The Lena Gurr (1897-1992) papers date from 1908 to 1979 and measure 7.0 linear feet. Gurr was a painter and printmaker who studied under John sloan and Maurice Sterne at the Art Students League between 1920-1922. She also studied in France and married painter and photographer Joseph Biel in 1931. The papers document both Gurr and Biel's careers through correspondence, notes, art work, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs. The collection offers researchers a valuable resource for studying the New York art community of the pre-war era.
Scope and Content Note:
The Lena Gurr papers date from 1908 to 1979 and measure 7.0 linear feet. The collection presents a good overview of Gurr's career as a painter and printmaker, and her relationship with her husband, painter Joseph Biel. Through biographical material, correspondence, notes, an interview with Lena Gurr, original artwork by Gurr and others, scrapbooks, printed material, photographs of Gurr, family, and friends, and photographs of artwork by Gurr and others, the collection offers researchers a valuable resource for studying the New York art community of the pre-war era.
The collection is arranged into eight series. Material within each series is arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1968, undated (box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1921-1979, undated (boxes 1-4; 3.1 linear ft.)
Series 3: Notes, 1926-1972 (box 4; 4 folders)
Series 4: Interview, 1950 (box 4; 1 folder)
Series 5: Artwork, circa 1908-1951 (box 4; 36 folders)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1912-1948 (boxes 4-5, 8-11; 1.45 linear ft.)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1926-1978 (box 5; 21 folders)
Series 8: Photographs, 1912-1978 (boxes 5-7; 1.05 linear ft.)
Born October 27, 1897, in Brooklyn, New York, Lena Gurr was the daughter of Hyman and Ida (Gorodnick) Gurr. She attended the Maxwell Training School for Teachers from 1915 to 1917, then turned her energies toward art. She studied painting and printmaking at the Educational Alliance Art School in 1919, and at the Art Students League (1920-1922), where she was a student of John Sloan and Maurice Stern. She also studied art in Paris, Nice, and Mentone, France. Her first solo exhibition was in 1932 at the Brooklyn Museum.
On November 24, 1931, Gurr married painter and photographer Joseph Biel. He was born October 27, 1891 in Russia, studied at the Russian Academy in Paris, and at the Workman's College, Melbourne, Australia. He also established the first Jewish Library in Melbourne. Upon his arrival in the United States, he studied under George Grosz at the Art Students League. Biel died in April 1943 of a heart ailment.
The Lena Gurr papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Lena Gurr from 1966 to 1979.
The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.
The Lena Gurr papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Researcher may use study prints on file in the Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Advance appointments are required. Original negatives are stored off-site in cold storage and are not accessible to the public.
Copyright to photographs from the Walter Rosenblum Collection is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Requests for permission to reproduce photographs from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Photograph Archives. Certain works of art, as well as photographs of those works of art, may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy or publicity rights, or other interests not owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is the applicant's responsibility to ascertain whether any such rights exist, and to obtain any other permission necessary to reproduce and publish the image.
Walter Rosenblum Collection, Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Funding for the re-housing, preservation, and digitization of the collection was provided by Smithsonian Research Resource funds, the Smithsonian Womens' Committee and the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
An interview of Alison Knowles conducted 2010 June 1-2, by Judith Olch Richards, for the Archives of American Art's Elizabeth Murray Oral History of Women in the Visual Arts Project, at Knowles' home and studio, in New York, N.Y.
Knowles speaks of her family background; her father's (an English professor) influence on her education; her love of nature and isolation as a young girl; her French studies at Middlebury College; her transfer to Pratt Institute to study art; the social and academic environment at Pratt; her inclinations towards abstraction; her first marriage to Jim Ericson; her first studio at 423 Broadway; her early jobs as a commercial artist; her first gallery show at Nonagon, in 1958, and how she subsequently burned the paintings in that show; her second marriage to Dick Higgins in 1960; her Judson Gallery Show in 1962 and how she subsequently discarded those works; her involvement in the Fluxus group; her involvement with the "Cage class," and its early performances; her collaboration with John Cage on the book, "Notations" (1968); her collaboration with Marcel Duchamp on a print (1967); the circumstances surrounding her performance piece, "Make a Salad" (1962), her travels through Europe with Higgins; the birth of her twins; her computerized poetic piece and installation, "House of Dust" (1967) and how it was later vandalized; her move to Los Angeles to teach at CalArts; the rebuilding of "House of Dust" at CalArts; her move back to New York; the processes leading up to several projects and collaborations including "Loose Pages," "Big Book," "Bread and Water," and more; where she finds her inspiration; her thoughts on performance art; her studio environment in Barrytown, N.Y.; the influence and support of Germany on her work and Fluxus in general; her recent work, including "Identical Lunch"; and current challenges she faces as an artist.
She recalls Richard Lindner, Adolph Gottlieb, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Judy Chicago, Josef Albers, Dorothy Podber, Ray Johnson, Dick Higgins, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Klaus Schöning, Jon Hendricks, Gilbert Silverman, George Maciunas, George Brecht, Jack Mac Low, Yoko Ono, Mieko Shiomi, Takako Saito, Joe Jones, Marcel Duchamp, Daniel Spoerri, Richard Hamilton, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Helmut Becker, Coco Gordon, Jim Tenney, Cornelia Lauf, Rirkrit Tirvanija, Allan Kaprow, Simone Forte, Carolee Schneemann, Richard Teitelbaum, Miriam Schapiro, Miguel Abrau, James Fuentes, Cyrilla Wozenter, Kathy Kuehn, Ryszard Wasko.
Biographical / Historical:
Alison Knowles (1933- ) is an artist and a founding member of Fluxus in New York, N.Y. Judith Olch Richards (1947- ) is a former director of iCI in New York, N.Y.
Originally recorded on 5 mini discs. Duration is 5 hr., 45 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
An interview of Tyrus Wong conducted 1965 January 30, by Betty Hoag, for the Archives of American Art.
Wong discusses making a film for grade schools and UCLA, which was produced by Eliot O'Hara, where he demonstrated Oriental painting techniques and Joe Jones demonstrated American techniques; working as an illustrator for Republic Studio; designing pottery plates for Greenfield Pottery, Gabriel Pottery in Pasadena; illustrations for the Western Art Review magazine; covers for the Los Angeles Times Home Section 1954 & 1955; text and illustrations for Watercolor Portraits, 1949; designing ads for various magazines; and doing watercolors, lithographs, and murals for the WPA, including the Santa Monica Library. Wong recalls Surasawa, Dorothy Jeakins, Nick Berganti, Hideo Dati, Benjy Ocobo, Carl Winter, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Jerre Murry, Steven LaVerne Dunwell, George Stanley, Gordon Newell, and Frank Buck.
Biographical / Historical:
Tyrus Wong (1910- ) was a painter, designer, illustrator, and printmaker from California.
Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 48 min.
Only the second half of this interview was successfully recorded.
Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.