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Katharine Kuh papers

Creator:
Kuh, Katharine  Search this
Names:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery  Search this
Art Institute of Chicago -- Faculty  Search this
Biennale di Venezia  Search this
Katharine Kuh Gallery (Chicago, Ill.)  Search this
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984  Search this
Albers, Josef  Search this
Albright, Ivan, 1897-1983  Search this
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964  Search this
Arensberg, Louise S. (Louise Stevenson), 1879-1953  Search this
Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954  Search this
Arp, Jean, 1887-1966  Search this
Barnet, Will, 1911-  Search this
Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 1902-1981  Search this
Biddle, George, 1885-1973  Search this
Breuer, Marcel, 1902-  Search this
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976  Search this
Campoli, Cosmo  Search this
Chagall, Marc, 1887-  Search this
Chavez Morado, José, 1909-2002  Search this
Chermayeff, Serge, 1900-  Search this
Cornell, Joseph  Search this
Cox, Richard  Search this
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964  Search this
Day, Worden, 1916-1986  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-  Search this
Dickinson, Edwin Walter, 1891-  Search this
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926-  Search this
Ernst, Jimmy, 1920-1984  Search this
Falkenstein, Claire, 1908-1997  Search this
Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978  Search this
Friendly, Fred W.  Search this
Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966  Search this
Golub, Leon, 1922-2004  Search this
Goto, Joseph, 1920-  Search this
Grabe, Klaus  Search this
Graves, Robert, 1895-1985  Search this
Guggenheim, Peggy, 1898-  Search this
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980  Search this
Hare, David, 1917-  Search this
Hare, Denise Browne  Search this
Hayter, Stanley William, 1901-1988  Search this
Hirshhorn, Joseph  Search this
Hofmann, Hans, 1880-1966  Search this
Hélion, Jean, 1904-1987  Search this
Inverarity, Robert Bruce, 1909-1999  Search this
Johns, Jasper, 1930-  Search this
Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005  Search this
Johnson, Ray, 1927-  Search this
Kandinsky, Wassily, 1866-1944  Search this
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001  Search this
Kepes, Juliet  Search this
Klee, Paul, 1879-1940  Search this
Kline, Franz, 1910-1962  Search this
Knox, Seymour H., 1898-1990  Search this
Le Corbusier, 1887-1965  Search this
Lundeberg, Helen, 1908-1999  Search this
Lye, Len, 1901-1980  Search this
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955  Search this
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig, 1886-1969  Search this
Millier, Arthur, 1893-  Search this
Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946  Search this
Motherwell, Robert  Search this
Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984  Search this
Nutting, Muriel Leone Tyler, b. 1892  Search this
Nutting, Myron Chester, 1890-1972  Search this
O'Higgins, Pablo, 1904-  Search this
Orozco, José Clemente, 1883-1949  Search this
Ozbekhan, Hasan, 1921-2007  Search this
Perkins, Frances  Search this
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973  Search this
Putnam, Wallace, 1899-1989  Search this
Ray, Man, 1890-1976  Search this
Rich, Daniel Catton, 1904-1976  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Sandberg, Carl  Search this
Seligmann, Kurt, 1900-1962  Search this
Shackelford, Shelby  Search this
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Spaeth, Otto, d. 1966  Search this
Sterne, Hedda, 1916-  Search this
Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965  Search this
Still, Clyfford, 1904-  Search this
Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012  Search this
Tobey, Mark  Search this
Winston, Harry Lewis  Search this
Woolf, Olga  Search this
Young, Victor  Search this
Photographer:
Pollack, Peter, 1909-1978  Search this
Extent:
12 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Illustrated letters
Resumes
Travel diaries
Minutes
Calendars
Visitors' books
Photographs
Paintings
Awards
Drawings
Sound recordings
Collages
Scrapbooks
Lithographs
Prints
Wills
Watercolors
Poetry
Lecture notes
Lectures
Sales records
Date:
1875-1994
bulk 1930-1994
Summary:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. The collection documents Kuh's career as a pioneer modernist art historian and as the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of art historian, dealer, critic, and curator Katharine Kuh measure 12 linear feet and date from 1875-1994, with the bulk of the material dating from 1930-1994. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with family, friends and colleagues; personal business records; artwork by various artists; a travel journal; writings by Kuh and others; scrapbooks; printed material; photographs of Kuh and others; and audio recordings of Kuh's lectures and of Daniel Catton Rich reading poetry.

Biographical material consists of copies of Kuh's birth certificate, resumés, passports, award certificates, honorary diplomas, and address books listing information about several prominent artists and colleagues.

Four linear feet of correspondence offers excellent documentation of Kuh's interest in art history, her travels, her career at the Art Institute of Chicago, her work as a corporate art advisor, and as an author. There are letters from her mother Olga Woolf, friends, and colleagues. There is extensive correspondence with various staff members of the Art Institute of Chicago, the First National Bank of Chicago, and The Saturday Review. Also of interest are letters from artists and collectors, several of whom became life-long friends including Walter and Louise Arensberg, Cosmo Campoli, Serge Chermayeff, Richard Cox, Worden Day, Claire Falkenstein, Fred Friendly, Leon Golub, Joseph Goto, David Hare, Denise Brown Hare, Jean Hélion, Ray Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Len Lye, Wallace Putnam, Kurt Seligmann, Shelby Shackelford, Hedda Sterne, and Clyfford Still. Many letters are illustrated with original artwork in various media.

There are also scattered letters from various artists and other prominent individuals including Josef Albers, George Biddle, Marcel Breuer, Joseph Cornell, Stuart Davis, Edwin Dickinson, Joseph Hirshhorn, Daniel Catton Rich, and Dorothea Tanning.

Personal business records include a list of artwork, Olga Woolf's will, inventories of Kuh's personal art collection, miscellaneous contracts and deeds of gift, receipts for the sale of artwork, files concerning business-related travel, and miscellaneous receipts.

Artwork in the collection represents a wide range of artist friends and media, such as drawings, watercolors, paintings, collages, and prints. Included are works by various artists including lithographs by David Hare and a watercolor set, Technics and Creativity, designed and autographed by Jasper Johns for the Museum of Modern Art, 1970.

Notes and writings include annotated engagement calendars, travel journals for Germany, a guest book for the Kuh Memorial gathering, and many writings and notes by Kuh for lectures and articles concerning art history topics. Of interest are minutes/notes from meetings for art festivals, conferences, and the "Conversations with Artists Program (1961). Also found are writings by others about Kuh and other art history topics.

Six scrapbooks contain clippings that document the height of Kuh's career as a gallery director and museum curator. Scrapbook 6 contains clippings about Fernand Léger, the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1953.

Additional printed material includes clippings about Kuh and her interests, a comprehensive collection of clippings of Kuh's articles for The Saturday Review, exhibition announcements and catalogs, calendars of events, programs, brochures, books including Poems by Kuh as a child, and reproductions of artwork. Of particular interest are the early and exhibition catalogs from the Katharine Kuh Gallery, and rare catalogs for artists including Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Stanley William Hayter, Hans Hofmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Kline, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Pablo Picasso.

Photographs provide important documentation of the life and career of Katharine Kuh and are of Kuh, family members, friends, colleagues, events, residences, and artwork. Several of the photographs of Kuh were taken by Will Barnet and Marcel Breuer and there is a notable pair of photo booth portraits of Kuh and a young Ansel Adams. There are also group photographs showing Angelica Archipenko with Kuh; designer Klaus Grabe; painters José Chavez Morado and Pablo O'Higgins in San Miguel, Mexico; Kuh at the Venice Biennale with friends and colleagues including Peggy Guggenheim, Frances Perkins, Daniel Catton Rich, and Harry Winston; and "The Pre-Depressionists" including Lorser Feitelson, Robert Inverarity, Helen Lundeberg, Arthur Millier, Myron Chester Nutting, and Muriel Tyler Nutting.

Photographs of exhibition installations and openings include views of the Katharine Kuh Gallery; Fernand Léger, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Seymour H. Knox, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. There are also photographs depicting three men posing as Léger's "Three Musicians" and the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Art Institute of Chicago. There is a photograph by Peter Pollack of an elk skull used as a model by Georgia O'Keeffe.

Additional photographs of friends and colleagues include Ivan Albright, Alfred Barr, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem De Kooning, Edwin Dickinson, Marcel Duchamp, Claire Falkenstein, Alberto Giacometti, poet Robert Graves with Len Lye, Philip Johnson, Gyorgy and Juliet Kepes, Carlos Mérida, José Orozco, Hasan Ozbekhan, Pablo Picasso, Carl Sandberg, Ben Shahn, Otto Spaeth, Hedda Sterne, Adlai Stevenson, Clyfford Still, Mark Tobey, and composer Victor Young.

Photographs of artwork include totem poles in Alaska; work by various artists including Claire Falkenstein, Paul Klee, and Hedda Sterne; and work donated to the Guggenheim Museum.

Four audio recordings on cassette are of Katharine Kuh's lectures, including one about assembling corporate collections, and of Daniel Catton Rich reading his own poetry. There is also a recording of the Second Annual Dialogue between Broadcasters and Museum Educators.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 9 series. Undated correspondence, artwork, and photographs of individual artists are arranged alphabetically. Otherwise, each series is arranged chronologically.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1945-1992 (Box 1; 16 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1908-1994 (Boxes 1-5, 13-14, OV 15; 4.0 linear feet)

Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1941-1989 (Box 5; 19 folders)

Series 4: Artwork, 1931-1986 (Boxes 5, 13-14, OVs 15-23; 1.7 linear feet)

Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1914-1994 (Boxes 5-7; 1.7 linear feet)

Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1935-1953 (Box 7; 8 folders)

Series 7: Printed Material, 1916-1992 (Boxes 7-10, 13, OV 22; 3.0 linear feet)

Series 8: Photographs, 1875-1993 (Boxes 10-13; 1.2 linear feet)

Series 9: Audio Recordings, 1977 (Box 12; 1 folder)
Biographical Note:
Katharine Kuh (1904-1994) worked primarily in the Chicago area as an modern art historian, dealer, critic, curator, writer, and consultant. She operated the Katharine Kuh Gallery from 1935-1943 and was the first woman curator of European and Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Katharine Kuh (née Woolf) was born on July 15, 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of the three daughters of Olga Weiner and Morris Woolf, a silk importer. In 1909, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois. While traveling with her family in Europe in 1914, Katharine contracted polio, causing her to spend the next decade in a body brace. During this time of restricted movement, she developed an interest in art history through the collecting of old master prints.

After her recovery, Katharine Woolf attended Vassar College where one of her professors, Alfred Barr, encouraged her to study modern art. She graduated from Vassar in 1925 and received a master's degree in art history from the University of Chicago in 1929. Later that year, she moved to New York to pursue a Ph.D. in Renaissance and medieval art at New York University.

In 1930, Katharine Woolf returned to Chicago and married businessman George Kuh and began to teach art history courses in the suburbs of Chicago. After divorcing George Kuh in 1935, she opened the Katharine Kuh Gallery, the first gallery devoted to avant-garde art in Chicago. It was also the first gallery to exhibit photography and typographical design as art forms, and featured the work of Ansel Adams, Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, and Man Ray, among others. From 1938 to1940, Kuh was the Visiting Professor of Art at the University School of Fine Arts, San Miguel, Mexico.

After the Katharine Kuh Gallery closed in 1943, Kuh was hired by museum director Daniel Catton Rich to fill a position in public relations at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the following years, Kuh edited the museum's Quarterly publication, took charge of the museum's Gallery of Interpretive Art, and began a long term relationship with Rich. In 1946, Kuh was sent on a special mission for the U. S. Office of Indian Affairs to make a detailed study of Native American totemic carvings in Alaska.

In 1949, Kuh persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Walter Arensberg of Los Angeles to exhibit their collection of modern art, creating the first post-war exhibition of modern art in Chicago. She published her first book Art Has Many Faces in 1951, and in the following year, she began writing art criticism for The Saturday Review. In 1954, Kuh was appointed the first woman curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Art Institute. She assembled the American contribution for the Venice Biennale in 1956 and during these years, Kuh helped acquire many of the works of modern art currently in the museum's collection.

A year following Daniel Catton Rich's 1958 resignation from the Art Institute of Chicago, Kuh also resigned and pursued a career in New York as an art collection advisor, most notably for the First National Bank of Chicago. In 1959, Kuh was made art critic for The Saturday Review, and she continued to publish books, including The Artist's Voice in 1962, Break-Up: The Core of Modern Art in 1965, and The Open Eye: In Pursuit of Art in 1971.

Katharine Kuh died on January 10, 1994 in New York City.
Provenance:
The Katharine Kuh papers were donated in several installments from 1971 to 1989 by Katharine Kuh and in 1994 by her estate. Artwork was donated in 1995 by Kuh's former employer, the Art Institute of Chicago.
Restrictions:
Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission until 2019. Contact the Archives of American Art Reference Services department for additional information.
Rights:
The Katharine Kuh 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.
Topic:
Art, Abstract -- United States  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Art festivals  Search this
Women museum curators -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art critics -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Authors -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Art galleries, Commercial -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art historians -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art dealers -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Women art dealers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Women art critics -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Genre/Form:
Illustrated letters
Resumes
Travel diaries
Minutes
Calendars
Visitors' books
Photographs
Paintings
Awards
Drawings
Sound recordings
Collages
Scrapbooks
Lithographs
Prints
Wills
Watercolors
Poetry
Lecture notes
Lectures
Sales records
Citation:
Katharine Kuh papers, 1875-1994, bulk 1930-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.kuhkath
See more items in:
Katharine Kuh papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-kuhkath

Benjamin March Papers

Creator:
March, Benjamin, 1899-1934  Search this
Names:
March, Benjamin, 1899-1934  Search this
Rowe, Dorothy, 1898-  Search this
Extent:
15 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Lecture notes
Letters
Place:
China
Japan
China -- Description and Travel
Michigan
Date:
1923-1934
Summary:
Writer, curator, and professor Benjamin Franklin March Jr. (1899-1934) studied, lectured, and wrote in the United States and in China, and through his works gained respect as one of the foremost authorities on Chinese art during the 1920s and 1930s. His papers, dating from 1923 to 1934, document his professional and personal life in the United States and in China and include lecture notes and outlines; research notes; diaries; scrapbooks; and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The Benjamin March Papers span the years 1923 to 1934 and measure 15 linear feet. The collection includes: biographical data included in passports, obituaries, and fifty-seven condolence letters; lecture and course outlines; research notes; four diaries; one scrapbook; four illustrations including sketches for the March bookplate; fourteen photograph albums; printed matter; and 100 personal and artistic photographs.
Arrangement note:
The collection is divided into the following series:

Series 1: Biographical Information, 1927-1935

Series 2: Diaries, 1925-1934

Series 3: Writings and Research Materials, 1927-1934, undated

— Subseries 3.1: Lecture Materials

— Subseries 3.2: Research

— Subseries 3.3: Printed Matter

Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1924-1934

Series 5: Graphic Materials, 1925, 1933, undated

— Subseries 5.1: Illustrations

— Subseries 5.2: Photo Albums

— Subseries 5.3: Photographs
Biographical Information:
Biographical Sketch

1899 -- Born, Chicago, IL. Son of Benjamin Franklin and Isabel (née McNeal)

[1917?] -- Attended Lewis Institute and the YMCA College before transferring to the University of Chicago

1918-1919 -- Military service, Sergeant, Field Remount Squadron, No. 305, Army Service Corps

1922 -- Graduated from the University of Chicago (Ph.B)

1922-1923 -- Attended the Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY

1923-1925 -- Teacher of English, Latin, and Bible Studies at Hopei University; the Second Normal School; and the YMCA in Paotingfu, China

1925 June 25 -- Married Dorothy Rowe in Nanking, China

1925-1927 -- English instructor; Librarian; and Lecturer in Chinese Art, Yenching University Peiping, China

1927, summer -- Lecturer on Chinese art Columbia University

1927-1931 -- Curator of Asiatic Art Detroit Institute of Arts

1928 -- Honorary Curator of Oriental Aesthetic Art at the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1928 -- Appointed honorary curator at the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

[1929?] -- Daughter (Judith) born

1929 -- China and Japan in Our Museums, published by the American Council, Institute of Pacific Relations

1931 -- Spent six months in China under a special grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to study 13th century painter, Ch'ien Hsuan

1932 -- Curator, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1932 -- Appointed honorary curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts

1933 -- Awarded a Freer Fellowship

1934 -- Standards of Pottery Description, published by the University of Michigan Press

1934, summer -- Organized, directed, and lectured at a summer session of the Institute of Asiatic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley

1934 December -- Died at home in Ann Arbor, Michigan after a five-week illness (heart ailment)

Far Eastern art writer, curator, and lecturer, Benjamin Franklin March Jr., was born in Chicago on July 4, 1899 to Benjamin and Isabel March. He studied, lectured, and wrote in the United States and China and through his works gained respect as one of the foremost authorities on Chinese art during the 1920s and 1930s. Although he lived only thirty-five years, Benjamin March was a respected and influential scholar of Asian art.

After high school, March attended the Lewis Institute and the YMCA College before transferring to the University of Chicago from which he graduated in 1922 (Ph.B). With thoughts of becoming a Methodist minister, March enrolled at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. At the same time, March enrolled in art classes at the Metropolitan Museum. After one year at the seminary, March was presented with and accepted the opportunity to work in China. From 1923 to 1927, March resided in China where he taught and lectured at colleges. Initially, March taught English, Latin, and Bible Studies at Hopei University, the Second Normal School, and the YMCA. From 1925 to 1927, he worked at Yenching University in Peiping (now Peking) as an instructor in English, a librarian, and lecturer in Chinese art.

While in China, March met Dorothy Rowe, the daughter of a Methodist missionary stationed in Nanking. On June 25, 1925 the two were married. Ms. Rowe, whom March sometimes called Doré, had lived in China since infancy. The author of the children's story, "The Begging Dear," Rowe wrote children's stories with Chinese settings.

During the summer of 1927, the March's moved to the United States when Columbia University offered March an appointment as lecturer of Chinese Art. Later that year March was appointed curator of Asiatic art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He remained at the Detroit Institute of Arts in this capacity until 1931. In 1928, March was appointed Honorary Curator of Oriental Aesthetic Art by the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology. The next year, Dorothy March gave birth to the couple's only child, Judith.

During this period March published extensively, including two publications, China and Japan in Our Museums, in 1929 and, Standards of Pottery Description, in 1934. In the latter, March developed a new technique for the scientific study of the materials and methods of manufacture of ancient Chinese pottery. ( Ann Arbor Daily News. -- "Death Takes Noted Curator". -- December 14, 1934)

In 1931, March received a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies. This grant allowed March the opportunity to travel to China and Europe to study the 13th century painter, Ch'ien Hsuan. In 1932, March was named a curator at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. The following year he was named a Freer Fellow. The summer of 1934 found March in Berkeley, California, organizing and directing the Institute of Asiatic Studies at the University of California. During the fall of 1934, March fell ill with a heart ailment. He was ill for five weeks before he died, at the age of 35, in December of 1934. At the time of his death, Benjamin March was survived by his wife Dorothy and their daughter, Judith.
Related Collections:
The Detroit Institute of Arts maintains administrative correspondence and files generated by Benjamin March during his tenure as curator.

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan houses the Benjamin Franklin March drawings collection, This is a collection of drawings by March for his daughter; includes illustrated poems of Pentwater Beach, Michigan.
Provenance:
Judith March Davis, the daughter of Benjamin March, donated her father's papers to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives in 1995.
Benjamin March's daughter, Judith March Davis, donated her father's papers to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives in 1995.
Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Rights:
No restrictions on use.
Topic:
Art, Japanese  Search this
Art, Chinese  Search this
Architecture -- China  Search this
Architecture, Japanese  Search this
Painting, Chinese  Search this
Art, Korean  Search this
Art, Asian  Search this
Painting, Japanese  Search this
Art, Asian -- Research  Search this
Chinese language -- Terms and phrases  Search this
Art -- Terminology  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Lecture notes
Letters
Citation:
Benjamin March Papers. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of Judith March Davis, 1995
Identifier:
FSA.A1995.10
See more items in:
Benjamin March Papers
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-fsa-a1995-10

Balcomb and Gertrude Greene papers

Creator:
Greene, Balcomb, 1904-1990  Search this
Names:
United States. Works Progress Administration  Search this
Gallatin, A. E. (Albert Eugene), 1881-1952  Search this
Greene, Gertrude, 1904-1956  Search this
Greene, Terryn  Search this
Extent:
9.8 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Short stories
Collages
Photographs
Poems
Theses
Articles
Interviews
Lecture notes
Sound recordings
Drawings
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Date:
circa 1880s-2009
Summary:
The Balcomb and Gertrude Greene papers, circa 1880s-2009, bulk circa 1905-1990, measure 9.8 linear feet. Balcomb Greene's career as a painter, educator, and writer - and to a lesser extent his personal life - is documented by biographical material, letters, subject files,writings, artwork, audio-visual recordings, printed material, and photographs. Documentation about sculptor Gertrude Greene, from 1926 until her death in 1956, consists of printed material, photographs, two letters to her, and a brief handwritten list of paintings and constructions.
Scope and Content Note:
The Balcomb and Gertrude Greene papers, circa 1880s-2009, bulk circa 1905-1990, measure 9.8 linear feet. Balcomb Greene's career as a painter, educator, and writer - and to a lesser extent his personal life - is documented by biographical material, letters, subject files,writings, artwork, audio-visual recordings, printed material, and photographs. Documentation about sculptor Gertrude Greene, from 1926 until her death in 1956, consists of printed material, photographs, two letters to her, and a brief handwritten list of paintings and constructions.

All biographical material relates to Balcomb Greene. Letters are almost exclusively incoming letters; two copies of outgoing letters written by Terryn Greene are included. Those addressed to Balcomb Greene regard articles, his will, an appraisal of a painting by him, and greeting cards with notes from friends. The two letters addressed to Gertrude Greene are photocopies. One from A. E. Gallatin concerns her work selected for the permanent collection of the Museum of Living Art at New York University; the other, a fragment from an unidentified correspondent, is about American Abstract Artists dues and exhibitions. The letters addressed to Terryn Greene concern her husband's career or mention him.

Subject files relate to activities and topics of interest to Greene or aspects of Greene's career; some concern estate matters. Of particular interest are: "Balcomb and Gertrude Greene in the WPA," consisting of Terryn Greene's research correspondence on the subject; and a file documenting a Judith Rothschild Foundation grant for conservation of paintings damaged in the 1996 fire that destroyed Balcomb Greene's studio.

Writings are by Balcomb Greene, Gertrude Greene, and other authors. Balcomb's writings include articles, novels, short stories, poems, journal entries, lecture notes, student writings, and a thesis. Gertrude Greene's writings consist of a handwritten list of paintings and constructions, noting the dimensions, date, and price of each piece. The writings of other authors are about Balcomb and Gertrude Greene. They include notes for an interview, a poem, student papers, and a thesis.

Art work consists of a collage probably by Balcomb Greene, and a sketchbook containing two of his drawings dated January 1976. Another drawing is signed [H?.] R. Balcomb Greene's register of paintings documents each completed painting on a separate sheet containing a small photograph or sketch, title, date of execution, and code or negative number, along with notes relating to exhibitions, loans, and ownership; some sheets bear the notation "destroyed." The register is incomplete, and the surviving portion bears evidence of the 1996 fire that gutted his studio. The least damaged portion documents works from 1941-1948, 1963-1964, and 1980-1982; the remaining part of the register consists of partial pages that are missing titles, dates of execution, or other salient information.

Exhibition catalogs and articles from newspapers and periodicals represent the majority of the printed material about or mentioning Balcomb and Gertrude Greene. In addition, there are articles by Balcomb published in a number of periodicals. Museum publications, annual reports, bulletins and newsletters mention the Greenes. Also found are issues of Art Front, 1934-1938 (Balcomb served on the editorial board and contributed articles), and his well-used copy of Modern Art by Katherine S. Drier.

Audio-visual recordings consist of interviews with Balcomb Greene and a "McCarthy tape" (Balcomb and Terryn helped organize "Montauk's Day for McCarthy"). Among the video recordings is a videocassette of Greene's 1990 memorial service.

Photographs are of art work, events, exhibition installations, miscellaneous subjects, people, and places. Art work of both Balcomb and Gertrude is documented. Among the photographs of people are images of Balcomb Greene, Gertrude Greene, Terryn Greene, family, friends and other individuals (identified and unidentified). Greene family photographs, some surviving from the 19th century, portray three generations. Photographs of events include documentation of the damage caused by the 1996 fire that destroyed Balcomb Greene's studio. Installation photographs document exhibitions that featured Balcomb Greene, the couple, and Gertrude Greene. Of particular interest is a view of Gertrude's contribution to the American Abstract Artists' 1937 show at Squibb Gallery. Miscellaneous subjects are Greene's Rolls Royce and pets. Places recorded include Greene's boyhood homes and churches, the house Balcomb built at Montauk, Gertrude's studio, and travel pictures of Europe and Asia. Also found are a small number of negatives, 35-mm slides, and color transparencies of art work, miscellaneous subjects, and people.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 9 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1926-1981 (Box 1; 0.2 linear ft.)

Series 2: Letters, 1936-2005 (Box 1; 3 folders)

Series 3: Subject Files, 1939-2008 (Box 1; 0.2 linear ft.)

Series 4: Writings, circa 1927-1984 (Boxes 1-3; 2.1 linear ft.)

Series 5: Art Work, 1976 (Box 3; 2 folders)

Series 6: Register of Paintings, undated (Box 3; 0.4 linear ft.)

Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1930-2009 (Boxes 4-7, 11, OV 12; 3.9 linear ft.)

Series 8: Audio-visual Recordings, 1963-1990 (Box 7; 0.3 linear ft.)

Series 9: Photographs, circa 1880s-1996 (Boxes 7-11; 2.6 linear ft.)
Biographical Note:
Balcomb (1904-1990) and his wife Gertrude (1904-1956) were painters in New York, N.Y. John Wesley Greene (known professionally as Balcomb Greene), born May 22, 1904 in Millville, New York, was the youngest child of Reverend Bertram Stillman Greene, a Methodist minister. After his wife died in 1907, Reverend Greene and the children moved several times when he accepted assignments at small town churches in Iowa, South Dakota, and Colorado.

The recipient of a scholarship for sons of Methodist ministers, Greene entered Syracuse University in 1922, intending to become a minister. He studied philosophy, psychology, literature, and art, eventually deciding to pursue a career as a writer. When visiting the Metropolitan Museum during his senior year, Greene was introduced to Gertrude Glass by her cousin. They married soon after his graduation in 1926.

The newlyweds moved to Austria where he had a fellowship to study psychology at the University of Vienna. Greene was very interested in Freud's work and hoped to become his student; although he attended Freud's lectures and met the eminent psychologist once, this ambition was not realized. After returning to New York in 1927, Greene began studying for a master's degree in English literature at Columbia University. He specialized in the novel, and wrote three (none were published). When his thesis about prostitutes as portrayed in seventeenth century literature was submitted, Greene's major professor was on sabbatical; although the subject had been approved, the interim replacement rejected it as unsuitable. Greene left Columbia without obtaining a degree.

Greene then accepted a position at Dartmouth College where he taught literature from 1928-1931. The Greenes spent summers together in the city and visited frequently throughout the academic year. He continued writing and in 1930 began painting. Because there were already two artists named John Green then in New York, Greene soon adopted the name Balcomb (his maternal grandmother's maiden name). Although he was known as Balcomb for the remainder of his life, his name was never changed legally.

Balcomb Greene's first solo exhibition was held at Dartmouth College in 1931. After his resignation from the Dartmouth faculty in 1931, Balcomb and Gertrude spent a year in Paris. She found a studio and set to work. He planned to write, but was distracted by the desire to paint. He began independent study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and in 1932 exhibited his work in Paris. Throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s Greene produced very flat geometric abstractions, adding biomorphic and anthropomorphic forms over time. By the mid-1940s, he found himself bored by pure abstraction and introduced figures, focusing on mass and space rather than line.

Greene quickly established himself as an artist, developed a wide circle of friends and was recognized as a leader of the abstract movement. He and Gertrude were both drawn to political causes that affected artists; along with friends they began the Unemployed Artists' Group (which later became the Artists' Union) and staged public demonstrations demanding government assistance so that artists would not be completely dependent on private patronage. He published articles in Art Front, the magazine of the Artist's Union, and served on its editorial board between 1935 and 1936. Balcomb and Gertrude Greene were among the founding members of American Abstract Artists; he served as the group's first chairman.

Like many artists during the Great Depression, Balcomb Greene found it very difficult to maintain a steady income. During this period he held many different jobs, among them: writing for the sensationalist newspapers Broadway Brevities and Graft, serving on the crew of a schooner searching for pirate gold in the South Pacific, and working at the non-profit Emily Francis Contemporary Gallery. Eventually, he secured a teaching position with the Federal Art Project. He later switched to the mural section where assignments included painting murals for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn and the Federal Hall of Medicine at the 1939 World's Fair, and designing a stained glass window for a school in the Bronx.

Because he did not want to support his career by teaching painting, in 1940 Balcomb Greene began graduate work in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He earned a master's degree in 1942 and that same year began teaching history of art and culture at Carnegie Institute of Technology, a position he held until 1959. Gertrude set up a studio in their Pittsburgh home, but continued to maintain her New York studio, commuting between the two cities until war conditions made the trip too difficult. They returned to New York each summer, and in 1947 bought property on Long Island at Montauk Point where Balcomb constructed a modern house of cement blocks.

In addition to teaching and painting, Greene continued to write. Several articles about art and philosophy appeared between 1936 and 1950 in publications such as Art Front, College Art Journal, Art News, and Art Journal. He also wrote many poems. During his tenure at Carnegie Tech Balcomb Greene worked on but did not complete a book tentatively titled "The Villain and the School" and formulated ideas for another.

While Gertrude was terminally ill with cancer, and after her death in 1956, Balcomb reduced his teaching commitments, staying in Pittsburgh for only one semester each year. After retiring in 1959, he painted at Montauk and traveled. While in Paris, Greene met journalist Terryn Trimpen, whom he married in 1961.

Balcomb Greene was represented by Bertha Schaefer Gallery, Saidenberg Gallery and ACA Gallery, in New York, and by the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida. He exhibited widely, participating in the annual exhibitions of the Whitney Museum of American Art and Art Institute of Chicago, and in group shows at the Walker Art Center, Brooklyn Museum, and other venues. Solo shows included exhibitions at the Forum Gallery, ACA Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Fairweather-Hardin Gallery, Chicago; and the Oceanographic Institute and Harmon-Meeks Gallery in Florida. Greene's work is in the permanent collections of many museums, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

During the last five years of his life, Balcomb Greene was in frail health and unable to paint. He died November 12, 1990 at his Montauk Point home.

Gertrude Glass (who worked as an artist using her married name Gertrude Greene) was the daughter of Siegfried and Berta Glass, prosperous Latvian immigrants who owned a Brooklyn department store. At age 18, Gertrude and an older sister left home and organized a pre-school. From 1924 to 1928, Gertrude attended evening sculpture classes at the newly opened Leonardo Da Vinci Art School, a very traditional school in Manhattan that offered free instruction. Although the school itself was conservative, there Gertrude met and identified with a group of fairly radical students who were interested in the abstract art then emerging.

Glass and Greene were married in 1926 and spent the next year in Vienna. Upon returning to New York, she continued to make sculpture. Once they relocated to New Hampshire Gertrude was able to have her own sculpture studio. New Hampshire did not suit her and she gradually drifted back to the art world of New York. After Balcomb resigned from the Dartmouth faculty in 1931, the couple spent a year in Paris. They met many artists and frequented galleries where they saw the latest contemporary art. Gertrude worked on her sculpture and Balcomb, who had planned to write, began concentrating on painting; this was the only time the two shared a studio. When they moved to Pittsburgh, Gertrude kept her New York studio, expecting to commute regularly between the two cities, but war constraints soon made that plan impractical.

Gertrude Greene was active in liberal political causes, especially ones that affected artists and encouraged the formation of WPA programs to help struggling artists. She was an active member of the Federation of Painters and Sculptors, the Artists' Union, and a founding member of American Abstract Artists. As AAA's first paid employee, Gertrude served as gallery attendant. Before moving to Pittsburgh, both Greenes were very active on AAA committees, worked to further acceptance of abstract art, and picketed on many occasions. Typical of AAA actions was a 1937 demonstration against Museum of Modern Art exhibition policies that gave short shrift to abstract work by American artists.

Gertrude Greene was among the very earliest of American artists - quite possibly the first - to produce non-objective relief sculptures in the early 1930s. Over time, she absorbed Cubist tradition and ideas of the Russian Constructivists, synthesizing them into her own work. By the 1940s, she had become interested in Mondrian and Neo-Plasticism, influences that are reflected in her constructions of the period. Her final sculpture was produced in 1946 and for the remainder of her career she focused exclusively on abstract painting.

She participated in many group exhibitions, the first of which was at Wildenstein Gallery in 1945. Grace Borgenicht Gallery presented the first solo exhibition of Gertrude Greene's work in 1952, and another was held at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in 1955. In 1982, there was a major retrospective of her work at ACA Gallery. Gertrude Greene's work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass.

Gertrude Greene's health began deteriorating in 1956; eventually, cancer was diagnosed. Later that year, on November 25, she died at a New York City hospital.
Related material:
Among the Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records, 1914-1975, owned by the Archives of American Art are 58 letters from Balcomb Greene about sales and exhibitions (reel 271), and a scrapbook containing printed material about him (reel 42).

The holdings of the Archives of American Art include several interviews with Balcomb Greene. In 1972, he was interviewed by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art's oral history program (reel 4210). Greene is included among the Karl E. Fortess taped interviews with artists conducted 1963-1985 (not transcribed). Marian L. Gore's "Art Scene" interviews aired on Los Angeles radio station KPFK, 1962-1964, include one with Balcomb Greene (not transcribed). An interview with Balcomb Greene (transcribed) is among the Brooklyn Museum interviews of artists conducted by Arlene Jacobowitz, circa 1965-1985. The Anne Bowen Parsons collection of interviews on art, 1967-1968, contains an interview with Balcomb Greene (transcribed). Susan C. Larsen's interview with Balcomb Greene is part of oral history interviews relating to the American Abstract Artists Group, 1973-1978 (not transcribed).

Also available at the Archives of American Art is a video recording (VHS videocassette) "Balcomb Greene: 50 Years of Painting, Harmon Gallery," edited and directed by George Mauro, 1982.
Provenance:
Donated in 2009 by Terryn Trimpen Greene, widow of Balcomb Greene.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Balcomb and Gertrude Greene 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.
Topic:
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Short stories
Collages
Photographs
Poems
Theses
Articles
Interviews
Lecture notes
Sound recordings
Drawings
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Citation:
Balcomb and Gertrude Greene papers, circa 1880-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.greebalc2
See more items in:
Balcomb and Gertrude Greene papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-greebalc2
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