George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978

A Finding Aid to the George Constant Papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978, in the Archives of American Art, by Judy Ng

Download PDF Version of this page [Download PDF Version]

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

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Greek American George Zachary Constant (1892-1978) worked from his studios in Shinnecock Hills, and New York City, New York as a painter and printmaker. A founder and lifelong member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Constant worked for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) during the Depression and early years of World War II, and exhibited regularly at major galleries and museums from the 1920s to 1970s.

Born in Arahova, Greece, Constant was raised by his two uncles after the death of his parents in 1896. In school and at the monestary one of his uncles led, Constant showed an early interest in classical Greek aesthetics. At the age of eighteen, he immigrated to the United States and continued his art studies at Washington University before transferring to the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, Constant taught at the Dayton Art Institute and continued to produce and exhibit his work locally. In 1922, he moved to New York, joined the Society of Independent Painters, and became close friends with Society founder and art critic Walter Pach. During the 1920s, his etchings were shown at the Valentine and Downtown Galleries, and at the New Art Circle of J.B. Neumann, where he presented his first one man gallery show in 1929.

From the 1930s to 1940s, Constant produced prints, watercolors, and oil paintings for the WPA, many of which were purchased by museums and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum. During this same period, Constant exhibited his work at the Boyer Gallery in the late 1930s, and at the Ferargil Gallery from the 1940s to early 1950s. In the decade between 1955 and 1965, Constant also worked on color and set design for seventeen dance productions created by the choreographer Alwin Nikolais. In the last two decades of his career, Constant produced works from his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York and continued to exhibit at numerous galleries, including Grace Borgenicht Gallery, Guild Hall, Mari Galleries, Tirca Karlis Gallery, and Artium Gallery.

Return to top


Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.5 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, audio interviews and recorded statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, holiday cards, printed material, an exhibition related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work. A small portion of the correspondence and printed materials are written in Greek.

Biographical material includes artist statements written and recorded by Constant, two audio interview recordings discussing his philosophies on art and his work, inventories of artwork, personal property deeds and legal correspondence, and other miscellaneous material.

Correspondence is predominantly in the form of business and personal letters, postcards, and holiday cards received from family and friends. These include correspondence from Constant's daughter, Georgette Preston, and extended family members. Other frequent personal correspondents include Milton and Sally Avery, Lewis Balamuth, Margaret Brunning, David Burliuk, Nathaniel Burwash, Rhys Caparn, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Phillip Cavanaugh, Morris Davidson, Charles Eaton, Vilko Gecan, Marchal Landgren, Roy Neuberger, Walter Pach, Nell Perret, Constantine Pougialis, Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga, Hi Simons, and Helen Slosberg. Business related correspondents include Audubon Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Ferargil Galleries, Guild Hall, Heckscher Museum, Lyman Allyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Spanish Refugee Appeal, and the Whitney Museum. Other business correspondence related to Constant's work with the WPA are also included in the series.

Printed material includes books and booklets on American and Greek art, including a limited print edition of George Constant by George Constant, clippings and articles reviewing Constant's work, exhibition announcements and catalogs of Constant's shows, periodicals profiling his artwork, and dance and theater related programs that Constant consulted on.

Photographs include black and white prints of Constant and his family and friends in St. Louis, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio, and in and around his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York. The collection also includes photo stills from his 1965 exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum and a comprehensive set of black and white prints, a handful of color prints, and several color slide sheets of Constant's artwork from the 1920s to 1978.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 4 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Parrish Art Museum

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art Philosophy
  • Painters New York (State) New York
  • Painting, Modern 20th century New York (State) New York
  • Printmakers New York (State) New York

Types of Materials:

  • Christmas cards
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Video recordings

Names:

  • Avery, Milton, 1885-1965
  • Avery, Sally
  • Burliuk, David, 1882-1967
  • Caparn, Rhys, 1909-
  • Carnell, Julia Shaw Patterson, 1863-1944
  • Davidson, Morris, 1898-1979
  • Gecan, Vilko, 1894-1973
  • Eaton, Charles Warren, 1857-1937
  • Kanaga, Consuelo, 1894-
  • Landgren, Marchal E.
  • Neuberger, Roy R.
  • Pach, Walter, 1883-1958
  • Perret, Nell, 1916-
  • Preston, Georgette
  • Putnam, Wallace, 1899-
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Audubon Artists (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Carnegie Institute
  • Dayton Art Institute
  • Ferargil Galleries
  • Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors
  • Heckscher Museum
  • Lyman Allyn Art Museum
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)
  • Spanish Refugee Aid (Organization)
  • United States -- Works Progress Administration
  • Whitney Museum of American Art

Provenance

The papers of George Constant were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1978. Additional materials were donated in 2001 and 2007 by his daughter Georgette Preston.

How the Collection was Processed

George Constant's donations from 1969 were originally microfilmed on reels N69-77 and N69-125; these reels are no longer in circulation. The 2007 final addition was merged with earlier accessions and the entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Judy Ng in February 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The George Constant 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

All of the sound and video recordings in this collection were digitized for research access in 2011 and are available at the Archives of American Art offices. Researchers may view the original cassettes for the archival notations on them, but original cassettes are not available for playback due to fragility.

How to Cite this Collection

George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to top

Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1923-2007

Biographical material includes artist statements written and read by Constant, two interview sound cassette recordings discussing his philosophies on art and his work, inventories of artwork owned by individuals, museums, and the George Constant Foundation, a notebook inventory of all Constant's oil paintings by rough date, personal property deeds for land owned in Shinnecock Hills and New York City, New York, and New London, Connecticut, and other personal legal documents. This series also includes a certificate of award from the Audubon Artists, Constant's curriculum vitae, three pages from a personal notebook that include a pen and ink sketch, and two passes to WPA buildings.

Box Folder
1 1 Artist Statements, 1950-1978
1 2 Certificate of Award, Audubon Artists, 1955
1 3 Collectors, George Constant Foundation, 2007
1 4 Collectors, Individuals, 1960, 2007
1 5 Collectors, Museums, 2007
1 6 Curriculum Vitae, 2007
1 7 Family Related Funeral and Will Arrangements, 1926, 1963
1 8 Notebook Pages, Sketch and Note on Etchings Sold, circa 1930s
1 9 Notebook, Index to Oil Paintings, 1978
1 10 Oral History Interviews, 1978
(transcripts and 3 sound cassettes)
1 11 Property, New London, Connecticut, Correspondence, 1943-1944
1 12 Property, New London, Connecticut, Land Deeds, 1923-1943
1 13 Property, New York, New York, Deed, 1957
1 14 Property, Shinnecock Hills, New York, Appraisal Report, 1964
1 15 Property, Shinnecock Hills, New York, Correspondence, 1959-1978
1 16 Property, Shinnecock Hills, New York, Deeds, 1947-1965
1 17 Property, Shinnecock Hills, New York, General Information, circa 1960s
1 18 Works Project Administration Building Passes, 1939, 1941

Series 2: Correspondence, 1930-1979

Correspondence is predominantly in the form of business and personal letters, postcards, and holiday cards received from family and friends. The Condolences and Family subseries include correspondence from Constant's daughter, Georgette Preston, and extended family members and friends. The General subseries include both personal and business related correspondence. Frequent personal correspondents include Milton and Sally Avery, Lewis Balamuth, Margaret Brunning, David Burliuk, Nathaniel Burwash, Rhys Caparn, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Phillip Cavanaugh, Morris Davidson, Charles Eaton, Vilko Gecan, Marchal Landgren, Roy Neuberger, Walter Pach, Nell Perret, Constantine Pougialis, Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga, Hi Simons, and Helen Slosberg. Business related correspondents include Audubon Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Ferargil Galleries, Guild Hall, Heckscher Museum, Lyman Allyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Spanish Refugee Appeal, and the Whitney Museum. The Holiday Cards subseries includes numerous handmade, silkscreened, and printed holiday cards to Constant and his family, with frequent senders including Sally and Milton Avery, Phillip and March Cavanaugh, Morris and Anne Davidson, Dett and Carroll French, Nell and George Perret, and Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga. The WPA subseries includes business correspondence related to Constant's work with the Project.

The Correspondence series is arranged into 5 subseries:

Subseries 2.1: Condolences, 1978

Box Folder
1 19 Correspondence, A-E, 1978
1 20 Correspondence, F-N, 1978
1 21 Correspondence, O-Z, 1978
1 22 Memorial Guest Book, 1978

Subseries 2.2: Family, 1956-1979

Box Folder
1 23 Konstant, Bette, Pam, Paul, and Joan, 1970-1972, 1975-1979
1 24 Layne, Maria, and Melina, 1976
1 25 McCarthy, Helen, Dick, and Nikki, 1971, 1976-1977
1 26 Millio, Barbara, George, and Christopher, 1972-1973
1 27 Preston, Georgette, 1956-1958, 1960, 1963, 1965-1966, 1969, 1973-1974, 1976, 1978

Subseries 2.3: General, 1937-2000

Box Folder
1 28 Addison Gallery of American Art, 1944, 1953, 1955, 1961
1 29 Allied Publications, Inc., 1963-1964, 1966
1 30 American Federation of Arts, 1946-1947, 1954-1957, 1970
1 31 Archives of American Art, 1969-1971, 1977-1978
1 32 Argonaut, 1967, 1969, 1971-1972
1 33 Art Institute of Chicago, 1943-1947, 1957, 1961, 1970
1 34 Art Students League of New York, 1948, 1957, 1967
1 35 Audubon Artists, Inc., 1946, 1955, 1957, 1961-1962, 1966, 1968
1 36 A, Miscellaneous, 1946-1977
1 37 Balamuth, Lewis, 1952, 1969-1970, 1973-1974
1 38 Bellevue Gallery, 1974, 1976-1978
1 39 Bocour Artists Colors, 1964, 1969, 1971
1 40 Breuning, Margaret, 1960-1961
1 41 Brooklyn Museum, 1946-1947, 1956, 1960, 1965, 1968, 1970-1971, 1974, 1976
1 42 Burliuk, David, 1949-1950, 1956-1957, 1959
1 43 Burwash, Nathaniel and Ida, 1966-1967, 191-1972
1 44 Butler Institute of American Art, 1960, 1964, 1968
1 45 B, Miscellaneous, 1955-1978
1 46 Caparn, Rhys, 1957, 1967, 1971, 1976-1977
1 47 Carnegie Institute, 1944-1949, 1952, 1963-1964
1 48 Carnell, Julia Shaw Patterson, 1930-1939
1 49 C, Miscellaneous, 1941-1965
1 50 Dayton Art Institute, 1939-1944, 1947, 1960-1961
1 51 Dolphin Enterprises (Howland, Jane), 1971, 1973, 1976, 1978
1 52 D, Miscellaneous, 1949-1975
1 53 Eaton, Charles and Isabel, 1970-1971
1 54 E, Miscellaneous, 1939-1990
1 55 Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, 1945, 1951, 1965, 1967, 1969-1977
1 56 Ferargil Galleries, 1943-1952
1 57 Ford Foundation, 1958-1960
1 58 F, Miscellaneous, 1966-1973
1 59 Gecan, Vilko and Auka, 1937, 1947, 1957
1 60 George Baer Gallery, 1949-1950
1 61 Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 1951-1956, 1960, 1965
1 62 Greek, Miscellaneous, 1949, 1951-1953, 1961-1965, 1969, 1972-1978
1 63 Guild Hall, 1949, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1963, 1965-1972, 1975-1976, 1978
1 64 G, Miscellaneous, 1944-1977
1 65 Heckscher Museum, 1971-1972, 1975, 1977, 1985, 2000
1 66 H, Miscellaneous, 1946-1976
1 67 Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, 1950, 1954, 1960
1 68 I, Miscellaneous, 1948-1978
1 69 Jewish Community Center, 1946
1 70 June 1 Gallery of Fine Art, 1972
1 71 J-K, Miscellaneous, 1942-1978
1 72 Landgren, Marchal E., 1965, 1976
1 73 Long Island Arts Center, 1964
1 74 Louis, Marion, 1970, 1973, 1976
1 75 Lyman Allyn Museum, 1942
1 76 L, Miscellaneous, 1951-1978
1 77 McClellan, Grace and Grant, 1968, 1974-1975
1 78 Melzer Gallery, 1954, 1956-1959
1 79 Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1947, 1950, 1952, 1960, 1972, 1975
1 80 Michigan State University, 1971, 1973
1 81 Museum of Modern Art, 1942-1944, 1950, 1969, 1970, 1974
1 82 M, Miscellaneous, 1946-1978
1 83 Neuberger, Roy R., 1950, 1953
1 84 New School for Social Research, 1948, 1957, 1967-1968
1 85 New York WPA Artists Inc., 1976-1978
Box Folder
2 1 N-O, Miscellaneous, 1948-1977
2 2 Pach, Walter, 1942-1945, 1947-1957
2 3 Parrish Art Museum, 1948, 1956, 1963-1964, 1971-1972
2 4 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1948, 1956, 1960-1961, 1963, 1967
2 5 Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1960-1961, 1971
2 6 Pougialis, Constantine, 1966-1968
2 7 Protestant, 1948
2 8 Putnam, Wallace and Kanaga, Consuelo, 1969-1970, 1977-1978
2 9 P, Miscellaneous, 1943-1971
2 10 Renning, Rita and Philip, 1967, 1969-1971
2 11 R, Miscellaneous, 1932-1976
2 12 Sachs, Hugo L., 1960-1962, 1965-1966, 1968, 1972, 1974-1975
2 13 Sights, Sylvia Simons, 1968, 1970
2 14 Simons, Hi, 1943
2 15 Slosberg, Helen S., 1960, 1962, 1966, 1971, 1977
2 16 Solon Society, 1968-1970
2 17 Southampton College Long Island University, 1964, 1967-1971
2 18 Spanish Refugee Appeal (Parker, Dorothy), 1947-1948
2 19 Springs Improvement Society, 1968-1971, 1973, 1978
2 20 S-T, Miscellaneous, 1941-1978
2 21 Ulsher, Sallie, 1974-1975
2 22 University of Kentucky, 1977
2 23 U-V, Miscellaneous, 1947-1975
2 24 Walden School, 1950-1952, 1954, 1956, 1962, 1970
2 25 Walker Art Center, 1946, 1949, 1960, 1977
2 26 Whitney Museum of Art, 1942, 1952, 1966, 1968, 1973
2 27 Wichita State University, 1974
2 28 W-Y, Miscellaneous, 1948-1978
2 29 Zinty, Celestine, 1953, 1958-1960, 1962, 1964, 1968-1970, 1976

Subseries 2.4: Holiday Cards, 1954-1978

Box Folder
2 30 Avery, Milton and Sally, circa 1950-1960s
2 31 B, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1960s
2 32 Cavanaugh, Phillip and March, 1954-1955, 1957, 1960
2 33 Constant, George, circa 1960-1970s
2 34 C, Miscellaneous, 1963-1965, 1968
2 35 Davidson, Morris and Anne, circa 1960s
2 36 D, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1960s
2 37 Elstein, Ben, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963
2 38 E, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1960s
2 39 French, Dett and Carroll, 1960-1961, 1965-1966
2 40 F-G, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1970s
2 41 Greek, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1970s
2 42 H-J, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1970s
2 43 K-M, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1960s
2 44 N-O, Miscellaneous, circa 1950-1960s
2 45 Perret, Nell and George, 1964-1967
2 46 Preston, Georgette and David, circa 1960-1970s
2 47 Putnam, Wallace and Kanaga, Consuelo, circa 1950-1970s
2 48 P-R, Miscellaneous, circa 1950s-1960s
2 49 S, Miscellaneous, circa 1950s-1960s
2 50 T-V, Miscellaneous, circa 1950s
2 51 W, Miscellaneous, circa 1950s-1970s
2 52 Z, Miscellaneous, circa 1950s-1960s

Subseries 2.5: WPA, 1934-1968

Box Folder
2 53 Department of State, 1949
2 54 Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, 1940-1942
2 55 La Guardia, Fiorello, 1942
2 56 O'Connor, Francis V., 1965, 1968
2 57 Treasury Department, 1934
2 58 War Department, 1944, 1946

Series 3: Printed Material, 1927-2005

Printed material includes seven books and nine booklets on American and Greek art, including a limited print edition of George Constant by George Constant, clippings and articles reviewing Constant's work, exhibition announcements, over 150 catalogs of Constant's shows, a videocassette from the 1998 single man show, Exploration of the Universe, three periodical articles profiling his work, and dance and theater related programs that Constant consulted on, a majority of which were choreographed by Alwin Nikolais.

Box Folder
2 59 Bibliography of Articles on George Constant, 1927-1961, 1961
2 60 Book, George Constant by George Constant, 1961
2 61 Book, American Art Museum by Walter Pach, 1948
2 62 Book, Queer Thing, Painnting by Walter Pach, 1938
2 63 Book, Twentieth Century Highlights of American Painting by United States Information Agency, 1958
Box Folder
3 1 Books, Greek, Miscellaneous, 1948, 1967-1968
3 2 Booklets, 1927, 1947, 1950
3 3 Booklets, 1968-1971, 1976-1977
3 4-9 Clippings, 1927-2004
(6 folders)
3 10-13 Exhibition Announcements, circa 1920s-2000s
(4 folders)
3 14-16 Exhibition Catalogs, 1927, 1930, 1935, 1939
(3 folders)
3 17-21 Exhibition Catalogs, 1940-1944
(5 folders)
3 22-26 Exhibition Catalogs, 1945-1949
(5 folders)
3 27 Exhibition Catalogs, 1950-1951
Box Folder
4 1-5 Exhibition Catalogs, 1952-1958, 1960-1962
(5 folders)
4 6-10 Exhibition Catalogs, 1963-1968
(5 folders)
4 11-15 Exhibition Catalogs, 1969-1976, 1978
(5 folders)
4 16 Exhibition Catalogs, 1983, 1987, 1998, 2005
(catalogs and 1 videocassette)
4 17 Miscellaneous Printed Material, circa 1940-1950s
4 18 Periodicals, 1954, 1977, 1999
4 19 Programs and Announcements, Dance and Theater Related, 1955-1965

Series 4: Photographic Material, 1912-1978

Photographs include black and white prints of Constant and his family and friends in St. Louis, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio, and in and around his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York. The collection also includes three photo stills from his 1965 exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum and a comprehensive set of black and white prints, a handful of color prints, and several color slide sheets of Constant's dry point etchings, oil paintings, watercolors, and other artwork dating from the 1920s to 1978.

Box Folder
4 20 Photographs of George Constant with Family and Friends, 1912-1969
4 21 Photographs of Exhibition, Parrish Art Museum, 1965
4 22 Photographs of Drypoint Etchings, Block Forms, circa 1960-1970s
4 23 Photographs of Drypoint Etchings, Children, circa 1930-1940s
4 24 Photographs of Drypoint Etchings, Landscapes and Still Lifes, circa 1930-1940s
4 25 Photographs of Drypoint Etchings, Portraits, circa 1920-1930s
4 26 Photographs of Lithographs, 1935, 1960
4 27 Photographs of Oil Paintings, #1-32 Numbered by Artist, 1932-1974
Box Folder
5 1 Photographs of Oil Paintings, #33-64 Numbered by Artist, 1948-1977
5 2 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Animals, Still Life, Landscapes, 1922-1957
5 3 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Abstract Block Forms, 1956-1975
5 4 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Abstract Human Forms, 1930-1937
5 5 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Abstract Lines, Colors, and Blocks, 1950-1974
5 6 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Block Figures, Couples, 1948-1970
5 7 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Block Figures, Groups, 1948-1963
5 8 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Block Figures, in Space, 1958-1968
5 9 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Block Figures, Vertical, 1947-1958
5 10 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Children, 1937-1942
5 11 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Portraits, Trios, circa 1920s
5 12 Photographs of Oil Paintings, Women, 1923-1946
Box Folder
6 1 Photographs of Pen and Ink Drawings, 1955-1956
6 2 Photographs of Sculpture and Fabric Art, circa 1910-1920s
6 3 Photographs of Watercolors, Abstracts and Block Forms, circa 1940-1960s
6 4 Photographs of Watercolors, Animals and Flowers, circa 1930-1940s
6 5 Photographs of Watercolors, Female Nudes, circa 1920-1960s
6 6 Photographs of Watercolors, Female Nudes Seated, circa 1930-1950s
6 7 Photographs of Watercolors, Figures Seated, circa 1940s
6 8 Photographs of Watercolors, Landscapes, circa 1940s
6 9 Photographs of Watercolors, Portraits, circa 1930-1950s
6 10 Slides of Oils, Watercolors, Pen/Ink, Pencil, and Drypoints, circa 1930-1978