George Tooker papers, 1930-1973

Tooker, George, b. 1920
Painter, Printmaker
Active in New York, N.Y.; Vt.

Collection size: 1.5 linear feet

Collection Summary: The papers of painter George Tooker measure 1.5 linear feet and date from circa 1930 to 1973. The papers document Tookers personal and professional life through biographical material, correspondence, project files, printed material, artwork and one sketchbook, and 209 photographs, including some taken by noted photographer George Platt Lynes.

Biographical material consists of an address book, resume, biographical essay, and papers regarding Tooker's education.

Correspondence is with friends, colleagues, and organizations. Correspondents include Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Walter Bachinski, William Christopher, Otto Dix, Jared and Margaret French, Ralph Ginzburg, Xavier Gonzalez, Robert Isaacson, Edward Laning, Lincoln Kirstein, Lee Nordness, Bernard Perlin, Joan Peterson, Theodore Stamos, Bridget Tichenor, and others.

Project files document Tooker's commissions including the set and costume design for Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera, "The Saint of Bleecker Street" and Tooker's participation in the selection of candidates for the Vestris Prize for Choreography. Files contain correspondence, business documents, printed ephemera, sketches, photographs, three volumes of vocal scores, and textile samples.

Printed material consists of a book entitled, "Conversations with Artists" by Selden Rodman that includes a transcript of a conversation with Tooker, two scrapbooks containing news clippings and annotations about Tooker's artwork and exhibitions, press releases, and miscellaneous invitations and announcements.

Artwork includes one sketchbook, loose drawings, and sketches from Tooker's studies at the Art Students' League in the mid 1940s.

Photographs primarily consist of black and white photographs taken by George Platt Lynes and PaJaMa in the mid to late 1940s. A majority of the photographs depict artists and friends, among them: George Tooker and his companion William Christopher, Paul Cadmus, Jared and Margaret French, Lincoln and Fidelma Kirstein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, and Bridget Tichenor. Other photographs are of Tooker building his home, gardening, and working in his studio in Hartland, Vermont. Also included are installation views from the exhibition, "Painting in the United States" (1949) at the Carnegie Institute in Pennsylvania.

Biographical/Historical Note: George Tooker (1920-2011) was a painter based in Hartland, Vermont and New York, New York.

George Tooker donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1973.

How to Use this Collection

  • Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels, 678-679 and 692, at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm due to processing.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Available in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with George Tooker conducted in 1966 by Grace G. Alexander for radio station WNYC, New York City.

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Reading Room Reproduction