The records of the Associated American Artists measure 55 linear feet and date from circa 1934 through 1983. The organization was founded in 1934 to stimulate interest in prints throughout the United States by promoting the sale of prints through department stores and other venues. Later, other genres of works of art were added and the department store abandoned in favor of a New York headquarters. The records contain voluminous files on artists; dealers, galleries, and museums; and clients. Also found is business correspondence, financial records, sales and exhibition catalogs, thirteen dismantled scrapbooks, and posters.
Scope and Content Note:
The records of the Associated American Artists measure 55 linear feet and date from circa 1934 through 1983. They document the organization's work producing and selling limited-edition prints by American artists. The records contain voluminous files on artists; dealers, galleries, and museums; and clients. Also found is business correspondence, financial records, sales and exhibition catalogs, thirteen dismantled scrapbooks, and posters.
The dates of the records include the portion that was loaned to the Archives in 1965-1966 and microfilmed on reels D254-D256.
The collection is arranged into 9 series:
Series 1: Artist Files,1951-1983 (Box 1-19; 18.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Dealers, Galleries and Museums, circa 1958-1980 (Box 19-29; 10.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Client Files, circa 1958-1980 (Box 29-48; 19 linear feet)
Series 4: Business Correspondence, 1959-1980 (Box 48-49; 2 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1960-1981 (Box 50-51; 1 linear feet)
Series 6: Sales Catalogs, 1955-1979 (Box 51-53; 2 linear feet)
Series 7: Exhibition Catalogs, 1950-1978 (Box 54; 1 linear foot)
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1958-1980 (Box 55-57; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 9: Posters, circa 1960s-1970s
The Associated American Artists was created in 1934 with the mission of bridging the gap between artists and their audiences by making fine art affordable, accessible, and attractive for the general American public. The A.A.A. offered new editions of prints to collectors at very reasonable prices. This was accomplished by publishing limited-edition prints of etchings and lithographs by American artists that sold for as little as five dollars each. The organization commissioned original graphic art from many notable American artists, whose art often reflected or commented on the social ideas of the era. All lithographs and etchings were produced in editions ranging from 125 to 250 impressions. Between 1934 and 1945, the organization published more than 600 limited-edition prints. An early collaboration allowed the prints to be displayed and sold in fifty department stores nationwide. Later, the department stores were abandoned in favor of a headquarters in a gallery in New York City. By the 1950s, the organization began to design fabrics as well.
The organization was also notable for its innovative use of modern merchandising and advertising techniques to sell and introduce high-quality artwork to a broad audience. New products were introduced in newspaper articles and magazines that targeted both the public and professional trade audiences. Prints were also advertised on the back of periodicals, which introduced the art to an even wider audience across the country.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming on reels D254-D256 and 3176. Reels D254-D256 include material related to the Associated American Artists' records that were returned to the lender. Reel 3176 contains photocopies of correspondence between Grant Wood, Reeves Lewnthal, and Maurice Liederman and that were discarded after microfilming. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
Sylvan Cole and Adolf Dehn loaned the Archives of American Art related Associated American Artists' records for microfilming on reels D254-D256 in 1965-1966. Mrs. Allan Kine gave photocopies of correspondence on reel 3176 to the Archives in 1974. The Associated American Artists donated all other material begining in the late 1970s through 1988.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C., facility.
The Associated American Artists records 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.
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