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John Vassos Papers, 1915-1989

Creator:
Vassos, John, 1898-1985  Search this
Subject:
Second, George  Search this
Byard, Dorothy  Search this
Vassos, Ruth  Search this
Sanders, Bernard  Search this
Radio Corporation of America.  Search this
Prudential Lines, Inc.  Search this
Perey Manufacturing Company  Search this
Packard Motor Car Company  Search this
Savage Arms Corporation  Search this
General Electric Company  Search this
Remington Arms Company  Search this
Matthias Hohner AG  Search this
Kuljian Corporation  Search this
Industrial Designers Society of America  Search this
Silvermine Guild of Artists  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Paintings
Photographs
Screen prints
Transcripts
Design drawings
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Slides (photographs)
Topic:
World War, 1939-1945  Search this
Theaters -- Designs and plans  Search this
Authors -- Connecticut  Search this
Theaters -- Decoration  Search this
Muralists -- Connecticut  Search this
Illustrators -- Connecticut  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9640
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211848
AAA_collcode_vassjohn
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Architecture & Design
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211848
Online Media:

John Vassos Papers

Creator:
Vassos, John, 1898-1985  Search this
Names:
General Electric Company  Search this
Industrial Designers Society of America  Search this
Kuljian Corporation  Search this
Matthias Hohner AG  Search this
Packard Motor Car Company  Search this
Perey Manufacturing Company  Search this
Prudential Lines, Inc.  Search this
Radio Corporation of America.  Search this
Remington Arms Company  Search this
Savage Arms Corporation  Search this
Silvermine Guild of Artists  Search this
Byard, Dorothy  Search this
Sanders, Bernard  Search this
Second, George  Search this
Vassos, Ruth  Search this
Extent:
18.7 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Paintings
Photographs
Screen prints
Transcripts
Design drawings
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Slides (photographs)
Date:
1915-1989
Summary:
The papers of designer, illustrator, and muralist John Vassos measure 18.7 linear feet and date from 1915 to 1989. The papers include biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence, writings and writing project files, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) files, Radio Corporation of American (RCA) files, Silvermine Guild of Artists files, general professional and committee files, printed materials, four scrapbooks, photographic materials, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of designer, writer, illustrator, and muralist John Vassos measure 18.7 linear feet and date from 1915 to 1989. The papers include biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence, writings and writing project files, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) files, Radio Corporation of American (RCA) files, Silvermine Guild of Artists files, general professional and committee files, printed materials, four scrapbooks, photographic materials, and artwork.

Biographical materials include various biographies and resumes, passports for Ruth and John Vassos and other vital documents, one unidentified interview transcript with Vassos, property boundaries, leases, and scattered financial materials among other material. Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and is with colleagues, industrial design organizations in which Vassos' was involved, organizations and individuals with which Vassos' may have done consulting work, and others. Personal correspondence includes exchanges with a few WWII military colleagues and friends, and several files of personal correspondence between Ruth and John Vassos during his deployment in WWII.

John Vassos was a prolific writer and illustrated and wrote a number of articles, books, essays, and play scripts. Writings and writing projects include handwritten and typed drafts of book manuscripts, including Vassos' autobiography; sketched mock-ups with illustrations and layouts for articles and books; publishing contracts and correspondence; and writings by others. Notable published books include Contempo, Phobia, and Ultimo.

Vassos' involvement in the founding and eventual merging of major U. S. industrial design organizations is documented within the IDSA files, which include materials on ADI, IDI, ASID, SID, and IDEA.

Vassos' thirty-plus year career as a consultant designer with RCA is documented through various materials, including contract agreements, correspondence, design plans and sketches, expense reports, project proposals, and various other materials. And as the president and an active member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists, Vassos kept extensive files on Guild activities, including building proposals and sketches, logo designs, exhibitions, school plans and lesson structures, photographs, and printed materials.

Vassos' involvement with numerous other professional organizations and committees as a consultant designer, illustrator, member, and muralist, is documented through general professional and committee files. Vassos designed appliances, bicycles, flatware, knives, pens, radios, rifles, television sets, and turnstiles, in addition to painting murals, designing several buildings, and doing interior design work for theaters. Companies include: General Electric Company; M. Hohner, Inc.; the India Industries World Trade Fair; International Society for Arts and Decoration; Kuljian Corporation; Packard Motor Car Company; Perey Manufacturing Company; Prudential Lines, Inc.; Remington Arms Company, Inc.; Remington Dupont; and Savage Arms Corporation, to name a few.

The collection also includes printed materials; three clippings scrapbooks on the Silvermine Guild and School, and one scrapbook assembled by a Greek student, George Second; and photographic items: approximately 97 glass lantern slides, various negatives, color slides, and photographs of John Vassos and others, as well as images of products and designs, and two photo albums of industrial design work.

Artwork includes extensive figure and illustration sketches in pen, pencil, charcoal, watercolor, and other media; two paintings by Vassos; mural design drawings and sketches; sketches of products and designs; and several sketches and a collection of silkscreen prints by other artists, including Dorothy Byard and Bernard Sanders.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged as 11 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1915-1975 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, Box 16, OV20, OV35)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1927-1986 (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)

Series 3: Writings and Writing Projects, circa 1929-1989 (1.0 linear feet; Boxes 3-4, OV20)

Series 4: Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), circa 1938-1976 (2.0 linear feet; Boxes 4-6, Box 16, OV21)

Series 5: Radio Corporation of America (RCA), circa 1930s-1976 (2.1 linear feet; Boxes 6-7, Box 15, OV22-24, OV26)

Series 6: Silvermine Guild of Artists, 1915-1986 (1.9 linear feet; Boxes 7-9, Box 16, OV27-28)

Series 7: General Professional and Committee Files, circa 1920s-1983 (3.8 linear feet; Boxes 9-11, Boxes 15-16, OV26, OV29-39, RD57)

Series 8: Printed Material, circa 1928-circa 1985 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 11-12, Box 16)

Series 9: Scrapbooks, circa 1940s-1953 (0.8 linear feet: Box 13, Box 17, Box 19)

Series 10: Photographic Materials, 1919-circa 1989 (1.7 linear feet; Boxes 13-14, Box 16, Box 18, OV40-41, Lantern Slide Boxes 58-59)

Series 11: Artwork, circa 1930s-circa 1970s (1.7 linear feet; Box 14, Box 18, OV25, OV42-56)
Biographical / Historical:
John Vassos (1898-1985) was an author, designer, illustrator, and muralist, active in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Vassos was born John Vassacopoulos, in Romania to Greek parents, attended Robert College in Turkey, and joined the British Fleet to serve in World War I. He immigrated to Boston in 1919, where he washed windows and studied art and illustration with John Singer Sargent at the Fenway Art School. In 1924, he moved to New York City where he studied at the Art Students League under John Sloan. Vassos began his career as an illustrator for various magazines, in addition to writing, illustrating, and publishing over fourteen books, most notably, Contempo, Phobia, and Ultimo. He worked on many publications with his wife, Ruth Carrier, who often wrote what he then illustrated in the late 1920s through the 1930s.

Employed as an industrial designer at the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), he established their first internal design department in 1933. He contributed a number of RCA product designs, including radios, radio cabinets, and televisions during his time as a consultant and designer. In addition, he designed RCA's first electronically decorated living room for the New York World's Fair, "America at Home" pavilion. He remained as an industrial design consultant with RCA through 1964. Vassos went on to work as a consultant designer to create utensils with Remington Dupont, the first Lucite pen for Waterman, and redesigned turnstiles for Perey Manufacturing Company, among many other companies. In addition to product design work, Vassos did interior design work for restaurants and theaters, and painted murals for a number of companies, hotels, and movie theaters.

During World War II, Vassos served in the U. S. Army Air Corps developing camouflage techniques and conducting special operations in Greece while also writing a number of publications, including informational advertisements and flyers, as well as several brief illustrated books warning about carelessness with regards to camouflage and equipment.

In 1938, Vassos founded the American Designers Institute (ADI) and became president again in 1948. He was instrumental in the merger of the major industrial design associations, the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI), Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA), American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID), and the Society of Industrial Designers (SID), into the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), where he was elected the first Chairman of the Board in 1965.

Additionally, he was president of the Silvermine Guild of Artists in Connecticut for ten terms from 1936 to 1955, where he designed the logo and raised significant funds with help from his influence with RCA. Between 1938 and 1940, the Guild held an exhibition titled Social Statements and included works by various members, to which he contributed two oil paintings of his own.

Vassos died in 1985 in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Related Materials:
John Vassos' papers are also at Syracuse University.
Provenance:
The John Vassos papers were donated from 1989 to 1990 by Paul Johnes, Vassos' nephew.
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.

Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The John Vassos 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.
Occupation:
Designers -- Connecticut -- Norwalk  Search this
Design -- Study and teaching  Search this
Topic:
World War, 1939-1945  Search this
Theaters -- Designs and plans  Search this
Authors -- Connecticut  Search this
Theaters -- Decoration  Search this
Muralists -- Connecticut  Search this
Illustrators -- Connecticut  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Paintings
Photographs
Screen prints
Transcripts
Design drawings
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Slides (photographs)
Citation:
John Vassos papers, 1898-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.vassjohn
See more items in:
John Vassos Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-vassjohn
Online Media:

Kuljian Corporation

Collection Creator:
Vassos, John, 1898-1985  Search this
Container:
Box 10, Folder 14
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1950-1952
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.

Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Collection Rights:
The John Vassos 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.
Collection Citation:
John Vassos papers, 1898-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
John Vassos Papers
John Vassos Papers / Series 7: General Professional and Committee Files
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-vassjohn-ref188

General Professional and Committee Files

Collection Creator:
Vassos, John, 1898-1985  Search this
Extent:
3.8 Linear feet (Boxes 9-11, Boxes 15-16, OV26, OV29-39, RD57)
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1920s-1983
Scope and Contents:
Vassos' professional files document various consulting jobs and committee involvement and consist of company advertising and illustration consulting, architectural design consulting, graphic design work, and product design. Companies and organizations include: General Electric Company; the Hellenic University Club; M. Hohner, Inc.; Kuljian Corporation; Mills Industries, Incorporated; Packard Motor Car Company; Perey Manufacturing Company; Prudential Lines, Inc.; Remington Arms, Inc.; Remington Dupont; Savage Arms, Inc.; and L. E. Waterman Company, among many others. Additional materials document Vassos' involvement in designing the American Pavilion at the India Industries World Trade Fair in 1955 and work with the U. S. Army during WWII.

Materials include: architectural sketches and blueprints, correspondence, contracting agreements, design sketches and photographs, printed materials, and other items.
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.

Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Collection Rights:
The John Vassos 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.
Collection Citation:
John Vassos papers, 1898-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.vassjohn, Series 7
See more items in:
John Vassos Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-vassjohn-ref166

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