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Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers

Artist:
Louis, Morris, 1912-1962  Search this
Names:
André Emmerich Gallery  Search this
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  Search this
Robert Pierce/Films, Inc.  Search this
Bocour, Leonard, 1910-1993  Search this
Brenner, Marcella, 1912-2007  Search this
Faatz, Anita J. (Anita Josephine)  Search this
Frankenthaler, Helen, 1928-2011  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
Noland, Kenneth, 1924-2010  Search this
Truitt, Anne, 1921-2004  Search this
Extent:
17.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Photographs
Date:
circa 1910s-2007
bulk 1965-2000
Summary:
The Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers measure 17.8 linear feet and date from circa 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1965-2000. The collection documents Morris Louis' career as a Color Field painter and founding participant in the Washington Color School, as well as the subsequent administration of his estate by his wife Marcella Brenner. Found within Morris Louis' papers are biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, scattered financial records, notes, writings, printed materials, and a canvas sample. The Morris Louis Estate papers include records of gallery exhibitions, mostly André Emmerich Gallery; artwork inventories; legal records concerning the lawsuit Bernstein v. Brenner; financial records of the sale of Louis' artwork; printed materials; writings about Louis; photographs of exhibition installations and artwork; and project files which include documentation of film projects by Robert Pierce Productions, a catalog raisonne, documentation of PBS documentaries, video recordings of the exhibition "Morris Louis Now", and numerous sound recordings of interviews with artists discussing Morris Louis conducted by Anita Faatz.
Scope and Contents:
The Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers measure 17.8 linear feet and date from circa 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1965-2000. The collection documents Morris Louis' career as a Color Field painter and founding participant in the Washington Color School, as well as the subsequent administration of his estate by his wife Marcella Brenner. Found within Morris Louis' papers are biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, scattered financial records, notes, writings, printed materials, and a canvas sample. The Morris Louis Estate papers include records of gallery exhibitions, mostly André Emmerich Gallery; artwork inventories; legal records concerning the lawsuit Bernstein v. Brenner; financial records of the sale of Louis' artwork; printed materials; writings about Louis; photographs of exhibition installations and artwork; and posthumous project files which include documentation of film projects by Robert Pierce Productions, a catalog raisonne, PBS documentaries, video recordings of the exhibition "Morris Louis Now", and numerous sound recordings of interviews with artists, many with transcripts, discussing Morris Louis and conducted by Anita Faatz.

Within the Morris Louis papers (circa 3 linear feet) are scattered biographical materials for Morris Louis and Marcella Brenner. Correspondence is with family friends, artists, and galleries, the bulk of which consists of photocopies. Of note are letters from Helen Frankenthaler, Clement Greenberg, Leonard Bocour, Kenneth Noland, and Anne Truitt. Business records include lists of artwork, receipts for art supplies, and scattered tax records. Six notebooks belonging to Morris Louis contain miscellaneous notes about students, studio rental payments, addresses, travel expenses, and a short list of paintings. There is one notebook of Marcella Brenner's containing notes about expenses and addresses. Also found are printed materials, one canvas sample, and one embossing stamp. Photographs are of Morris Louis, Marcella Brenner, and the Bernstein family.

The majority of the collection (circa 15 linear feet) consists of records created and maintained by Marcella Brenner in the course of managing Louis' estate and posthumous exhibitions and projects. There are numerous gallery exhibition records for many posthumous and retrospective exhibitions between 1965 through 2002, including those held at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum, and numerous other U.S. and international galleries and museums. Louis' artwork is documented in highly detailed inventory lists and cards. Legal records document the lawsuit brought by the Bernstein family against Marcella Brenner which began in 1964 and ended in 1970 in favor of Brenner. Financial records document sales.

Printed materials include clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and other miscellaneous materials. Writings include essays about Louis and manuscript copies of the book Trustee for the Human Race: Litigation over the Morris Louis Paintings written by Ruth S. Blau under contract for Marcella Brenner. Photographs are primarily of artwork depicted in exhibition installations. Project files are found for several posthumous documentary film projects and a catalog raisonne, and include a series of audio recordings of interviews of 27 artists conducted by Anita Faatz in 1970-1971. Artists interviewed include Clement Greenberg, Leonard Bocour, Andre Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, and many others.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged as 2 series.

Series 1: Morris Louis Papers, circa 1910s-1998 (2.9 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)

Series 2: Morris Louis Estate Papers, 1947-2007 (14.9 linear feet; Boxes 3-19, OV 20)
Biographical / Historical:
Morris Louis (1912-1962) was one of the earliest American Color Field painters, and, along with other Washington, D.C., painters, formed the movement known as the Washington Color School.

Born in Baltimore, M.D., to Russian immigrants Louis Bernstein and Cecelia Luckman, Morris Louis attended the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts from 1927-1932 and served as president of the Baltimore Artists' Association in 1935. During the Depression, he worked in New York City on the steering committee of the Easel Division of the Federal Arts Projects of the Works Project Administration (WPA). He exhibited Broken Bridge at the WPA Pavilion of the New York World's Fair in 1939.

In 1947, Louis married Marcella (Siegel) Brenner, and moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, a close suburb of Washington, D.C., where he taught private art classes and continued painting, using his apartment bedroom as a studio. In 1948, Louis participated in the Maryland Artists, 16th Annual Exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and began using Leonard Bocour's Magna acrylic paint, which he would use exclusively for the rest of his painting career.

In 1952, Morris Louis and Marcella Brenner moved to Washington, D.C. and set up a studio in his home where he would complete his most notable canvases. He began teaching at the Washington Workshop Center for the Arts and met artist Kenneth Noland who was also exploring Color Field painting. Through Noland, Louis met art critic Clement Greenberg in 1953, and they visited artist studios in New York City to study abstract expressionist works, including those by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline. Louis and Noland were greatly influenced by Frankenthaler's staining technique, and Louis began experimenting with staining methods upon his return to Washington. Clement Greenberg became a life-long advocate for Louis and, in 1954, included Louis in the seminal group exhibition, "Emerging Talent," organized by Greenberg for the Kootz Gallery. In 1960, Andre Emmerich became his dealer in the United States and Lawrence Rubin represented him in Paris.

Using thinned Magna paint and unstretched, unprimed canvases, Louis created his works by rotating the canvas as the paint moved across and soaked in. Between 1958 and 1962 Louis produced three major series of paintings—the Veils, the Unfurleds, and the Stripes. Each series numbered more than one hundred canvases. Louis never documented his exact painting methods and would not allow anyone to watch him work, including his wife. His own worst critic, Louis destroyed many of his paintings that did meet his standards, including a large number of his earliest works and many created between 1954 and 1957. He also designated numerous surviving works for destruction prior to his death.

Louis was diagnosed with lung cancer on July 1, 1962 and died a few months later. The Andre Emmerich Gallery held a previously scheduled exhibition as planned, a month following Louis' death, as a memorial exhibition.
Related Materials:
Also found at the Archives of American Art are the Marcella Brenner journals, 1962-2000. The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) also holds papers of Morris Louis and the Morris Louis Estate in their Morris Louis Study Collection.
Provenance:
The Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers were donated by Marcella Brenner in several installments in 1976, 1986, and 1988. Subsequent donations in 2009 and 2012 were donated by Marcella Brenner via Ann M. Garfinkle, Executor. The Anita Faatz interviews were donated in 1976 by Marcella Brenner.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Many of the audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with 26 artists conducted by Anita Faatz in 1970-1971 are access restricted and written permission is required from the person interviewed. Please contact reference services for more information. Any 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.
Occupation:
Painters -- United States  Search this
Topic:
Transcripts  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Law and art -- United States  Search this
Color-field painting  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Photographs
Citation:
Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate Papers, circa 1910s-2007, bulk 1965-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.louimorr
See more items in:
Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-louimorr
Online Media:

Sam Gilliam papers

Creator:
Gilliam, Sam, 1933-  Search this
Names:
Carl Solway Gallery  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
Studio Museum in Harlem  Search this
Andrews, Benny, 1930-2006  Search this
Driskell, David C.  Search this
Gilliam, Dorothy Butler, 1936-  Search this
Krebs, Rockne, 1938-2011  Search this
Mondale, Walter F., 1928-  Search this
Extent:
7.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Photographs
Prints
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Date:
1957-1989
Summary:
The papers of contemporary Color Field painter and educator Sam Gilliam measure 7.9 linear feet and date from 1957 to 1989. The papers include biographical material, correspondence, writings, business records, printed material, subject files, a scrapbook, artwork, and photographic material that document Gilliam's life from his time as a student through his teaching, professorial, and artistic career. The collection highlights Gilliam's close involvement with the art institutions, racial politics, and artistic innovation taking place in 1960s through 1980s America, specifically in Washington D.C.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of contemporary Color Field painter and educator Sam Gilliam measure 7.9 linear feet and date from 1957 to 1989. The papers include biographical material, correspondence, writings, business records, printed material, subject files, a scrapbook, artwork, and photographic material that document Gilliam's life beginning as a student, through to his teaching, professorial, and artistic career based in Washington D.C. The collection highlights Gilliam's close involvement with the art institutions, racial politics, and artistic innovation taking place in 1960s through 1980s America, specifically in Washington D.C., and showcases the planning and creation of the large scale three-dimensional paintings Gilliam is best known for as a member of the Washington Color School of painting.

Biographical material includes resumes, passports, exhibition lists, artists' statements and essays, interview transcripts and recordings. Also included are audio recordings of conversations between Sam Gilliam and artist Benny Andrews, between Gilliam and artist Rockne Krebs, as well as recordings of a 1968 interview conducted by Dorothy Gilliam.

Correspondence spans over 20 years and includes letters to and from museums and galleries such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Carl Solway Gallery, collectors, artists including David Driskell, friends, family, students, and fans.

Writings include notes, statements, and essays by and about Gilliam, writings by university students of Gilliam, and writings related to Gilliam's artwork and public commissions including measurements for artworks, material research, and information regarding prints created for the private home of Walter Mondale.

Business records primarily include the daily records of activities kept by Sam and Dorothy Gilliam's secretary, Debby, from 1973 to 1978. Also present are resumes for a studio assistant for Gilliam, certificates of originality, legal documents, receipts and invoices, a record of donated paintings, financial records, ledgers, contracts, records and paperwork for the Gilliam's company Enterprise 101, and miscellany.

Printed materials include photocopies, exhibition announcements, magazines, and clippings regarding exhibitions, specific artworks, and commissions, and Gilliam and/or his then-wife, Dorothy Gilliam.

The subject file series contains letters, photographic material, business records, sketches, and printed materials concerning specific galleries, public art commissions, arts organizations, workshops, teaching positions, Gilliam's studio, art suppliers, and other topics.

A disbound scrapbook contains photographs, notes, and printed material related to Gilliam and his studio practice.

The artwork series includes sketches, personal notes, and small preparatory drawings by Gilliam.

Photographic material includes negatives, slides, and transparencies of artworks, Gilliam in his studio, and Gilliam and staff preparing museum and gallery exhibition spaces. Also included are records of student artwork, and photos and slides of artwork sent to Gilliam by students and aspiring artists.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged as 9 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1958-1988, (Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-1989, (Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)

Series 3: Writings, 1962-1988, (Box 2; 0.4 linear feet)

Series 4: Business Records, 1957-1986, (Boxes 2-3; 1.0 linear foot)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1962-1987, (Boxes 3-4; 1.0 linear foot)

Series 6: Subject Files, 1963-1988, (Boxes 4-7; 2.2 linear feet)

Series 7: Scrapbook, 1958-1968, (Box 7; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 8: Artwork, 1970-1980, undated, (Boxes 7-9; 0.4 linear feet)

Series 9: Photographic Material, 1960-1985, (Boxes 8-9; 0.3 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Sam Gilliam (1933- ) is an African-American artist based in Washington, D.C. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and raised in Louisville, Kentucky where he began painting as a child, eventually attending the University of Louisville where he received his B.A. in Fine Art and M.A. in Painting. He went on to teach art to high school students in the Washington D.C. public school system, and university-level students at the Corcoran School of Art, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), the University of Maryland, and Carnegie Mellon University. His numerous grants and awards include the 1971 Solomon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and multiple Honorary Doctoral degrees.

As an artist, Gilliam is best known for his three-dimensional draped and suspended paintings, covered with large fields of poured paint, pigment, and colorful staining influenced by the movement and colors of Abstract Expressionist painters. Gilliam went on to become a part of the Washington Color School of painters, where his creation of free-form works flourished. He created many public works that incorporated new materials such as custom designed metal forms, quilted canvas, and textiles; his works often included subtle social commentaries through their titling. His suspended paintings cemented Gilliam as an innovative and influential presence in 20th century American art.
Provenance:
The Sam Gilliam papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Sam Gilliam in 1989.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce requires written permission from Sam Gilliam. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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.
Occupation:
Educators -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Color-field painting  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Photographs
Prints
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Citation:
Sam Gilliam papers, 1957-1989. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.gillsam
See more items in:
Sam Gilliam papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-gillsam

Paul Allen Reed papers

Creator:
Reed, Paul, 1919-2015  Search this
Extent:
1.5 Linear feet
0.774 Gigabytes
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Gigabytes
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Date:
1936-2008
Summary:
The Paul Allen Reed papers measure 1.5 linear feet and 0.774 GB and date from 1936 to 2008. The papers document Reed's career as a painter through correspondence with friends and colleagues; writings by Reed including lecture notes and teaching plans; professional files including binders with curriculum vitae and cataloged artwork, and sound, video, and born-digital recordings including interviews; printed material such as clippings, exhibition announcements, and catalogs; studies for paintings; and photographs of Reed and his artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The Paul Allen Reed papers measure 1.5 linear feet and 0.774 GB and date from 1936 to 2008. The papers document Reed's career as a painter through correspondence with friends and colleagues; writings by Reed including lecture notes and teaching plans; professional files including binders with curriculum vitae and cataloged artwork, and sound, video, and born-digital recordings including interviews; printed material such as clippings, exhibition announcements, and catalogs; studies for paintings; and photographs of Reed and his artwork.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1963-2007 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 2: Writings, 1966-1981 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 3: Professional Activity Files, 1936-2008 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 4: Printed Material, 1963-2007 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1, 0.774 GB; ER01)

Series 5: Artwork, 1952-1990 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1-3)

Series 6: Photographic Material, 1964-2008 (0.1 linear feet; Box 2)
Biographical / Historical:
Painter Paul Allen Reed (1919-2015) was born, and lived for most of his life, in Washington, D.C. He was a member of the Washington Color School, whose style of abstract color-field painting emerged and flourished in the city's art scene during the 1960s.

Reed taught at the Corcoran School of Art from 1971 to the early 1980s. His work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and other museums.
Related Materials:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history with Paul Reed conducted by Judith Zilczer, April 29, 1994.
Provenance:
The Paul Allen Reed papers were donated by Paul Reed between 1995 and 2008.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Rights:
All images of works of art: Authorization to reproduce for purposes of publication requires written permission from Paul Reed or Jean Reed Roberts. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Educators -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Citation:
Paul Allen Reed papers, 1936-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.reedpaul
See more items in:
Paul Allen Reed papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-reedpaul

Alma Thomas papers, circa 1894-2001

Creator:
Thomas, Alma, 1891-1978  Search this
Subject:
Thomas, J. Maurice (John Maurice)  Search this
Tarbary, Celine  Search this
Sarg, Tony  Search this
Taylor, Joshua Charles  Search this
Johnson, Nathalie J. Cole  Search this
Bader, Franz  Search this
Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme  Search this
Martha Jackson Gallery  Search this
Art in Embassies Program (U.S.)  Search this
Type:
Scrapbooks
Audiocassettes
Video recordings
Photographs
Topic:
Painting, American  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9241
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211436
AAA_collcode_thomalma
Theme:
African American
Lives of American Artists
Women
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211436
Online Media:

Paul Allen Reed papers, 1936-2008

Creator:
Reed, Paul, 1919-2015  Search this
Type:
Sound recordings
Interviews
Video recordings
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6634
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)215946
AAA_collcode_reedpaul
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_215946

Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers, circa 1910s-2007, bulk 1965-2000

Creator:
Louis, Morris, 1912-1962  Search this
Subject:
Brenner, Marcella  Search this
Bocour, Leonard  Search this
Frankenthaler, Helen  Search this
Faatz, Anita J. (Anita Josephine)  Search this
Noland, Kenneth  Search this
Greenberg, Clement  Search this
Truitt, Anne  Search this
Robert Pierce/Films, Inc.  Search this
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  Search this
André Emmerich Gallery  Search this
Type:
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Interviews
Photographs
Topic:
Transcripts  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Law and art -- United States  Search this
Color-field painting  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7040
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209173
AAA_collcode_louimorr
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209173
Online Media:

Alma Thomas papers

Creator:
Thomas, Alma  Search this
Names:
Art in Embassies Program (U.S.)  Search this
Martha Jackson Gallery  Search this
Bader, Franz, 1903-1994  Search this
Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, 1896-1986  Search this
Johnson, Nathalie J. Cole  Search this
Sarg, Tony, 1882-1942  Search this
Tarbary, Celine  Search this
Taylor, Joshua Charles, 1917-  Search this
Thomas, J. Maurice (John Maurice), 1900 or 1901-  Search this
Extent:
5.5 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scrapbooks
Audiocassettes
Video recordings
Photographs
Date:
circa 1894-2001
Summary:
The papers of Washington, D.C. painter and art educator Alma Thomas, date from circa 1894-2001 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The papers document Thomas's work as a teacher, and her development and success as a painter of the Washington Color School, through biographical material, letters, notes and writings, personal business records, exhibition files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, an audio recording, and two video recordings.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of Washington, D.C. painter and art educator Alma Thomas, date from circa 1894-2001 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The papers document Thomas's work as a teacher, and her development and success as a painter of the Washington Color School, through biographical material, letters, notes and writings, personal business records, exhibition files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, an audio recording, and two video recordings.

Biographical material includes identity cards, chronologies, an audio recording including a biographical account, and scattered documentation of Thomas's education and teaching careers with D.C. Public Schools, Howard University, and Thomas Garrett Settlement in Wilmington, Delaware. Also found are records relating to Thomas's participation in a summer marionette class taught by Tony Sarg in 1934, and a tour of European art centers which Thomas took in 1958.

Letters relate primarily to the exhibition of Thomas's work and related events and are from galleries, museums, other art institutions, colleagues, and friends including Franz Bader, Adelyn Breeskin, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Howard University Gallery of Art, Martha Jackson Gallery, Nathalie J. Cole Johnson, Vincent Melzac, Celine Tabary, and Joshua Taylor.

Notes and writings include four notebooks and autobiographical writings by Thomas, a "Birthday Book," and an annotated engagement calendar. J. Maurice Thomas's writings about Alma Thomas, her research for a bibliography on James Weldon Johnson, and writings by others, including Jacob Kainen, about Alma Thomas, are also found here.

Exhibition files contain a wide variety of documentation for many group and solo exhibitions of Thomas's work from the early 1950s through a 1998-2000 traveling retrospective exhibition, including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1972. The records include letters from Franz Bader Gallery, David Driskell at Fisk University, and Vincent Melzac. Photographs include Thomas with individuals including William Buckner, Jeff Donaldson, David Driskell, James W. Herring, and Vincent Melzac. Also found is a photograph of the 1951 Little Paris Studio Group picturing Lois Mailou Jones, Celine Tabary, Alma Thomas, and others. Two video recordings are of events related to the 1998-2000 retrospective at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum of Art. Records documenting a 1981-1982 exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, A Life in Art: Alma Thomas, includes the script of a video written by Adolphus Ealey.

Personal business records include price lists, gift and loan receipts, and files concerning the Art in Embassies Program, the Martha Jackson Gallery, a benefit auction for the Corcoran School of Art, and the designation of the Thomas family home in Washington, D.C. as a historic property.

Eleven scrapbooks document Thomas's teaching career through the activities of the art classes she taught at Shaw Junior High School.

Printed materials include announcements and catalogs for exhibitions and other events; clippings which document Thomas's career and subjects of interest to her; Christmas cards featuring block prints designed by Thomas; and other programs and publications featuring Thomas.

Photographs are of Alma Thomas, family, and friends and colleagues including Sam Gilliam, James V. Herring, and Nathalie V. Cole Johnson; art classes taught by Thomas; Thomas's homes in Columbus, Georgia and Washington, D.C.; and exhibitions not documented in Series 4: Exhibition Files, including photographs of Alma Thomas at an opening at Barnett Aden Gallery with Alonzo Aden and others.
Arrangement note:
The papers have been arranged into 8 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1911-2001 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 2: Letters, circa 1930-2001 (Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)

Series 3: Notes and Writings, circa 1920s-circa 1998 (Box 2; 0.7 linear feet)

Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1951-2000 (Boxes 2-3, OV 7; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1950s-1994 (Box 3; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 6: Printed Material, circa 1908-2000 (Boxes 3-5, OV 7; 1.8 linear feet)

Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1930-1946 (Box 5; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1894-2001 (Boxes 5-6; 0.6 linear feet)
Biographical/Historical note:
Washington, D.C. painter and art educator Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was known for her abstract paintings filled with dense patterns of color, and was considered a major artist of the Washington Color School.

Thomas was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1894, and was the eldest of the four daughters of John Harris Thomas and Amelia Cantey Thomas. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1906 and Thomas was first introduced to art classes at Armstrong Technical High School. Following her graduation in 1911 she took a course in kindergarten teaching at the Miner Normal School, and subsequently worked as a substitute teacher in the Washington, D.C. public school system until 1914, when she took a teaching position on the Eastern shore of Maryland. From 1916 to 1923 she taught kindergarten at Thomas Garrett Settlement House in Wilmington, Delaware.

Thomas originally enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. as a home economics major in 1921, but after studying under Lois Mailou Jones amd James V. Herring in Herring's newly established art department, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art in 1924, and became the first person to graduate from the program. Thomas then began her teaching career at Shaw Junior High School in Washington, D.C. that lasted from 1924, until her retirement in 1960. During this time she established community arts programs that would encourage her students to develop an appreciation of fine arts. Activities included marionette programs, distribution of student-designed holiday menu cards for dinners given for soldiers at the Tuskegee Veterans' Hospital, art clubs, lectures, and student exhibitions. In 1943 she became the founding vice president of Barnett Aden Gallery, which was established by James V. Herring and Alonzo Aden and was the first integrated gallery in Washington, D.C.

In 1934 Thomas earned an M.A. degree in Art Education from Columbia University. At American University in Washington, D.C., she studied creative painting under Joe Summerford, Robert Gates, and Jacob Kainen from 1950 to 1960, and began to break away from representational painting and experiment more seriously with Abstract Expressionism. In 1958 she participated in a tour of the art centers of Western Europe under the auspices of the Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Following her retirement from teaching in 1960, Thomas devoted herself full-time to painting, and continued to develop her signature style. She was inspired by nature and the desire to express beauty through composition and color, and refused to be constrained by societal expectations related to her race, gender, and age, achieving her greatest success in the last decade of her life. Her work was exhibited at the Dupont Theatre Art Gallery, Franz Bader Gallery, and the Howard University Gallery of Art, before she was honored in 1972 with exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Thomas's work has been exhibited at the White House and can be found in the permanent collections of major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Separated Materials note:
In 1979, J. Maurice Thomas loaned papers for microfilming. Most, but not all, of the loaned material was later donated and is described in this finding aid. Loaned materials not donated at a later date are available on reels 1541-1543 and are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Provenance:
J. Maurice Thomas, the artist's sister, loaned portions of the collection for microfilming in 1979. Most, but not all of this material was then later donated in several accretions by J. Maurice Thomas, between 1979 and 2004. Charles Thomas Lewis, Thomas' nephew, gave additional papers in 2010.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copies 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.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Educators -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Painting, American  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Women artists  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scrapbooks
Audiocassettes
Video recordings
Photographs
Citation:
Alma Thomas papers, circa 1894-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.thomalma
See more items in:
Alma Thomas papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-thomalma
Online Media:

Interview with Paul Reed,conducted by Ed Zerne

Creator:
Reed, Paul, 1919-2015  Search this
Zerne, Ed  Search this
Type:
Sound Recording
Date:
1985 December 16
Topic:
Painters  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19229
See more items in:
Paul Allen Reed papers, 1936-2008
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19229

Howard Mehring papers

Creator:
Mehring, Howard, 1931-1978  Search this
Extent:
0.2 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1931-1978
Summary:
The papers of painter Howard Mehring measure 0.2 linear feet and date from circa 1931-1978. This small collection of documentation on Mehring's career includes graduation and birth certificates; letters to Mehring from his mother, dealers, lawyers and clients; and childhood photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of painter Howard Mehring measure 0.2 linear feet and date from circa 1931-1978. This small collection of documentation on Mehring's career includes graduation and birth certificates; letters to Mehring from his mother, dealers, lawyers and clients; and childhood photographs.
Arrangement:
Due to the small size of this collection the papers are arranged as one series.
Biographical / Historical:
Howard Mehring (1931-1978) was a painter in Washington, D.C., considered one of the six core members of the Washington Color School, which also included his instructor at Catholic University, Kenneth Noland. His mature work, all abstract, ranged from loose Abstact Expressionism to a more structured geometic style of Color Field Painting.
Provenance:
The papers were donated in 2018 by Patricia and William Taffe Driscoll, friends of Mehring, who had held the documents on Mehring's behalf.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
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.
Occupation:
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Citation:
Howard Mehring Papers, circa 1931-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.mehrhowa
See more items in:
Howard Mehring papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-mehrhowa

Sam Gilliam papers, 1957-1989

Creator:
Gilliam, Sam, 1933-  Search this
Subject:
Andrews, Benny  Search this
Driskell, David C.  Search this
Gilliam, Dorothy Butler  Search this
Krebs, Rockne  Search this
Mondale, Walter F.  Search this
Carl Solway Gallery  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
Studio Museum in Harlem  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Photographs
Prints
Scrapbooks
Sketches
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Topic:
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Color-field painting  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9584
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)211785
AAA_collcode_gillsam
Theme:
Sketches & Sketchbooks
African American
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_211785
Online Media:

Howard Mehring papers, circa 1931-1978

Creator:
Mehring, Howard, 1931-1978  Search this
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)17625
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)397728
AAA_collcode_mehrhowa
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Art Movements and Schools
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_397728

Henri Ehrsam, Alexandria, Virginia letter to Gene Davis, Washington, D.C.

Creator:
Ehrsam, Henri (Henrietta)  Search this
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Subject:
Henri Gallery (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1965 June 29
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19710
See more items in:
Henri Gallery records, circa early 1900s, bulk 1957-1995
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19710

Gene Davis, Douglas Davis, and others drawing up plans for Giveaway exhibition at Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Photographer:
Miller, M. Susan  Search this
Subject:
Davis, Douglas Matthew  Search this
Davis, Gene  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Washington, D.C.
Date:
1967
Topic:
Exhibitions  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19709
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19709
Online Media:

Portrait of Gene Davis with his artwork

Subject:
Davis, Gene  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
196-?
Topic:
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19724
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19724

Photograph of Gene Davis' studio

Photographer:
Swift, Mary, 1929-  Search this
Subject:
Davis, Gene  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1970 or 71
Topic:
Artists' studios  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19765
See more items in:
Mary Swift papers, 1973-2004
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19765
Online Media:

Photograph of Gene Davis in his studio

Photographer:
Swift, Mary, 1929-  Search this
Subject:
Davis, Gene  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1970 or 1971
Topic:
Artists at or with their work  Search this
Artists' studios  Search this
Painters  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19766
See more items in:
Mary Swift papers, 1973-2004
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19766

Paul Reed : Washington color painter

Artist:
Reed, Paul 1919-2015  Search this
Writer of added commentary:
Lenz, Emily 1981-  Search this
Author:
D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc  Search this
Subject:
Reed, Paul 1919-2015  Search this
Physical description:
31 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Exhibition catalogs
Date:
2018
Topic:
Shaped canvas  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Call number:
N40.1.R3252 D95w 2018
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1090706

Paul Reed & the shaped canvas

Title:
Paul Reed and the shaped canvas
Author:
Reed, Paul 1919-  Search this
Wigmore, Deedee  Search this
D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc  Search this
Subject:
Reed, Paul 1919-  Search this
Physical description:
32 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits ; 23 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Date:
2013
Topic:
Shaped canvas  Search this
Washington Color School (Group of artists)  Search this
Call number:
ND237.R44 A4 2013
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1029537

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