The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz measure 31.5 linear feet and 0.696 GB and date from 1929 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz's long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists' research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed and digital materials, and nine scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz measure 31.5 linear feet and 0.696 GB and date from 1929 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz's long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists' research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed and digital materials, and scrapbooks.
Correspondence is with colleagues, artists, museums, and galleries concerning a wide variety of topics, including exhibitions and publications. The bulk of the correspondence consists of alphabetical files (two linear feet) that includes correspondence with artists. Notable correspondents include Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Gordon Onslow Ford, Alberto Giacometti, Morris Graves, Philip Guston, Dimitri Hadzi, Jacques Lipchitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and others. Eight additional files of chronological correspondence is with curators, arts organizations, and publishers. Additional correspondence is found in the professional files, project files, membership files, artists' research files, and exhibition files.
The bulk of the writings series is comprised of files related to Selz's books and includes typescript drafts and galleys, printed and digital material, correspondence, and publishing contracts. Files are found for Art in Our Times, Art of Engagement, Beyond the Mainstream, and Theories of Modern Art. Other writings consist of drafts of articles, essays, notes, and lectures by Selz. Also included are writings by others, including materials related to Paul Karlstrom's biography of Selz.
Professional files document curatorial and teaching positions at the Chicago Institute of Design, Pomona College, University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of Modern Art. The series includes contracts, recommendations, syllabi, and correspondence.
Project files document Selz's professional work on specific art projects, panels, and symposiums. There is extensive documentation of Selz's work as project director of Christo's Running Fence, as well as other environmental art work projects by Christo, the Berkeley Art Project, Disney Art Project, "Funk Art" symposium, and the "Art and Politics in the 20th Century" symposium. Project files contain a wide variety of materials, such as correspondence, printed material, financial records, reports, photographs, and other documents. There are 2 tape reels, 1 VHS, and 1 sound cassette.
Membership and association records document Selz's involvement with or membership in various art councils, trustee boards, such as the College Art Association, Art in Chicago Advisory Committee, Bay Area Rapid Transit (B.A.R.T.) Art Council, and the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum Advisory Board, among others. Materials include meeting minutes, bulletins, correspondence, and memoranda.
Artists' Research Files consist of a wide variety of research materials Selz compiled about artists for lectures, writings, projects, exhibitions, etc. Files vary and may include original and photocopied correspondence, photographic material, resumes, printed and digital material, and writings. There is also 1 sound cassette. Files are found for Bedri Baykam, Max Beckmann, Fletcher Benton, Ciel Bergman, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Bruce Conner, Jean Dubuffet, Lyonel Feininger, Leon Golub, Dimitri Hadzi, Rico Lebrun, Harold Paris, Irving Petlin, among many others.
Exhibition files include catalogs, reviews, clippings, writings, correspondence, and other material documenting exhibitions organized by Selz. Limited materials are found for the MOMA Art Nouveau exhibition. More extensive documentation is found for Seven Decades of Modern Art, 1895-1965, The Joint Show (1967), The American Presidency in Political Cartoons (1976), American Modern Art Between the Two World Wars (1979), German Realism in the Twenties: Artist As Social Critic (1980), Twelve Artists from the German Democratic Republic (1989), a Richard Lindner Retrospective (1996), Spaces of Nature (1999), Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000 (2000), and a Nathan Oliviera Retrospective (2002), among others. Some of the materials are in digital format.
Personal business records are related to the Mark Rothko estate and Kate Rothko's legal case against Marlborough Gallery, Inc. Also included in this series are Peter Selz's school transcripts, bequests, royalty statements, house designs, and other material.
Printed materials include clippings, prints of articles written by Peter Selz, exhibition announcements and invitations, and photocopies of artwork images.
There are nine disbound scrapbooks dating from the 1940s up through 2012 containing clippings, exhibition announcements, and photographs of art events, Selz, and artists. This series also includes materials from the 2018 addition that may have previously been compiled in binders.
This collection is arranged as 10 series. When possible the original order of Peter Selz was maintained. However, multiple accessions were merged and integrated.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-2013 (2.3 linear feet; Box 1-3, Box 37)
Series 2: Writings, 1942- circa 2014 (8.3 linear feet; Box 3-10, OV 32, Box 37, 0.035 GB; ER01, ER12)
Series 3: Professional Files, 1949-2012 (1 linear feet; Box 11, Box 37)
Series 4: Project Files, 1962-2015 (2.8 linear feet; Box 12-14, OV 33, Box 37)
Series 5: Membership and Association Records, 1958-2014 (1.1 linear feet; Box 14-15, Box 37)
Series 6: Artists' Research Files, 1955-2014 (7.9 linear feet; Box 15-22, OV 34-35, 0.520 GB; ER02-ER08)
Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1959-2014 (5.2 linear feet; Box 23-27, Box 38, 0.093 GB; ER09-ER11)
Series 8: Personal Business Records, 1929-2014 (1.2 linear feet; Box 28-29, OV 36, Box 38)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1957-2014 (0.3 linear feet; Box 29, Box 38)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1947-2018 (1.4 linear feet, Box 29-31, Box 38)
Biographical / Historical:
Peter Howard Selz (1919-2019) was a pioneering historian of modern art, professor, and writer who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-1988 and founded and directed the Berkeley Art Museum from 1965-1973.
Selz was born in 1919 in Munich, Germany to Eugene Selz and Edith Drey Selz. In 1936, the family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to the United States. Selz attended Columbia University from 1937 to 1938 and became a naturalized citizen in 1942. During World War II, Selz served in the U.S. Army in the Office of Strategic Services. He married writer Thalia Cheronis in 1948 but they later divorced in 1965; he married several times afterwards.
After the war, Selz attended and taught at the University of Chicago where he received a Ph. D. in German Expressionism. He spent a year in Paris, 1949-1950, at the Sorbonne and École du Louvre on a Fulbright grant. He received a second Fulbright grant in 1953 to study at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Belgium. From 1953-1955, Selz also taught at the Chicago Institute of Design.
In 1955 Peter Selz accepted a position to chair the art history department at Pomona College in Claremont and relocated to California for a few years. He also became director of the college's art gallery.
In 1958 Selz moved to New York City to become curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art and was there through the transformative mid-1960s. While at MOMA, he organized several significant exhibitions of modern art, including the 1960 Jean Tinguely "Homage to New York," a sculpture that destroyed itself (and started a fire) in the sculpture garden of the museum; New Images of Man (1959), the Art Nouveau show (1960), and the Art of Assemblage (1961). He also launched important retrospectives, including the first Rodin retrospective in the United States and a comprehensive exhibition of Alberto Giacometti's work in 1965.
In 1965, Peter Selz returned to California to become the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California, Berkeley, a position he held until 1973. He organized exhibitions of Funk, film, and ceramicists like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. Peter Selz later became project director for Christo's "Running Fence", the 24.5-mile long fabric fence over the Marin County hills in 1976. He also served concurrently as a professor of art history at UC until retiring in 1988.
Peter Selz was a member of the College Art Association's board of directors for two terms, 1958-1964 and 1966-1971. Selz is a prolific writer, and the author or co-author of numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and articles. Notable books include German Expressionist Painting (1957), Art in a Turbulent Era (1965), Art in Our Times (1981), and Sam Francis (1975).
In 1988 Peter Selz was named emeritus professor at University of California, Berkeley. In 1993 he was on the acquisitions committee of the Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco. In 2012, Selz curated The Painted Word exhibition. Selz died in 2019 in Albany, California.
The Archives of American Art also holds oral history interviews of Peter Selz conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom on July 28, 1982, October 12, 1982, and November 3, 1999.
The Peter Howard Selz papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Peter Selz in multiple installments from 1976 through 2014. Additional papers were donated in 2018 by Gabrielle Selz, Peter Selz's daughter.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copies requires advance notice.
The papers of Los Angeles Abstract Classicist painter and educator Frederick Hammersley measure 35.05 linear feet and date from circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940-2009. The papers contain biographical materials, 32 diaries, family and professional correspondence, personal business and financial records, estate records, writings, graphic design projects, teaching files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and works of art. There is a 0.3 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2020 that includes photographs of Hammersley's family, and most significantly for research, a study in pencil and a "model for making cubes," a paper document that can be stored flat and folded into a cube shape.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Los Angeles Abstract Classicist painter and educator Frederick Hammersley measure 34.75 linear feet and date from circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940-2009. The papers contain biographical materials, 32 diaries, family and professional correspondence, personal business and financial records, estate records, writings, graphic design projects, teaching files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and works of art. 2015 and 2018 additions include a diary possibly written by Hammersley's mother, photograph albums and photographs, sketches and block prints, computer printouts, and hand painted grid color boxes used by Hammersley in teaching color theory. There is a 0.3 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2020 that includes photographs of Hammersley's family, and most significantly for research, a study in pencil and a "model for making cubes," a paper document that can be stored flat and folded into a cube shape.
Biographical materials include resumes and biographies, calendars, military records, family genealogies, school records, high school and college yearbooks, and awards. There are also sound and video recordings of talks, interviews, and television appearances. Scattered materials relating to Hammersley's parents, Anna Westberg Hammersley and Harold Hammersley, are also found in the series.
Correspondence consists of letters from family and close friends as well as business correspondence with collectors and professional art associations. Family correspondents include Hammersley's immediate family and aunts and cousins. Additional noteworthy correspondents include fellow artists Karl Benjamin, William Brice, Robert Chuey, Rico Lebrun, and John McLaughlin, among others.
There are 23 diaries written by Frederick Hammersley dating from 1935-2008, with a gap spanning 1954-1972. Also found are six diaries written by Harold Hammersley dating from 1940-1959 and three by Anna Hammersley from 1909-1965.
Hammersley's writings include college class notes, essays, poetry, lecture notes, grant applications, and proposals. There are also sound recordings of lectures and talks as well as drafts and a final copy of an article published in the journal Leonardo in 1970.
Teaching files consist of class lecture notes, student evaluations, and grade books for classes likely taught at Pomona University and the Chouinard Art Institute.
Graphic design projects contain materials from Hammersley's company Handsome Cards for which he designed greeting and holiday cards. Also included are various freelance designs and draft designs for exhibition catalogs. General financial and business records focus on Hammersley business relationships and transactions with galleries and museums and his efforts to promote his art. Galleries and museums represented in the files include Modernism Gallery (San Francisco), L.A. Louver Gallery (Venice, California), and Hoshour Gallery (Albuquerque). This series also contains tax returns and expense ledgers. Also found are scattered materials from the household of Anna and Harold Hammersley.
Estate records are found for Frederick Hammersley, Susie Hammersley Stone, Anna and Harold Hammersley, Frederick Hammersley Sr., Mrs. E. Hammersley, Maude Eliza Hammersley, Dorothy Hutchinson Hammersley, and Basil Edward Pratt. These files include wills and yearly financial reports.
Printed material consists of newspaper and magazine clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and printed copies of Hammersley's graphic designs. The series is extensive and contains clippings and exhibition material that represents Hammersley's entire career as an artist. Also found are packets of printed materials created by Hammersley to represent the careers of his friends and colleagues.
Scrapbooks consist of eleven "scrapfiles," postcard albums, and clippings scrapbooks created by Frederick Hammersley and Anna Hammersley. Scrapfiles refers to the original title created by the Hammersleys. Frederick's scrapbooks contain clippings of art, criticisms of his work, and news mentions of his career. Anna's scrapbooks contain one postcard album and 4 scrapbooks and scrapfiles of news clippings relating to subjects of her personal interest.
Photographs include snapshots of Hammersley; images of Hammersley with family and friends; travel photographs, many of them taken in Europe during World War II; photographs of exhibitions; and photographs of Hammersley's artwork. Most of the photographs were labeled and dated by Hammersley. There are six photo albums created by Frederick Hammersley and four albums compiled by his parents Harold and Anna Hammersley.
Artwork consists of Hammersley's sketchbooks, drawings, and paintings from high school and college classes, designs for exhibition catalogs, and cards and printouts for his computer drawings series. Also included are geometric color studies on panel and artwork for a bank mural proposal from 1977. Drawings and design work by Susie Stone, Hammersley's sister are also included, as well as two works by Lu Nowels.
The collection is arranged as 13 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1919-2008 (2.5 linear feet; Box 1-3, 31, 33, 37)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1900-2009 (3.1 linear feet; Box 3-6, 37)
Series 3: Diaries, 1909-2008 (2.1 linear feet; Box 6-8, 37)
Series 4: Writings, Lectures, and Notes, circa 1940-2009 (0.6 linear feet; Box 8-9, 37)
Series 5: Teaching Files, circa 1950-1993 (0.2 linear feet; Box 9)
Series 6: Graphic Design Projects, circa 1945-1980 (0.4 linear feet; Box 9-10, 31)
Series 7: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1897-2008 (3.2 linear feet; Box 10-13, 24, 33, 35, 37)
Series 8: Estate Records, 1898-2001 (0.7 linear feet; Box 13, 24, 37)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1945, 2011 (3.6 linear feet; Box 13-17, 31, 37, 42, OV45)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, circa 1890-1960s (3.3 linear feet; Box 17-18, 25-29)
Series 11: Photographs, circa 1860s-2007 (10.7 linear feet; Box 18-23, 29-31, 37-43)
Series 12: Artwork and Artifacts, 1934-2009 (3.2 linear feet; Box 22, 31-32, 35, 38, 42, 44, OV46-56)
Series 13:Unprocessed Addition, undated (0.3 linear feet; Box 66)
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, graphic designer, and educator Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) spent most of his career in Los Angeles and New Mexico. He is closely associated with the hard-edge abstraction painting style of the Abstract Classicists of Southern California.
Hammersley was born on January 5, 1919 to Anna Westberg and Harold Hammersley in Salt Lake City, where his father worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior. The family lived in Utah and Idaho before finally settling in San Francisco. Hammersley attended the University of Idaho and later enrolled in the Academy of Advertising Art in San Francisco. In 1940, Hammersley began taking classes at the Chouinard Art Institution in Los Angeles.
Hammersley's studies were interrupted by World War II military service from 1942 to 1946. He was stationed first in Paris as a draftsman in the Signal Corp and was eventually promoted to Army sargeant in the Office of Military Government in Berlin. While in Paris, he visited Picasso's studio several times and also took classes at the Ècole des Beaux Arts at the end of the war. When he returned home in 1946, the GI Bill subsidized his final year of study at Chouinard, now the California Institute of Arts, and three years at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles.
Hammersley made his living as an art professor in California for twenty years, where he taught at the Jepson Art Institute and Pomona College in Claremont. He moved to Albuquerque after accepting a teaching position at the University of New Mexico in 1968. In 1971, Hammersley resigned his teaching position and devoted himself to painting.
Hammersley's reputaton as a painter began in 1948 when one of his small paintings was accepted in an annual exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1958, several of his works were included in the seminal exhibition Four Abstract Classicists, organized by Jules Langsner and Peter Selz and shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Hammersley, and fellow painters Lorser Feitelson, Karl Benjamin, and John McLaughlin, were dubbed the "hard-edged painters," whose style consisted of flat, colored geometric shapes that were a sharp contrast to the more popular Abstract Expressionism. The label stuck and in the mid 1970s, Hammersley submitted several works of art for a show called L.A. Hard Edge, a show that featured art from the 1950s and 1970s.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Hammersley exhibited in several one-man shows, including at L.A. Louver in Venice, California, the Hoshour Gallery in Albuquerque, and the Corcoran in Washington, D.C. In 2000, the Laguna Art Museum presented a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Sante Fe, and the Pomona College Museum of Art organized a retrospective in 2007. His work is in museum collections across the country, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Hammersley died in 2009 at the age of 90. He was survived by his sister, Susie Hammersley Stone.
The Archives of American Art also holds the Tamara Webster papers relating to Frederick Hammersley.
Frederick Hammersley donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in nine accessions from 1974 to 2008. The Frederick Hammersley Foundation donated additional papers in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2020 via Executive Director, Kathleen Shields.
This collection is temporarily closed to researchers due to archival processing and digitization of the 2015 and 2018 additions. Contact Reference Services for more information.
John Divola : as far as I could get / Santa Barbara Museum of Art with Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Pomona College Museum of Art ; foreword by Larry Feinberg, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director & Chief Executive Officer, Santa Barbara Museum of Art ; essays by Karen Sinsheimer, Britt Salvesen, Kathleen Howe ; interview with John Divola by Simon Baker