The papers of realist painter Isabel Bishop date from 1914 to 1983 and measure 2.6 linear feet. The collection documents Bishop's painting career, her friendship with other artists, and her participation in several arts organizations. There are scattered biographical documents, correspondence with fellow artists such as Peggy Bacon, Warren Chappell, Edward Laning, and R. B. Kitaj, and with writers, curators, museums, galleries, arts organizations, and others. Also found are arts organization files, Bishop's writings about Warren Chappell and friend Reginald Marsh, notes, exhibition catalogs, news clippings, and other printed material, photographs of Bishop and her artwork, and photographs of Reginald and Felicia Marsh. Original artwork includes 8 sketchbooks, loose sketches, prints, and watercolor figure studies.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of realist painter Isabel Bishop date from 1914 to 1983 and measure 2.6 linear feet. The collection documents Bishop's painting career, her friendship with other artists, and her participation in several arts organizations. Scattered biographical documents include awards and a file on her participation in art juries.
Bishop was friends with many artists and cultural figures and her correspondence includes letters to and from artists such as John Taylor Arms, Peggy Bacon, Peter Blume, Warren Chappell (many letters from Chappell are illustrated), Sidney Delevante, Edwin Dickinson, Philip Evergood, John Folinsbee, Malvina Hoffman, Jo Hopper, James Kearns, Leon Kroll, Clare Leighton, Jack Levine, Alice Neel, Hobson Pittman, Fairfield Porter, Abraham Rattner, Katherine Schmidt, Henry Schnakenberg, Raphael Soyer, George Tooker, Stuyvesant Van Veen, Franklin Watkins, Mahonri Young, and William Zorach. Bishop not only corresponded with artists but also many poets, authors, historians, and dancers, such as Van Wyck Brooks, John Canaday, John Ciardi, Merce Cunningham, Babette Deutsch, Edna Ferber, Richmond Lattimore, Marianne Moore, Lewis Mumford, Kurt Vonnegut, and Glenway Westcott. Also found are letters from many galleries, museums, and schools which exhibited or purchased her work, including curators Juliana Force and Una Johnson.
Bishop kept files from her affiliations with the American Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers and the New Society of Artists, containing mostly membership and financial records, and a file on a UNESCO conference. Unfortunately, files documenting her membership and vice presidency of the National Institute of Arts & Letters are not found here.
A small amount of Bishop's writings and notes include essays about friends and artists Reginald Marsh and Warren Chappell. Printed material consists of exhibition catalogs and announcements, news clippings, magazines, and a design by G. Alan Chidsey for a book about Bishop. Photographs depict Bishop with her husband and in her studio, her artwork, and also include three photographs of her friend, Reginald Marsh.
Original artwork includes eight small sketchbooks, loose pen and ink sketches, intaglio prints, watercolor figure studies, and a drawing of Bishop by Aaron Bohrod.
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1943-1975 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1939-1983 (Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Organization Files, 1924-1937, 1951-1952 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings & Notes, 1937-1960s (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1930-1979 (Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1914, circa 1920s-1975 (Box 2, OV 5; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1940s-1970s (Box 2-4, OV 5; 0.4 linear feet)
Isabel Bishop (1902-1988) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to John Remsen Bishop and Anna Bartram Newbold Bishop. Shortly after her birth the family moved to Detroit, Michigan. As a child Bishop took art classes and had a growing interest in drawing. In 1918 at the age of 16 she left home and moved to New York City where she enrolled in the School of Applied Design for Women to be an illustrator. However, her real interest was in painting, not the graphic arts, and she enrolled in the Art Students League in 1920. There she studied with Kenneth Hayes Miller and Guy Pene du Bois and met many young artists, including Reginald Marsh and Edwin Dickinson, both of whom became close friends. She took classes until 1924 and rented a studio and living space on 14th Street in a neighborhood where many artists maintained studios at the time.
Bishop began exhibiting her work and participated in artist groups, including the Whitney Studio Club and the New Society of Artists. During the 1920s and 1930s she developed a realist style of painting, primarily depicting women in their daily routine on the streets of Manhattan. Her work was greatly influenced by Peter Paul Rubens and other Dutch and Flemish painters that she had discovered during trips to Europe. In 1932 Bishop began showing her work frequently at the newly opened Midtown Galleries, where her work would be represented throughout her career.
In 1934 she married Harold Wolff, a neurologist, and moved with him to Riverdale, New York. Bishop kept her studio in Manhattan, moving from 14th Street to Union Square. She remained in her Union Square studio for fifty years (1934-1984). From 1936 to 1937 she taught at the Art Students League and in 1940 her son Remsen was born. In 1941 she was named a member of the National Academy of Design and from 1944 to 1946 she was the Vice President of the National Institute of Arts & Letters, the first woman to hold an executive position with that organization. She wrote articles and joined other artists in speaking out in support of realist painting and against the abstract style that was dominating the New York art scene.
During her long career which lasted into the 1980s, Bishop exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions, traveled throughout the U. S. as an exhibition juror, and won many awards for her work, including the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts presented by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
Also found at the Archives of American Art are three oral history interviews with Isabel Bishop, April 15, 1959, May 29, 1959, and November 12-December 11, 1987.
The Whitney Museum of American Art and Midtown Galleries loaned additional Bishop papers to the Archives for microfilming on reels NY59-4 and NY59-5. These items were returned to the lenders after microfilming and are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
The collection was donated in several installments by Isabel Bishop from 1959 to 1983.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Mostly correspondence from friends and associates concerning Leslie's painting and his editorship of The Hasty Papers, 1960, including letters from Gregory Corso, Sam Francis, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Hunter, Norman Mailer, Marianne Moore, and Boris Pasternak. Also included are manuscript articles and galley sheets.
Biographical / Historical:
Alfred Leslie (b. 1927) is a painter, editor; New York, N.Y. Leslie painted in a style he called "confrontational art" which involves a direct realism intended to grab the viewer's attention and deliver a message almost didactic and persuasive in its tone. He was the editor of the avant-garde literary review The Hasty Papers.
Lent for microfilming 1966 by Alfred Leslie. Later that year, a fire destroyed Leslie's studio, including his art works as well as much of the papers he lent for microfilming.
Five letters from Lincoln MacVeagh, President, of Dial Press, 1924-1932, regarding dust jacket publication of various wood-cuts (one with an illustration, "On Top of Tobin"); ten letters from Dial's Acting Editor, Marianne Moore, 1926-1929; and two woodblock cull prints for the dust jackets of Mike Evan's Place and At Top of Tobin.
Biographical / Historical:
Printmaker, illustrator; Hampton, Virginia. Also known as J.J. Lankes.
Julius J. Lankes papers also located at: Dartmouth College.
Donated 1989 by Lankes' son, J.B. Lankes.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
This collection documents Kauffer's work as a theater designer, and graphic designer from 1915-1954.The collection includes allusions to correspondences between Kauffer in America to T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) in London, between 1930 and 1955. (There are no letters between the two men in the collection.) Although Kauffer and Eliot were to become friends after 24 July 1930, they were professionally related before that time. Kauffer illustrated the Ariel edition of Eliot's "Marina." Kauffer and Eliot met in London. In the collection are also posters of Kauffer's works, biographical pieces, and obituaries as well as photographs of the artist.
Unprocessed; The archive material consists of sketches, posters, manuscript leaves, photographs, clippings, and other related items that document Mr. Kauffer's career from 1915-1954.
Edward McKnight Kauffer (1891-1954) was born at Great Falls, Montana. He grew up in the small town of Evansville on the Ohio River in Indiana, where the Kauffer grandparents had settled. After the divorce of his parents, he spent two years in an orphanage. By the age of four or five he had begun to draw. His mother remarried in 1899. Kauffer left school at the age of 12 or 13 to be helper to the scene painter in the City Directory.
In the Elder Bookshop and Art Rooms in San Francisco Kauffer acquired not only a speaking voice of marked attractiveness and distinction but also a life-long passion for books. He continued his studies as a painter by receiving his first formal training at evening sessions at the Mark Hopkins Institute. He met Professor McKnight, who became his patron; in homage to him Kauffer adopted the name of McKnight. A small exhibition of Kauffer's paintings was held at the Elder Art Rooms. He also studied at the Chicago Art Institute, and in Munich and Paris, and started his career as a theatrical scene painter. He was returning from Germany to this country in 1914 and was in London when World War I broke out.
In 1914 Kauffer would marry American Pianist, Grace Ehrlich and they would have a daughter. In 1921 Kauffer would move to New York City leaving his wife and daughter. In the spring of 1922 Kauffer returned to London with Marion Dorn, American textile designer. They would stay in London just prior to the beginning of World War II when they would return once again to New York. They would eventually marry in 1950.
In the Twenties in London, he went to work in a soldiers' canteen and began designing posters for the London Underground Railway in his spare time. His posters were so strikingly successful that he soon got further orders, and built up a reputation in his field. The posters would indicate to the war-weary British the normal resumption of public transportation. The posters made history in art circles and have been regarded ever since as revolutionary concepts of art-cum industry. A 1926 exhibition given at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford furthered Kauffers notoriety.
His recognition in America began in 1937, when the Museum of Modern Art presented his work in its first one-man show ever given to an American poster designer. He returned to this country to live in 1940. While Kauffer was widely recognized abroad and the MOMA show brought attention, very few Americans knew of him and fewer advertisers were willing to accept the poster as an art form. His clients, since his return to America have included the National Red Cross, American Airlines, the New York Subways, Ringling Brothers Circus, the Container Corporation of America, the American Silk Mills and many others.
Kauffer was among the first in the early Twenties to respond to the impact of modern art, particularly the work of the cubist painters Picasso and Braque. The influence of cubism can be seen in his posters and was the basis of his dynamic geometrical style. The emphatic angular forms of Kauffer's posters shocked the public into attention. His artistry, and in particular his color sense, held that attention and, in a few short years just after the First World War, laid the foundations of his reputation as a designer, not only among the leading business men of the time, but particularly among critics and art students. T.S. Eliot, a friend of Kauffer's, describes his marriage of the public and modern art, "He did something for modern art with the public as well as doing something for the public with modern art."
In addition to his involvement in advertising, Kauffer was a book illustrator as well illustrating editions of many classics, including Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," Cervantes' "Don Quixote," Carl Van Vechten's "Nigger Heaven," and works by Herman Melville, T.S. Eliot, Arnold Bennett, Lord Birkenhead and others.
His work is represented in the South Kensington Museum in London and in the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, and there are examples of it also in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and in Milan. He edited a survey, The Art of the Poster, in 1934. He was a Fellow of the British Institute of Industrial Art and a member of the Council for Art and Industry. When the Royal Society of Arts established its high diploma of R.D.I. (Designer for Industry) in 1937 he was ineligible as a foreigner, but was granted honorary status. He was asked to be Honorary Advisor to the Department of Public Information for the United Nations. He was Advisory Council for the Victoria and Albert Museum. His biography appears in the English "Who's Who" and in the American "Who's Who", as well as in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Kauffer began to lose interest in the New York advertising scene. A friend of his said that he chose to kill himself with drink. He continued to work to the end, almost obsessively. Kauffer died on 22 October 1954.
All materials were donated to the museum by Grace Schulman in 1997.
Unprocessed; access is limited; Permission of Library Director required; Policy.