935 describing his initial meeting with Mondrian, and a letter from E.B. Gordon describing Henry Miller in Paris.
Materials related to Lillian Kiesler's estate and last wishes can also be found, as well as teaching plans, student work, and writings by Lillian Kiesler's mentor and friend, New York University professor Chandler Montgomery. Various printed material, correspondence, scripts, and rehearsal schedules from Lillian Kiesler's exhibitions and performances are also found, and among the directors, artists and writers represented are Jo Andres, Steve Buscemi, Cindy Lugar, Tim Miller and James Purdy. Artwork contains photographs by Bob Del Fredici, drawings by Piero Dorazio, and notes to Frederick Kiesler from Lillian Kiesler.
Subject files about artists, friends, colleagues, performances, and organizations in which she supported, such as the Anthology Film Archives, include printed materials and research materials. Signed exhibition catalogs of Loren MacIver, Dina Ghen, Lenore Tawney, and Toshiko Takaezu, and a reprint article inscribed by Alcopley can be found, as well as numerous inscribed monographs, including books inscribed by Max Weiler and Piero Dorazio, an inscribed first edition of Henry Miller's Black Spring (1936), and a 1937 monograph by Harry Holtzman titled American Abstract Artists.
Series 1 also includes materials related to her husband Frederick Kiesler, papers of and related to Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, and the personal papers of artist Alice Hodges. The Papers Related to Frederick Kiesler were primarily created or compiled by Lillian Kiesler and document her work on behalf of Frederick Kiesler's legacy. Of interest are letters from Frederick Kiesler to Lillian Kiesler and Alice Hodges; a bound volume of correspondence to Piero Dorazio; an inventory of objects in the Frederick Kiesler estate; photographs of artwork; an interview (sound recordings and transcript) with Lillian Kiesler about Frederick Kiesler for "Music of the Age," included on the tape is a portion of a Frederick Kiesler interview (1965); a recording of Lillian Kiesler interviewing Richard Kamler about Frederick Kiesler; and Frederick Kiesler's dialogue with Leo Castelli (undated).
Lillian Kiesler was a student of Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts, as well as an enthusiastic volunteer promoter and assistant to The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. The bulk of the papers of and related to Hans Hofmann were created or compiled by Lillian Kielser and are about Hofmann's career and legacy. However, also found are some papers of Hans Hofmann, including letters from Hofmann to Lillian Kiesler and Alice Hodges describing his artwork, life in Provincetown, and issues with The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, typed and handwritten lectures given by Hofmann, Hofmann's 1941 address to the American Abstract Artists (AAA), three boxes of card files on students of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York City and Provincetown, and photographs of Hofmann and his house in Provincetown taken by Wilfrid Zogbaum and Tom Milius.
The artist Alice Hodges (b. unknown-1965) was a close friend of Lillian Kiesler, a former secretary to Frederick Kiesler, and a student of Hans Hofmann. Included among her personal papers is some correspondence from Hans Hofmann and Katherine Drier and numerous postcards from Hodges and Lillian Kiesler's trip to Europe in 1950, posters and printed material from her exhibitions, an oversized scrapbook chronicling Lillian Kiesler's teaching career, records from the United States Treasury War Bond Art Auction in 1945, original artwork and greeting cards made by Hodges and Lillian Kiesler, and 31 rolled negative strips in metal canisters of Frederick Kiesler sculptures, Provincetown and Hans Hofmann, Wellfleet, Empire State Music Festival (1955), and travels to Colorado and Europe, some of which may be printed and found in this subseries.
Photographs found in the Lillian Kiesler Papers are mostly black and white and color snapshots of Lillian Kiesler's friends and family at events and at home, including candid photos of Hans Hofmann, Alice Hodges, Frederick Kiesler, and Alcopley. Slides prepared by Lillian Kiesler for a lecture on Frederick Kiesler and her lecture notes on index cards are found. Sound and video recordings include recordings of productions in which Lillian Kiesler performed, and music, film, or live stage performances written, directed, or performed by friends.
Measuring 7.1 linear feet, Frederick Kiesler's personal papers (Series 2) document his professional career and date from 1923-1992. Biographical materials include his curriculum vitae, four passports, and numerous appointment books and notes from late in his life. Correspondence with architects, publishers, editors, universities, museums, galleries, manufacturers, artists and friends includes letters from L. Alcopley, Leopold Arnaud, Armand P. Bartos, Piero and Virginia Dorazio, George Howe, Kay Johnson, Jane Owen, and others. There are also photocopied letters from Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, and Piet Mondrian. Business and financial records from the 1940s to mid-1960s comprise a significant bulk of this series and are primarily tax returns and receipts and statements used to file tax returns. Materials on the publication of "Inside the Endless House" (1966), the International Theatre Exposition (in German) in 1924 and other exhibits from shortly after his death are found, as well as student artwork and papers from Kiesler's classes in the mid-1950s. A bound copy of the "Bibliography of Writings of and About Frederick Kiesler" compiled by Lillian Kiesler is found, as well as printed material about Frederick Kiesler and a handful of photographs of artwork.
Users should note that Lillian Kiesler's and Frederick Kiesler's papers contain similar types of material that often overlap in subject matter, especially among the Papers Related to Frederick Kiesler (Subseries 1.10) in Series 1 and the Frederick Kiesler Papers (Series 2). This collection contains limited material related to Lillian Kiesler prior to the 1940s and Frederick Kiesler prior to his arrival in the United States in 1926.
The collection is arranged into two series. Each series is divided into several subseries, with the arrangement described in detail in the series descriptions.
Series 1: Lillian Kiesler papers, circa 1910s-2003 (Box 1-39, 47-52, OV 53-55; 41.1 linear feet, ER01; 0.001 GB)
Series 2: Frederick Kiesler papers, 1923-1992 (Box 40-46, OV 53; 7.1 linear feet)
Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965) was a sculptor, architect, set designer, educator, and writer active in New York and Connecticutt. Lillian Kiesler (1911-2001) was a performer, arts educator, and painter married to Frederick Kiesler. She was also active in the administration of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts.
Frederick Kiesler was born in Romania in 1890, although he gave various other dates for his birth and regularly cited Vienna as his birthplace. He arrived in the United States with his wife Steffi in 1926 for the International Theatre Exposition at Steinway Hall in New York City. They stayed in the United States and were granted citizenship in 1936.
Kiesler secured a teaching position at Columbia University's School of Architecture in 1930, and from 1934 through 1957 he was the scenic design director at The Juilliard School of Music. He also lectured at Yale University from 1950-1952. Often labeled a Surrealist, Kiesler's work was experimental and frequently described as ahead of its time. He published, lectured, and participated in numerous exhibitions throughout his career. He is known for his theory of "coreallism;" "The Space House" (1933), a full-scale model of a single family home; an installation designed for Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery in 1942; "The Endless House" drawings and model (1950); "The Universal Theatre" (1961) model; and the Shrine of the Book (1965), a building to exhibit the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem. He died in New York City in December 1965.
Lillian Olinsey met architect and sculptor Frederick Kiesler in 1934. After years of friendship, they were married in 1964, a year and a half before Frederick's death in 1965.
Lillian Kiesler studied art at the Art Students League, Cooper Union, and the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, where she also assisted Hofmann and the school administration. She taught art to children and young adults for twenty years in New York City. From 1945 to 1955, she taught at the Greenwich House Art workshops and the Woodward School, followed by the Brooklyn Museum (1948-1958), Barnard School (1953-1963), New York University School of Education (1955-1966), and Juilliard School of Visual Arts (1963-1965). Lillian was involved in the performing arts and between the late 1970s through the 1990s she performed in New York City with numerous directors, notably Jo Andres, Steve Buscemi, Richard Foreman, John Jesurun, Cindy Lubar, and Tim Miller. She frequently performed with her close friend, painter Maryette Charlton, who was the executor of the Lillian Kiesler estate.
Lillian Kiesler tirelessly promoted Frederick Kiesler's work and legacy after his death in 1965. From the late 1980s through the 1990s, she delivered lectures about his work at universities and museums, gave interviews, corresponded with researchers, and organized his papers to donate to the Harvard Theatre Collection, Yale School of Art and Architecture, and the Archives of American Art. In 1997, she helped found the Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Foundation in Vienna, Austria. She endowed the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize, an award given to a notable contributor to the field of architecture. The first recipient was Frank Gehry in 1998. Lillian Kiesler passed away in 2001 in New York City.
The holdings of the Archives of American Art include the Hans Hofmann Papers, 1904-1978 and the Maryette Charlton Papers, 1929-1998. Additional Frederick Kiesler papers are available at the Museum of Modern Art, the Harvard Theater Collection, and the Yale School of Art and Architecture.
Some of the materials related to Frederick Kiesler were initially loaned for microfilming on reels 57 and 127-128. This material is not described in the container listing of this finding aid. Most, but not all, of the loaned material was later donated and has been merged with the other accretions.
The collection was donated by Lillian Kiesler and Maryette Charlton, executrix of her estate, in several accessions between 1980-2002. Some of the papers related to Frederick Kiesler were originally loaned for microfilming in 1971, most of which was later donated in 1980. Additional papers related to Frederick Kiesler were donated in 1993. Papers related to Hans Hofmann were given in 1981. Lillian Kiesler's papers were donated in 2000 by Lillian Kiesler, and in 2002, by Maryette Charlton.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The papers of architectural historian, author, critic, teacher, and museum director, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, date from 1919-1987 and measure 24.8 linear feet. Almost all of the collection is comprised of Hitchcock's correspondence files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. Letters are from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators, and family and friends. Also found are two feet of writings by Hitchcock and others, scattered biographical information, printed material, and photographs of Hitchcock and architecture.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of architectural historian, author, critic, teacher, and museum director, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, date from 1919-1987 and measure 24.8 linear feet. Almost all of the collection is comprised of Hitchcock's correspondence files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. Letters are from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators, and family and friends. Also found are two feet of writings by Hitchcock and others, scattered biographical information, miscellaneous records, printed material, and photographs of Hitchcock and architecture.
Among the biographical documents are Hitchcock's birth certificate, passport, and wills. Awards, citations, honorary degrees and commendations are from the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture, National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Victorian Society in America.
Chronological name and subject files consist mostly of correspondence and printed material along with a small number of photographs. They include personal and professional correspondence and subject files relating to academic research, teaching, curatorial interests, and professional associations. The correspondence includes large numbers of letters from prominent architectural historians, architects, artists, preservationists, museum directors and curators. Also included are students, friends, relatives, publishers, and representatives of organizations and institutions. Among those of note are: Jere Abbott, Everett A. (Chick) Austin, Alfred H. Barr, Bernard Berenson, Eugene Berman, Leonid Berman, Lyonel Feininger, Henry (Harry) Sayles Francis, Brendan Gill, Robert Goldwater, George Howe, Philip C. Johnson, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Lincoln Kirstein, Thomas J. McCormick, Lewis Mumford, J.J.P. Oud, Erwin Panofsky, Nikolaus Pevsner, Kingsley Porter, Paul J. Sachs, R. M. Schindler, Vincent Scully, Jr., Theodore Sizer, E. Baldwin Smith, Peter van der Meulen Smith, James Soby, Victor Spark, Harold Sterner, John Summerson, Virgil Thomson, Paul Vanderbilt, Theo Van Doesburg, Helmut von Erffa, Gordon Washburn, Rudolf Wittkower, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Writings by Hitchcock consist of manuscripts and drafts of numerous published and unpublished articles, book chapters, and his masters thesis. Other writings by Hitchcock include lecture notes and texts, book reviews, notes, outlines, photo lists, and a bibliography. Among the other authors represented in this series are John Coolidge and Sir Wilfred Green.
Miscellaneous records consist of the alien registration card of Hitchcock's friend Peter van der Meulen Smith, architectural drawings by Hitchcock, book contracts, and a small number of receipts and invoices.
Printed material consists of articles about, by, or mentioning Henry-Russell Hitchcock, along with advertisements for his books, and postcards of architectural subjects.
Photographs are of architecture, art work, events, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects; also included are color slides, negatives, and transparencies. Architectural subjects include the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Gaudi, as well as interior and exterior views of buildings identified only by location. Photographs of people include Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Chick Austin and Ernestine Carter, Alexander Dorner, Tammy Grimes, Lincoln Kirstein, the Steinway family, and Edgar Tafel. Events recorded include the Society of Architectural Historians at the Newport Casino, Hitchcock receiving honorary degrees at the University of Glasgow and Wesleyan University, and a high tea sponsored by the Victorian Society in America. Family houses and views of Greece are among the photographs of places. Miscellaneous subjects include exhibition installations and family heirlooms.
The collection is arranged as 6 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1922-1984 (Box 1; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 2: Chronological Name and Subject Files, 1919-1987 (Boxes 1-22; 21.9 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings, 1922-circa 1978 (Boxes 23-24; 2.0 linear ft.)
Series 4: Miscellaneous Records, 1928-1977 (Box 25; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1922-1984 (Boxes 25-26; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1926-1979 (Box 26; 0.3 linear ft.)
Henry-Russell Hitchcock, considered the "father" of modern architectural historiography, played a major role in bringing modern architecture to the United States. As an eminent professor for more than forty years, Hitchcock trained and influenced several generations of scholars and critics. He combined a love of architecture with criticism and scholarship to produce a large number of distinguished monographs and articles on a broad range of styles and periods.
Born in Boston in 1903, Henry-Russell Hitchcock was the son of Mayflower descendants. At Harvard University, he studied medieval history with A. Kingsly Porter as his mentor and completed the undergraduate curriculum in three years. Hitchcock spent his senior year studying architecture, graduated in 1924, and stayed to study for a master's degree, which was awarded in 1927. During his years at Harvard, he wrote for Hound and Horn and knew Alfred Barr, T. S. Eliot, Philip Johnson, Lincoln Kirstein, Virgil Thomson, and others who became leaders in the modernist movement.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock's teaching career began when he was appointed an assistant professor at Vassar College for the academic year 1927-28. In 1929, he joined the faculty of Wesleyan University, where he remained for two decades before moving to Smith College in 1949. During his tenures at Wesleyan and Smith, his services as a visiting lecturer were employed on many occasions by Cambridge University, Connecticut College, Harvard University, the Institute of Fine Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. Upon retiring from Smith College in 1968, Hitchcock moved to New York City and taught briefly at Columbia University, the Institute of Fine Arts, and the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst.
Best known as a proponent of modernism, Hitchcock wrote more than two dozen books about a wide range of styles and periods, and most are considered standard works on their subjects. His first, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, appeared in 1929 and was the first book on the subject to be published in English; his final book, German Renaissance Architecture, was published in 1981.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock served as director of the Smith College Museum between 1949 and 1955. In addition, he was curator of several exhibitions, the first and most important of which was Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, organized in collaboration with Philip C. Johnson and held at the Museum of Modern Art. Their book, The International Style: Architecture Since 1922, was published in 1932 in conjunction with the exhibition.
During World War II, Hitchcock's civilian service included working as director of the U. S. Navy's Photographic Library and writing Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine manuals.
Henry-Russell Hitchcock was an active member of many professional associations. He served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians from 1952 to 1954. In addition, he was a founding member of The Victorian Society in Great Britain, and between 1969 and 1974 was president of its sister organization, The Victorian Society in America.
During his long and illustrious career, Henry-Russell Hitchcock won many awards and honors. Awards for Early Victorian Architecture in Britain and Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries were conferred by the Society of Architectural Historians (1955) and College Art Association (1960), respectively. Hitchcock received the Royal Society of Arts Medal for Best Lecture (1956) and its Benjamin Franklin Medal (1970), in addition to the American Institute of Architects' Architectural Critics' Medal (1970). Other awards include: National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1956), American Council of Learned Societies Prize for Distinguished Accomplishment in Humanistic Scholarship (1961), Friends of Cast-Iron Architecture Certificate of Commendation (1978), the American Institute of Architects Award of Merit (1978), and Municipal Art Society Certificate of Merit (1978).
He received honorary degrees from Glasgow University and the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, and in 1979 from Wesleyan University. In Search of Modern Architecture: A Tribute to Henry-Russell Hitchcock, edited by Helen Searing, was published by The Architectural History Foundation in 1982.
Due to declining health, Henry-Russell Hitchcock lectured rarely and wrote little in the three years preceding his death from cancer. He died in New York City, February 19, 1987.
The Archives of American Art also holds Henry-Russell Hitchcock letters to Dorothy Stroud and John N. Summerson, 1946-1949. Additional Henry-Russell Hitchcock papers (circa 8 linear feet) are in the Special Collections division of Wesleyan University Library.
Mosette Broderick, assistant to Hitchcock and his literary executor, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1988.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
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