Artists' letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp, bulk 1976-2000, 1960-2011

A Finding Aid to the Artists' Letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp, 1960-2011, bulk 1976-2000, in the Archives of American Art, by Harriet E. Shapiro

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Ivan Conrad Karp (b. 1926) founded the OK Harris Gallery in the Soho section of New York City in 1969. His wife, Marilynn Gelfman Karp (b. 1939) is a sculptor, photographer, and professor of art.

Ivan C. Karp is credited with launching the careers of Pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg. He was co-director of the Leo Castelli Gallery from 1959-1969. The presence of the OK Harris Gallery in Soho helped form the neighborhood's character as a fine arts center. Karp is also the author of Doobie Doo (1966), an early Pop Art novel, as well as a writer on topics of fine art and the art business. Karp also has been actively involved in architectural preservation efforts in New York City. He and Marilynn Gelfman were married in 1953.

Marilynn Gelfman Karp (b.1939) works with mixed media and found objects and is the recipient of an award for sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the author of In Flagrante Collecto (2006), a book about the avocation of collecting. Both the Karps are avid collectors of fine art and items of material culture, which are of special interest to Mrs. Karp.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Artists' letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1960-2011, with the bulk of materials dating from 1976-2000. Ivan Karp founded and operated the OK Harris Gallery in the Soho area of New York City. The letters provide insight into the Karps' manner of working and maintaining relationships with OK Harris artists. The collection includes not only artists' letters but also miscellaneous letters from individuals involved in the New York City world of arts and letters.The Artists' letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1960-2011, with the bulk of materials dating from 1976-2000. Ivan Karp founded and operated the OK Harris Gallery in the Soho area of New York City. The letters provide insight into the Karps' manner of working and maintaining relationships with OK Harris artists. The collection includes not only artists' letters but also miscellaneous letters from individuals involved in the New York City world of arts and letters.

The letters from artists are often illustrated and can include postcards or greeting cards, sometimes made or embellished by the artists. Enclosures consist of photographs, clippings and other printed material. The letters are both personal and professional, often expressing gratitude for the Karps' hospitality or help, or chronicling family news and activities. The letters also mention sales of artwork, exhibitions or commissions or respond to comments Ivan Karp has offered with respect to artwork.

Also included is a folder called "Artist Guest House/Studio Occupants," which amounts to a guest register of forms filled out by artists recording the dates they stayed at the guest house/studio as guests of OK Harris.

Arrangement and Series Description

The letters are arranged in three series relating to the authors' professions and chronologically within folders. There also are two folders of records of artists' use of the Karp country home guest cottages, which is arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

Subjects:

  • O.K. Harris Gallery (New York, N.Y.)

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art dealers--New York (State)--New York

Types of Materials:

  • Illustrated letters
  • Photographs

Names:

  • Karp, Marilynn Gelfman

Provenance

The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art in 2010 by Marilynn Karp.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Harriet E. Shapiro in 2011.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Artists' letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Artists' Letters to Ivan and Marilynn Karp, 1960-2011, bulk 1976-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Artists' Letters, 1960-2011
(Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)

Letters from artists consists of many handwritten letters, homemade holiday cards, margin drawings, amusing or interesting postcards, photographs and other materials, all shedding light on the artists' personalities and their relationships with the Karps. The individual folders of letters mostly cover short time periods but a few cover longer periods, giving details of family, and career development and life milestones.

Other letters discuss financial matters or subjects relating to Karp's critique of artwork submitted to him. Some of the more substantive or lengthy letter collections relate to artists: Deborah Butterfield, John Salt, John Baeder and Robert Ginder. There also is an Artists' Letters A-Z file, which contains only one or two letters, cards or correspondence per artist.

Box Folder
1 1 Daniel Abraham, undated, 1980
1 2 Alessandro Algardi, 1979-1980
1 3 Arman, undated, 1981-2004
1 4 John Baeder, 1978-2011
1 5 Roland Baladi, 1981-1984
1 6 Robert Bechtle, undated, 1975-1980
1 7 Mattie Berhang, 1981-1983
1 8 Jake Berthot, undated, 2011
1 9 Douglas Bond, undated, 1980-1982
1 10 Deborah Butterfield, undated, 1979
1 11 Don Celender, undated, 1975-1993
1 12 John Clem Clarke and Jane P. Clarke, undated, 1978-2006
1 13 Davis Cone, undated, 1993-1999
1 14 Robert Cottingham, undated, 1974-1976
1 15 John DeAndrea, undated, 1976-2000
1 16 Dan Douke, undated, 1985-1999
1 17 Leonard Dufresne, undated, 1984-2010
1 18 Erro, undated, 1976
1 19 John Fawcett, undated, circa 1985-2000
1 20 David Furman, undated, 1990-1991
1 21 Robert Ginder and Carawood Ginder, undated, 1990-2011
1 22 Ralph Goings and Shannah Goings, undated, 1984-2011
1 23 Duane Hanson and Wesla (Liz) Hanson, undated, 1975-1990
1 24 Alan Harrison, 1985,1991
1 25 John Kacere and Maja Bankava, 1999
1 26 Carlo Lamanga and Kathryn Lamanga (Kitty Hollenbeck), undated, 1982-2011
1 27 "Jasper Johns" by Mark Lancaster, 1977
1 28 Milo Lazarevich, 1985-1990
1 29 Marilyn Levine, undated, 1984
1 30 Roy Lichenstein and Dorothy Lichenstein, undated
1 31 Richard Lippold, undated, 1974-1990
1 32 Richard McLean, undated, 1977-2010
1 33 Richard Pettibone and Shirley Pettibone, undated, 1986
1 34 Edward Roggee, 1979
1 35 Robert Rohm, 1997-2010
1 36 John Salt and Jean Salt, undated, 1973-2010
1 37 Patterson Sims, undated, 1976-1983
1 38 James Van Patten, 2001-2007
1 39 Robert Van Vranken, undated, 1990-2005
1 40 Tom Wesselmann and Claire Wesselmann, undated, 1974-2005
1 41 James Wines, undated, 1977
1 42 Artists' Letters A-Z (One to Two Letters per Artist), undated, 1960-2011

Series 2: Other Letters, circa 1976-2000
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

This series contains a small quantity of letters from collectors, other art dealers and museum administrators in addition to a Miscellaneous file, which includes letters from notables such as Truman Capote, Calvin Trillin of The New Yorker magazine and William Grimes of The New York Times.

Box Folder
1 43 Letters from Collectors, undated, 1976-2000
1 44 Letters from Art Dealers, undated, 1976-2000
1 45 Letters from Museum Administrators, undated, 1976-2000
1 46 Miscellaneous Letters, undated, 1976-2000

Series 3: Guest House records, 1983-2010
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

The Karps maintain a country house in Charlottesville, New York, where artists stay and work; numerous artists were guest multimple times. This series contains forms printed on the OK Harris letterhead that artists completed and signed, specifying dates they used the guest house and studio.

Box Folder
1 47-48 Artist Guest House and Studio Occupants, undated, 1983-2010
(2 folders)