The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, audio interviews and recorded statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, holiday cards, printed material, an exhibition related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, audio interviews and recorded statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, holiday cards, printed material, an exhibition related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work. A small portion of the correspondence and printed materials are written in Greek.
Biographical material includes artist statements written and recorded by Constant, two audio interview recordings discussing his philosophies on art and his work, inventories of artwork, personal property deeds and legal correspondence, and other miscellaneous material.
Correspondence is predominantly in the form of business and personal letters, postcards, and holiday cards received from family and friends. These include correspondence from Constant's daughter, Georgette Preston, and extended family members. Other frequent personal correspondents include Milton and Sally Avery, Lewis Balamuth, Margaret Brunning, David Burliuk, Nathaniel Burwash, Rhys Caparn, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Phillip Cavanaugh, Morris Davidson, Charles Eaton, Vilko Gecan, Marchal Landgren, Roy Neuberger, Walter Pach, Nell Perret, Constantine Pougialis, Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga, Hi Simons, and Helen Slosberg. Business related correspondents include Audubon Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Ferargil Galleries, Guild Hall, Heckscher Museum, Lyman Allyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Spanish Refugee Appeal, and the Whitney Museum. Other business correspondence related to Constant's work with the WPA are also included in the series.
Printed material includes books and booklets on American and Greek art, including a limited print edition of George Constant by George Constant, clippings and articles reviewing Constant's work, exhibition announcements and catalogs of Constant's shows, periodicals profiling his artwork, and dance and theater related programs that Constant consulted on.
Photographs include black and white prints of Constant and his family and friends in St. Louis, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio, and in and around his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York. The collection also includes photo stills from his 1965 exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum and a comprehensive set of black and white prints, a handful of color prints, and several color slide sheets of Constant's artwork from the 1920s to 1978.
The collection is arranged into 4 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1923-2007 (Box 1; 17 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1930-1979 (Box 1-2; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1927-2005 (Box 2-3; 2 linear feet)
Series 4: Photographic Material, 1912-1978 (Box 4-6; 1 linear foot)
Greek American George Zachary Constant (1892-1978) worked from his studios in Shinnecock Hills, and New York City, New York as a painter and printmaker. A founder and lifelong member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Constant worked for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) during the Depression and early years of World War II, and exhibited regularly at major galleries and museums from the 1920s to 1970s.
Born in Arahova, Greece, Constant was raised by his two uncles after the death of his parents in 1896. In school and at the monestary one of his uncles led, Constant showed an early interest in classical Greek aesthetics. At the age of eighteen, he immigrated to the United States and continued his art studies at Washington University before transferring to the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, Constant taught at the Dayton Art Institute and continued to produce and exhibit his work locally. In 1922, he moved to New York, joined the Society of Independent Painters, and became close friends with Society founder and art critic Walter Pach. During the 1920s, his etchings were shown at the Valentine and Downtown Galleries, and at the New Art Circle of J.B. Neumann, where he presented his first one man gallery show in 1929.
From the 1930s to 1940s, Constant produced prints, watercolors, and oil paintings for the WPA, many of which were purchased by museums and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum. During this same period, Constant exhibited his work at the Boyer Gallery in the late 1930s, and at the Ferargil Gallery from the 1940s to early 1950s. In the decade between 1955 and 1965, Constant also worked on color and set design for seventeen dance productions created by the choreographer Alwin Nikolais. In the last two decades of his career, Constant produced works from his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York and continued to exhibit at numerous galleries, including Grace Borgenicht Gallery, Guild Hall, Mari Galleries, Tirca Karlis Gallery, and Artium Gallery.
The papers of George Constant were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1978. Additional materials were donated in 2001 and 2007 by his daughter Georgette Preston.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The George Constant papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.