Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989, (bulk 1968-1988)

A Finding Aid to the Billy Al Bengston Papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1960-1988), in the Archives of American Art, by Michael Yates

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Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation.

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Billy Al Bengston was born in Dodge City, Kansas on June 7, 1934. After moving back and forth from Kansas to California multiple times, he and his family settled in Los Angeles in 1948. While attending the Manual Arts High School, Bengston became interested in art, especially ceramics. After a brief stint at Los Angeles Junior College, Bengston worked as a beach attendant at Doheny State Beach. While working there he met fellow surfer and future ceramicist Kenneth Price, who became one of Bengston's closest friends. In 1953, he reenrolled in Los Angeles Junior College to study ceramics. For the next four years he attended both the California College of Arts and Crafts and the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design). At these institutions he studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Sabro Hasegawa, Nathan Oliveira, and Peter Voulkos.

Around 1957, Bengston shifted his emphasis from ceramics to painting, and became affiliated with the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, founded that same year by Edward Kienholz and Walter Hopps. Bengston's first solo exhibition was held at the Ferus Gallery in 1958, and a second followed in 1960. At this time Bengston began to work with Pop icons combined with Color Field abstractions. His early bold paintings often featured symmetrical strong color compositions with a central image of a valentine, star, cross, chevron, or iris. The irises he called "draculas," after Kenneth Price remarked that they resembled Dracula flying through a window. He first showed his chevron paintings in 1962 at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. In the early 1960s, Bengston extended his imagery to the California subculture and created paintings of leisure time activities, focusing on motorcycles, racing, and scuba diving - his own interests as well.

Throughout his career, Bengston experimented with technique and materials. He experimented with automobile lacquer and spray painting techniques associated with car customization. He also used non-traditional surfaces, such as masonite and aluminum. In 1965, Bengston began creating paintings on sheets of aluminum into which he hammered dents and sometimes bent and buckled; these subsequently came to be known as "dentos." Along with painting, Bengston has also created watercolors, ceramics, and furniture. He was also one of the artists selected by Carol and Roy Doumani to design their home.

Bengston first visited Hawaii in 1974, and after several subsequent trips, established a second studio there in 1979. The work Bengston created in the following years was characterized by the use of tropical colors and representational images of running figures, airplanes, and the moon. In 1988, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston organized a retrospective entitled "Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades," which traveled to the Oakland Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu. Bengston also completed several years as an art instructor and lecturer at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and The University of California at Los Angeles. Bengston continues to create and exhibit new work.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of Billy Al Bengston measure 10.2 linear feet and date from circa 1940s to 1989, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1960 to 1988. The collection documents the life and work of the southern California artist through biographical materials, correspondence, personal business records, gallery and museum files, teaching files, project and commission files, scattered artwork, printed materials, and photographs.

Found within the biographical materials series are three feet of calendars which extensively document Bengston's personal and professional activities for fourteen years, and include ephemera related to these activities. This series also includes health records, wills, and passports.

Correspondence is with galleries, museums, universities, businesses, friends, and colleagues, and primarily concerns exhibitions, sales, consignments, commissions, and Bengston's personal finances. Bengston's relationship with the James Corcoran Gallery, Janie C. Lee Gallery, John Berggruen Gallery, Martha Jackson Gallery, and Texas Gallery are well-documented here, as well as in the Museum and Gallery Files series. Also found is a limited amount of personal correspondence with collectors, researchers, and friends. A few letters from other artists, including Peter Plagens and a letter from Richard Diebenkorn are interfiled here.

Bengston's professional relationships with galleries, museums, and universities are well-documented in the gallery and museum files, including the galleries mentioned above, Ferus Gallery, and others. Lists of consignments and prices, invoices, records of sales, loan agreement forms, shipping receipts, exhibition checklists, and exhibition floor plans provide information about sales, exhibitions, and loans. A few files provide further information about Bengston teaching activities. His personal business records include art sales records, price lists, lists of purchases, records of investment, and personal finance records. Project files include correspondence, notes, and printed materials related to Bengston's commissions for artwork and personal projects, including a book he worked on with Ed Ruscha, Business Cards.

Writings by Bengston include responses to exhibitions of West Coast art and his thoughts on his career, art, the artistic community, motorcycles, as well as a recollection of John Altoon. Also found are questionnaires sent out by Bengston for an art survey, with responses from Peter Alexander, Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Ed Ruscha, and others. Writings by others consist primarily of exhibition catalog essays, manuscripts of interviews with Bengston, and other writings about Bengston. Also found is an essay by Walter Hopps. Photographs of Bengston include a family picture from the 1940s, Bengston at work on projects in Los Angeles and Syracuse, New York, and Bengston at social events. Other photographs consist of pictures of friends and artists, Bengston's artwork, documentary evidence of damaged artwork, and of commission sites.

Printed materials from the 1960s - 1980s include clippings, full articles, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and posters. They document exhibitions, art in southern California, and society and art events. The collection houses limited amounts of artwork including sketches, cut-outs, doodles and drawings.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 10 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Altoon, John, 1925-
  • Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Martha Jackson Gallery
  • John Berggruen Gallery (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • James Corcoran Gallery

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art -- Study and teaching
  • Art -- Economic aspects
  • Art galleries, Commercial
  • Painters -- California

Types of Materials:

  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Works of art

Names:

  • Ruscha, Edward
  • Motherwell, Robert
  • Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-
  • Goode, Joe, 1937-
  • Flavin, Dan, 1933-
  • Chamberlain, John, 1927-
  • Andre, Carl, 1935-
  • Alexander, Peter, 1939-
  • Diebenkorn, Richard, 1922-
  • Plagens, Peter

Provenance

The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Billy Al Bengston in 1990.

Separated and Related Materials

Found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Bengston conducted by Susan Larsen, September 9, 1980, and Susan Ford Morgan, August 2-October 7, 2002. Also found are portraits of Bengston in the Photographs of artists taken by Mimi Jacobs collection, and a rare copy of the book Business Cards by Bengston and Ed Ruscha in the Wallace Berman papers.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Michael Yates in 2007 with funding provided by the Getty Foundation.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Billy Al Bengston 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

Billy Al Bengston papers, circa 1940s-1989 (bulk 1960-1988). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1958-1987
(Boxes 1-4, 11; 3.7 linear feet)

The bulk of this series consists of calendars dating from 1971 to 1984, in which Bengston recorded detailed daily activities, such as visiting galleries, social activities, travel, etc. Ephemera include receipts, exhibition announcements, and mailings that have been attached to calendar pages. A notebook contains information about Bengston's paints, works sold and exhibited at Ferus Gallery, lists of addresses, and scattered sketches. Health records detail the damage done to Bengston's back in a 1964 motorcycle accident. Also found here are passports from European and Central American trips, a Mexican travel visa, membership and business cards, certificates, telephone messages, and Bengston's will.

Due to the presence of mold on calendar pages from 1971, these materials have been boxed separately.

Box Folder
1 1 Address List, circa 1980
1 2 Baseball Card, 1960
Jim Grant
1 3 Business Cards, circa 1960s-1970s
1 4-30 Calendars, January 1971-October 1977
(27 folders; see also Box 11)
Box Folder
2 1-23 Calendars, October 1977-March 1982
(23 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-22 Calendars, March 1982-June 1984
(22 folders)
Box Folder
4 1-7 Calendars, July 1984-December 1984
(7 folders)
4 8 Certificate of Vaccination, 1960s
4 9 Certificates, 1978-1980
4 10 Chronology, 1987
4 11 Curriculum Vitae, 1968, circa 1980
4 12 Driving Citation, 1960s
4 13 Health Information, 1973, 1980-1982
4 14-15 Health Insurance Records, 1973-1984
(2 folders)
4 16 Membership Cards, circa 1969, 1972
4 17 Notebook, 1960s
4 18 Notes, 1960s-1980s
4 19 Passports, 1958-1972
4 20 Personal Telephone Directory, circa 1978
4 21 Phone Bill, 1979
4 22-27 Phone Messages, 1981-1984
(6 folders)
4 28 Phone Messages, Loose, 1970s-1980s
4 29 Recipe, circa 1960s
4 30 Shopping Cards, circa 1960s
4 31 Travel Visa, 1968
4 32 Will of Billy Al Bengston, 1960s
4 33 Will of Raymond Bengston, 1959
Box Folder
11 (pam) 1-4 Calendars, 1971
(possible mold)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1966-1989
(Boxes 4-6; 1.75 linear feet)

The bulk of this series consists of Bengston's business correspondence, mostly to and from galleries and museums discussing exhibitions, sales, consignments, projects, and agreements. Bengston's relationship with the James Corcoran Gallery, Janie C. Lee Gallery, John Berggruen Gallery, Martha Jackson Gallery, and Texas Gallery are well-documented. Many business letters are written by Penny Little and Gretchen Corners in Bengston's name.

The series also includes a limited amount of personal correspondence including letters with collectors, researchers, and friends. In addition, personal correspondence is often interfiled with the professional correspondence, particularly with gallery owners James Corcoran, Janie C. Lee, and Fredericka Hunter of the Texas Gallery. Also found are a few letters from other artists, including Peter Plagens and a letter from Richard Diebenkorn.

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by surname or business name. Correspondence related to Bengston's commissions can be found in Series 6, Project Files, and correspondence related to loans of artwork can be found in Series 5, Personal Business Records.

Box Folder
4 34 A-An, 1968-1987
4 35 Ar-Av, 1970-1987
4 36-38 Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., 1974-1986
(3 folders)
4 39 American Airlines, 1982-1984
4 40 Architectural Digest, 1982-1987
4 41 Archives of American Art, 1973-1981
4 42 Art Frame, 1980-1982
4 43 Art in America, 1982-1984
4 44 Automobile Club of Southern California, 1972, 1979-1981
4 45 B-Bl, 1970-1987
4 46 Bo-By, 1969-1987
4 47 Paula Barton, 1970-1972
4 48 Andrew Bogle, 1981, 1984
4 49-50 Brooke Alexander, Inc., 1969-1982
(2 folders)
4 51 C-Ce, 1967-1987
4 52 Ch-Cl, 1969-1984
Box Folder
5 1 Co-Cu, 1968-1984
5 2 California Arts Council, 1981-1982
5 3 California State University, Long Beach, 1975-1981
5 4 Cantor/Lemberg Gallery, 1979-1983
5 5 Frances Causey, 1981-1984
5 6 Condor Cycles, 1982-1983
5 7 Conejo Valley Museum, 1978-1979
5 8-10 Contemporary Arts Museum, 1979-1989
(3 folders)
5 11 Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1969, 1979-1981
5 12 D, 1977-1984
5 13 David Finlay Gallery, 1979
5 14 Diane Gilson Gallery, 1980
5 15 Richard Diebenkorn, 1972
5 16 Dobrick Gallery, 1976-1977
5 17 Dootson/Calderhead Gallery, 1975-1976, 1979
5 18 Dorothy Rosenthal, 1975-1984
5 19 Dorothy Drake Gallery, 1984-1985
5 20 E, 1969-1988
5 21 Edizioni O, 1969-1972
5 22 Greg Erickson, 1982-1983
5 23 Eve Mannes Gallery, 1984-1985
5 24 Everson Museum of Art, 1975-1977
5 25 F, 1973-1986
5 26 Feldman Gallery, 1971-1973
5 27 Felicity Samuel Gallery, 1972-1973
5 28 Fine Arts Services, 1980-1981, 1983-1984
5 29 G, 1968-1986
5 30-31 Galerie Neuendorf, 1970-1981, 1983-1984
(2 folders)
5 32 Helen Gilbert, 1979-1983
5 33 Gloria Luria Gallery, 1978-1982
5 34 Guggenheim Foundation, 1975-1985
5 35 H-Hi, 1972-1986
5 36 Ho-Hy, 1976-1984
5 37 Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1974-1980
5 38 Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981-1982
5 39 I, 1979-1984
5 40 J, 1969-1987
5 41-46 James Corcoran Gallery, 1971-1986
(6 folders)
5 47-48 Janie C. Lee Gallery, 1968-1973
(2 folders)
5 49 Edwin Janss, 1976, 1980
5 50 Jared Sabel Gallery, 1974
5 51-52 John Berggruen Gallery, 1981-1982
(2 folders)
5 53 K, 1970-1984
5 54 Kadison, Pfaelzer, Woodward, Quinn, and Rossi, 1977, 1980-1984
5 55 Kuafman and Bernstein, 1980-1984
5 56 Laurence Klein, 1970-1971
5 57 Alkis Klonaridis, 1980
5 58 L-Ll, 1969-1987
5 59 Lo-Lu, 1973-1985
5 60 La Brea Wilshire Travel Center, 1982-1984
5 61 La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, 1971-1986
5 62 Linda Farris Gallery, 1981-1985
5 63 Locksley Shea Gallery, 1981-1982
5 64-65 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1966-1969, 1977, 1980-1983, 1986
(2 folders)
5 66 Los Angeles International Film Exposition, 1980-1982
5 67 M-Mea, 1968-1987
5 68 Med-Mi, 1973-1987
5 69 Mo-My, 1969-1987
5 70 Margo Leavin Gallery, 1971-1978, 1984
5 71-72 Martha Jackson, 1962-1969, 1979
(2 folders)
5 73 Anthony Mathews, 1970-1973
5 74 Mizuno Gallery, 1970-1979
5 75 Joan Mondale, 1980-1981
5 76 Morgan, Olmstead, Kennedy, and Gardner, 1981-1982
5 77 Multiples Inc., 1969-1973
5 78 Museum of Contemporary Art, 1982-1987
5 79 Museum of Modern Art, 1966-1971, 1983
5 80 N, 1974-1987
5 81 National Endowment For the Arts, 1966-1970, 1982-1984
5 82 Rolf Nelson, 1969
5 83 Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1975-1987
5 84 Nicholas Wilder Gallery, 1972-1976
5 85 Nimslo Corporation, 1983
5 86 O, 1970-1988
5 87 Oakland Museum, 1982-1983, 1988
5 88 Office of the State Architect, 1974-1987
5 89 Eliv Olesen, 1980, 1982
5 90 Ollendorf Fine Arts, 1979, 1988-1989
5 91 P-Ph, 1973-1986
5 92 Pi-Pu, 1972-1986
5 93 Pace Gallery, 1970
5 94 Jose Paniagua, 1972
5 95 Pasadena Art Museum, 1969-1970
5 96 Paul Stuart, 1979-1981
5 97 Michael Phillips, 1972-1974
5 98 Peter Plagens, 1971, 1974, 1976
5 99 Pyramid Gallery, 1974-1975
5 100 Jack Quinn, 1976-1982
Box Folder
6 1 R-Re, 1978-1985
6 2 Ri-Ry, 1969-1985
6 3 William Radawec, 1980-1984
6 4 Reese Paley Gallery, 1970
6 5 Mike Ross, 1972-1973
6 6 S-San, 1969-1985
6 7 Sar-Se, 1974-1987
6 8 St-Sw, 1971-1987
6 9 Richard Salmon, 1980
6 10 San Diego State University, 1980-1981
6 11 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1976-1984
6 12 San Francisco Tapestry Workshop, 1979
6 13 San Jose State University, 1981-1982
6 14 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1982-1984
6 15 Seder/Creigh Gallery, 1975-1977
6 16 Sherry French Gallery, 1983
6 17 Benjamin Smith, 1974-1980
6 18 Syracuse China Corporation, 1975-1976
6 19 T-Ti, 1969-1987
6 20 Tj-Tw, 1970-1984
6 21 Tamarind Institute, 1968, 1978-1986
6 22-25 Texas Gallery, 1970-1984
(4 folders)
6 26 Thomas Babeor Gallery, 1980-1984
6 27 James Tyler, 1975-1976, 1980
6 28 U-University of California, 1973-1986
6 29 University of Georgia-Ut, 1970-1986
6 30 University of California, Irvine, 1978-1985
6 31 University of California, Santa Barbara, 1969
6 32 University of Houston, 1978, 1981
6 33 University of Santa Clara, 1980
6 34 Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 1967-1969
6 35 V, 1969-1987
6 36 Vancouver Art Gallery, 1969-1973
6 37 Alberto Vasquez, 1977-1979
6 38 W-Wa, 1972-1985
6 39 We-Wu, 1972-1984
6 40 Whitney Museum of American Art, 1969-1973, 1981
6 41 Y, circa 1970s-1980s

Series 3: Gallery and Museum Files, 1961-1989
(Boxes 6-7; 1.5 linear feet)

This series consists of a wide variety of materials documenting Bengston's business with galleries, museums, and universities, such as sales, exhibitions, and loans. Files may include consignment lists, price lists, invoices, pages from ledgers, shipping receipts, legal agreements, exhibition checklists, lists of catalog reproductions, floor plans, and mailing lists. Galleries represented in the files include the Ferus Gallery, James Corcoran Gallery, Janie C. Lee Gallery, John Berggruen Gallery, Martha Jackson Gallery, Texas Gallery, and Thomas Babeor Gallery. Extensive documentation exists for Bengston's 1968 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, his 1981 exhibition of watercolors at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and his 1988 retrospective organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum.

Note that the bulk of the correspondence with museums and galleries is found in Series 2 above. Folders relating to university galleries have been titled by the name of the university rather than the name of the gallery.

Box Folder
6 42-45 Acquavella Gallery, 1978-1986
6 46 American Craft Museum, 1985
6 47 American Federation of Arts, 1967-1968
6 48 Aspen Art Museum, circa 1986
6 49 Auckland City Art Gallery, 1981
6 50 California State University, Fullerton, 1982
6 51 Cantor/Lemberg Gallery, 1979-1983
6 52 Conejo Valley Art Museum, 1979-1980
6 53 Contemporary Arts Center, 1983
6 54-57 Contemporary Arts Museum, 1981, 1984, 1987-1989
(4 folders)
6 58 Corcoran and Corcoran, Ltd., 1972-1973
6 59-60 Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1980-1981
(2 folders)
6 61 David Anderson Gallery, 1981, 1984
6 62 Diane Gilson Gallery, 1970s-1980s
6 63 Dobrick Gallery, circa 1976
6 64 Dootson/Calderhead Gallery, 1975-1976
6 65 Dorothy Rosenthal Gallery, 1980-1984
6 66 Douglas Drake Gallery, 1984
6 67 Edizioni O, 1969-1970
6 68 Eve Mannes Galleries, 1985
6 69 Everson Museum of Art, 1975-1976
6 70 Felicity Samuel Gallery, 1971-1973
6 71 Fendrick Gallery, 1974
6 72 Ferus Gallery, 1961-1962, 1964-1965
6 73 Fuller Goldeen Gallery, 1978-1986
6 74 Galerie Neuendorf, 1970-1973
6 75 Gloria Luria Gallery, circa 1982
6 76 Hokim Kaufman Gallery, 1984
6 77 Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1980
6 78 Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery, 1981, 1984
6 79 Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1984
6 80 Jack Glenn Gallery, 1971
6 81-92 James Corcoran Gallery, 1976-1983
(12 folders)
Box Folder
7 1-3 James Corcoran Gallery, 1984-1986
(3 folders)
7 4 Janie C. Lee, 1969-1973
7 5 Janus Gallery, 1980-1981, 1984
7 6 Jared Sable Gallery, 1974
7 7-8 John Berggruen Gallery, 1973-1975, 1978-1985
(2 folders)
7 9 Joslyn Art Museum, 1970
7 10 Koplin Gallery, 1984
7 11 La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, 1986
7 12 L.A. Louvre Gallery, 1982-1983
7 13 Laguna Beach Museum of Art, 1986
7 14 Linda Farris Gallery, 1981-1986
7 15 Locksley Shea Gallery, 1971
7 16-20 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1968-1970, 1980-1981 ,1983, 1988
(5 folders)
7 21 Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1983
7 22 Lowe Art Museum, 1980
7 23 Malibu Art and Design, 1980
7 24 Malinda Wyatt Gallery, 1980-1983
7 25 Margo Leavin Gallery, 1969-1974
7 26-27 Martha Jackson Gallery, 1962, 1964-1969
(2 folders)
7 28 Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974
7 29 Mirage Editions, 1981-1982, 1984
7 30 Mizuno Gallery, 1970-1980
7 31 Multiples Inc., 1968-1973
7 32 Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall, 1984
7 33 Museum of Contemporary Art, 1983
7 34 Museum of Modern Art, 1979
7 35 Rolf Nelson, 1968-1969
7 36 Nicholas Wilder Gallery, 1972-1976
7 37 Oakland Museum, 1983, 1988
7 38 Otis Art Institute, 1980, 1982
7 39 Pace Gallery, 1970-1971
7 40 Pamela Auchincloss Gallery, 1984
7 41 Pasadena Art Museum, circa 1970
7 42 Portland Center For Visual Arts, 1976
7 43 Pyramid Galleries, 1974-1976
7 44 Reese Paley Gallery, 1970
7 45 Rhode Island School of Design, 1975
7 46 Ronald Feldman Fine Arts 1972
7 47 Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 1983
7 48 Ruth Schaffner Gallery, 1975-1976
7 49 San Diego University, 1980-1981
7 50 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1976, 1980-1981
7 51 Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1983
7 52 Seder/Creigh Gallery, 1975-1976
7 53 Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 1984
7 54 Signature Gallery, 1984
7 55 Smith Anderson Gallery, 1984
7 56-61 Texas Gallery, 1971-1984
(6 folders)
7 62-65 Thomas Babeor Gallery, 1980-1984
(4 folders)
7 66 Tortue Gallery, 1975-1976
7 67 University of Houston, 1978, 1981
7 68 University of South Florida, 1980
7 69 Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 1969-1970
7 70 Vancouver Art Gallery, circa 1969
7 71 Whitney Museum of American Art, 1967, 1970s, 1981-1982
7 72 Works Gallery, 1980

Series 4: Teaching Records, 1968-1982
(Box 7; 7 folders)

Found here are scattered documents relating to Bengston's brief teaching career and lecture series at the University of California, Irvine, University of Colorado, and the Art Center of the College of Design. There is also one folder concerning the California Arts Council Master/Apprentice program and three folders of papers written by his students at University of California, Irvine.

Box Folder
7 73 Art Center College of Design, 1968
7 74 California Arts Council, 1982
7 75-78 University of California, Irvine, 1973
(4 folders)
7 79 University of Colorado, 1969

Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1960-1987
(Boxes 7-8; 1 linear foot)

This series houses Bengton's personal business records documenting sales, loans, shipping, and the restoration of his artwork through correspondence, inventories, invoices, price lists, and receipts. Also found are records of sales and loans of artwork by others in his possession, and his representation of Paula Barton.

Records of personal finances include purchase orders, insurance estimates, tax forms, utility bills, investment records, and grant applications to the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Box Folder
7 80-85 Art Sales, circa 1960, 1968, 1970-1974
(6 folders)
7 86 Paula Barton, 1969-1972
7 87 Bill of Sale, 1980
7 88 Brooke Alexander Inc., 1969-1984
7 89 Check Fraud, 1983
7 90 Consignment Sheets, 1968-1971
7 91 Contracting, 1977
Box Folder
8 1 Damaged Artwork, 1966-1972
8 2-4 Guggenheim Foundation, 1967-1971, 1975
(3 folders)
8 5 House and Apartment Rentals, circa 1970s
8 6 IBM, 1978-1986
8 7 Insurance, circa 1960s, 1974-1981
8 8-9 Inventories, circa 1970, 1979-1983
(2 folders)
8 10-12 Invoices, 1968-1975, 1980-1986
(3 folders)
8 13 IOU, 1971
8 14-34 Loans, 1966-1982, 1986-1987
(21 folders)
8 35 National Endowment For the Arts, 1975
8 36 Pacific Interconnect, 1982-1983
8 37-41 P.C. Associates, 1980-1986
(5 folders)
8 42 Personal Appearance Release, 1987
8 43-44 Price Lists, circa 1960s-1980s
(2 folders)
8 45-47 Purchases, 1970, 1972, 1979-1984
(3 folders)
8 48 PYTKA, 1985
8 49-52 Shipping Receipts, 1979-1987
(4 folders)
8 53 Sprint, circa 1986
8 54 Swim Swim, 1979-1981
8 55 Tax Materials, 1973-1975
8 56 United Artists Ltd., 1971-1983

Series 6: Project Files, 1968-1987
(Boxes 8-9; 0.25 linear feet)

This series includes scattered correspondence, agreements, floor plans, notes, and printed materials related to several of Bengston's commissions and projects. Projects include the book Business Cards with Ed Ruscha, work with Mexican weavers and ceramicists, and the construction of a studio in Hawaii. Commission files are found for artwork Bengston executed for various public buildings in California, including the California State Office Building and the Prestonwood Towne Center. Also found are files concerning Bengston's Zodiac series, work on posters for the 1984 Olympic Games and the Broadway, watercolors to raise money for Jerry Brown's 1982 gubenatorial campaign, and designs for the house of Roy and Carol Doumani. Also found are a few scattered miscellaneous files concerning an exhibition held at Bengston's studio and one at the Security Pacific Bank.

Photographs related to projects and commissions are found in Series 10, Photographs.

Box Folder
8 57 Artist Studio Open House, 1973-1975
8 58 Blankets, 1977-1979
Box Folder
9 1 The Broadway, 1981-1982
9 2 Building Arts Production Company, 1987
9 3 Business Cards, Correspondence, 1973-1975
9 4-5 Business Cards, Financial Materials, 1968-1977
9 6 Business Cards, Notes, circa 1968
9 7 Business Cards, Printed Materials, 1968
9 8 California State Office Building, Long Beach, 1981-1983
9 9 Doumani House, circa 1978-1984
9 10 Exhibition Announcement Contest, 1973
9 11 Hawaii Studio, circa 1979
9 12 Houston Ballet, 1978-1979
9 13 Institute of Experimental Printmaking, 1978-1985
9 14-15 Irvine Hilton, 1984-1986
(2 folders)
9 16 Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 1976
9 17 Mexican Ceramics, 1973-1974
9 18-19 Olympic Poster, 1981-1983
(2 folders)
9 20 Prestonwood Towne Center, 1977
9 21 Scarf Design, 1977
9 22 Security Pacific Bank Exhibition, 1978
9 23 Sidecar, 1984-1985
9 24 Venice Family Clinic, 1984
9 25 Watercolors For Jerry Brown Campaign, 1982
9 26-27 Zodiac, 1970s-1980s
(2 folders)

Series 7: Writings, 1967-circa 1988
(Box 9, OV 1; 0.25 linear feet)

This series consists of writings by Bengston and others. Writings and notes by Bengston concern exhibitions of West Coast art, thoughts on being an artist and the artistic community in general, motorcycles, autobiographical essays, and a recollection of John Altoon. Also included are art survey questionnaires sent out by Bengston; respondents include Peter Alexander, Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Roy Lichtenstein, John McCracken, Robert Motherwell, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, Peter Voulkos, and H.C. Westermann. Clippings of published articles by Bengston have been filed in this series.

The bulk of the writings by others are essays written for exhibition catalogs. Also found are transcripts of interviews with Bengston, exhibition reviews, an article about the Doumani House project, essays about Bengston and his work, including one by Christopher Isherwood, and a proposed exhibition program by Walter Hopps, Robert Irwin, and Joshua Young.

Box Folder
9 Writings by Bengston
9 28 Artist's Survey, 1970
9 29 Autobiographical Writings, circa 1968
9 30 "Grab Ass," circa 1970s
9 31 "Late Fifties at Ferus," 1969
(see also OV 1)
9 32 Letters of Recommendation, 1970, 1976, 1981, 1984
9 33 "Los Angeles Artists' Studios," 1970
9 34 On Artistic Community, 1960s
9 35 On John Altoon, circa 1969
9 36 On Motorcycles, circa 1970s
9 37 On "West Coast: 1945-1969" at the Pasadena Art Museum, circa 1970
9 38 "The Revolution and Invelopment of California Art in California," late 1960s
9 39 "Sequential Order For Artistic Downfall," late 1970s
9 Writings by Others
9 40 [Biographical Sketch and Exhibition List], 1979
9 41 [Copy For New Works In Clay Catalog], 1976
9 42 [Doumani House], circa 1982
9 43 "A Remembrance of the Emerging Los Angeles Art Scene," by Henry Hopkins, circa 1988
9 44 "Artist's Dialogue: a Conversation With Billy Al Bengston," by Fredericka Hunter, 1984
9 45 [On Bengston's Paintings] by Christopher Isherwood, circa 1976
9 46 "Interview With Billy Al Bengston" by Andrea Leavin, 1975
9 47 "Billy Al Bengston: Some Retrospective Thoughts" by Jane Livingston, circa 1988
9 48 [Introduction to Billy Al Bengston: Watercolors 1974-1980] by Jane Livingston, circa 1981
9 49 "Billy Al Bengston, For Example" by Jeff Perrone, circa 1981
9 50 "Billy Al Bengston: New Paintings" by Peter Plagens, 1975
9 51 "Preface [to Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades]" by Linda Cathcart and Christina Orr-Cahall, circa 1988
9 52 "Proposal For Exhibition Program" by Walter Hopps, Robert Irwin, and Joshua Young, circa 1970s
9 53 [Biographical Sketch] by Allan Shean, 1967
9 54-55 "Painting As a Visual Diary" by Karen Tsujimoto, circa 1987
(2 folders)
9 56 "The Installation of Billy Al Bengston at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art" by Maurice Tuchman, 1987
9 57 Unidentified Manuscript, 1960s
Box
OV 1 "Late Fifties at Ferus," 1969
(see also Box 9, F31)

Series 8: Artwork, 1960s-1987
(Box 9; 7 folders)

This series consists mainly of artwork created by Bengston for projects and commissions, including sketches for the Building Arts Company, Prestonwood Towne Center, and Sidecar lamp projects, and drawings for the Zodiac project. Also included are drawings of frames and paintings, two watercolors, and doodles.

Box Folder
9 58 Drawings, 1960s-1970s
9 59 Drawings For Zodiac Project, 1970s-1980s
9 60 Print, circa 1978-1982
9 61 Sketches For Building Arts Production Company Project, 1987
9 62 Sketches For Prestonwood Towne Center, circa 1977
9 63 Sketches of Lamps For Sidecar, 1984
9 64 Watercolors, 1970s-1980s

Series 9: Printed Materials, 1958-1988
(Boxes 9-10, OV 1-2; 1.25 linear feet)

This series includes clippings, exhibition announcements, exhibition catalogs, posters, press releases, and reproductions of artwork. Clippings are about Bengston, reviews of group and solo exhibitions, articles about southern California art and culture, and coverage of art and social events. The majority of exhibition catalogs are for group exhibitions, while exhibition announcements include both solo and group shows. Also included are advertisements, product catalogs, bus schedules, and athletic and outdoor club brochures collected for Bengston's personal use. Of interest is a poster for Bengston's first exhibition in 1956, the exhibition catalog for Bengston's first solo exhibition in 1958, a poster for a 1962 exhibition autographed by Buster Keaton, and the exhibition catalog designed by Ed Ruscha for Bengston's 1968 retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Box Folder
9 65 Advertisements, circa 1981
9 66 Biographical Sketch, circa 1978
9 67 Book Catalog, 1988
9 68 Catalog of Exhibitions, 1981
9 69 Catalogs, 1985 and circa 1980s
9 Clippings
9 70-72 Articles About Bengston, 1968-1975, 1977-1985
(3 folders)
9 73-94 General Clippings, 1962-1964, 1966-1988
(22 folders; see also OV 1)
Box Folder
10 1-18 Reviews and Notices, 1962, 1968-1988
(18 folders; see also OV 1-2)
10 19-21 Exhibition Announcements, 1959, 1970-1984, 1988
(3 folders)
10 22-26 Catalogs, 1958, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1976-1977, 1979, 1981-1984
(5 folders)
10 27 Exhibition Flyers, circa 1969
10 28 Furniture Advertisements and Catalogs, 1981
10 29 Hawaii Materials, circa 1976
10 30 Invitations, 1976
10 31 Los Angeles Children's Museum, 1979
10 32 Maps, 1978
10 33 Postcards, circa 1970s-1980s
10 34-36 Posters, 1969-1970, 1973, 1975-1976, 1978-1983
(3 folders; see also OV 2)
10 37 Press Releases, 1968-1969, 1971-1972, 1976-1978, 1982, 1984, 1988
10 38 Reproductions of Art Work, 1970s-1980s
10 39 Running Seminar Brochure, 1979
Box
OV 1 General Clippings, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1974
(see also Box 9, F73-94)
OV 1 Reviews and Notices, 1965, 1967-1968
(see also Box 10, F1-18)
Box
OV 2 Reviews and Notices, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978-1979
(see also Box 10, F1-18)
OV 2 Posters, 1956, 1960-1962, 1988
(see also Box 10, F34-36)

Series 10: Photographs, circa 1940s-1987
(Box 10; 0.5 linear feet)

Photographs are of Bengston, his friends, galleries, exhibitions, sites of Bengston's commissions, and one family photograph dating from the 1940s. Photographs of other artists include Carlos Almaraz, Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, Garry Winogrand. Also included are photographs of artwork, including the Plato de Moreno series of watercolors commissioned in 1982 by Jerry Brown's gubernatorial campaign. Photocopies of photographs not found elsewhere have been kept. Of interest are photographs of Bengston during his 1975 residency at the Everson Museum of Art, helping to construct the house of Roy and Carol Doumani, and Bengston conversing with Buck Henry.

Also found are slides of Bengston's artwork for the installation of his 1988 retrospective.

Box Folder
10 40 Artists, 1982
Found are photographs of Carlos Almaraz, Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, Garry Winogrand.
10 41-51 Artwork, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1975-1976, 1980-1983, 1986, and undated
(11 folders)
10 52 Artwork By Others, 1970
Found are photographs of artwork by Father Lee Lubbers
10 53 Billy Al Bengston, circa 1940s, 1975, 1981-1982
10 54 Billy Al Bengston (Photocopies), 1959, 1970s
10 55 Billboard, 1987
10 56 California State Office Building, Long Beach, circa 1982
10 57 Damaged Artwork, 1969, 1970s
10 58 Doumani House, circa 1978-1980
10 59 Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie, circa 1978
10 60-61 Galleries, 1969, 1978, 1983, 1987
(2 folders)
10 62 Installation of Artwork, 1970s
10 63 Institute of Experimental Printmaking, circa 1978-1982
Found are photographs of Sam Francis
10 64 Irvine Hilton Project, circa 1985-1986
10 65 Hans Neuendorf, 1960s-1970s
10 66 Justyn Notcek, 1976
10 67 Mexico, circa 1978
10 68 Olympic Posters, 1983
10 69 Prestonwood Towne Center Project, circa 1977
10 70 Transparency, 1970s
10 71 Unknown Girl, circa 1960s
10 Slides
10 1 Artwork, 1971-1972
10 Artwork, 1973
10 Artwork, 1974
10 Artwork, 1975
10 Artwork, 1976
10 Artwork, 1977-1978
10 Artwork, 1979
10 Artwork, 1980
10 Artwork, 1981
10 Artwork, 1982
10 Artwork, 1983
10 Artwork, 1984
10 Artwork, 1986
10 Undated Artwork, 1970s-1980s
10 Illustrations For Unknown Publication, circa 1977
10 Installation of "Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades" at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 1988
10 2 Installation of "Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades" at the Oakland Museum, 1988
10 Installation of "Billy Al Bengston: Paintings of Three Decades" at the Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu [?], 1988-1989
10 Building Arts Project, 1987
10 3 California State Office Building, Long Beach, 1981-1983
10 Institute of Experimental Printmaking, 1978-1985
10 Irvine Hilton, 1984-1986