Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001, bulk 1924-1975

A Finding Aid to the Fairfield Porter Papers, 1888-2001 (bulk 1924-1975), in the Archives of American Art, by Megan McShea

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Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Fairfield Porter was born near Chicago in 1907, the fourth of five children of James and Ruth Furness Porter. His father was an architect, his mother a poet from a literary family, and Porter grew up in an environment where art and literature were highly valued. His father designed the family homes in Winnetka, Illinois and on Great Spruce Head Island, an island in Maine that he purchased for the family in 1912. Fairfield Porter spent summers there from the age of six, and views of the island, its structures, and neighboring towns were the subjects of many paintings.

Porter attended Harvard from 1924 to 1928, studying fine art with Arthur Pope and philosophy with Alfred North Whitehead. After graduating from Harvard, Porter moved to New York City and took studio classes at the Art Students League from 1928 until 1930, studying with Boardman Robinson and Thomas Hart Benton, and immersing himself in the art and radical politics of Greenwich Village. In the 1940s, he studied at Parson's School of Design with art restorer Jacques Maroger, adopting the Maroger recipe for an oil medium in his own painting.

To further his education as an artist, Porter traveled to Europe in 1931, where he spent time with expatriate art theorist Bernard Berenson and his circle. When he returned to New York, he allied himself with progressive, socialist organizations, and like many of his contemporaries, worked at creating socially relevant art. He did artwork for the John Reed Club, a communist group; taught drawing classes for Rebel Arts, a socialist arts organization; wrote for their magazine, Arise!; and created a mural for the Queens branch of the Socialist Party. Living in the Chicago area for several years in the 1930s, he illustrated chapbooks for the socialist poet John Wheelwright's Poems for a Dime and Poems for Two Bits series. Porter's financial contributions to the radical Chicago publication Living Marxism kept it afloat for several years.

In 1932, Porter married Anne Channing, a poet from Boston, and they settled in New York. The Porters had five children, and their first son, born in 1934, suffered from a severe form of autism. In the next decade, they had two more sons, and spent three years in Porter's hometown of Winnetka, where he had his first solo exhibition of paintings. When they returned to New York in 1939, the Porters became friends with Edwin Denby, Rudy Burkhardt, and Elaine and Willem de Kooning. Porter became an earnest admirer of Willem de Kooning's artwork and was among the first to review and purchase it.

In 1949, the Porters moved to the small, seaside town of Southampton, New York. Their two daughters were born in 1950 and 1956. Like the family home on Great Spruce Head Island, Southampton became the setting of many of Porter's paintings. In fact, almost all of his mature paintings depict family homes, surrounding landscapes, family members, and friends. Porter was an individualistic painter who embraced figurative art in the late 1940s and 1950s, when abstract expressionism was the prevailing aesthetic trend. Porter once made a comment that his commitment to figurative painting was made just to spite art critic Clement Greenberg, a respected critic and ideologue who had championed abstract expressionism and denigrated realism as passé.

Porter established his reputation as a painter and as a writer in the 1950s. John Bernard Myers of the vanguard Tibor de Nagy gallery gave Porter his first New York exhibition in 1951 and represented him for the next twenty years. That same year Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews, hired Porter to write art features and reviews. Porter went on to contribute to ArtNews until 1967 and also became art editor for The Nation beginning in 1959, the same year his article on Willem de Kooning won the Longview Foundation Award in art criticism. As a critic, Porter visited countless galleries and studios, and he gained a reputation for writing about art with the understanding and vested interest of an artist, and with the same independence from fashionable ideas that he demonstrated in his artwork.

The 1950s and 1960s were prolific years for Porter's writing and art, and saw the development of his critical ideas and the maturation of his painting. Porter enjoyed an elder status among a circle of younger artists such as Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, and Alex Katz, and their many poet friends, now known as the New York School of Poetry: Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest, and others. Porter himself wrote poetry and was published in the 1950s, sometimes alongside poems by his wife, who had been publishing poetry since the 1930s (twice in the vanguard Chicago journal, Poetry). The Porters' correspondence is laced with poems they and their friends sent back and forth, often about and dedicated to each other.

Besides his annual exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy and later Hirschl and Adler Galleries, Porter exhibited regularly at the Whitney, and had one-man exhibitions at many museums including the Rhode Island School of Design (1959), The University of Alabama (1963), Cleveland Museum of Art (his first retrospective, 1966), Trinity College (1967), the Parrish Art Museum (1971), the Maryland Institute of Art (1973), and the 1968 Venice Biennale. He also had residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1964) and Amherst College (1969). Porter died in 1975 at age 68. A full-scale retrospective of his artwork was held at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston in 1983, and a study center and permanent home for his artwork was established at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton through a donation made by Anne Porter. A posthumous collection of his poems was published by Tibor de Nagy Editions in 1985, and a catalogue raisonnée, edited by Joan Ludman, was published in 2001.

This biography relies heavily on information found in Justin Spring's biography of Porter, Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art (Yale University Press, 2000).

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of New York-based painter, lithographer, art critic, and poet Fairfield Porter measure 8.2 linear feet and date from 1888 to 2001, with the bulk of material dating from 1924 to 1975. The collection includes a biographical chronology; certificates, awards, and diplomas; letters to Fairfield and Anne Porter; scattered outgoing correspondence; and reviews, essays, notes, poems, and translations written by Porter and others. Among the writings are poetry manuscripts written by several New York School Poets including Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch. Also found are gallery records, inventories and appraisals, financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, posters, and records of Anne Porter's efforts to place his collection and document and publish his work after his death. Photographs of Porter, his homes, and his family are also present, as well as sketchbooks, loose sketches, and drawings spanning his entire career.

Significant correspondence is present from the Porters' many poet friends, including Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Ron Padgett, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Carl Morse, David Shapiro, and others. Among the letters are poetry manuscripts by Koch, Morse, Schuyler, Padgett, and Shapiro. Some letters are actually written in verse, especially those from Kenneth Koch.

Artists with letters in the collection include Joe Brainard, Rudy Burkhardt, John Button, Lucien Day, Rackstraw Downes, Philip Evergood, Jane Frielicher, Arthur Giardelli, Leon Hartl, Alex Katz, Edward Laning, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Richard Stankiewicz, Nicolas Vasilieff, among others. Other art world figures represented include John Bernard Myers, curator at the Tibor de Nagy gallery (New York), and Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews. Artwork found within the correspondence includes an illustrated letter from Ron Padgett and an original print on a holiday card by Edith Schloss.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into the following nine series. See the series descriptions below for more information about the content of each series.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms. People, families and organizations are listed under "Subjects" when they are the topic of collection contents and under "Names" when they are creators or contributors.

Subjects-Topical:

  • Painters -- New York (State) --Southampton
  • Art critics -- New York (State) -- Southampton
  • Painting, Modern -- 20th century
  • Poets
  • Lithographers -- New York (State)

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Travel diaries
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches
  • Works of art

Names:

  • Myers, John Bernard
  • Padgett, Ron
  • Porter, Ruth W., 1875-1942
  • Rivers, Larry, 1925-
  • Schuyler, James
  • Shapiro, David, 1947-
  • Brainard, Joe, 1942-
  • Day, Lucien B., 1916-
  • Downes, Rackstraw
  • Giardelli, Arthur
  • Hartl, Léon, 1889-
  • Koch, Kenneth, 1925-
  • O'Hara, Frank
  • Hess, Thomas B.
  • Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973
  • Guest, Barbara
  • Morse, Carl
  • Elmslie, Kenward
  • Schloss, Edith
  • Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-
  • Vasilieff, Nicholas
  • Stankiewicz, Richard, 1922-
  • Katz, Alex, 1927-
  • Laning, Edward
  • Button, John, 1929-1982
  • Burkhardt, Rudy
  • Frielicher, Jane
  • Hirschl & Adler Galleries
  • Tibor de Nagy Gallery

Provenance

The papers of Fairfield Porter were given to the Archives of American Art by the artist's wife, Anne Porter, in five separate accessions between 1977 and 1997.

Separated and Related Materials

The Archives of American Art holds an oral history of Fairfield Porter conducted by Paul Cummings in 1968.

How the Collection was Processed

These papers were initially processed for microfilming upon their accession to the Archives on reels 1311-1314 and 2675-2676. The collection was fully re-processed, arranged, and described by Megan McShea in 2006, and the bulk of it was scanned, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Project.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not digitized requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Fairfield Porter 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.

Available Formats

The bulk of the collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website..

Location of Originals

Before donating the papers to the Archives, Anne Porter returned letters from Frank O'Hara to Fairfield Porter to the O'Hara estate. Letters from John Ashbery to Fairfield Porter were returned to Ashbery, and photocopies have been placed in the collection.

How to Cite this Collection

Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001 (bulk 1924-1975). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1916-1975 and undated
(Box 1 and 11; 0.2 linear feet)

Biographical Materials include a chronology of Porter's life prepared by Prescott D. Schutz of Hirschl and Adler Gallery, a birth certificate, a diploma from Harvard College, various other certificates, two passports, a copy of Porter's will, bills and correspondence related to healthcare for the Porters' first son, Johnny, and writings by and about Porter's mother, Ruth Furness Porter. Also found is a copy of a letter from Porter's great-grandfather agreeing to the marriage of his daughter Margaret Eliot to James Furness.

Box Folder
1 1 Chronology of Fairfield Porter's Life (1981), undated
(photocopy)
1 2 Certificates and Diplomas, 1929-1973
(see also Box 11, OV)
1 3 Passports, 1931-1967
1 4 Fairfield Porter's Will (1961), undated
(photocopy)
1 5 Johnny Porter's Medical Records, 1944-1975
(not scanned)
1 6 Material Related to Ruth Furness Porter, James Furness, and Margaret Eliot Furness, 1916-1942, undated
(not scanned)
Box
11 (OV) Oversized Certificates and Diplomas
(see Box 1, folder 2)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1918-1996 and undated
(Boxes 1-2, 1.2 linear feet)

Correspondence includes letters written by Fairfield Porter, Anne Porter, family members, artists, writers, critics, curators, neighbors, and others in Porter's circle. Incoming and outgoing letters are filed separately and arranged by correspondent. Single items of correspondence are filed in miscellaneous files by the first letter of the individual's last name. Incoming letters include letters to Fairfield and Anne Porter, as well as scattered third-party correspondence. Outgoing letters are mostly drafts and carbon copies of letters written by Fairfield Porter, although actual letters sent to his mother, wife, and Frank O'Hara are present.

Significant correspondence is present from the Porters' many poet friends, including Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Ron Padgett, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Carl Morse, David Shapiro, and others. Among the letters are poetry manuscripts by Koch, Morse, Schuyler, Padgett, and Shapiro. Some letters are actually written in verse, especially those from Kenneth Koch. See Writings for additional poetry manuscripts.

Artists with letters in the collection include Joe Brainard, Rudy Burkhardt, John Button, Lucien Day, Rackstraw Downes, Philip Evergood, Jane Frielicher, Arthur Giardelli, Leon Hartl, Alex Katz, Edward Laning, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Richard Stankiewicz, Nicolas Vasilieff, among others. Other art world figures represented include John Bernard Myers, curator at the Tibor de Nagy gallery (New York), and Tom Hess, editor of ArtNews. Artwork found in this series includes an illustrated letter from Ron Padgett and an original print on a holiday card by Edith Schloss.

Porter's interest in leftist politics during the 1930s is seen in outgoing letters and in letters from Alex Haberstroh and Paul Mattick. Letters to Porter's mother, Ruth Porter, contain detailed descriptions of his boarding school and college years and his travels abroad in the 1920s and 1930s.

Annotations made by Anne Porter are found throughout this series, including dates, last names, and other explanatory notes.

Additional correspondence can be found in Personal Business Records, especially among the gallery records, and in Anne Porter's Posthumous Projects. A collection of excerpts about Fairfield Porter, compiled by Anne Porter from letters she wrote to her mother, is filed with Writings by Others.

Box Folder
1 Incoming Letters to Anne and Fairfield Porter from:
1 7 Adams, Pat, 1956, undated
1 8 Ashbery, John, undated
(photocopies of originals dated 1955-1973 and undated; not scanned)
1 9 Auerbach, Ellen and Walter, 1939, 1942, 1972-1973
1 10 Miscellaneous A, 1957, 1981, 1983, undated
(includes an undated letter from Peter Ackroyd and a 1981 letter from John Ashbery to Anne Porter)
1 11 Benedict, Michael, 1964, undated
1 12 Berend, Charlotte, 1952, 1955
1 13 Bergman, Joy, 1987-1989, undated
1 14 Bigelow, Don N., 1970, undated
1 15 Birch, Barbara Channing, 1952, 1983-1995, undated
1 16 Bishop, Isabel, 1967-1972, undated
1 17 Brainard, Joe, 1989, undated
1 18 Brooks, Jim, undated
1 19 Brown, Garrett Mills, 1971-1974
1 20 Buckley, Senator James L., 1971, 1975
1 21 Bullowa, Arthur, 1977-1982
1 22 Burkhardt, Rudy, 1951, 1975, undated
1 23 Button, John, 1960-1975, undated
1 24 Miscellaneous B, 1952-1989, undated
(includes a 1989 postcard from Bill Berkson and a 1952 note from Louise Bourgeois)
1 25 Campbell, Larry, 1952, 1956, undated
1 26 Channing, Katherine M., 1933, 1942, 1954
1 27 Clement, Adele, undated
1 28 Cornell, Joseph, 1966
1 29 Cummings, E.E., 1946, 1952
1 30 Miscellaneous C, 1942, 1965-1975, undated
(includes a 1975 photo postcard from Dale Chihuly picturing him in Europe, and a 1966 letter from Oscar Collier)
1 31 Day, Lucien, 1972, undated
1 32 DeMott, Benjamin, 1972, undated
1 33 Denby, Edwin, undated
1 34 Downes, Rackstraw, 1972-1996, undated
1 35 Miscellaneous D, 1955-1975, undated
(Includes a letter from James Deely)
1 36 Elmslie, Kenward, undated
1 37 Evergood, Philip, 1952-1953
1 38 Miscellaneous E, 1968-1975, undated
1 39 Frazer, James, 1974, undated
1 40 Freeman, Dick, 1972-1975, undated
1 41 Freilicher, Jane, 1953, undated
1 42 Miscellaneous F, 1953-1975, undated
(includes 1953 letter from John Ferren, a 1975 letter of condolence from Joe Fiore, and a 1956 letter from Jean Follett)
1 43 Giardelli, Arthur, 1936-1937, 1958-1974, undated
1 44 Gilbert, Creighton, 1955
1 45 Gordon, Albert, 1975, undated
1 46 Griffin, Howard, 1961, undated
1 47 Guest, Barbara, 1958, undated
1 48 Miscellaneous G, 1952-1978, undated
(includes a 1955 note from John Graham and a 1966 letter from Dorothy Grotz)
1 49 Haberstroh, Alex, 1935, 1939, 1941
1 50 Hartl, Leon, 1952-1954, undated
1 51 Hess, Tom, 1978, undated
1 52 Miscellaneous H, 1939-1974, undated
1 53 Ickes, Betty, 1971, undated
1 54 Javits, Senator Jacob R., 1968-1971
1 55 Johnson, Ben, 1955-1956
1 56 Katz, Alex, 1959
1 57 Klein, Samuel and Pauline, 1967, 1972, undated
1 58 Koch, Katherine "Koko", 1982-1988, undated
1 59 Koch, Kenneth, 1968-1976, undated
1 60 Koethe, John, 1973-1974
1 61 Miscellaneous J, K, 1952-1978
(includes a brief 1968 note from Robert F. Kennedy, a 1960 note from William King, and a 1952 note from Doris Kreindler)
1 62 Laning, Edward, 1948-1952
1 63 Leake, Eugene W., 1966, 1968, 1974
1 64 Leigh, Ted, 1972, 1974, undated
1 65 Miscellaneous L, 1952-1994, undated
(includes a 1954 letter from John C. LeClair, a 1994 letter from Denise Levertov, an undated letter from Roy Lichtenstein, a 1952 letter from Charles Locke and a 1963 letter from Tom Locker)
1 66 Maroger, Jacques, 1952
1 67 Mattick, Ilse Hamm, undated
1 68-69 Mattick, Paul, 1938-1941, undated
(2 folders)
1 70 Morse, Carl, 1970, 1984-1987
1 71 Myers, John Bernard, undated
1 72 Miscellaneous M, 1952-1975, undated
(includes an undated letter from Dwight MacDonald, an undated letter from Norman MacLeish, an undated letter from John MacWhinnie, a 1952 note from Ezio Martinelli, a 1975 note from Harry Mathews, circa 1975 note from Peter Matthiessen, a 1963 note from Henry Mayer, and an undated note from Howard Moss)
1 73 Miscellaneous N, 1955
1 74 O'Hara, Frank, 1954, 1956, 1959, undated
1 75 Padgett, Ron, 1970-1989, undated
1 Porter, Anne Channing
1 76 to Katherine M. Channing, 1936, 1953, undated
1 77-79 to Fairfield Porter, circa 1934-1962
(3 folders)
1 80 Porter, Edward and Audrey, 1946-1977, undated
1 81 Porter, Eliot and Aline, 1959-1966, undated
1 82-84 Porter, John (Fairfield and Anne Porter's son), 1942-1968, 1977, undated
(3 folders)
1 85 Porter, John and Trudy, 1951-1956, 1970-1978, undated
1 86 Porter, Ruth Furness, 1941
1 87 Miscellaneous P, 1947-1995, undated
(includes an undated letter from Harley Perkins and a 1947 letter to a family member from Miss Probst, Fairfield's German governess)
1 88 Rivers, Larry, 1952, undated
1 89 Miscellaneous Q-R, 1941-1975, undated
(includes a 1966 letter from Frank Redelius describing the prepartion of the Maroger Medium)
1 90-93 Schuyler, James, 1955-1989, undated
(4 folders)
1 94 Schloss, Edith, 1972-1996
1 95 Shapiro, David, 1972-1974
1 96 Smith, Elizabeth, 1974-1975, undated
1 97 Stankiewicz, Richard, 1956, undated
1 98 Straus, Francis, 1968, 1975
1 99 Straus, Nancy Porter, 1952-1955, undated
1 100 Miscellaneous S, 1956-1975, undated
(includes a 1969 letters from Robert G. Skinner, a 1956 postcard from David Smith, a 1956 letter from Raphael Soyer, and a 1970 note from Henry Striebel)
1 101 Tworkov, Jack, 1952, 1960
1 102 Miscellaneous T, 1968-1975
1 103 Vasilieff, Nicholas, 1951-1954
1 104 Walker, John, 1952
1 105 Wallace, Frank, 1953, undated
1 106 Welliver, Neil, 1972, undated
1 107 White, Bobby, 1967-1970
1 108 Miscellaneous V, W, Y, 1955-1989, undated
(includes 1965 letter from Jean Volkmer concerning conservation of a Porter painting and a 1953 letter from Hudson Walker)
1 109 First Name Only, Albert, 1936, 1955, undated
1 110 Illegible and Unsigned Letters, 1952, 1987, undated
1 Outgoing Letters from Fairfield Porter to:
1 111 Miscellaneous A, 1956, 1961
(draft and copy)
1 112 Channing, Katherine M. "Kee", 1935-1957, undated
1 113 Miscellaneous F, 1918, 1923, 1956
(includes copy of a 1956 letter sent to Alfred Frankfurter and Betty Chamberlain)
1 114 Miscellaneous G-N, 1940-1959, undated
(includes drafts of letters to Clement Greenberg and Dwight MacDonald)
Box Folder
2 1 O'Hara, Frank, 1954-1955, undated
2 2-5 Porter, Anne, 1931-1964, undated
(4 folders)
2 6-12 Porter, Ruth Furness, circa 1923-1942 and undated
(7 folders)
2 13 Miscellaneous P, W, circa 1932, undated
2 14 First Names Only, 1955, 1971, 1975

Series 3: Writings by Fairfield Porter, 1924-1975, undated
(Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)

Writings by Fairfield Porter include manuscripts and corrected typescripts of artist profiles, art criticism and theory, talks and lectures, notes, research, preparatory writings, poetry, translations, and other writings. Artist profiles include essays about Richard Stankiewicz, Joseph Cornell, and Albert York. Porter's essays on various art-related subjects are often found in multiple drafts and are filed under the title of what appears to be the latest draft. Early versions of these writings are found in Porter's research notes and other notebooks. Teaching notes include a class register and syllabus for a 1969 art course taught at Queens College in New York. Reviewing notebooks contain detailed notes and rough sketches from visits with artists made while Porter was writing criticism. Other notebooks contain a variety of entries, including prose writings and scattered poems, sketches, and other notes. Scattered notes are also found in many of the sketchbooks in th e Artwork series.

Two folders of poetry manuscripts by Porter, and a single poem by Porter and Kenneth Koch, contain a mix of published and unpublished poems, often in multiple drafts. A few of Porter's translations from French of Stéphane Mallarmé's poetry are present in various drafts. Miscellaneous Creative Writings include a work of experimental fiction called "Lake Mahopac," a school essay entitled "A Neighbor," and a tune Porter composed for the William Blake poem "Ah, Sunflower."

Writings in this series represent only a small portion of Porter's literary output. See Printed Materials and Anne Porter's Posthumous Projects for published writings.

Box Folder
2 15 Artist Profiles, circa 1955-1974
2 16 Reviews, undated
2 Essays
2 17 "Art Reveals the Nature of Society", undated
2 18 "Art Should be Independent of Science", undated
2 19 "The Arts Today: Reflection of a Sick Society?", undated
2 20 "The Class Content of Modern Painting", undated
2 21 "Poets and Painters in Collaboration", undated
(First page missing)
2 22-24 "Technology and Artistic Perception", undated
(3 folders; partially scanned)
2 25-26 untitled, undated
(2 folders)
2 27 Photocopied Essays, undated
(not scanned)
2 28 Talks and Lectures, 1965, 1969, 1970, undated
2 Notes
2 29 Paint Recipes, circa 1929-1959
2 30-35 Research Notes, undated
(6 folders)
2 36 Teaching Notes, Queens College, 1969
(not scanned)
2 37 Mailing List, undated
(not scanned)
2 38 Supply Inventory, 1972-1975
(not scanned)
2 39 Miscellaneous Notes, undated
2 Notebooks
2 40 Reviewing Notebook, 1950s
2 41 Reviewing Notebook, 1950s
2 42 Reviewing Notebook, circa 1953
2 43 Reviewing Notebook, circa 1954
2 44 Reviewing Notebook, circa 1956
2 45 Reviewing Notebook, circa 1960
2 46 Other Notebook, circa 1931
2 47-51 Other Notebooks, undated
(5 folders)
2 52 Other Notebook, circa 1975
2 53-54 Poetry, undated
(2 folders)
2 55 Translations from Mallarmé, 1973, undated
2 56 Miscellaneous Creative Writings, 1924, 1950s, undated

Series 4: Writings by Others, 1888-1992, undated
(Boxes 2-3; 0.7 linear feet)

This series includes essays, diaries, poetry, notes, and other writings. Writings about Fairfield Porter include essay-length memoirs by several of his contemporaries and criticism of his writings and art written by Rackstraw Downs and others. Travel Diaries written by Porter's mother, Ruth Porter, document three family trips to Europe between 1922 and 1931. A typescript created by Anne Porter from letters she wrote to her mother between 1931 and 1960 contains passages from those letters that mention Fairfield Porter. The original letters were destroyed by Anne Porter.

Poetry manuscripts are arranged by author, with unsigned poems at the end of the series. Included are poems in typescript and corrected typescript by some of Porter's well-known friends including John Ashbery, Robert Dash, Edwin Denby, Howard Griffin, Kenneth Koch, Carl Morse, Frank O'Hara, Larry Rivers, James Schuyler, and David Shapiro. Additional poetry manuscripts can be found in Correspondence. Published poetry is filed with Printed Materials.

Miscellaneous essays are filed alphabetically by author with unsigned essays filed at the end of the series. These include writings of family members, including Fairfield Porter's mother, Ruth Porter, and maternal grandmother, Lucy Fairchild Furness. Also found are articles by cosmologist Arthur Young with notes by Fairfield Porter, and a review of James Schuyler's Crystal Lithium, among other writings.

Throughout this series, photocopies are filed separately and have not been scanned.

Box Folder
2 About Fairfield Porter
2 57-58 Memoirs, 1984, undated
(2 folders)
2 59-61 Criticism, 1974-1984, undated
(3 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-3 Travel Diaries by Ruth Porter, 1922, 1924, 1931
(3 folders)
3 4-7 Excerpts from Letters by Anne Porter (1931-1960), undated
3 Poetry by:
3 8-9 John Ashbery, undated
(2 folders; photocopies not scanned)
3 10 Susan Baran, undated
3 11 Sisco E.S. Barnard, undated
3 12 Barbara Channing Birch, undated
3 13-14 Marc Cohen, undated
(2 folders; photocopies not scanned)
3 15 Robert Dash, 1960, undated
3 16 Edwin Denby, undated
3 17 Maggie Eaton, 1981-1983, undated
3 18 Margaret Tynes Fairley, undated
3 19 Howard Griffin, undated
3 20 Barbara Guest, undated
(photocopy, not scanned)
3 21 Kenneth Koch (with Janice Koch), 1955, undated
3 22 Jamie Levinson Morris, undated
3 23 Carl Morse, undated
3 24-25 Frank O'Hara, undated
3 26 Anne Porter (1954), undated
(photocopy, not scanned)
3 27 Johnny Porter, 1941-1942, undated
3 28 Laurence Porter, undated
3 29 Ruth Furness Porter, 1888, 1916, undated
(also includes short story manuscript)
3 30 Larry Rivers, undated
3 31 James Schuyler, 1962, 1973
3 32-33 David Shapiro and Students, undated
(photocopies not scanned)
3 34 Mary Soles, undated
3 35 Ralph Wright, undated
3 36 Unknown Author 1, 1951, undated
3 37 Unknown Author 2, undated
3 38 Unknown Author 3, undated
3 39 Unknown Author 4, undated
3 40 Miscellaneous Unknown Authors, 1960-1961, undated
3 Miscellaneous Essays
3 41 by Anina Porter Fuller, 1991
(not scanned)
3 42 Lucy Fairchild Furness, undated
3 43 Laurence Porter, undated
(not scanned)
3 44-45 Leon Porter, 1989
(2 folders; not scanned)
3 46 Ruth Furness Porter, undated
3 47 Arthur Young (with notes by Fairfield Porter), 1967, undated
(partially scanned)
3 48 Unknown Author on James Schuyler, undated
3 49-50 Unknown Author, undated
(2 folders; not scanned)
3 51 Guest Lists, undated
(not scanned)
3 52 Miscellaneous Notes, 1964, 1982, undated
(not scanned)

Series 5: Personal Business Records, 1944-1996
(Boxes 3-4; 1 linear foot)

Personal Business Records include account books, receipts, notes, business agreements, correspondence, bank records, inventories of artwork, appraisals, copyright registrations, and other records related to Fairfield Porter's professional activities and, to a lesser extent, personal finances. This series is arranged by type of material.

Gallery records include contractual agreements, accounting statements of painting sales, inventories, insurance claims, and scattered correspondence. The bulk of gallery records are for Tibor de Nagy Gallery, the first to represent Porter, and Hirschl and Adler Gallery, which represented Porter from 1972 on and managed his estate after his death. Also found are records from the Brooke Alexander Gallery, which handled Porter's small oeuvre of limited edition prints.

Inventories and appraisals include property appraisals of furnishings and other assets, as well as detailed artwork inventories created after Porter's death. Additional artwork inventories are found with gallery records for Hirschl and Adler Gallery.

Detailed records are also found relating to the major estate gift of Porter's collection to the Parrish Art Museum (Southampton, NY), as well as smaller gifts and loans made by Anne Porter to various museums and galleries after Porter's death. These records are arranged by museum or organization name. Museum research contains notes and printed materials related to the estate settlement.

Box Folder
3 53-61 Account Books, 1946-1988
(8 folders)
3 62 Employment Records, 1944
(not scanned)
3 63 Funeral Expenses, 1975-1976
(not scanned)
3 64 Great Spruce Head Island Corporation Records, 1971-1977
(not scanned)
3 65 Family Trust Fund, 1980
(not scanned)
Box Folder
4 Gallery Records
4 1-5 Tibor de Nagy Gallery Contract and Sales Records, 1959-1972
(5 folders)
4 6 Tibor de Nagy Gallery Inventories, 1964-1969
4 7 M. Knoedler and Company Gallery, 1970-1971
4 8-13 Hirschl and Adler Gallery, 1972-1996, undated
(6 folders)
4 14-17 Brooke Alexander, Inc., 1972-1996
(4 folders)
4 18 Other Galleries and Misellaneous Receipts, 1964-1979
4 19 Charitable Trust Records, 1986-1987
(not scanned)
4 20-23 Inventories and Appraisals, 1943, 1975-1978
(4 folders including copy; copy not scanned)
4 24 Artwork Inventory Notes, circa 1976
4 Parrish Art Museum Loans and Gift
4 25 Receipts and Deeds of Gift, 1976-1984
4 26 Correspondence and Minutes, 1980-1989
4 27 Drafts of Master List, undated
4 28 Press Clipping Report, 1993
(partially scanned)
4 29-30 Other Loans and Gifts, 1977-1989
(2 folders)
4 31 Museum Research, 1982-undated
(not scanned)
4 32 Copyrights and Permissions, 1975-1988
(not scanned)

Series 6: Anne Porter's Posthumous Projects, 1980-1988, undated
(Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)

This series contains research, writings, and correspondence related to three publication projects executed by Anne Porter and various editors after the death of her husband, Fairfield Porter. Projects include a catalog raisonée of Porter's artwork edited by Joan Ludman, an edition of collected letters edited by Ted Leigh, and an edition of collected poems edited by John Yau.

Materials for the catalog raisonée include notes, correspondence, reproductions of works of art, and clippings. Correspondence contains information about the provenance and subject matter of artworks. Correspondents include John MacWhinnie, Lucian Day, Bill Berkson, and Larry Campbell. Also found is a letter concerning a forged painting, and two proposals for the catalog raisonée project.

Materials related to the collected letters include correspondence between Anne Porter and Ted Leigh, copies of letters from a few of Porter's correspondents including James Schuyler, and a manuscript of an article by Leigh. The collected poems file contains correspondence, a typescript and a corrected proof for the 1985 publication. A copy of the Collected Poems is filed with Printed Materials. Manuscripts of Porter's poetry are filed with Writings. Publicity for these publications is filed with Printed Materials.

Box Folder
4 33-35 Catalog Raisonée Materials, 1980-1988, undated
(3 folders; partially scanned)
4 36-37 Collected Letters Materials, 1983-1988
(2 folders)
4 38-39 Collected Poems Materials, 1982-1985
(2 folders; not scanned)

Series 7: Printed Materials, 1934-2001, undated
(Boxes 4-6 and 11; 1.5 linear feet; not scanned)

Printed materials include printed artwork, books, book covers, clippings, magazines, exhibition catalogs, posters, chapbooks, journals, reproductions of works of art, and other printed miscellany primarily related to the art and writings of Fairfield Porter and others in his circle.

Books include a book about Thomas Eakins written by Porter and a book about the New York School with an article Porter wrote about Richard Stankiewicz. Book covers illustrated by Porter are found for books of poetry by James Schuyler, Kenneth Koch, and John Koethe. Clippings include magazines, magazine clippings, newspaper clippings, and other ephemeral publications. Reviews by Porter, mostly for The Nation from 1959 to 1961, are filed separately. Artwork by Porter includes a cartoon created for the Harvard Lampoon. Articles about Porter include reviews, profiles, and obituaries.

Exhibition catalogs and posters are present for Porter's individual and group exhibitions. A file of items found in Porter's studio at the time of his death consist mostly of photographs and illustrations clipped from newspapers and reproductions of works of art.

Poetry publications include chapbooks, journals, and books. Volumes containing poems by the Fairfield and/or Anne Porter are filed at the beginning. Poetry publications include the magazine Poetry, Locus Solus I, two issues of Semi-Colon, four issues of John Wheelwright's Poems for Two Bits and Poems for a Dime series, which were illustrated by Porter, and James Schuyler's anthologies 49 South and Broadway 2. An issue of the journal Parenthèse with an obituary of Porter by John Bernard Myers is filed with clippings about Porter. Copies of the prints Porter made for the Wheelwright publications can be found in the Artwork series.

Subject files include pamphlets, newsletters, and brochures related to nuclear energy, an issue with which Porter was involved, and Subud, a spiritual practice Porter followed. Printed miscellany includes a teaching guide for a slide program of Porter's paintings created by the Parrish Art Museum.

Portions of this series have not been digitized.

Box Folder
4 Books
(not scanned; see also Poetry Publications)
4 40 School of New York: Some Younger Artists, 1959
4 41 Thomas Eakins, 1959
4 42 Book Covers with Art by Porter, 1972-1974
(not scanned; see also Poetry Publications, John Wheelwright chapbooks)
4 Clippings
4 43-44 Reviews by Porter, 1959-1982, undated
(2 folders)
4 45 Artwork by Porter, circa 1927, 1957
4 46-47 Articles about Porter, 1955, 1968-1976
(2 folders)
Box Folder
5 1-11 Articles about Porter, 1955-1990s, undated
(11 folders; photocopies not scanned)
5 12 Reviews of Anne Porter's Poetry, 1994-1995
5 13 Miscellaneous Clippings, 1967-1977, undated
5 14-24 Exhibition Catalogs, 1960-2001, undated
5 25 Exhibition Posters, 1975-1977, undated
(not scanned; see Box 11, OV)
5 26 Items Found in Studio, 1941-1971, undated
(not scanned; see also Box 11, OV)
5 27 Navy Blueprints, 1943
(not scanned)
5 Poetry Publications
(not scanned)
5 28 Fairfield Porter's Collected Poems, 1985
5 29 Other Fairfield Porter Publications, 1955, undated
5 30-32 Anne Channing Porter, 1934-1982
(3 folders)
Box Folder
6 1-3 Anne and Fairfield Porter, 1953-1989
(3 folders)
6 4 John Wheelwright Chapbooks Illustrated by Fairfield Porter, 1936-1937
6 5 Kenneth Koch and Frank O'Hara, undated
6 6 John Koethe, 1973
6 7 Katherine Porter, 1986
6 8 Groundwater Press Chapbooks, 1989
6 Subject Files
(not scanned)
6 9-13 Nuclear Energy, 1964-1975, undated
(5 folders)
6 14-15 Subud, 1957-1960
(2 folders)
6 16 Printed Miscellany, 1980-1990, undated
(not scanned)
Box
11 (OV) Oversized Exhibition Posters
(see Box 5, folder 25)
11 (OV) Oversized Items Found in Studio
(See Box 5, folder 26)

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1880-1990, undated
(Boxes 6 and 11; 0.6 linear feet)

This series includes photographs of Fairfield Porter, his family, homes and studios, photographic studies, and works of art. Most of the photographs are unattributed, but photographs by James Schuyler, John MacWhinnie, Ellen "Pit" Auerbach, and Edith Schloss are found. Photographs of Fairfield Porter are filed at the beginning of the series, except for his childhood photographs, wedding photographs, and photographs of Porter with his wife and children, which are filed with family photographs. New York City street scenes appear to have been used as studies for some of Porter's paintings. Photographs of works of art by others include paintings by Alex Katz and Alex Haberstroh that were owned by the Porters, and a bust of Porter sculpted by Robert White. See file headings below for more information about subjects.

Throughout this series, duplicates, negatives, and copy prints have not been scanned. The remainder of the series has been selectively scanned.

Box Folder
6 Fairfield Porter
6 17-18 Fairfield Porter, circa 1946-1972, undated
(2 folders, including copy negatives and prints)
6 19-20 With Siblings and Friends, circa 1931-1963, undated
(2 folders, including copy negatives and print)
6 21-22 In Studio, Gallery, Working, circa 1960s-1970s
(2 folders, including copies)
6 Family
6 23 Fairfield Porter's Parents and Their Families, 1880s-1890s, undated
(not scanned)
6 24-26 Childhood Photographs of Fairfield Porter and Family, circa 1910-1920s
(3 folders)
6 27 Anne Channing Porter and Family, 1913, 1927, circa 1990
6 28 Wedding Photographs, 1932
6 29-31 Fairfield Porter, Anne Porter, and Their Children in Groups, circa 1930s-1960s
(3 folders, including negatives)
6 32 Fairfield and Anne Porter with Their Grandchildren, circa 1969, undated
6 33-36 Son Johnny, circa 1934-1977
(4 folders; not scanned)
6 37-40 Son Laurence, 1938-1980s
(4 folders; not scanned)
6 41-42 Son Jerry (Richard), 1941-1970
(2 folders; not scanned)
6 43 Daughter Katherine, circa 1951-1980
(not scanned)
6 44 Daughter Elizabeth, 1957-1985, undated
(not scanned)
6 45 Porter Children, Negatives, undated
(not scanned)
6 46 Porter Grandchildren, 1969-1989, undated
(not scanned)
6 47 Miscellaneous People, 1953-1954, undated
(not scanned)
6 Places
6 48 Possibly Winnetka, Illinois Home, circa 1930s
6 49 Great Spruce Head Island, Maine, 1962-1972, undated
6 50 Southampton, New York, 1977
6 51 Vinalhaven, Maine, undated
(not scanned)
6 52-54 New York City Street Scenes, 1940s-1970s
(3 folders; not scanned)
6 55 Miscellaneous Places, 1940, undated
(not scanned)
6 Works of Art
6 56-62 By Fairfield Porter, 1930s-1980, undated
(7 folders; not scanned)
6 63 By Others, undated
(not scanned; see also Box 11, OV)
Box
11 (OV) Oversized Photographs of Works of Art by Others
(see Box 6, folder 63)

Series 9: Artwork, 1918-1975, undated
(Boxes 7-10 and 12-17; 2.2 linear feet)

Artwork includes sketchbooks, loose sketches and drawings, illustrations, prints, and cartoons by Fairfield Porter. Artwork by others includes works of Peggy Bacon, Alex Haberstroh, Leon Hartl, and Edith Schloss, and a portrait of Porter in pencil by Joe Brainard.

Sketchbooks contain sketches and drawings in pencil, charcoal, ink, watercolor, and pastel of subjects similar to those found in Porter's paintings: homes, family, landscapes, city street scenes, and figure studies. Notes in Anne Porter's handwriting are found in many of the sketchbooks and on sketches, and were presumably made retrospectively, upon donation of the collection. Sketchbooks also contain notes written by Fairfield Porter. Many of the dates assigned to sketchbooks in this finding aid have been estimated based on the relationship of sketches to dated paintings.

Loose sketches and drawings are mostly from Porter's early career and schooling. Life Class Sketches are from the Art Students League and from Barbara Merrick's dance class, and include two black and white oil paintings on paper. Sketches for murals and frescoes are related to two commissioned works from the 1930s, and also include sketches in oil. A mixed group of early sketches of landscapes, people, street scenes, and copies of museum pieces, filed under the heading "miscellaneous sketches and drawings," appear to contain the pages of two disassembled travel sketchbooks, among other sketches. Sketches and drawings of people are mostly of family members, with scattered sketches of friends, neighbors, and interiors of family homes. Miscellaneous landscape sketches also include several sketches in oil. Miscellaneous painted sketches include several scenes from a trip to the Western United States in 1938, along with other landscapes, scenes, and still lifes in oil and watercolor.

Illustrations made for the socialist arts organization Rebel Arts include a silk-screened poster and a drawing for a print made by Porter in the 1930s. Other prints found in this series are from the same era, and several of them were published in John Wheelwright's chapbooks, copies of which are filed in Printed Materials. Also among the prints is a lithograph illustrating Dostoyevsky's The Possessed, which Porter made in 1932.

Throughout this series, duplicates, negatives, and copy prints have not been scanned. The remainder of the series has been selectively scanned.

Box Folder
7 Sketchbooks (see also Miscellaneous Sketches and Drawings)
7 1 1928-1930
(see also Box 12, OV)
7 2 early 1930s
7 3 1930s
7 4-5 1937
(2 volumes in 2 folders)
7 6 circa 1937
7 7 circa 1939
7 8 circa 1941
7 9 circa 1943-1944
7 10 circa 1945-1947
7 11 circa 1947
7 12 circa 1948
7 13 1944-1948
7 14 circa 1950
7 15 circa 1952
7 16 circa 1953
7 17 1957-1958
7 18 circa 1940-1960
7 19 circa 1960-1966
7 20-21 circa 1967
(2 volumes in 2 folders)
Box Folder
8 1 circa 1967-1975
8 2 circa 1968
(See Box 9, sol)
8 3 circa 1969
(See Box 9, sol)
8 4-5 circa 1970
(2 volumes in 2 folders)
8 6 circa 1971
(See Box 9, sol)
8 7 circa 1973
(See Box 9, sol)
8 8-10 circa 1974
(3 volumes in 3 folders; see also Box 10, sol)
8 11 circa 1974-1975
8 12-17 undated
(6 volumes in 6 folders; see also Box 10, sol)
8 Sketches and Drawings
8 18 Childhood Drawings, 1918-1919, undated
(see also Box 10, sol)
8 19 Life Class Sketches, circa 1930-1934
(see Boxes 13 and 14, OV)
8 20-21 Murals and Frescoes, 1930s
(2 folders including copy negative; see Box 15, OV)
8 22-24 People, 1933-1947, undated
(3 folders including copies; see also Box 10 (sol) and OV 16)
8 25-29 Miscellaneous Sketches and Drawings, circa 1920s-1940s
(5 folders including copies)
(Includes sketches from European travels)
8 30-32 Miscellaneous Landscapes, undated
(3 folders; see also Box 10 (sol) and OV 17)
8 33 Miscellaneous Painted Sketches, 1938, undated
8 34 Rebel Arts Illustrations, circa 1934-1935
(See Box 10, sol)
8 35-36 Prints, circa 1930s
(2 folders, including duplicates; see also Box 12, OV)
8 37 Cartoons, 1975, undated
8 Artwork by Others
8 38 Print by Peggy Bacon, undated
8 39 Drawing of Fairfield Porter by Joe Brainard, undated
(See Box 10, sol)
8 40 Drawing by Dick Freeman, undated
8 41 Drawings by Alex Haberstroh, undated
8 42 Drawing by Leon Hartl, 1963
8 43 Music by Jimmy Lennon, 1974
8 44 Childhood Drawings of Johnny Porter, undated
8 45 Print by Edith Schloss, undated
8 46 Artist Unknown, 1931, undated
(See also Box 10, sol)
Box
9 (sol) Oversized Sketchbooks
(See Box 8, folders 2, 3, 6, and 7)
Box
10 (sol) Oversized Sketchbooks
(See Box 8, folders 8, 11, and 12)
10 (sol) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Childhood Drawings
(See Box 8, folder 18)
10 (sol) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, People
(See Box 8, folder 23)
10 (sol) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Miscellaneous Landscapes
(See Box 8, folder 32)
10 (sol) Oversized Rebel Arts Illustrations
(See Box 8, folder 34)
10 (sol) Oversized Drawing of Fairfield Porter by Joe Brainard
(See Box 8, folder 39)
10 (sol) Oversized Artwork by Unknown Artist
(See Box 8, folder 46)
Box
12 (OV) Oversized Sketchbook
(see Box 7, folder 1)
12 (OV) Oversized Prints
(See Box 8, folder 35)
Box
13 (OV) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Life Class Sketches
(See Box 8, folder 19)
Box
14 (OV) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Life Class Sketches
(See Box 8, folder 19)
Box
15 (OV) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Murals and Frescoes
(See Box 8, folder 20)
Box
16 (OV) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, People
(See Box 8, folder 23)
Box
17 (OV) Oversized Sketches and Drawings, Miscellaneous Landscapes
(See Box 8, folder 32)