An interview of Robert O. Preusser conducted 1991 January-October, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Preusser discusses the establishment of an art department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his involvement with it first as a visiting lecturer and then as a professor of visual design. He speaks often of Gyorgy Kepes, whom he had known at the Institute of Design, Chicago, in the early 1940s, and who recruited him to M.I.T; he also discusses other faculty members, like Minor White, professor of photography. He gives attention to his courses at M.I.T., 1954-1985; early computer design projects by students; his writings on the importance of visual arts to technology; and his supervision of educational programs at M.I.T.'s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, 1974-85. An extensive part of the interview is held in an exhibition of Preusser's work at the M.I.T. Museum (April 4, 1991), discussing in particular his incorporation of various plastic and metallic materials in his works from the 1960s and 1970s. He speaks as well of the importance of his inclusion in group exhibitions at the Downtown Gallery, New York, ("Newcomers," 1951, and "Recent Arrivals, 1952) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston ("Collectors Exhibition," 1954), and of his exhibitions at the Boris Mirski Gallery and the Joan Peterson Gallery, Boston, during the 1950s and 1960s, and at various galleries in Houston during the 1980s. Other topics of discussion are his early art instruction in his native Houston, Texas, by the painter Ola McNeill Davidson, 1930-39; further training in painting and design at the Institute of Design, Chicago, 1930-39, 1941-42; Newcomb School of Art at Tulane University, 1940-41; service with a camouflage unit in the U.S. Army, 1942-45; classes at the Art Center School, Los Angeles, 1946-47; his teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1947-54, and at the University of Houston, 1951-54, and his role as co-director of the Houston Contemporary Arts Association, 1948-50.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Preusser (1919-1992) was a painter and art instructor from Houston, Texas and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Poor sound quality. The first 35 minutes of the interview have been lost.
Originally recorded on 1 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 18 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.
Correspondence, files, notes, writings, photographs, slides, art work, and printed material.
Included are personal and professional correspondence; files of correspondence, arranged alphabetically; subject files; teaching files, containing notes on a variety of topics, including English painting and design; photographs of Feild and others, and of students in classroom activities; lecture notes for "The Disney Talk," 1938; miscellaneous writings; sketchbooks; drawings of shells; a student's report, with photographs, based on the study of the conch shell; typed annual reports of Newcomb College; a report on the Feild coat of arms; and printed material, including catalogs, clippings, a book by Feild, The Art of Walt Disney, and a copy photograph of Feild with Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski; and 2 v. of Industrial Arts Magazine, 1936.
Biographical / Historical:
Art historian, painter, educator; New Orleans, La. and Cambridge, Mass. Known as Robin Feild. Born in England of American parents. Taught at Harvard, ca. 1934-1941, where Arthur Pope was his principal mentor, and Edward Warburg was a pupil. Pioneered in the teaching of film. Went to Hollywood in 1949; wrote THE ART OF WALT DISNEY. Involved in trying to form a teachers' union at Harvard, ca. 1940, which cost Feild, Meyer Shapiro, and other faculty members their jobs. Dean, Sophie Newcomb Art School at Tulane University, ca. 1942-1950; removed from the deanship by Logan Wilson, a conservative president, but Feild refused to resign and stayed until his retirement. Returned to Cambridge, Mass. where W.G. Constable and Fritz Pappenheim became his good friends.
Donated in 1993 by Barry O'Connell, a friend of Feild. Feild designated him his intellectual heir before his death. At Feild's death O'Connell stored his papers, memorabilia, and works of art, and Mrs. Feild retained formal ownership of the material. After the death of Mrs. Feild, O'Connell received the material. The photograph of Feild with Disney and Stokowski donated 1994 by Kristin O'Connell, wife of Barry O'Connell.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Letters, 1922-1949, from his daughter Janet, and from Robin Feild, director of Newcomb College School of Art, Kleemann Galleries in New York, fellow Newcomb art instuctor Robert Scott, Curt Valentin, Van Dearing Perrine (an illustrated greeting card and letter), Josef Albers (unsigned), and museums, regarding exhibitions of Steven's work; price lists and shipping invoices regarding exhibitions; a statement by Stevens; two biographical accounts; two sketchbooks and 152 drawings of landscapes, marine life, and non-representational images; printed material, 1907-1950, including clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and a flier (1934) for the Stevens Summer School of Painting, and photographs, 1922-1923, of Stevens, colleagues, art classes, and exhibition installations.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, New Orleans, Louisiana. Studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy and in New York with Jonas Lie and Van Dearing Perrine. Taught at Newcomb College Art Dept, New Orleans, 1921-1948. In the 1930s and 1940s, he developed an individualized style of non-objective and abstract painting. Throughout his career he experimented with pigments and manufacturing his own painting materials and was an influential teacher at Tulane.
Donated 1989 by Janet McDowell, Stevens' daughter.
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.