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René d'Harnoncourt papers

Creator:
D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968  Search this
Names:
American Federation of Arts  Search this
Art in America  Search this
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Sarah Lawrence College -- Faculty  Search this
United States. Indian Arts and Crafts Board  Search this
Alvarez Bravo, Manuel, 1902-  Search this
Covarrubias, Miguel, 1904-1957  Search this
Durieux, Caroline, 1896-1989  Search this
Fosado, Víctor  Search this
Klumb, Henry, 1905-1984  Search this
Marriott, Alice  Search this
Tantaquidgeon, Gladys Iola  Search this
d'Harnoncourt, Sarah  Search this
Extent:
2.4 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Drawings
Place:
Mexico -- description and travel
Date:
1921-1983
Summary:
The papers of Austrian born curator, lecturer, and museum director, René d'Harnoncourt (1901-1968), document d'Harnoncourt's activities, primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly as they relate to Mexican and Native American art. D'Harnoncourt's career, including his arrival in Mexico in 1925, his curation of the exhibitions, Mexican Art (1930-1932), and Indian Art of the United States (1941), and his work for the Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board from 1937-1944, are documented in small amounts of biographical material and correspondence, published writings, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs of d'Harnoncourt and colleagues, and photographs of works of art. The collection also contains a drawing of d'Harnoncourt, and photocopies of caricatures of d'Harnoncourt and others.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Austrian-American curator, lecturer, and museum director, René d'Harnoncourt (1901-1968), document d'Harnoncourt's activities, primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly as they relate to Mexican and Native American art. D'Harnoncourt's career, including his arrival in Mexico in 1925, his curation of the exhibitions, Mexican Art (1930-1932), and Indian Art of the United States (1941), and his work for the Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board from 1937-1944, are documented in small amounts of biographical material and correspondence, published writings, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs of d'Harnoncourt and colleagues, and photographs of works of art. The collection also contains a drawing of d'Harnoncourt, and photocopies of caricatures of d'Harnoncourt and others.

Biographical material consists of d'Harnoncourt's official Austrian departure documents for his travel to Mexico in 1925; pages of an appointment book from 1932; and notes on d'Harnoncourt's career that index publications in which he is mentioned amongst other things, prepared by Sarah d'Harnoncourt.

Correspondence and memoranda relate primarily to the Mexican Arts exhibition, (1930-1932) sponsored by the American Federation of Arts; the "Art in America" radio program, organized by the American Federation of Arts with the cooperation of the Museum of Modern Art; d'Harnoncourt's part time teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville; and his appointment as General Manager of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Later correspondence references research on d'Harnoncourt's work for the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and includes information on d'Harnoncourt, provided in response to inquiries about him.

Writings by d'Harnoncourt include published articles on Mexican and Indian arts and crafts, a 1969 reprint of d'Harnoncourt's and Frederic H. Douglas's expanded version of the catalog for Indian Art of the United States, a foreword, and two seminar/symposium papers. Unpublished writings comprise two typescripts. The series also includes several writings by others.

Printed material includes announcements and exhibition catalogs, documentation of the "Art in America Program," published books belonging to and/or referencing d'Harnoncourt, Department of Interior publications, including some issued by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Museum of Modern art press releases, news clippings relating to d'Harnoncourt and his activities, and miscellaneous printed material.

Additional clippings from a dismantled scrapbook(s) document the Mexican Arts exhibition.

Artwork and artifacts include one original sketch in colored pencil of d'Harnoncourt by Austrian artist, Silverbauer, photocopies of caricatures and doodles by d'Harnoncourt, Miguel Covarrubias, and Caroline Durieux, and two Indian Arts and Crafts Board weaving samples.

Photographs are of d'Harnoncourt, Sarah d'Harnoncourt, and friends and colleagues. They include a photograph of d'Harnoncourt by Manuel Alvarez-Bravo; snapshots of others including Fred Davis; Sarah d'Harnoncourt and folk art specialist, Victor Fosado; fellow Indian Arts and Crafts Board members, architect Henry Klumb, Alice Marriot, and anthropologist, author, and tribal council member, Gladys Tantaquidgeon. Also found are three photographs of Mexican Art exhibition installations; fourteen photographs of Native Americans; three photographs showing covers and/or fronts pieces of d'Harnoncourts books Beast, Bird and Fish, Mexicana, The Hole in the Wall, and The Painted Pig; and photographs of artwork included in the Mexican Art exhibition and an exhibition of Australian Aboriginal Cave Paintings (1947).
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as seven series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1925-circa 1978 (5 folders; Box 1)

Series 2: Correspondence and Memoranda, 1929-1981 (5 folders; Box 1)

Series 3: Writings, 1928-circa 1970s (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, OV 4)

Series 4: Printed Material, 1921-1979 (1.1 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, OV 4)

Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1930-1933 (0.3 linear feet; Box 2)

Series 6: Artwork and Artifacts, circa 1926-circa 1950s (3 folders; Box 3)

Series 7: Photographs, 1930-1983 (0.25 linear feet; Box 3, OV 4)
Biographical / Historical:
Austrian born curator, lecturer, and museum director, René d'Harnoncourt (1901-1968), was an authority on Native American art and Mexican arts and crafts. He curated and toured with a traveling exhibition, Mexican Art, from 1930-1932, guest curated the exhibition, Indian Art of the United States, for the Museum of Modern Art in 1941, served on the Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board from 1937-1944, and was Director of the Museum of Modern Art from 1949-1968.

D'Harnoncourt was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1901. He left Austria for Mexico in 1925, and began working for American, Frederick Davis, who owned a shop that sold Mexican antiquities and folk art in Mexico City. At this time, d'Harnoncourt made many important connections, including meeting American Ambassador to Mexico, Dwight Morrow, and his wife, Elizabeth Morrow. D'Harnoncourt illustrated several books in the early 1930s, including The Painted Pig (1930) and Beast, Bird and Fish (1933), both written by Elizabeth Morrow, and The Hole in the Wall (1931) and Mexicana: A Book of Pictures (1931). According to Sarah d'Harnoncourt, her husband considered himself an amateur in the field of book illustration, which he enjoyed as a means of self-amusement.

In 1929, d'Harnoncourt was asked to curate an extensive exhibition of Mexican art to travel to major cities in the United States, sponsored by the American Federation of Arts. D'Harnoncourt toured with this exhibition, Mexican Art, for two years, beginning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in October, 1930.

D'Harnoncourt visited Austria briefly in 1932, then returned to the United States in 1933 and married Sarah Carr the same year. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1939.

Between 1933 and 1944, d'Harnoncourt directed the radio program "Art in America," organized by the American Federation of Arts in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art. He also taught art history at Sarah Lawrence College from 1934-1937. In 1936 he began working for the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the Department of the Interior, becoming General Manager in 1937, and the Board's Chairman in 1944. As General Manager he curated an exhibition on Indian art for the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939, and installed an expanded version of the exhibition, Indian Art of the United States, as guest curator for the Museum of Modern Art in 1940-1941.

In 1944, d'Harnoncourt joined the Museum of Modern Art as Vice President in charge of Foreign Activities, focusing his work on Latin America, and as Director of the Department of Manual Industries, responsible for the preservation of Native American art and culture. In 1949 he was appointed Director of the Museum of Modern Art, and served in this capacity until his death in an automobile accident in 1968.
Related Materials:
An oral history of René d'Harnoncourt, interviewed by Isabel Grossner in 1968, can be found at Columbia University, Oral History Research Office, 801 Butler Library, 535 West 114 Street, New York, NY 10027.
Separated Materials:
The bulk of René d'Harnoncourt's papers are in the Museum Archives of the Museum of Modern Art. The Museum's 59.25 linear feet document, in particular, d'Harnoncourt's years with the Museum from 1944-1968. That collection also includes papers donated by Sarah d'Harnoncourt which relate to d'Harnoncourt's time in Mexico, from 1925-1932, and his work in the United States from 1933-1944. While these holdings may overlap occasionally with the papers in the Archives of American Art (some items at the Archives of American Art, for instance, may be photocopies of originals at the Museum), the bulk of the Archives' d'Harnoncourt papers appear to be distinct from those at the Museum.

The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 2919-2931) including papers generated by d'Harnoncourt during his professional affiliation with the Museum of Modern Art, such as, personal files, three appointment notebooks, professional files including Latin American correspondence, exhibition files, files documenting outside affiliations, and departmental and special event files. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
D'Harnoncourt's widow, Sarah d'Harnoncourt, donated the René d'Harnoncourt papers to the Archives of American Art in 1975, 1981, and 1984. An additional eleven linear feet of material was lent by the Museum of Modern Art's for microfilming in 1983.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
Reels 2919-2931: Authorization to publish requires written permission from Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. MoMA requires full citation to include microfilm reel and frame numbers, and reference to MoMA as the owner of the Rene d'Harnoncourt papers. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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 museums -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art museum directors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art, Mexican  Search this
Art, Aboriginal Australian  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Latino and Latin American artists  Search this
Indian art -- Exhibitions  Search this
Cave paintings -- Austrailia  Search this
Curators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art, Latin American  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Drawings
Citation:
René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.dharrene
See more items in:
René d'Harnoncourt papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-dharrene
Online Media:

Printed Material

Collection Creator:
D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968  Search this
Extent:
1.1 Linear feet (Boxes 1-2, OV 4)
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1921-1979
Scope and Contents:
Series includes announcements and exhibition catalogs, documentation of the "Art in America Program," published books belonging to and/or referencing d'Harnoncourt, Department of Interior publications, including some issued by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Museum of Modern art press releases, and news clippings primarily relating to exhibitions and other events in which d'Harnoncourt was involved.

Announcements and exhibition catalogs include catalogs for Las Exposicion de Artes Mexicanas (Carnegie Corporation, 1930); Mexican Arts (The American Federation of Arts, 1930-1931); Aboriginal Culture of the Western Hemisphere (Treasure Island, San Franscisco, 1940); American Indian Art (Worcester Art Museum, 1941), El Arte Indígena de Norteamérica (1945) with an introduction by d'Harnoncourt; and Australian Aboriginal Cave Paintings (Australia House, 1947).

Material relating to the "Art in America" program includes issues 1-3, and 5-14 of Art In America News; d'Harnoncourt's annotated copy of Art in America from 1600-1865: An Illustrated Guide for a National Radio Broadcast From February 3 to May 19, 1934 (University of Chicago Press, 1934); a schedule of the program; a transcript of a radio broadcast for the program on November 10, 1934; and a draft of a 1935 report on the program.

Books belonging to d'Harnoncourt and/or Sarah d'Harnoncourt include: Return Ticket inscribed to d'Harnoncourt by author Salvador Novo in a presentation box; and three books in which d'Harnoncourt and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board are referenced, including From Every Zenith: A Memoir (1963); The Indian: America's Unfinished Business (1966); and Dance Around the Sun (1977). Also found are four publications that were used in the exhibition Mexican Arts to demonstrate the quality of typography: Metodo d Dibujo Tradicion Resurgimiento y Evolucion d el Arte Mexican (1923), Antologia De La Poesia Mexicana Moderna (1928), Escalera (Tocata y Fuga) (1929), and El Nuevo Paraiso (circa 1930).

Book covers include the cover of Volume 1 of two volumes issued in connection with the exhibition Las Artes Populares en Mexico, a catalog which d'Harnoncourt apparently consulted regularly, for an exhibition which Sarah d'Harnoncourt stated was the "ancestor" of Mexican Arts; and the illustrated cover, and pages from, Domingos Mexicanos (or Mexican Sundays), a published collection of reproductions of watercolors by René d'Harnoncourt, published by Fred Davis. Publications of the Bureau/Office of Indian Affairs include eight issues of the publication Indians at Work and five pamphlets on Native Americans by region.

Publications of the Department of the Interior Indian Arts and Crafts Board include Bibliography of Articles and Papers on North American Indian Art, compiled by students in d'Harnoncourt's class at Sarah Lawrence College; two pamphlets and seven Fact Sheets, one of which is accompanied by a note of transmittal from Pearl Moeller of the Museum of Modern Art stating how "René battled long and hard for the trademarks, and certification, and the publications, so it's rewarding to see it in print," referring to free pamphlets that are mentioned in a 1978 Fact Sheet; and eight issues of Smoke Signals, the "circular for Indian artists and craftsmen," including the first issue (1951).

One folder relates to Fred Davis's collection. It includes a 1951 catalog of the collection, and a 1957 issue of Mexico This Month, with an article about Davis's collection, and copies of several advertisements for his store.

Government legislation includes a copy of the Act of Congress establishing the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and a regulation governing the use of "Government trademarks of genuineness for Indian products."

News clippings are primarily from newspapers and magazines and relate to art exhibitions and other events in which d'Harnoncourt was involved, as well as related events and people.

Miscellaneous printed material includes resolutions 16, 41, 43, 45, 52, 73, 88, 93, and 96 of the Papago Council; d'Harnoncourt's copy of Pageant of the Pacific by Miguel Covarrubias (1940); two reports by the Division of Inter-American Activities in the United States; a catalog, Celebrate: The Story of the Museum of International Folk Art (Museum of New Mexico Press,1979); and an undated copy of a poem.

Museum of Modern Art press releases, 1934-1935, relate to the "Art in America Program"; press releases from 1941 relate to the opening of Indian Art of the United States exhibition.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Collection Rights:
Reels 2919-2931: Authorization to publish requires written permission from Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. MoMA requires full citation to include microfilm reel and frame numbers, and reference to MoMA as the owner of the Rene d'Harnoncourt papers. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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.
Collection Citation:
René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.dharrene, Series 4
See more items in:
René d'Harnoncourt papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-dharrene-ref3

Book: Indian Art of the United States (Museum of Modern Art, 1941, 1969 reprint) by Frederic H. Douglas and René d'Harnoncourt

Collection Creator:
D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 19
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1969
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Collection Rights:
Reels 2919-2931: Authorization to publish requires written permission from Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. MoMA requires full citation to include microfilm reel and frame numbers, and reference to MoMA as the owner of the Rene d'Harnoncourt papers. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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.
Collection Citation:
René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
René d'Harnoncourt papers
René d'Harnoncourt papers / Series 3: Writings / Published Writings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-dharrene-ref33

Writings

Collection Creator:
D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968  Search this
Extent:
0.4 Linear feet (Box 1, OV 4)
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1928-circa 1970s
Scope and Contents:
Published articles include "Pancho el Juguetero" ("Pancho the Toy Maker") (1928) and "Las Artes Populares de México" (1930), both published in rare editions of Mexican Folkways, the latter including a cover; "The Mexican Exhibition" (Design, 1930); "The Loan Exhibition of Mexican Arts" (Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 1930); "Exposición de Artes Mexicanas" (Boletín de la Unión Panamericana, 1931); "Art and the People: First Steps of Approach" (The American Magazine of Art, 1933); "North American Indian Arts" (Magazine of Art, 1939); "Living Arts of the Indians" (Magazine of Art, 1941); "American Indian Art" (Studio, 1944); and "Arte Indio de Norte America," Parts 1 and 2, written with Frederic H. Douglas (Forma: Revisita de Arte, 1943).

Also found here is the 1969 reprint of the expanded catalog for Indian Art of the United States (Museum of Modern Art, 1969), that d'Harnoncourt co-authored with Frederic H. Douglas; a photocopy of a foreword to Music of the Sioux and the Navajo (1953); a catalog written by d'Harnoncourt for the National Indian Institute, El Arte del Indio en los Estados Unidos (1943); and copies of two books of seminars/symposia, The Changing Indian (University of Oklahoma Press, 1942) and The North American Indian Today (University of Toronto Press, 1943) that both include papers by d'Harnoncourt: "Indian Arts and Crafts and their Place in the Modern World," and "Function and Production of Indian Art."

Typescripts are a foreword by d'Harnoncourt to Mexican Constume: Twenty-five Color Plates and Text by Carlos Merida (1941), and remarks on the subject of "Problems and Promise of Indian Arts and Crafts" (1958).

Writings by others include a draft (numbered #3) of "Ethnohistory of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the Department of the Interior" by Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin; a typescript of a paragraph from File on Spratling: An Autobiography by William Spratling; and a typescript of paragraphs from The Daybooks of Edward Weston that relate to d'Harnoncourt.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Collection Rights:
Reels 2919-2931: Authorization to publish requires written permission from Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. MoMA requires full citation to include microfilm reel and frame numbers, and reference to MoMA as the owner of the Rene d'Harnoncourt papers. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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.
Collection Citation:
René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.dharrene, Series 3
See more items in:
René d'Harnoncourt papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-dharrene-ref6

Western Apache Tailored Deer Hide Shirts: Their Resemblance to Full-Dress Coats Worn by Officers in U.S. Army and Possible Meaning

Author:
Ganteaume, Cécile R.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
1998
Topic:
Native Americans  Search this
American Indians  Search this
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_112649

Naiche's Deer Hide Paintings: A Consideration

Author:
Ganteaume, Cécile R.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
2002
Topic:
Native Americans  Search this
American Indians  Search this
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_112650

Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian

Author:
Ganteaume, Cécile R.  Search this
Object Type:
Smithsonian staff publication
Electronic document
Year:
2010
Topic:
Native Americans  Search this
American Indians  Search this
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILSRO_112652

Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers

Creator:
Parsons, Betty  Search this
Names:
Betty Parsons Gallery  Search this
Bess, Forrest, 1911-1977  Search this
Congdon, William, 1912-1998  Search this
Pollock, Jackson, 1912-1956  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Extent:
61.1 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sketchbooks
Interviews
Video recordings
Drawings
Date:
1916-1991
bulk 1946-1983
Summary:
The Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers measure 61.1 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from 1946-1983. Records provide extensive documentation of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1946 to its closing in 1983 and of the activities of Betty Parsons as one the leading art dealers of contemporary American Art in the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Over one third of the of the collection is comprised of artists files containing correspondence, price lists, and printed materials. Additional correspondence is with galleries, dealers, art institutions, private collectors, and the media. Also found are exhibition files, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales records, stock inventories, personal financial records, and photographs. Betty Parsons's personal papers consist of early curatorial files, pocket diaries, personal correspondence, and evidence of her own artwork, including sketchbooks, and files documenting her personal art collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers measure 61.1 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from 1946-1983. Records provide extensive documentation of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1946 to its closing in 1983 and of the activities of Betty Parsons as one the leading art dealers of contemporary American Art in the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Over one third of the of the collection is comprised of artists files containing correspondence, price lists, and printed materials. Additional correspondence is with galleries, dealers, art institutions, private collectors, and the media. Also found are exhibition files, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales records, stock inventories, personal financial records, and photographs. Betty Parsons's personal papers consist of early curatorial files, pocket diaries, personal correspondence, and evidence of her own artwork, including sketchbooks, and files documenting her personal art collection. Personal papers also include personal photographs.

Artists files, the largest and most extensive series, consist of a wide variety of documents, including biographical materials, correspondence with or related to the artist, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales and expense invoices, clippings, price lists, and photographs of the artist, exhibitions, and artwork. The files reflect Parsons's close personal relationships with certain artists, particularly Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Barnett Newman. Extensive documentation is also found for Forrest Bess, William Congdon, Paul Feeley, Thomas George, Alexander Liberman, Seymour Lipton, Richard Pousette-Dart, Jesse Reichek, and Jack Youngerman. Historians and researchers will find these files to be an invaluable resource both in tracing Betty Parsons's role in promoting Abstract Expressionism and researching individual artists.

Exhibition files primarily document the gallery's infrequent group or themed exhibitions. Of particular note are the files on The Ideographic Picture, which was organized by Barnett Newman and included his work, as well as that of Pietro Lazzari, Boris Margo, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Theodoros Stamos, and Clyfford Still. Price lists, artist biographies and exhibition schedules are housed in the general exhibition files. Loan exhibition files provide documentation of artwork borrowed by other galleries or institutions for exhibitions, as well as shows outside of the gallery that were organized by Betty Parsons. Also found are gallery exhibition guest books, and announcements and catalogs.

Gallery correspondence is primarily with galleries and dealers, museums, arts organizations, and collectors. Scattered letters from artists are also found, although the bulk of the artists' correspondence is filed in the Artists Files. Also found here are memoranda and letters between Betty Parsons and her staff that contain detailed information concerning Parsons's schedule and gallery activities. Similar correspondence is found amongst the correspondence files within the series Betty Parsons papers.

Appraisal and conservation files include correspondence, appraisal invoices, forms, and appraisal requests and other information from the Art Dealers Association of America, and conservation invoices and reports. The majority of the appraisal records contain information about the specific works of art, including artist, title, date, current owner and the estimated value at the time of the request. Conservation records document conservation treatments undertaken by outside conservators to gallery stock.

Sales, purchases, stock and inventory are well documented in the sales and inventory records. The records provide detailed information about individual sales, prices of individual pieces of artwork, consignments, and loans. Most sales records also include detailed information about the buyer and are a valuable resource for provenance research. Files documenting the general administration, routine business operations, and financial transactions (not individual sales) of the gallery are housed in the general business and financial records. These records include ledgers, receipts, tax records, and banking records. There is some limited information about works of art scattered amongst the receipts and in the "in/out slips" files. Legal records house general legal documents and those concerning specific lawsuits. Of particular note is the file detailing the lawsuit between Betty Parsons and Sidney Janis over the fifth floor of 24 West 57th Street.

The remainder of the collection consists of Betty Parsons's personal papers which document her career prior to opening her own gallery, her work as an artist, and her personal art collection.

Some information about Parsons's work prior to opening her own gallery is found in the early curatorial files she retained from her curatorial and administrative work at the Wakefield Gallery and the Mortimer Brandt Gallery. Clippings, correspondence, announcements, exhibition lists and exhibition files are found. For both positions, she kept only the exhibition files for a small group of exhibitions organized around a specific theme, the most notable being the exhibition of Pre-Columbian Sculpture at the Wakefield Gallery.

Biographical materials include copies of her biography, family genealogies, photographs of Parsons, interviews with Colette Roberts and WYNC radio, memberships, photographs, and ephemera, including a collection of programs and invitations from events that she attended. Throughout her life Parsons gave generously of her time to various cultural and charitable institutions and was awarded for her contributions. There are also a number of files that document her speaking engagements, her participation as a juror in numerous juried exhibitions, charitable work, and awards that she received.

Parsons's personal correspondence files reflect how deeply Parsons's life was intertwined with the gallery. There are letters from museum directors, dealers, artists seeking representation, and personal letters from artists with whom she had close personal relationships, most notably Larry Bigelow, Alexander Calder, William Condon, and Ad Reinhardt. There are also letters from the English artist Adge Baker, with whom Parsons was romantically involved. Correspondence also includes several files of postcards and Christmas cards.

Pocket diaries and engagement calendars, spanning from 1933-1981, record social engagements, meetings, vacations, and telephone numbers. Also found are circa two linear feet of notebooks and sketchbooks, many of which are annotated with addresses, poetry, journal entries, and other observations of people, places, and travels. Writings by others include writings about Betty Parsons or the Betty Parsons Gallery, such as Lawrence Alloway's unpublished typescript titled "An American Gallery" and other topics.

Printed material consists of exhibition announcements and catalogs, art magazines, and newspaper and magazine clippings about Betty Parsons, her family and acquaintances, artists, and other art related topics, coupled with a miscellaneous selection of clippings, and a video recording, on topics that presumably captured Parsons's attention.

Personal art work records document Betty Parsons's career as an artist through inventories, group and solo exhibitions files, price lists, appraisals, sales and consignment invoices. Photographs are primarily reproductions of her works of art, although there are scattered photographs of exhibition installations.

Betty Parsons's private art collection files document her extensive personal collection of art that included works by Jackson Pollock, Agnes Martin, Romare Bearden, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, in addition to Amlash sculpture from ancient Persia and primitive sculpture from New Hebrides. These files include inventories, lists, exhibition records, sales and purchase invoices, and photographs. There are also files for donations and loans from Parsons's personal collection to museums and fund raising auctions for several non-profit institutions.

Finally, the personal financial records provide information about the Parsons's family finances and her personal financial success as an art dealer. In addition to her own investments, Parsons inherited shares in family investments through the estates of her parents, J. Fred Pierson, Jr. and Suzanne Miles Pierson, and younger sister, Emily Rayner. Real estate files include correspondence, utility bills, receipts, area maps, and land plots for houses in Sheepscot, Maine and St. Maartens, Netherlands Antilles. Tax returns, ledger worksheets, receipts, banking statements, deposit slips, and cancelled checks are among the other financial records.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as seven series. Many of the series are further divided into subseries.

Series 1: Artists Files, 1935-1983 (19.4 linear feet; Boxes 1-18, 51, 55-56, OVs 53, 65)

Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1941-1983 (2.9 linear feet; Boxes 18-21, 51, 55, OVs 54, 66)

Series 3: Correspondence Files, 1941-1983 (3.9 linear feet; Boxes 21-24, 52, 56)

Series 4: Appraisal Files, 1954-1983 (0.7 linear feet; Box 24)

Series 5: Sales and Inventory Records, 1946-1983 (3.9 linear feet; Boxes 25-28, 51)

Series 6: General Business and Financial Records, 1946-1983 (9.3 linear feet; Boxes 28-38, 51, 56)

Series 7: Betty Parsons Personal Papers, 1916-1991 (21 linear feet; Boxes 38-51, 55-64, OVs 65-67)
Historical Note:
Betty Parsons (1900-1982) was one of the leading art dealers in New York City specializing in modern art, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists, and an abstract painter and sculptor in her own right. She opened Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946 at 15 E. 57th St., later moving to 24 W. 57th St.

The history of the Betty Parsons Gallery is inextricably bound to the life and experiences of its founder. Betty Parsons was born Betty Bierne Pierson on January 31, 1900 in New York City. She enjoyed a privileged childhood, which included vacation homes in Newport and Palm Beach. Her only formal education was a five-year stint at the prestigious Chapin School from 1910-1915, where she met many of the women who would become life-long friends and supporters. In the spring of 1920, she married Schuyler Livingston Parsons from one of New York's oldest families. The marriage ended after only three years and the couple traveled to Paris where they could obtain a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. She retained her married surname and purchased a house on the rue Boulard in Paris, where she remained for ten years, pursuing studies in painting and sculpture.

Financial constraints forced Parsons to return to the United States in 1933. She first traveled west to California, but it was her return to New York in 1935 that marked the start of her career as an art dealer. Her first opportunity to connect with the New York art world came after a successful exhibition of her watercolors at the Midtown Galleries where the owner, Alan Gruskin, noted Parson's faithful and wealthy group of supporters and offered her work installing exhibitions and selling paintings on commission. Her work for the Midtown Galleries led to a second position in the Park Avenue gallery of Mary Sullivan, one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art. Here, Parsons learned the business of running a gallery. By 1940 Parsons was ready to take on more independent responsibility and agreed to manage a gallery within the Wakefield Bookshop. In this job, she exercised full curatorial control by selecting artists and organizing exhibitions. She championed then unknown contemporary American artists and the gallery's roster soon included Saul Steinberg, Hedda Sterne, Alfonso Ossorio, Joseph Cornell, Walter Murch, and Theodore Stamos. Although the majority of the exhibitions were solo shows, there were a few group shows and themed exhibitions, such as Love in Art (1941) and Ballet in Art (1942). Under Parson's direction, the gallery hosted an important exhibition of Pre-Columbian sculpture, curated by Barnett Newman.

When the owners of the Wakefield Bookshop decided to close the gallery late in 1944, Mortimer Brandt, a dealer who specialized in Old Master paintings and drawings, offered her a position as head of the newly created contemporary section of his gallery. Many of the artists who had shown with Parsons at the Wakefield Gallery followed her to her new gallery, where they were joined by Ad Reinhardt, Boris Mango, and Hans Hofmann. While the exhibitions garnered attention from the press and the interest of contemporary artists, the contemporary section was not a financial success and Brandt opted to close his gallery in 1946.

Using $1000 of her own money and an additional borrowed $4000, Parsons sublet the space that previously housed Mortimer Brandt's contemporary section, on the fifth floor of 15 East 57th Street, and opened the Betty Parsons Gallery.

In many respects the early years of the Betty Parsons Gallery were the most vital, as it was during the period of 1947-1951 that the gallery became linked with the Abstract Expressionists and the history of post-WWII American Art. In an unpublished history of the gallery, noted art critic Lawrence Alloway stated that the significance of the gallery's early exhibitions ranks with Durand-Ruel's Impressionists exhibitions or Kahnweiler's shows of the Cubists. Betty Parsons Gallery quickly became one of the most prestigious galleries in New York City associated with new American Art of all styles. Her close friend Barnett Newman organized the gallery's inaugural exhibition of Northwest Coast Indian Art and he soon began to exhibit his own work at the gallery. When Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery closed, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko joined Parsons' growing stable of artists. Although Parsons continued to promote and exhibit many of the artists whom she had previously discovered, these four artists dominated this period. Newman, Pollock, Still, and Rothko worked closely together, holding themselves apart from the other artists somewhat. They were actively involved in the curatorial process and often hung their own shows. For these artists, the exhibition itself was an artistic act of creation.

Parsons provided a supportive environment and allowed her artists enormous freedom in planning and designing their exhibitions. She was not, however, an aggressive salesperson. During this early period the gallery ledgers document sales to an impressive array of museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as important collectors such as Edward Root and Duncan Phillips. Nevertheless, the art that the gallery promoted was not yet widely accepted. Sales were few, prices were low and the business would not turn a profit for several years. Meanwhile, there was mounting pressure from Pollock, Newman, Still, and Rothko to drop some of the other artists from Parsons' stable and focus all resources on them. They wanted to be promoted to a larger audience and have their work sold at higher prices, but Parsons enjoyed discovering new artists and did not want to be restricted in this endeavor. The year 1951 marks the last time that Pollock's drip paintings or the monumental works of Newman, Rothko or Still were shown at the Betty Parsons Gallery.

In the following years the Betty Parsons Gallery continued to attract a diverse group of talented artists. Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Tuttle, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jack Youngerman had their first New York exhibitions at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Parsons opened Section Eleven in 1958, a short-lived annex to the main gallery, so that she could promote younger, less well-known artists. It closed in 1960 due to the administrative difficulties in running two essentially separate galleries.

In 1962, Sidney Janis, another prominent art dealer, started proceedings to evict Parsons from the floor that they shared on 15 East 57th Street. The Betty Parsons Gallery moved to 24 West 57th Street in 1963, where it remained until it closed in 1983, following Parsons' death the preceding year. Throughout the gallery's history, Parsons continued to promote faithful artists such as Hedda Sterne and Saul Steinberg, who had been with her from the beginning and to seek out new talent, both for her main gallery and for other venues, such as the short-lived Parsons-Truman Gallery, which she opened in 1974 with former Parsons Gallery director Jock Truman to show works on paper by emerging artists.

In addition to being an art dealer, Betty Parsons was a respected artist and collector. With her connoisseur's eye and connections, Parsons amassed an impressive private collection of art. She bought her first piece while an art student in Paris in the 1920s, a small gouache by Zadkine, but did not begin acquiring works in earnest until she was established as an art dealer. Partial inventories of her personal collection show that the majority of her collection contained works by artists associated with the gallery. Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin, and Kenzo Okada were among the artists represented. Many were gifts from the artists, such as an ink drawing by Jackson Pollock, inscribed "For Betty." Selections from her collection appeared in small museums across the United States, including a traveling exhibition organized by Fitch College, New York, in 1968. In her role as a promoter of contemporary American art, Parsons lent generously from her collection, particularly to the federal Art in the Embassies Program. Throughout her life she also donated works to a variety of museums, most notably, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

Parsons frequently claimed that her desire to pursue a career as an artist stemmed from a visit to the Armory Show when she was thirteen. In her late teens, after pressuring her father for art lessons, she studied with the sculptor Gutzon Burglum of Mount Rushmore fame. In Paris, she continued her studies first with Antoine Bourdelle, whose sculptures she had admired at the Armory Show, and later with Ossip Zadkine. The first exhibition of her work, figurative watercolors and sculptures, took place in Paris in 1927. As she matured as an artist, her art became more abstract. Her late works were painted wood sculptures that she pieced together from wood that she found near her studio in Long Island. Parsons's work was exhibited in more than thirty solo exhibitions, including, Betty Parsons; Paintings, Gouaches and Sculpture, 1955-1968, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. During her lifetime, she would not allow her works to be shown in her own gallery. Shortly after she died of a stroke in 1982, In Memoriam, Betty Parsons: Late Sculptures, opened at the Betty Parsons Gallery.
Related Material:
Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Betty Parsons, June 4-9, 1969, by Paul Cummings, and June 11, 1981 by Gerald Silk.
Separated Material:
Some of the material originally loaned for microfilming in 1968 and 1969 was not included in later donations and can be viewed on microfilm reels N68/62-N68/74 and N69/105-N69/106. Loaned materials are not described in the container listing in this finding aid.
Provenance:
The gallery donated some records in 1974, many of which had been loaned earlier for microfilming. The bulk of the collection was donated in 1984 and 1986 by William Rayner and Christopher Schwabacher, executors of the Estate of Betty Parsons. Additional material was donated by William Rayner in 1998 and Christopher Schwabacher in 2017. Additional material was donated in 2018 by the Lee Hall estate via Carolyn Crozier and Deborah Jacobson, co-executors. Hall was Parsons's biographer and had the material in her possession at the time of Parsons's death. An additional photograph of Parons and Marie Carr Taylor by Henri Cartier-Bresson was donated in 2021 by Mary Carpenter, who inherited the photograph from her mother, Nan Thorton Jones, who received it as a gift from Taylor.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.

Researchers interested in accessing audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References 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:
Gallery owners -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Women art dealers  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Abstract expressionist  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sketchbooks
Interviews
Video recordings
Drawings
Citation:
Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers, 1916-1991. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.parsbett
See more items in:
Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-parsbett
Online Media:

Tagore as an Artist and His Influence on Modern Indian Art

Creator:
Smithsonian Education  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-07-26T16:57:25.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Education  Search this
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SmithsonianEducation
Data Source:
Smithsonian Education
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianEducation
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_-Nk0coka4Zg

Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore: A Perspective

Creator:
Smithsonian Education  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-07-21T21:38:50.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Education  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianEducation
Data Source:
Smithsonian Education
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianEducation
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_KYriVkYlFHg

Look & Listen: Indian Art and Music, Jayanti Sahasrabuddhe, vocals, with Debra Diamond

Creator:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2020-10-28T22:40:55.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Art, Asian  Search this
See more by:
FreerSackler
Data Source:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
YouTube Channel:
FreerSackler
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_4-chsKj-k8c

Kay WalkingStick Symposium 07 - Jolene Rickard

Creator:
National Museum of the American Indian  Search this
Type:
Symposia
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2015-11-10T18:58:03.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Native Americans;American Indians  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianNMAI
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianNMAI
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_JF_1jCRT28M

Nation to Nation: 17 Great Nations Keep Their Word - Suzan Shown Harjo

Creator:
National Museum of the American Indian  Search this
Type:
Symposia
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2014-09-23T18:03:29.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Native Americans;American Indians  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianNMAI
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianNMAI
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_gSULkD_EVvo

Can You Guess What I Found in the NMAI Collections?

Creator:
National Museum of the American Indian  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2019-12-19T16:10:39.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Native Americans;American Indians  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianNMAI
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianNMAI
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_1hN3YbQMBao

Pocahontas: Her Place in the Emerging Atlantic World and Nascent United States

Creator:
National Museum of the American Indian  Search this
Type:
Symposia
Lectures
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2019-11-25T18:00:41.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Native Americans;American Indians  Search this
See more by:
SmithsonianNMAI
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
YouTube Channel:
SmithsonianNMAI
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_kz8cVp2i3Wo

Cradle with Quillwork

Collector:
George Catlin  Search this
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.  Search this
Length - Object:
79 cm
Width - Object:
44.4 cm
Height - Object:
25 cm
Culture:
Sioux, Eastern (Santee, Isanti) Dakota  Search this
Object Type:
Cradle
Place:
Plains (Northern) / Missouri River (Upper), United States, North America
Accession Date:
21 Oct 1881
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E73311-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/32222f9cb-8db3-4bf2-9dd8-499e3eeba725
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8477075

Baby Shirt and Wrappings for Cradle

Collector:
George Catlin  Search this
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.  Search this
Culture:
Sioux, Eastern (Santee, Isanti) Dakota  Search this
Object Type:
Cradle / Shirt
Place:
Plains (Northern) / Missouri River (Upper), United States, North America
Accession Date:
21 Oct 1881
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E73311-2
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/32074c9ba-e3f6-4185-b31f-cf483c83d3d3
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8477077
Online Media:

Moccasin 1, Man's

Collector:
George Catlin  Search this
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.  Search this
Culture:
Mandan (?)  Search this
Object Type:
Moccasin
Place:
Not Given, Missouri River (Upper), North Dakota, United States, North America
Accession Date:
21 Oct 1881
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E386530-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/35523f57c-f81c-46b6-b49e-8af89bfba4cd
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8420539
Online Media:

Quiver Decorated

Collector:
George Catlin  Search this
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.  Search this
Culture:
Plains Indian  Search this
Object Type:
Quiver
Place:
Plains (Northern), United States / Canada, North America
Accession Date:
21 Oct 1881
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E386538-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/39b4e6029-0605-493b-9c74-6c7691398d08
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8420547
Online Media:

Legging One, Man's Left, Decorated

Collector:
George Catlin  Search this
Donor Name:
Mrs. Joseph Harrison Jr.  Search this
Culture:
Plains Indian  Search this
Object Type:
Legging
Place:
Plains, United States, North America
Accession Date:
21 Oct 1881
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
010638
USNM Number:
E386514-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/3cea57046-8603-42e8-b229-1b8e1614b5c8
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8420521
Online Media:

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