Benedict Tatti papers, 1936-2011, bulk 1945-1993

A Finding Aid to the Papers of Benedict Tatti 1936-2011, bulk 1945-1993, in the Archives of American Art, by Joy Weiner

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Biographical Information

Benedict Tatti (1917-1993) worked in New York as a sculptor, painter, educator, and video artist.

Born in New York in 1917, Tatti began his art education at Haaren High School. He continued his studies at the Roerich Museum with Louis Slobodkin, the Art Students League with William Zorach and Ossip Zadkine, and the Leonardo da Vinci School of Art under Attillio Piccirelli. Later in his career, he attended the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. During World War II, Tatti served in the United States Army Air Force, where he spent three years assigned to variety of projects. In 1948, Benedict Tatti married Adele Rosenberg in New York City.

Throughout his career, Tatti continuously experimented with various media. From 1952-1963, Tatti executed sculptural models of architectural and consumer products for the industrial designers, Raymond Loewy Associates; later he became a color consultant for the firm. In the 1960s, influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, Tatti turned from carving directly in wood and stone to creating assemblage sculptures, using bronze metal and other industrial materials. During this period, Tatti spent summers on Monhegan Island in Maine, where he developed his water coloring techniques. In 1963, Tatti was hired to teach sculpture at the High School of Art and Design in New York, a position that he held for fifteen years.

In the 1970s, Tatti, with no previous background in video work developed technology for video imaging. He became an associate member of the Kitchen at the Mercer Arts Center exhibiting his video sculptures along with other early innovators of this new art form. In 1975, he invented a rewind reel adapter device. Despite health problems, Tatti continued to work and exhibit into the 1980s. He assisted his brother, Alexander Tatti and his nephew, Steven Tatti on the restoration of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, which was completed in 1985.

Benedict Tatti received solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States and abroad, including the Burr Gallery, Claude Bernard Galleries, Metropolitan Museum of Art, under the Artists for Victory Program, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Northeast Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Roko Gallery. Also, Tatti's work was regularly featured in annual exhibitions of several arts organizations: American Society of Contemporary Artists, Annual Avant Garde Festival, Audubon Artists, Brooklyn Society of Artists, and Painters and Sculptors Society of New Jersey. His awards included the National Soldier Art Competition at the National Gallery of Art (1945); Artist-in-Residence, National Center of Experiments TV, San Francisco, California, (1969); and the Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS), (1972). Tatti's artwork is in the permanent collections of the American Numismatic Society, Art Students League, Dumbarton Oaks, Monhegan Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Benedict Tatti died on July 30, 1993.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of New York sculptor, painter, educator, and video artist, Benedict Tatti (1917-1993) measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1936-2011, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1945-1993. Papers consist of biographical material, correspondence, project files, subject files, exhibition files, writings, notes, and lists, printed materials, and photographs. Exhibition files and printed material, such as catalogues and checklists provide an overview of Tatti's activities as a sculptor and video artist. Also, photographs of artwork are a rich source of provenance-related information on Tatti's sculptures.

Biographical materials include curriculum vitae, Who's Who in American Art, memberships, and awards. Correspondence is primarily from colleagues, dealers, collectors, and representatives of museums, galleries, and arts organizations. There are a few outgoing letters from Benedict Tatti, including a handmade holiday card. Among the notable correspondents are Jane Canfield, Lloyd Goodrich, Louis Slobodkin, and William Zorach. Also found is a small portion of Adele Tatti's correspondence relating to her late husband's artwork.

Project files contain Tatti's commissions for Eutectic-Castolin Institute, Staten Island Community College, Statue of Liberty Restoration, and the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts; application proposals to Creative Artists Public Service program (CAPS); and the artist's invention of the rewind reel adapter. Subject files include Tatti's memberships and activities in professional associations, e.g., American Medallic Sculpture Association, American Numismatic Society, and Audubon Artists; Tatti's Artist-in-Residence proposals for the Television Lab, WNET 13; and his involvement in educational video presentations. Exhibition files consist of scattered materials on Tatti's shows at the Anthology Film Archives; Burr Galleries; Galerie Claude Bernard; The Kitchen, Mercer Arts Gallery; Northeast Harbor Gallery; and Roko Gallery.

Writings, notes, and lists include writings by Benedict Tatti; writings about Benedict Tatti, including a statement on the artist by Isamu Noguchi; and lists compiled by Adele Tatti relating to her late husband's work. Artwork contains Tatti's sketch of a sculpture for the Northeast Harbor Museum and sketches of medal designs. Printed material consists of announcements, brochures, invitations, exhibition catalogues and checklists, clippings, periodicals, newsletters, reproductions, other printed matter, and monographs. Photographs include black and white prints of portrait shots of Benedict Tatti, Tatti in his studio and with others, video equipment and Tatti's video art; also found are color photographs of Tatti's sculptures and design maquettes.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 9 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • American Medallic Sculpture Association
  • American Numismatic Association
  • Anthology Film Archives
  • Audubon Artists (New York, N.Y.)
  • Galerie Claude Bernard
  • Mercer Arts Center (Organization: New York, N.Y.)
  • Roko Gallery(New York, N.Y.)

Subjects-Topical:

  • Educators--New York (State)--New York
  • Painters--New York (State)--New York
  • Sculptors--New York (State)--New York
  • Video artists--New York (State)--New York

Types of Materials:

  • Awards
  • Christmas cards
  • Designs
  • Lists
  • Notes
  • Photographs
  • Sketches

Names:

  • Canfield, Jane
  • Goodrich, Lloyd, 1897-
  • Noguchi,Isamu, 1904-1988
  • Slobodkin, Louis, 1903-
  • Zorach, William, 1877-1966

Provenance

The Benedict Tatti papers were donated by Adele Tatti, widow of Benedict Tatti, in 2010.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed by Joy Weiner in June 2011.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Benedict Tatti 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Benedict Tatti, 1936-2011, bulk 1945-1993. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1936-1993

Biographical material contains curriculum vitae, a commencement program from Haaren High School, a Honorable Discharge certificate from the United States Army, typescripts and drafts of entries for Who Was Who in American Art and Dictionary of American Sculptors, membership cards, an application for a John Guggenheim Fellowship, award certificates, a program from Benedict Tatti's memorial service, and miscellaneous biographical material.

Files are arranged by format and the materials within the folders are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 1 Curriculum Vitae, circa 1960s-2009
1 2 Commencement Program, Haaren High School, 1936
1 3 Honorable Discharge Certificate from the United States Army, 1946
1 4 Who's Who in American Art and Dictionary of American Sculptors Entries, 1968-1991, undated
1 5 Memberships, 1968-1975
1 6 Award Certificates, 1949-1986
1 7 Application for John Guggenheim Fellowship, 1945
1 8 Program from Memorial Service for Benedict Tatti, 1993
1 9 Miscellaneous Items, 1939-1975

Series 2: Correspondence, 1945-2008
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

Correspondence consists of letters, announcements,and copies of e-mails to Benedict Tatti from colleagues, dealers, collectors, representatives of museums and arts organizations, among others. There are a few letters from Tatti, including a handmade holiday card. Letters pertain to Tatti's exhibitions and commissions, his teaching positions, awards and honors; also found are requests for biographical information. Notable correspondents include Jane Canfield, Lloyd Goodrich, Louis Slobodkin, and William Zorach. Included is a small portion of Adele Tatti's correspondence concerning the preservation and archiving of videotapes created by Tatti in the 1970s.

Files are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
1 10 1945-1959
1 11 1960-1968, undated
1 12 1969-1983
1 13 1985-1995
1 14-15 Adele Tatti's Correspondence, 2003-2008
(2 folders)

Series 3: Project Files, 1966-2005
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

This series includes Benedict Tatti's commissions, including an unexecuted project; grant applications to conduct experimental work with video technology and art; and a statement of purpose and design for Tatti's invention of the rewind reel adapter.

Materials consist of correspondence, application forms, proposals, proposed budgets, a list of Tatti's sculptures, architectural renderings and design sketches, reproductions of artwork, printed matter, clippings, and supporting materials.

Files are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
1 16 Staten Island Community College, 1966
1 17-19 Creative Artists Public Service Program (CAPS), 1970s-1976, undated
(3 folders)
1 20 Eutectic-Castolin Institute, 1973
1 21 Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, 1973-2005
1 22 Rewind Reel Adapter, 1975
1 23 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Competition, 1977
1 24 Statue of Liberty Restoration, 1985-1986

Series 4: Subject Files, circa 1950s-2008
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

This series consists of files relating to Benedict Tatti's activities in professional associations; his proposals for an artist-in-residence fellowship at the Television Lab, WNET 13; and schedules of Tatti's educational video presentations.

Materials include letters, forms, deeds of gifts, draft proposals, lists of members, annotated checklists, informational sheets, printed material, clippings, and brochures.

Files are arranged in alphabetical order and the materials within the folder are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 25 American Medallic Sculpture Association, 1988-1993
1 26 American Numismatic Society, 1972, 1988-1993
1 27 Audubon Artists, Inc., 1976-1997, undated
1 28 Avon Products, Inc., circa 1950s
1 29 National Center for Experiments in Television, KQED-TV, 2005-2008
1 30 Proposal for Artist-in-Residence, Television Lab, WNET 13, 1972-1977
1 31 Video Presentations, 1971-1978, undated

Series 5: Exhibition Files, 1945-1992
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

This series consists of scattered files of Benedict Tatti's solo and group exhibitions during the 1960s and 1970s.

Files include letters, biographical information, checklists, price lists, contract, receipts, exhibition announcements, press releases, calendars of events, exhibition jury notices, printed materials, clippings, and brochures.

Files are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
1 32 Galerie Claude Bernard, "Aspects De La Sculpture Américaine," 1960
1 33 Burr Galleries, "Benedict Tatti, An Exhibition of Watercolors," 1961
1 34 Northeast Harbor Gallery, 1961, 1966
1 35 Roko Gallery 1967
1 36 The Kitchen, Mercer Arts Center 1972-1973
1 37 Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York, 1972-1980
1 38 Anthology Film Archives, 1974-1975
1 39-40 Miscellaneous Exhibition Materials, 1945-1992
(2 folders)

Series 6: Writings, Notes, and Lists, circa 1940s-2009
(Box 1; 4 folders)

This series includes writings and notes by Benedict Tatti on sculpture and video art and writings about the artist, including a statement by Isamu Noguchi on Tatti. Adele Tatti compiled lists on Benedict Tatti's paintings and sculptures housed in museums and public collections, a partial list of titles of Tatti's sculptures, an inventory of videotapes donated to the Anthology of Film Archives, and a list of selected art publications that reference her late husband's work.

Files are arranged in chronological order.

Box Folder
1 41-43 Writings and Notes by Benedict Tatti, circa 1940s-1976
(3 folders)
1 44 Writings about Benedict Tatti, 1966-1967, undated
1 45 Lists by Adele Tatti, circa 2007-2009

Series 7: Artwork, circa 1990s
(Box 1; 3 folders)

There is a preliminary sketch of a sculpture by Tatti, in pen, and pen and pencil sketches of Tatti's medal designs.

Box Folder
1 46 Sketch of Sculpture for Northeast Harbor Museum, 1970
1 47 Sketches of Medal Designs, circa 1970s-1990s

Series 8: Printed Material, 1937-1976
(Boxes 1-2; 0.8 linear feet)

Printed material contains announcements; invitations; brochures, exhibition catalogues and checklists; clippings; periodicals; newsletters; and reproductions, including Benedict Tatti's prototype of "Bob's Big Boy," a commissioned work for a chain of restaurants in the United States. Monographs include Soldier Art, An Infantry Journal, featuring Tatti's sculpture for which he won first prize in the United States Army's National Soldier Art Competition and two books on video art that include essays written by Benedict Tatti.

Files are arranged by format and materials in the folders are in chronological order.

Box Folder
1 48 Announcements, 1961-1974
1 49 Brochures, 1960-1984
1 50 Invitations, 1950-1990, undated
1 51-57 Exhibition Catalogues, 1939-1989
(7 folders)
Box Folder
2 1 Exhibition Catalogues, 1990-2011
2 2-3 Exhibition Checklists, 1946-1988
(2 folders)
2 4-5 Clippings, 1937-1986, undated
(2 folders)
2 6 Periodicals, 1967-1970
2 7 Newsletters, 1946-1982
2 8-9 Reproductions, circa 1950s-2010
(2 folders)
2 10 Other Printed Material, circa 1946-2010
(2 folders)
2 11-13 Monographs, 1945-1976
(3 folders)
  • Soldier Art, An Infantry Journal (United States: Special Services Division, Army Service Forces, 1945)
  • Videospace and Image Experience (San Francisco: National Center for the Experiments in Television, 1972)
  • Video Art: An Anthology (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976)

Series 9: Photographs, 1936-1993
(Box 3; 0.4 linear feet)

This series includes black and white prints of Benedict Tatti, Tatti in his studio by himself and with others, video equipment and Tatti's video art. Many of the color prints of Tatti's sculptures and design maquettes include provenance-related information on the back of the photograph.

Files are arranged by subject and the materials within the folders are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
3 1-3 Benedict Tatti, circa 1964-1970s
(3 folders)
3 4 Video Equipment in Benedict Tatti's Studio, circa 1970s
3 5 Benedict Tatti's Video Art, circa 1970s
3 6-11 Artwork (circa 1936-1970s), 2008-2010
(7 folders)
  • Sculptures
  • Design Maquettes