Herbert Aach papers, 1942-1988

A Finding Aid to the Herbert Aach Papers, 1942-1988, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald and Eden Orelove

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Painter, art instructor and writer Herbert Aach (1923-1985) worked primarily in New York City. Born in Cologne, Germany, Aach came to the United States in 1939. He taught at the Brooklyn Museum School (1947-1951), Pratt Institute (1966-1969), and at Queens College (1966-1985). In 1971 he was editor and translator of Goethe's Color Theory. Aach was president of the Artists Technical Research Institute, which was founded in 1959 by Bena Frank and Ralph Mayer to conduct scientific and educational research of materials and methods used in the visual arts.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of New York painter, art instructor and writer Herbert Aach (1923-1985) measure 2.4 linear feet and date from 1942 to 1988. Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, scattered financial and legal records, notes and writings, subject files, a scrapbook, printed materials, photographs, and one videocassette.

Legal records include materials relating to a lawsuit against Larry Rivers for a lease termination. Letters are from colleagues including Emily Genauer and Edwin W. Zoller regarding exhibitions and other art-related matters and brief letters from Elaine DeKooning, John Ferren, Adolph Gottlieb, and Rufino Tamayo. Subject files are found for many organizations of which Aach was a member, including the American Society for Testing and Materials, the Artists Technical Research Institute, and the Inter-Society Color Council. Printed materials include one scrapbook, clippings, and exhibition catalogs. There is documentation of Aach's work translating and editing Goethe's Color Theory, one 55 minute videocassette entitled Herbert Aach by Albright Knox Gallery, and photographs of Aach and his artwork.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 8 series. Records are generally arranged by material type and chronologically thereafter.

Subjects and Names

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


  • Rivers, Larry, 1925-2002
  • De Kooning, Elaine
  • Ferren, John, 1905-1970
  • Genauer, Emily, 1910-
  • Tamayo, Rufino, 1899-
  • Zoller, Edwin W., 1900-1967
  • American Society for Testing and Materials
  • Artist's Technical Research Institute
  • Inter-Society Color Council


  • Artists' materials
  • Art teachers--New York (State)--New York
  • Painters--New York (State)--New York

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Video recordings
  • Scrapbooks


Herbert and Doris Aach donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1984 and 1989.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was arranged and cataloged by Jean Fitzgerald in 1991. The finding aid was created by Eden Orelove in 2011.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Herbert Aach 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

Herbert Aach papers, 1942-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1985

Biographical materials include a resume, exhibition records and three biographical essays about Aach.

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Material, 1985, undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1949-1988

Correspondence is primarily between Aach and various art suppliers and chemical analysis laboratories concerning the technical standards for artists' materials. Also included are letters from colleagues including Emily Genauer and Edwin W. Zoller regarding exhibitions and other art-related matters and brief letters from Elaine DeKooning, John Ferren, Adolph Gottlieb, and Rufino Tamayo agreeing to write recommendations for Aach.

Box Folder
1 2 Correspondence, undated
1 3-29 Correspondence, 1949-1988
(27 folders)

Series 3: Financial Material, 1964-1981
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Financial material includes a grant proposal to study the serialization and color programming of Gothic rose windows, a price list for fluorochemical additives, and four invoices for the sale of paintings and for supplies.

Box Folder
1 30 Financial Records, 1964-1981

Series 4: Legal Records, 1951-1986
(Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)

Legal records include two contracts with the Creative Gallery, consignment agreements, and material relating to a law suit against Larry Rivers concerning the termination of Aach's lease on his studio.

Box Folder
1 31 Contracts with Creative Gallery and Consignment Agreements, 1951-1978
1 32-34 Loft Lease, Aach v. Rivers, 1980-1981
(3 folders)
1 35-37 Transcript of examination before trial, Aach v. Rivers, 1984
(3 folders)
1 38 Loft Lease, Aach v. Rivers, 1984-1986

Series 5: Notes, 1961-1984
(Box 1; 6 folders)

Notes include technical data on paint, exhibition guest registers, and a notebook with outlines for classes taught at Queen's College.

Box Folder
1 39 Notebook for Color, Design Class, undated
1 40 Queens College Notebook, circa 1968-1984
1 41 Color Course at Queens College, 1971-1973
1 42 Data on Paint, 1961
1 43 Exhibition Guest Registers, 1964-1968
1 44-45 Miscellaneous Notes, undated
(2 folders)

Series 6: Writings, 1950-1985
(Boxes 1-2; 0.2 linear feet)

Writings include texts for lectures, miscellaneous writings by Aach on art techniques and materials, evaluations by students, Gail O'Brien's master's thesis entitled "The Painter's Approach Toward Serialization in Modern Painting", and information about printmaking by Jack Stewart.

Box Folder
1 46 Lecture Notes, undated, 1968
1 47 Evaluations by Students, 1981-1985
Box Folder
2 1-3 Miscellaneous Writings, undated
(3 folders)
2 4-7 Miscellaneous Writings, 1950-1981
(4 folders)
2 8 Printmaking Information by Jack Stewart, undated
2 9 Masters Thesis: The Painter's Approach toward Serialization in Modern Painting by Gail O'Brien, 1978

Series 7: Subject Files, 1942-1984
(Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)

Subject files contain letters, notes, and printed material concerning the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Artists Technical Research Insitute, Inc. (ATRI), the Color Forum, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC), New York Bridges, and the "Structure of Color" exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Also included is the book Goethe's Color Theory, which is translated and edited by Aach. The ATRI file contains correspondence between Ralph and Bena Frank Mayer, Ralston Crawford, Rutherford J. Gettens, and others concerning the establishment of ATRI, a copy of the by-laws, technical reports, and minutes of meetings.

Box Folder
2 10-14 American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee D01.57, 1977- 1982
(5 folders)
2 15 By-Laws of ATRI Inc. / Certificate of Incorporation of ATRI Inc., 1959
2 16 Minutes of ATRI Meetings, 1960-1978
2 17 Clippings and Articles Regarding Artists Technical Research Institute and Paint Standards, undated, 1957- 1981
2 18-19 ATRI, 1942-1981
(2 folders)
2 20 Color Forum, 1968-1971
2 21-23 Goethe Book, 1970-1983
(3 folders)
2 24-26 International Research and Exchanges Board, 1979-1984
(3 folders)
2 27 Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC) Subcommittee 37, 1971-1982
2 28-29 New York Bridges, 1981-1982
(2 folders)
2 30 The "Structure of Color" Exhibition at the Whitney, 1971

Series 8: Photographs, 1952-1960
(Box 2; 3 folders)

The photographs are of Aach and of his works of art.

Box Folder
2 31 Photographs of Aach, 1956-1960
2 32-33 Photographs of Works of Art, undated
(2 folders)

Series 9: Scrapbook, 1951-1958
(Box 2; 1 folder)

The scrapbook is full of clippings, exhibition announcements and articles about Aach and his artwork.

Box Folder
2 34 Scrapbook, 1951-1958

Series 10: Printed Material, 1948-1988
(Boxes 2-3; 0.2 linear feet)

Printed materials include clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, press releases, brochures and programs.

Box Folder
2 35 Clippings, undated
2 36-39 Clippings, 1954-1988
(4 folders)
2 40 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated
2 41 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1948-1953
(2 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-5 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1954-1988
(5 folders)
3 6 Press Releases, 1967-1979
3 7 Brochures/Seminar Announcements, 1951-1979
3 8 Programs, 1965-1980
3 9 Exhibition Entry Brouchures, 1974-1979
3 10 Miscellaneous, 1963-1977

Series 11: Audio-Visual Materials, 25 April 1975
(Box 3; 1 folder)

The audio-visual materials is comprised of a 55-minute U-matic audiocassette entitled Herb Aach, made at the Albright-Knox Gallery.

Box Folder
3 11 One Inch Videotape: Herb Aach, color, 55 min, Albright-Knox Gallery, 25 April 1975