American Abstract Artists records, 1936-1983

American Abstract Artists, est. 1936

Collection size: 1.6 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 7 reels)

Collection Summary: Records primarily deal with exhibitions, membership, and financial activities.

Reel D359: A general prospectus, 2 organizational statements (ca. 1937), a clipping, exhibition announcements and catalogs (1937-1964) including a catalog for the Squibb Galleries (1937) with reproductions of lithographs by members, and 2 issues of the magazine AMERICAN ABSTRACT ARTISTS (1938, 1946) with articles and illustrations by some members.

Reel N69-72: Administrative records include a 3-page draft of the constitution (1941), membership lists (1937-1959) and minutes of meetings (1937-1950). Letters from members and their colleagues deal with exhibitions and organizational business (1937-1966). Essays concern "Abstract Art in Japan Today" by Sabro Hasegawa, "Report on the Organization of the International Association of Plastic Arts" by Henry Billings, "Toward a Fourth Decade" by Ruth Gurin, and a statement by Leo Rabkin.

Reels N69/96 - N69/97: Administrative records consist of 2 drafts of the constitution (1949, 1964), membership lists, minutes (1946-1965), application forms (1950-1955), and ballots (1955-1958). Letters from members and others concern exhibitions, organizational business (1947-1964), and the United States Committee of the International Association of Plastic Arts, later the International Art Association (1961-1963) in charge of Harold Weston. Correspondents include Alice Mason, Beate Hulbeck, and Esphyr Slobodkina. Financial material consists of 3 account books (1943-1955), 2 statement books (1942-1956), checks, receipts, invoices, and dues letters (1949-1965).

Reel N69/137: Thirteen letters from Josef Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Alexander Calder, Lyonel Feininger, Harry Holtzman and Piet Mondrian (1938-1943). Three letters concern membership (1961-1962). Other material consists of clippings (1936-1950), exhibition announcements and catalogs (1937-1961), a booklet THE AMERICAN ABSTRACT ARTISTS (1939), membership lists (1947,1963) and minutes (1961).

Reel N70/48: A membership list (1958), an exhibition plan (1967), and an undated exhibition catalogue PIONEERS IN THE FIELD OF NON-OBJECTIVE ART IN THE U.S.A. with a list of members.

Reel NY59/11: Letters concern membership and organizational business (1937-1954). Alice Trumbull Mason material consists of a resume (1952), a statement (1948), a letter from Charles Dunlap (1957), 2 letters to Mary Bartlett Cowdrey (1958), clippings (1935-1955), exhibition announcemnts and catalogs (1938-1959), and a press release (1942). Other material consists of 2 exhibition catalogs (1942), a book THE WORLD OF ABSTRACT ART edited by American Abstract Artists (1957), clippings (1954-1956), minutes (1937-1938), and lists of officers, members and committee members (ca. 1937).

UNMICROFILMED: Letters concern membership, exhibitions, and organizational business (1978-1982). Financial material includes insurance records (1978-1982), receipts and dues lists (1979-1982), a ledger of dues payments with other financial data and membership lists (1956-1982), notes, and 2 savings account books (1974-1982). Other material consists of exhibition catalogs (1951-1981), press releases (1981-1982), a membership list (1947), minutes (1978-1982) and an exhibition guest book (1979-1982).

Biographical/Historical Note: Organized in 1936 by a group of artists interested in abstract painting and sculpture. Its chief function is the holding of exhibitions. Former presidents include Alice Trumbull Mason, Leo Rabkin, and Irene Rousseau.

A 1942 exhibition catalog (reel N69/72, frames 320-354) and materials on reel NY59/11 (frames 1-16, 322-369, 371-401, and 406-407) have also been filmed on reel N69/137. The 1946 issue of AMERICAN ABSTRACT ARTISTS (reel N69/72) and materials on Reel NY59/11 (frames 148-317) are duplicated on reel D359.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels D359, N69/72, N69/96-N69-97, N69/137, N70/48, and NY59/11 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Microfilmed portion must be consulted on microfilm. Use of unmicrofilmed portion requires an appointment and is limited to Washington, D.C. storage facility. ORIGINAL PAPERS CLOSED FOR PROCESSING.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Make a Request

Reading Room Reproduction