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Oral history interview with Max Spivak

Interviewee:
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington), 1920-  Search this
Creator:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Names:
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Block, Lou, 1895-1969  Search this
Cahill, Holger, 1887-1960  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Knight, Harry  Search this
Krasner, Lee, 1908-1984  Search this
McMahon, Audrey, 1900?-1981  Search this
Rosenberg, Harold, 1906-1978  Search this
Extent:
58 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
circa 1965
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Max Spivak conducted circa 1963, by Harlan Phillips, for the Archives of American Art.
Spivak speaks of how he went from being an accountant to doing art; moving to Paris for three years, and how this experience changed his life; the difference between painting in Europe and painting in America; moving back to New York; why he decided to leave Paris and move back to New York; the importance of intuitive feeling; his involvement with the Gibson Committee; how he and some members of the Gibson Committee thought of the WPA; his experiences with the PWAP at the Whitney Museum; picketing outside the Mirror; his and the other artists experiences with the Project; the development of the Artist Congress; the nature of art; his work on mosaic murals; how art started losing support from the government by the late thirties; doing murals for big companies; the waning moments of the Project. He recalls Arshile Gorky, Holger Cahill, Audrey McMahon, Lee Krasner, Harold Rosenberg, Harry Knight, Lou Block, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Max Spivak (1906-1981) was a painter and designer in New York, N.Y.
General:
Originally recorded 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 32 min.
Interview date changed to circa 1965 because the blackout of November 1965 is discussed in the interview.
Provenance:
Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Restrictions:
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Mosaics  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.spivak63
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-spivak63
Online Media:

Oral history interview with Max Spivak, circa 1965

Interviewee:
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Interviewer:
Phillips, Harlan B. (Harlan Buddington),, 1920-  Search this
Subject:
Knight, Harry  Search this
McMahon, Audrey  Search this
Gorky, Arshile  Search this
Rosenberg, Harold  Search this
Cahill, Holger  Search this
Block, Lou  Search this
Krasner, Lee  Search this
New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Topic:
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Mosaics  Search this
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Theme:
New Deal  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)12105
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)213927
AAA_collcode_spivak63
Theme:
New Deal
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_213927
Online Media:

Abraham Joel Tobias papers

Creator:
Tobias, Abraham Joel, 1913-1996  Search this
Names:
Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)  Search this
Fine Arts Federation of New York  Search this
United States. Work Projects Administration  Search this
Block, Irving  Search this
Brooks, James, 1906-1992  Search this
Caswell, Edward C.  Search this
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973  Search this
Gaber, George  Search this
Gill, Brendan, 1914-1997  Search this
La Gambina, Vincent, 1909-1994  Search this
Lishinsky, Abraham  Search this
Orozco, José Clemente, 1883-1949  Search this
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Tobey, Alton S. (Alton Stanley), 1914-2005  Search this
Extent:
2.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Video recordings
Photographs
Date:
1913-2000
Summary:
The Abraham Joel Tobias papers date from 1913 to 2000 and measure 2.8 linear feet. Through project and exhibition files, printed material, correspondence, and photographs, the collection provides an overview of Tobias's career as a painter and muralist in New York City.
Scope and Content Note:
The Abraham Joel Tobias papers date from 1913 to 2000 and measure 2.8 linear feet. Through project and exhibition files, printed material, correspondence, and photographs, the collection provides an overview of Tobias's career as a painter and muralist in New York City.

General correspondence regards mural proposals, exhibitions, professional activities, and museums' acquisitions of artwork by Tobias. A file of correspondence with the Fine Arts Federation of New York concerns efforts to recognize murals by Irving Block, James Brooks, Philip Evergood, Abraham Lishinsky, José Clemente Orozco, and Max Spivak as landmarks; it also includes minutes of meetings, 1988-1995, that reflect Tobias's service as a board member. Other correspondence is with friends and artists including Edward Caswell, George Gaber, Filia Holtzman, Vincent La Gambina, and Alton S. Tobey.

Project files document murals such as: The Four Freedoms, Midwood High School, Brooklyn, New York, honoring students and teachers who died in World War II (circa 1946); Birth for the maternity ward at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City (1951-1953); and Medical Science and Medical Research, Long Island Jewish Hospital (1954). The Science and Engineering project file (1958) contains a patent certificate for striated plastic, a material Tobias used in two murals. Also of interest is correspondence with the Harman Foundation regarding a documentary film about Tobias's use of ethyl silicate for outdoor murals. Among the exhibitions documented are: "Plastics U.S.A.," "New York WPA Artists Then and Now," and "Abraham Joel Tobias: Sculptural Paintings of the 1930s."

Printed material consists of announcements, invitations, solo and group exhibition catalogs, and clippings relating to Tobias's artistic career. Also found are pamphlets he designed for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Photographs are of Tobias's artwork and the artist with friends and family. There is a video recording of an interview with Tobias conducted by Brendan Gill in 1995.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1913-1996 (Boxes 1, 4; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1933-1997 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)

Series 3: Project and Exhibition Files, 1938-2000 (Boxes 1, 2, 4, OV 5; 1.6 linear feet)

Series 4: Writings, circa 1928-1992 (Box 2; 0.1 linear feet)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1913-1999 (Boxes 3, 4; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 6: Artwork, circa 1990s (Box 3; 1 folder)

Series 7: Photographs, 1929-1970 (Box 3; 0.1 linear feet)

Series 8: Video Recording, 1995 (Box 3, 1 folder)
Biographical Note:
Abraham Joel Tobias (1913-1996) was a painter, muralist, and educator in New York City. He was a pioneer in the use of shaped canvases.

A native of Rochester, New York, Tobias came to New York City to study at the Cooper Union School of Art, 1930-1931, and at the Art Students League, 1930-1933. He worked for the Federal Arts Project,1938-1940, where he continued his training as a muralist, working with artist and technicians.

During World War II, Tobias served in the armed forces. He was an art director with the Intelligence Division, Army Air Force, and in 1945 was employed as a graphic designer for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Tobias was artist-in-residence and served as instructor in painting and drawing at Adelphia College, Garden City, Long Island, 1947-1957. He also was was a visiting lecturer at various schools including Howard University, Brooklyn Museum Art School, Pratt Institute Art School, as well as at colleges in Illinois and Kansas.

Tobias completed over ten mural commissions for governmental agencies and educational institutions, including: United States Post Office, Clarendon, Arkansas; Howard University, Washington, D.C.; James Madison High School, Brooklyn, New York; Beth Israel Hospital, New York City; Domestic Relations Court Building, Brooklyn, New York; and Adelphi College, Garden City, New York. In 1962, Tobias began The History of Science mural for the lobby of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn; it was never completed.

Tobias experimented with diverse materials such as terrazzo and mosaic for mural application. He also broke new ground with the use of ethyl silicate paint as a permanent medium for outdoor murals. In 1958, he patented striated plastic, a pliable material used to achieve an effect similar to stained glass.

He participated in many solo and group exhibitions. In 1935, Tobias presented his shaped canvas painting in the "Sculptural Painting" exhibition at Delphic Studios in New York City. In 1987, Tobias was recognized for his earlier pioneering work with a retrospective exhibition, "Abraham Joel Tobias: Sculptural Paintings" at The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum of Rutgers University. Other exhibitions included: "Plastics U.S.A.," the United States Information Service's exhibition in Moscow (1961); "New York City WPA Art," Parsons School of Design, New York City (1977); "For a Permanent Public Art," Tweed Gallery, New York City (1989); and "The Technological Muse," Katonah Museum of Art, New York (1991).

Tobias's professional memberships included the Architectural League of New York, National Society of Mural Painters, and New York Artists Equity Association. He served on the Board of Directors for the Fine Arts Federation of New York from 1988-1996. He won the Architectural League Award in 1952. The Art Commission of the City of New York recognized Tobias, posthumously, for distinguished service to public art.

Abraham Joel Tobias married Carolyn Pratt in 1949; the couple had one daughter. Abraham Joel Tobias died in Rego Park, New York, in 1996 at the age of 82.
Provenance:
The papers were donated in 2001 by Carolyn Tobias, the widow of Abraham Joel Tobias.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Topic:
Mural painting and decoration  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Video recordings
Photographs
Citation:
Abraham Joel Tobias papers, 1913-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.tobijoel
See more items in:
Abraham Joel Tobias papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-tobijoel

Max Spivak photographs, 1938-[ca. 1967]

Creator:
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Topic:
Mural painting and decoration -- New York N.Y. -- Photographs  Search this
Mosaics -- Photographs  Search this
Theme:
Audio - Visual  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)8668
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)210848
AAA_collcode_spivmax
Theme:
Audio - Visual
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_210848

Max Spivak photographs

Creator:
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Extent:
17 Items ((on partial microfilm reel))
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
1938-[ca. 1967]
Scope and Contents:
2 photographs of Spivak and 15 photographs of his art works, including painted and mosaic WPA murals.
Biographical / Historical:
Mosaicist, teacher, and lecturer; New York, N.Y.
Provenance:
Donated 1980 by Max Spivak's wife, Florence.
Restrictions:
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.
Occupation:
Mosaicists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Topic:
Mural painting and decoration -- New York N.Y. -- Photographs  Search this
Mosaics -- Photographs  Search this
Identifier:
AAA.spivmax
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-spivmax

Oral history interview with Ilya Bolotowsky

Interviewee:
Bolotowsky, Ilya, 1907-1981  Search this
Interviewer:
Cummings, Paul  Search this
Creator:
Diller, Burgoyne, 1906-1965  Search this
Names:
American Abstract Artists  Search this
American Artists' Congress  Search this
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)  Search this
Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors  Search this
G.R.D. Studio (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
National Academy of Design (U.S.)  Search this
Public Works of Art Project  Search this
United States. Works Progress Administration  Search this
Yaddo (Artist's colony)  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Browne, Byron, 1907-1961  Search this
Dlugoszewski, Lucia, 1931-2000  Search this
Drewes, Werner, 1899-1985  Search this
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
Greene, Balcomb, 1904-1990  Search this
Greene, Gertrude, 1904-1956  Search this
Hawthorne, Charles Webster, 1872-1930  Search this
Holtzman, Harry  Search this
Johnson, William H., 1901-1970  Search this
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955  Search this
Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944  Search this
Neilson, Raymond P. R. (Raymond Perry Rodgers), 1881-1964  Search this
Neumann, J. B. (Jsrael Ber)  Search this
Olinsky, Ivan G. (Ivan Gregorewitch), 1878-1962  Search this
Ozenfant, Amédée, 1886-1966  Search this
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981  Search this
Vogel, Joseph, b. 1911  Search this
Extent:
197 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Sound recordings
Interviews
Place:
Wyoming
Date:
1968 March 24-April 7
Scope and Contents:
Interview of Ilya Bolotowsky conducted 1968 March 24-April 7, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.
Bolotowsky, a lively raconteur, recalls a host of episodes from his personal and professional life. He speaks of his childhood in Russia and Azerbaijan; the effects of war and communism; the family's flight as refugees into Georgia and then to present-day Istanbul; and his early education with a private tutor and at a Jesuit school in Istanbul. Bolotowsky recalls his family's emigration to the United States by ship in 1923; his first impressions of New York City; and early visits to the city's museums. He relates numerous anecdotes about faculty and fellow students at the National Academy of Design, including Ivan Olinsky, Raymond Neilson, Charles Hawthorne, Amedee Ozenfant, and William Henry Johnson.
He speaks of various early exhibitions of his work, including those with the Art Students League, G.R.D. Studio, and the J.B. Neumann Gallery. He also describes a stay at Yaddo in 1934.
Bolotowsky recounts his participation in the Public Works of Art Project as a teacher of art to delinquent children; later work on the mural project of the Works Progress Administration; the picketing of WPA offices, providing anecdotes about Max Spivak and Joseph Vogel; military service during World War II, first working on a Russian dictionary of technical terms and then as a liason officer with the Soviet Air Force in Nome, Alaska.
Upon his return from the military, Bolotowsky immediately resumed his painting career, and describes his involvement with artists' organizations such as the American Abstract Artists, the American Artists' Congress, the Concretionists, the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, and the Ten; he mentions in these contexts such personalities as Byron Browne, Burgoyne Diller, Werner Drewes, Arshile Gorky, Clement Greenberg, Balcomb and Gertrude Greene, Harry Holtzman, Fernand Leger, Piet Mondrian, and Meyer Schapiro.
Bolotowsky gives an extensive description of his experiences filling in for Joseph Albers for a year at Black Mountain College, and goes on to discuss his subsequent teaching positions at the University of Wyoming (including a discussion of the impact of the Wyoming landscape on his painting), Brooklyn College, Southampton College, and SUNY New Paltz. He devotes great attention to the development of his painting, his understanding of neo-plasticism and abstraction, and his efforts in filmmaking and playwriting.
Biographical / Historical:
Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981) was a Russian-American abstract painter in New York, New York.
General:
Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 12 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 37 min.
Provenance:
These interviews are 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 others. Funding for the interview was provided by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Restrictions:
ACCESS RESTRICTED; written permission required.
Occupation:
Filmmakers  Search this
Playwrights  Search this
Topic:
Art and state  Search this
Concretionists (Group of artists)  Search this
Emigration and immigration  Search this
Experimental films  Search this
Federal aid to the arts -- United States  Search this
Painting, Abstract -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Playwriting  Search this
Philadelphia Ten (Group of artists)  Search this
World War, 1939-1945 -- Anecdotes  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Identifier:
AAA.boloto68
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-boloto68

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