John D. Graham papers, 1799-1988, bulk 1890-1961

A Finding Aid to the John Graham Papers, 1799-1988 (bulk 1890-1961), 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

The Russian émigré painter and writer John Graham, born Ivan Dombrowsky, was born in Kiev in 1886, 1887, or 1888. All three conflicting dates are found on various legal papers, licences, and passports. His parents were of minor nobility but with little means. He attended law school and served in the Circassian Regiment of the Russian army, earned the Saint George's Cross during World War I, and was imprisoned as a counterrevolutionary by the Bolsheviks after the assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. He fled for a time to his mother's native Poland, and finally in 1920, he emigrated with his second wife Vera and their son Nicholas to the United States. He began calling himself John in the US, and had his name officially changed to John Graham upon becoming a United States citizen in 1927. The name Graham may have been a transliteration of his father's name, Gratian. Graham is often described as a quixotic figure who cultivated a larger-than-life persona in the artistic circles of New York in the first half of the twentieth century through his authoritative philosophical and aesthetic arguments on the one hand, and his often fabulous tales of his early life on the other, including a story he wrote of his origins in which he was dropped as an infant onto a rock in the Caspian Sea by an enormous eagle.

In New York, Graham studied at the Art Students League, taking classes with John Sloan, William von Schlegell, and Allen Tucker. Among his fellow students were Dorothy Dehner and David Smith, Adolph Gottlieb, Alexander Calder, and Elinor Gibson, who married Graham in 1924. The couple lived briefly in Elinor's native Baltimore, Maryland, where he met Etta and Claribel Cone, collectors of modern European paintings. It may have been the Cone sisters who introduced Graham to their circle of avant-garde artists and art collectors in Paris in the late 1920s. Whatever its origin, Graham's early style has been compared to Cezanne, Braque, Derain, and Chirico, and his frequent trips to Europe made him a conduit for current art ideas and trends for the American artists who knew him.

Graham exhibited his paintings steadily in the late 1920s and early 1930s, including shows at the Society of Independent Arists (New York) in 1925, the Modernist Galleries (Baltimore) in 1926, Galerie Zaborowski (Paris) in 1928 and 1929, at Dudensing Galleries (New York) and Phillips Memorial Gallery (Washington) in 1929, the First Biennial at the Whitney Museum in 1932, and at 8th Street Gallery (New York) in 1933. During this period Graham and his wife Elinor lived in Paris, New York City, New Jersey, and upstate New York. He spent a year teaching at Wells College in Aurora, New York, where he also executed a series of wall panels in 1932. Graham's friendships with other artists during this period included Arshile Gorky, Stuart Davis, and Willem de Kooning. De Kooning is said to have called Davis, Gorky, and Graham the "three smartest guys on the scene."

Graham's European travels also enabled him to earn a living by buying primitive sculpture and antiques for collectors and dealers. In the 1930s he bought African Art for Vanity Fair editor and art collector Frank Crowninshield, and in 1936, Graham arranged an exhibition of Crowninshield's collection at Jacques Seligmann gallery. Graham and Elinor Gibson divorced in 1934 and he married Constance Wellman in Paris in 1936. They lived in Brooklyn Heights near Adolph Gottlieb, David Smith, and Dorothy Dehner, and worked for Hilla Rebay in her formation of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which became the Guggenheim Museum. Suffering financial hardship in the late years of the Depression, Constance and Graham lived in Mexico for several stretches of time, and Graham published several articles on Mexico and Mexican Art, and an essay entitled "Primitive Art and Picasso" in Magazine of Art.

Graham was a prolific writer, but only a few of his written works found their way into print. Aside from his essays, published works include a small book of poetry, Have It!, published in 1923, and a book which presented Graham's personal theories of art entitled System and Dialectics of Art, published in 1937 by Delphic Studios, an eclectic New York gallery and small press run by Alma Reed. The book was influential for a younger generation of American artists; Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in particular both expressed appreciation for Graham's ideas. For decades, Graham worked on several other major written works which were not published, including a highly stylized, symbolist work about his childhood and an encyclopedic collection of short, didactic essays on a wide range Grahamiam themes, a work which Graham usually referred to as Orifizio Mundi.

In 1942, Graham organized the exhibition "French and American Painters" at McMillen Gallery (New York) which showed Modigliani, Picasso, Braque, Rouault, and Matisse, alongside the Americans Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Stuart Davis, David Burliuk, and Walt Kuhn, among others. The show was well-received critically and, as it was Jackson Pollock's first public exhibition and Willem de Kooning's second, and the occasion of Pollock and Lee Krasner's meeting, could be considered a watershed event in contemporary American art.

Graham's own style made a pronounced shift away from abstraction in the 1940s. He began referencing renaissance art in his paintings, incorporating occult symbols, and signing them "Ioannus Magus," or "Ioannus San Germanus." His marriage to Constance ended acrimoniously around this time. He met Marianne Strate, a bookbinder, through her daughter Ileana Sonnabend and son-in-law Leo Castelli. They lived in Southampton, New York, where Graham was close to the Castellis, Paul Brach, Miriam Schapiro, and where he renewed his friendship with Willem de Kooning, who had a studio in Castelli's East Hampton home in the early 1950s. Marianne died in 1955.

Graham exhibited at the Stable Gallery in 1954, and at the newly-opened, uptown Whitney Museum of American Art in 1955. Jack Mayer became Graham's dealer in the late 1950s, held exhibitions at his Madison Avenue gallery, Gallery Mayer, in 1960, and arranged for an exhibition at the Tennessee Fine Arts Center in 1961, shortly before Graham's death. Graham left the United States for the last time in 1959, lived in Paris for two years, and died in June 1961 in a hospital in London. Gallery Mayer held a memorial exhibition at the end of 1961. Retrospective exhibitions of Graham's work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago (1963), the Museum of Modern Art (1968), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1969), and the Phillips Collection (1987).

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter, collector, and writer John Graham measure 11.4 linear feet and date from 1799 to 1988, with the bulk of materials dating from 1890 to 1961. Papers document the life of John Graham, born Ivan Dombrowsky, through personal documents related to military service and family history, passports, artifacts, correspondence, appointment books, financial records, inventories, wills, extensive writings and notes, books, clippings, exhibition catalogs, photographs of Graham and his family and friends, and artwork created and collected by Graham.

Biographical Materials and Artifacts include passports and other official documents, as well as records related to Graham's family, military service, and medical history. Among the artifacts are paint pots and a palette. Correspondence is with art and antique dealers and collectors, and includes significant correspondence and related documents of Jack Mayer, Graham's agent from the late 1950s. Several artists and famous friends are represented in Graham's correspondence including David Burliuk, Stuart Davis, Ultra Violet, Francoise Gilot, R.B. Kitaj, Marc Tobey, and Ron Gorchov.

Personal Business Records contain appointment books spanning 1931 to 1961 which record appointments but were also used as notebooks and sketchbooks. Other Business Records include inventories of Graham's books and antiques made by Graham, records of antique-related transactions, wills of Graham and his last wife, Marianne Strate, and extensive personal financial records from the last few years of his life.

Graham's writings are found scattered throughout the collection, as is his artwork. The Writings series is dominated by Graham's lengthy book projects, found in multiple drafts. The author's annotated published works are also found, as well as typescripts of several published essays by and about Graham. Lists, notes, and writings on a wide range of subjects are found on loose pages and in notebooks dated from 1931 to 1961. Among the Printed Materials are many annotated books from Graham's library, some of which contain drawings, and clippings and exhibition catalogs related to Graham's career going back to the 1920s. Reference files of printed ephemera and clippings collected by Graham are found on a variety of subjects, some of which contain pictorial subjects used in Graham's paintings.

Photographs depict Graham from childhood through his last years in cabinet card portraits, passport photographs, and snapshots. Photographs are also found of his parents, his five wives and four children, and a number of famous friends including Pablo Picasso, Françoise Gilot, their children, and Arshile Gorky. Artwork includes Graham's sketchbooks of 1934, 1960, and 1961, loose sketches, and a collection of file folders with many symbols and illustrations. Also found among the artwork are antique and contemporary prints and drawings collected by Graham.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 7 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:

  • Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973 -- Photographs
  • Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948 -- Photographs

Subjects-Topical:

  • Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Art -- Collectors and collecting
  • Painters - New York (State) -- New York
  • Authors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Artists as authors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Antiques

Types of Materials:

  • Sketchbooks
  • Works of art
  • Photographs

Names:

  • Mayer, Jack
  • Burliuk, David, 1882-1967
  • Tobey, Mark
  • Gorchov, Ron
  • Ultra Violet
  • Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964
  • Gilot, Francoise, 1921-
  • Kitaj, R. B.

Provenance

The papers of John Graham were given to the Archives of American Art in five separate accessions between 1985 and 1988. The bulk of papers were donated by Graham's son, John David Graham, in 1985, with later additions from Patricia Graham, the widow of John David Graham, in 1986, 1987, and 1988, via the Andre Emmerich Gallery Inc. The Department of Prints and Drawings of the Museum of Modern Art donated additional materials in 1986.

Separated and Related Materials

Notebooks and drawings by John Graham dated circa 1935-1957 are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art. These notebooks and drawings were microfilmed by the Museum of Modern Art along with materials donated by the museum in 1986. A microfilm copy of the notebooks and drawings in MoMA's collection was loaned with publication restrictions to the Archives of American Art and can be viewed on reel 5049.

How the Collection was Processed

Papers were processed to a preliminary level upon accession, and all but the final accession in 1988 were microfilmed on reels 3616-3620, 3894-3896, and 4042-4045. The collection was re-processed and digitized in 2007-2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the papers and their digital copies is significantly different from the arrangement found on the microfilm copy.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The John Graham 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 was digitized in 2008 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials that generally have not been scanned include photographs of works of art (except installation views), card files of handwritten essays for which there are typed versions, bank statements, and stocks and tax files.

How to Cite this Collection

John Graham Papers, 1799-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Materials and Artifacts, 1799, 1822, 1891-1961
(Boxes 1, 11-12, 17; 0.9 linear feet)

This series consists of documents related to John Graham's military service, legal matters, medical history, family members, as well as three-dimensional artifacts belonging to Graham.

Many of the documents in this series are in Polish or Russian, and typescript translations are often available. Translations appear to have been annotated and perhaps written by Graham. These documents include a baptism certificate, a certificate of nobility, documents related to Graham's military service and nationality, and certificates of identity. Graham's marriages and divorces are documented through legal records, invitations, correspondence in Russian with a third party related to his divorce from Vera Alexandrovna, and an identity paper of Constance Wellman with a photograph issued in France.

Two scrapbooks related to Archer Gibson, Graham's father-in-law by his third marriage to Elinor Gibson and a well-known organist, are found. The first contains primarily newspaper clippings related to Gibson's musical career. The second contains letters and telegrams from well-known politicians, industrialists, and other celebrities for whom Gibson gave concerts. For photographs of Archer Gibson, see the Photographs series.

Medical documents include a report of Graham's death issued by the State Department and x-rays taken in 1961, shortly before his death.

Among the artifacts are four vellum-bound books, two of which bear dates from the late 18th and early 19th century. Some of the Artwork among Graham's papers appears to have been made on paper taken from these books. Also found is a fragment of music on vellum, which is likely the Nicene Creed. Relating to David Graham is a naval patch representing the rank of a Recruit Chief Petty Officer.

Additional biographical documents, including Graham's will and lists of assets, are found in Personal Business Records.

Box Folder
1 1 Curriculum Vitae, circa 1937
1 2 Driver's Licenses and other ID's, 1942-1960
1 3 Drawing of Lubicz Family Crest, circa 1910-1919
1 4 Letters of Introduction, 1921-1922
1 5 Marriage to and Divorce from Vera Alexandrovna, 1918-1925
1 6 Marriage to and Divorce from Elinor Gibson Graham, 1924, 1934
1 7 Marriage to and Divorce from Constance Wellman, 1936-1945
(includes photograph)
1 8 Natural Father's Consent to Adoption, Nicholas Dabrowsky, 1938
1 9 Passports and Other Travel Documents, circa 1925-1960
1 10 Personal Documents, Poland and Russia, 1891-1922
1 11 Scrapbooks of Archer Gibson, circa 1895-1952
(Not scanned; see Box 11, sol)
1 12 Items Removed from Archer Gibson Scrapbooks, circa 1895-1952
(Not scanned)
1 13 State Department Report of Death, 1961
1 14 X-Rays, 1961
(Partially scanned)
1 Artifacts
1 15 Hair, circa 1936, undated
(Envelopes only scanned)
1 16 Paint Pots, undated
(See Box 12, sol)
1 17 Palette, undated
1 18 Vellum-Bound Books, 1799, 1822, 1948, undated
(4 volumes; mostly blank pages; partially scanned; see Box 12, sol)
1 19 Baby Shoe, Russian Money, and Feathers, 1898, undated
Box Folder
17 1 David Graham's Naval Patch, circa 1940s
(Recruit Chief Petty Officer)
17 2 Vellum Fragment, Music, circa 1700s
(Probably the Nicene Creed)
Box
11 (sol) Oversized Scrapbooks of Archer Gibson (See Box 1, folder 11)
Box
12 (sol) Paint Pots, Palette, and Vellum-Bound Books (See Box 1, folders 16-18)

Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1932-1988
(Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)

This series contains personal and business correspondence, and consists primarily of letters received by Graham from family members, artists, patrons, art and antique dealers, health practitioners, and other associates. Third-party correspondence and letters written by Graham are found among his family's letters and the letters of Jack Mayer. In general, arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent. Incidental letters and letters from unidentified correspondents are filed at the end of the series in miscellaneous files for business, medical, and personal correspondence.

Significant correspondents include David Burliuk, Stuart Davis, Ultra Violet, Francoise Gilot, R.B. Kitaj, and Marc Tobey. Among Elinor Gibson Graham's letters is third-party correspondence with attorney Paul Arnold regarding Graham's estate, a letter signed Dorothy which may have been written by Dorothy Dehner, and letters from Eila Kokkinen, Constance Wellman, and Charles Shaw. Jack Mayer's correspondence also contains lists of paintings and third-party correspondence with interested patrons. A photograph of Jan Tice is found with a letter from Ron Gorchov, and an illustrated letter is among Tice's letters to Graham.

Miscellaneous business correspondence includes letters regarding Graham's antique business, financial affairs, real estate, publishing, responses to letters Graham wrote to politicians, and scattered receipts for personal items. Also found is a letter from a New York Public Library linguist and a letter form a Harvard architect with advice to Graham about employment. Miscellaneous medical correspondence includes letters from a variety of doctors and healers, including Julie Owen, the British practitioner of a bee sting cure. Miscellaneous personal correspondence is separated by the language in which letters are written; undated letters which may be from Graham's early years are found among the letters in Polish and Russian. Names found in miscellaneous personal correspondence are listed in the folder list.

Additional scattered correspondence is found in Biographical Materials and Personal Business Records.

Box Folder
1 20 American Society for Psychical Research, undated
1 21 Ash, Maxwell, 1959-1960
1 22 Bayley, John B., circa 1959-1960
1 23 Beck, Rosemarie, 1961
1 24 Bennett, J.G. (Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences), 1958
1 25 Browislawa, Francryniska, circa 1945-1947
1 26 Buford, Richard, circa 1961
1 27 Burliuk, David, 1960-1961
1 28 Bultman, Fritz, undated
1 29 The Collector's Corner, 1959-1961
1 30 Crowninshield, Frank, circa 1936-1947
1 31 Davies and Son, 1961
1 32 Davis, Stuart, circa 1932
1 33 Ehrenpreis, Bernard, circa 1960
1 34 Gabrielson, Galin and Karen, 1947-1959
1 35 Gilot, Françoise, 1960-1961
1 Graham, Elinor Gibson
1 36-37 General, circa 1936-1977
(2 folders)
1 38-39 Letters from John Graham, circa 1935-1960
(2 folders)
1 40 Graham, John David (son), circa 1956-1957, 1961
1 41 Granick, Max, circa 1959-1960
1 42 Grinberg, Leon, 1961
1 43 Gorchov, Ron, circa 1960
1 44 J.J. Klejman, 1959-1961
1 45 Kitaj, R.B., circa 1961
1 46 Korabiewska, Felicja, 1945-1946
1 47 Leyden, Frank, circa 1959-1960
1 48-52 Leyden, Linda, 1959-1961
(5 folders)
1 53 Malval, Henry de, circa 1960-1961
1 54-56 Mayer, Jack (Gallery Mayer), 1959-1961, 1988
1 57 Meyer, Michel, 1960-1961
1 58 Museum of Primitive Art (Robert Goldwater), 1959
1 59 Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., 1959-1960
1 60 Press, Lorence, 1957
1 61 Ratton, Charles, 1960
1 62 Rieger, Charles, 1960-1961
1 63 Saling, Victoria, 1960
1 64 Saxer, Walter, 1960
1 65 Skutch, Robert Frank, 1961
1 66 Spink and Son, Ltd., 1961
1 67 Staempfli Gallery (Phillip Bruno and Wilfrid Zogbaum), 1960-1961
1 68 Steinberg, Harris, 1960-1961
1 69 Strate, M.N., 1959
1 70 Tice, Jan, circa 1960
1 71 Thorne, Nicholas (son), circa 1959-1960
1 72 Tobey, Marc, undated
1 73 Ultra Violet (Isabelle Collin du Fresne), circa 1961
1 74 Verdier, Andie, 1961
1 75 Von Wiegand, Charmion, 1960
1 76 Weinberg, Usana, circa 1961
1 77 Whitney Museum of American Art, 1961
1 78 Miscellaneous Business Correspondence, circa 1938-1961
1 79 Miscellaneous Medical Correspondence, 1949-1961
1 80-81 Miscellaneous Personal Correspondence in English, French, and Spanish, circa 1934-1961
(2 folders)
Includes 2 letters from Graham, one a fragment; and letters from Joan Graftmueller, Edwin Walker, Paule Peron, Charles Schante, Harry Dickman, an Abrams (possibly Ruth Abrams), Marguerite Mergin, Mrs. M. Graham, Ilse Pichler, Islmail Loutfi, Coucha, Katie (a nurse in London), Wilfred (possibly Zogbaum), Betsy (possibly Elizabeth Sparhawk Jones), Jean Marie, Blanche (possibly Blanche Battaglia) and several unsigned letters.
1 82 Miscellaneous Personal Correspondence in Polish and Russian, undated, 1940-1961
1 83 Miscellaneous Envelopes, circa 1946-1961

Series 3: Personal Business Records, circa 1931-1962
(Box 1-3; 1.4 linear feet)

This series contains address books, appointment books, contracts, receipts, banking documents, property inventories, stock records, tax records, notes, notebooks, wills and other legal documents, and scattered correspondence related to Graham's finances. Apart from the appointment books and inventories which are earlier, records in this series are dated from the late 1950s to Graham's death.

Appointment books contain intermittent records of business and personal appointments from 1931 to 1938, and from 1948 to 1961. As with most of Graham's papers, they are heavily annotated and often contain sketches; a 1937 appointment book in particular contains numerous color drawings. Annotations range from notes about Graham's antique trade to personal matters and writings on Graham's wide-ranging interests. Some of these notes appear to have been made years after the year for which the book was made. One of the folders containing the address files is also annotated and illustrated. Notebooks found in the Writings series contain similar notes, writings, and sketches.

Bank account records include check ledgers, deposit slips, and account statements. Financial notebooks consist of check ledgers that were re-used as notebooks, usually to keep track of antique objects and collectors. Additional notes related to antiques are found in financial notes, along with notes on personal assets and Graham's dealings with the Stable Gallery. Scattered drafts of letters are found among financial notes. Additional financial correspondence is also found filed with wills, stock records, and tax records.

The book inventory and catalog of antiques and books are both annotated typescripts with notes in Graham's handwriting.

Other details about the contents of folders are noted in the folder list.

Additional correspondence related to Graham's business transactions can be found in Correspondence. In particular, letters related to Graham's estate can be found with Elinor Graham's correspondence.

Box Folder
1 84-85 Address Books, circa 1950-1961
(2 folders)
1 86 Address File, circa 1956-1961
1 Appointment Books
1 87 1931
1 88 1933
1 89 1934
1 90 1935
1 91 1937
Box Folder
2 1 1948
2 2 1948-1949
2 3 1949
2 4 1950
2 5 1951, 1953
2 6 1952
2 7 1953
2 8 1954
2 9 1956-1957
2 10 1959
2 11 1960
2 12 circa 1960
2 13-14 1961
(2 volumes in 2 folders)
2 15 undated
2 16 Art and Antique Dealership, circa 1956-1960
(Contains receipts, accounts, contracts, lists, and correspondence)
2 17-22 Bank Account at Chase Manhattan Bank, 1957-1961
(6 folders; not scanned)
2 23-25 Bank Account at Union Bank of Switzerland, 1958-1961
(3 folders; not scanned)
2 26 Book Inventory, circa 1946-1955
2 27-28 "Catalog of Antiques and Books for Insurance Purposes," 1942-1952
(2 folders)
2 29 Financial Notebook, 1957-1959
Box Folder
3 1 Financial Notebook, 1959-1961
3 2 Financial Notes, circa 1955-1961
3 3-6 Stocks and Taxes, 1957-1961
(4 folders; not scanned)
3 7 Travel Receipts, circa 1958-1961
3 8 Wills and Estate of John Graham, circa 1954-1962
3 9 Wills, Estate, and Trust of Marianne Strate Graham, circa 1954-1960

Series 4: Writings, 1839, circa 1923-1986
(Box 3-5, OV 13; 2.9 linear feet)

This series contains writings by Graham and others in the form of book-length manuscripts, annotated books, card files, essays, lists, notes, notebooks, poetry, and handwritten prayers. Books and notebooks comprise the bulk of materials.

Books are generally found in multiple drafts in the form of manuscripts and annotated typescripts. Two works are published books containing Graham's annotations: a 1923 book of poems, Have It, and Graham's most well-known work, Systems and Dialectics of Art, published in 1937. Another published work found here in manuscript form is a catalog of African art Graham created with Frank Crowninshield.

The remaining manuscripts include a comparative history of art, some of which appears to have been incorporated into Systems and Dialectics of Art; a stylized, often abstract autobiographical work usually entitled Muerte Kalaka y Casa Nada (Child-hood) (Child Within), which has sometimes been referred to as Childhood in the literature on Graham; and a large collection of brief, alphabetically-arranged essays, which appear to have been worked on over the course of decades under various titles including Don Giovanni, Finale I-V, and Orifizio Mundi. Dates, format, and the text of these works overlap significantly, and appear to have been incorporated into one another in different versions at various stages of the writing. Manuscripts in this series have been filed according to titles found on the works or on binders containing the works, and dated according to scattered postmarks and dated items found among the papers. Card files contain handwritten versions of the same essays that appear in Orifizio Mundi and were likely preliminary to the typed manuscripts. Additional notes describing the various versions of book manuscripts are found in the folder list.

Essays by Graham include typescripts, usually annotated, of published essays by Graham. Essays about Graham include photocopied typescripts of two essays written after his death. For additional published essays and articles about Graham, see Printed Materials.

Lists are found on a wide range of subjects, often banal or personal and sometimes cryptic. For lists of artwork or other assets, see Correspondence and Personal Business Records.

Miscellaneous notes and writings consist of notes, musings, essays, and aphorisms written or copied by Graham on a variety of subjects. Graham often applied brief titles to these apparently spontaneous writings, and where possible such items have been grouped together under his headings or other obvious subject matter. The folder entitled "Psychoanalysis" contains a lengthy, handwritten self-analysis dated from May through July of 1939. Miscellaneous notes and writings without titles or obvious subject matter are filed chronologically.

Notebooks contain sketches, symbols, essays, and notes and are written in multiple languages and scripts, including Russian, Latin, Greek, French, and English. Some notebooks are written in appointment books, but do not seem to record any information specific to dates. Any appointment books Graham used to actually record appointments are filed with Personal Business Records, although they may also contain notes, essays, and sketches.

Poetry includes poems by Graham, many of which are written in Russian, and poems about Graham, including one by the French poet Fernand Marc.

Additional writings are found throughout the collection, notably in Personal Business Records, Printed Materials, and Artwork.

Box Folder
3 Books
3 10-11 African Art, circa 1937
(2 folders)
(a catalog, in collaboration with Frank Crowninshield; multiple drafts interfiled)
3 12 Comparative History of Art, Typescript 1, 1930
3 13-14 Comparative History of Art, Tyepscript 2, 1930
(2 folders)
3 15-18 Comparative History of Art; Charts, Notes, and Plans, 1930
(4 folders; see also OV 13)
(contains binder with heading "systems and dialectics of art," but the material within the binder appears to be for this art history work, versions of which bear the date 1930)
3 19-22 Don Giovanni Manuscript, circa 1949-1954
(4 folders)
3 23-25 Don Giovanni Typescript, circa 1954
(3 folders)
3 26-29 Finale I, circa 1936-1959
(4 folders)
(titles with roman numerals for the Finale manuscripts taken from binders created by Graham; Finale I, II, and V appear to comprise a continuous typescript; Finale IV appears complete but is much shorter than other versions; Finale I contains front matter and alphabetically arranged entries from Abracadabra to Justice)
3 30-33 Finale II, circa 1936-1959
(4 folders)
(contains entries from Kaligula to Russian Alphabet)
3 34-38 Finale III, circa 1936-1959
(5 folders)
(contains original binder with drawing and entries from Circumference to Morning)
3 39-41 Finale IV, circa 1936-1959
(3 folders)
(contains Preface and entries from Ages to Zodiac, and a copy of Graham's article "The Case of Mr. Picasso and Modern Art;" may be a compressed version of this work)
3 42-44 Finale V, circa 1936-1959
(3 folders)
(Finale V appears to be a continuation of Finale I and II; contains alphabetical entries from Sages to Youth, plus a summary of the work and an Index of all entries)
3 45 Have It, 1923
(Poems; author's annotated copy)
3 46-49 Muerte-Kalaka y Casi Nada (Child-Hood) (Child Within) Manuscript, circa 1936-1949
(4 folders)
Box Folder
4 1-3 Muerte-Kalaka y Casi Nada (Child-Hood) (Child Within) Original Typescript, circa 1936-1949
(3 folders)
4 4-7 Muerte-Kalaka y Casi Nada (Child-Hood) (Child Within) Typescript Copy 1, circa 1936-1949
(4 folders)
(typescript copies 1 and 2 appear to be two carbon copies of original typescript, each with a different set of annotations)
4 8-11 Muerte-Kalaka y Casi Nada (Child-Hood) (Child Within) Typescript Copy 2, circa 1936-1949
(4 folders)
4 12-14 Muerte-Kalaka y Casi Nada (Child-Hood) (Child Within), Notes and Draft Fragments, circa 1936-1949
(3 folders)
4 15-20 Orifizio Mundi Volume II, circa 1936-1959
(6 folders)
(carbon typescript of same text that appears in the Finale series, with fewer annotations; alphabetical order has been disturbed; there is no indication of a Volume I among the papers)
4 21 System and Dialectics of Art, 1937-1938, 1959
(author's annotated copy; annotations appear to have been made in 1938 to the published 1937 work; later inscribed to Linda, presumably Leyden, who he met in 1959)
4 22-24 Card Files 1 and 2, undated
(2 shoeboxes of 3x5 inch cards and 1 folder of larger items removed from boxes; not scanned)
(handwritten entries with same text as Orifizio Mundi and Finale typescripts, arranged in two separate card files; in the first set of cards, the alphabetical order has been disrupted)
Box Folder
5 Essays by Graham
5 1 "Art", circa 1960
5 2 "Autoportrait", circa 1960-1961
5 3 "Carlos Merida the Modern Painter of Mexico", undated
5 4 "The Case of Mr. Picasso", circa 1946
5 5 "Mexican Art Exhibition", circa 1940
5 6 "Mexico", circa 1938
5 7 "Primitive Art and Picasso, circa 1937
5 Essays about Graham
5 8 Forward to Second Edition of System and Dialectics of Art by Dorothy Dehner, circa 1971
(photocopy of annotated typescript)
5 9 "John Graham" by Eilan Kokkinen, circa 1968, 1986
(photocopy with 1986 note from donor; three chapters of annotated typescript version of biography)
5 10 Lists, circa 1958-1961
5 11-18 Miscellaneous Notes and Writings, circa 1941-1961
(8 folders)
5 Miscellaneous Notes and Writings by Subject
5 19 Art, 1961, undated
5 20 Autobiographical, undated
5 21 Autoportrait, circa 1960-1961
5 22 Childhood, 1938, undated
5 23 Comparative Languages, circa 1939-1950
5 24 Mexico, circa 1936-1939
5 25 Occult, undated
5 26 Psychoanalysis, circa 1934-1939
5 27 Science, undated
5 28 Society and Socialism, undated
5 29-30 Travel, circa 1938-1961
(2 folders)
5 31 Yoga, circa 1955-1961
5 Notebooks
5 32 1931
5 33 1939, 1952
5 34 1839, circa 1943
(antique book with inscription dated 1839 re-used as notebook circa 1943)
5 35 1947-1953
5 36 1947
5 37 circa 1948
5 38 1949
5 39-41 1953
(3 volumes in 3 folders)
5 42 1958
5 43 circa 1959
5 44 1959-1960
5 45 1960
5 46 1960-1961
5 47 1961
5 48-49 undated
(2 volumes in 2 folders)
5 50 Poems, 1915, 1953, 1976, undated
5 51 Prayers, 1944, undated
Box
13 (OV) Oversized Writings (See Box 3, folder 15)

Series 5: Printed Materials, circa 1885-1961
(Boxes 6-9, OV 14; 3.7 linear feet)

This series contains published books, clippings, exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, brochures, publicity, reproductions of works of art, and sheet music collected by Graham and his family members.

Books are filed by subject, and some are extensively annotated, especially those in the categories of Children's Books (inscribed by Graham to his son); Literature; Occult, Theosophy, and Religion; and Yoga. Books on Literature also have drawings on their endpages. These include works by Andrei Biely, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Griboyedov, and an anthology of 20th century Russian poetry published in 1920. A 1922 book of criticism on Vladimir Mayakovsky features cover art by El Lissitzky. A single, unmarked copy of Graham's major published work of art theory, Systems and Dialectics of Art, is filed at the end of this series. See Writings for the author's annotated copy of this book and his book of poetry, Have It.

Clippings are primarily about Graham, his family members, Elinor and David Graham, and friends. Also found is a 1938 article written by Graham entitled "Mexico." Clippings are in chronological order. Many clippings on subjects other than Graham are found in the reference files.

Exhibition catalogs are for one-man shows or group shows featuring Graham's artwork, with scattered catalogs from other artists' exhibitions. Early catalogs contain essays on Graham by Duncan Phillips, Andre Salmon, David Burliuk, and Waldemar George. Catalogs of the Stable Gallery (1953-1954) are heavily annotated by Graham.

Reference files include clippings, brochures, mimeos, publicity, pamphlets, postcards, maps, and other ephemera. Several of the files are primarily image files, and others contain articles or brochures. Some, such as the file on Picasso, contain both images and articles. Files occasionally contain Photostat copies of printed materials from a variety of sources. Materials in reference files are occasionally annotated.

Sheet music includes mostly published piano arrangements, many of which are in Russian. A few handwritten scores are also found.

Additional printed materials are found in Biographical Materials.

The bulk of the material in this series has been scanned. Books have not been scanned in their entirety, but book covers, title pages, and annotated pages have been scanned.

Box Folder
6 Books
6 1-7 Antiques and Architecture, 1937-1960
(7 folders)
6 8-9 Calligraphy, circa 1861, undated
(2 folders)
6 10-13 Children's Books, 1929-1934, undated
(4 folders)
(Books are inscribed to David Graham from John Graham and often annotated)
6 14-15 Health, circa 1955
(2 folders)
6 16-22 Literature, 1920-1959, undated
(7 folders)
(Mostly in Russian; Drawings by Graham are found on covers and endpages)
6 23-24 Music, 1942, 1959-1960
(2 folders)
Box Folder
7 1-22 Occult, Theosophy, and Religion, 1926-1960
(22 folders)
Box Folder
8 1-4 Occult, Theosophy, and Religion, 1960, undated
(4 folders)
8 5-6 Travel, undated
(2 folders)
8 7-10 Yoga, 1949-1958
(4 folders)
8 11-15 Miscellaneous Books, 1902-1960
(5 folders)
8 16-19 Clippings, circa 1926-1988
8 20-23 Exhibition Catalogs, circa 1920-1986
Box Folder
9 Reference Files
9 1 Antiques and Architecture, circa 1939-1961
9 2 Comparative Cultures, circa 1945-1960
9 3-6 Health, circa 1958-1960
(4 folders; see also OV 14)
9 7-8 History, circa 1961, undated
(2 folders; see also OV 14)
9 9 Horses, undated
(See also OV 14)
9 10 Miscellaneous Imagery, undated
9 11 Nineteenth and Early Twentiesth Century Art, 1960, undated
(See also OV 14)
9 12-13 Occult, Theosophy, and Religion, circa 1931-1960
(2 folders; see also OV 14)
9 14 Old Masters, undated
(See also OV 14)
9 15 Picasso, 1939, undated
9 16 Primitive Art, undated
(See also OV 14)
9 17 Psychoanalysis, circa 1938-1958
9 18 Russian Nobility, undated
9 19 Stocks, 1959
(Not scanned)
9 20 Theater and Actors, 1901-1960
(See also OV 14)
9 21-22 Travel, circa 1956-1961
(Not scanned)
9 23 Women, circa 1954-1961
(See also OV 14)
9 24 Sheet Music, circa 1885-1935
(See also OV 14)
9 25 System and Dialectics of Art, 1937
(Not scanned)
(see Writings for author's annotated copy)
Box
14 (OV) Oversized Printed Materials (See Box 9, folders 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 20, 23, 24)

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1860-1985,
(Box 9-10, 17, OV 15; 0.9 linear feet)

This series contains photographs of John Graham, his family and associates, artwork by Graham, European art and architecture, and antiques and primitive art.

Photographs of John Graham date back to his childhood in Russia. Early photographs include several cabinet card portraits, one of which is unidentified but appears to be Graham at age two around 1888. Snapshots and formal portraits of Graham are found spanning his entire life. Some snapshots also depict his son, David Graham, in the early 1930s. The earliest group photograph present appears to depict Graham and his first wife Ebrenia. Other individuals in group photographs in which Graham appears are unidentified.

Family photographs depict Graham's parents, wives, and children. Numerous photographs of the family of Elinor Gibson Graham, John Graham's fourth wife, are also found, including her father, Archer Gibson, a well-known organist, and the instruments he helped to design. Additional photographs of Graham's family members may be among the unidentified photographs filed under "Miscellaneous People."

Other photographs in this series depict Picasso with Marie Vassilieff and Pâcquerette, Arshile Gorky with Graham; Françoise Gilot with Picasso and her children, Claude and Paloma; and Linda Leyden, a young girlfriend of Graham's in his later years. Also found are portraits of young women and men. It is likely that these depict actors or other famous figures.

A group of photographic enlargements grouped together in this series appear to have been used by Graham in his creative process. Many of the originals from which the enlargements were derived are found among Graham's papers.

Among the photographs of works of art are installation views, the earliest of which appear to be wall decorations or murals, and may be those Graham painted at Wells College around 1930. Other exhibitions shown include a Carnegie Institute show, a 1946 window display at Arnold Constable department store in New York City, and a 1985 exhibit at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, also in New York.

Except for installation views, most of the photographs of works of art have not been scanned. Additional photographs are found in Biographical Materials and Correspondence.

Box Folder
9 John Graham
9 26-28 Formal Portraits and Passport Photos, circa 1888-1961
(3 folders, including copies)
9 29-31 Snapshots, circa 1915-1959
(3 folders, including copies)
9 32 Group Photographs, circa 1912-1949
9 Family
9 33 Parents, circa 1880-1910
9 34 Ebrenia (a.k.a. Catherine) Ignatevnia Makavelia, Kyril, and Maria, circa 1912-1945
(First wife and children)
9 35 Vera Aleksandrovna and Nicholas, circa 1918-1960
(Second wife and son)
9 36-38 Elinor Gibson Graham and David, circa 1905-1980
(3 folders; see also OV 15)
(Third wife and son)
9 39-41 David Graham, circa 1929-1960
(3 folders; Not scanned)
(Son; for photographs of John and David Graham together, see John Graham Snapshots)
9 42 Frances Bryant and Archer Gibson, circa 1900-1950
(Parents of Elinor Gibson Graham)
9 43 Constance Wellman, circa 1936-1940
(Fourth wife)
9 44 Marianne Strate, circa 1930-1955
(Fifth wife)
9 45 Arshile Gorky with John Graham, circa 1930-1939
9 46 Françoise Gilot and Children (Claude and Paloma Picasso), circa 1942-1960
9 47 Linda Leyden, circa 1959-1960
9 48 Pablo Picasso, circa 1916, 1950
(pictured with Françoise Gilot, Pâcquerette, and Marie Vassilieff)
9 49 Miscellaneous People, Identified or Dated, circa 1893-1945
9 50-51 Miscellaneous People, Unidentified, circa 1860-1960
(2 folders; see also OV 15)
9 52 Miscellaneous Places, circa 1920-1985
9 53 Photographic Enlargements of Photos and Printed Materials, undated
(See OV 15)
9 Photographs of Works of Art
9 54 by John Graham, Installation Views, circa 1932, 1945-1946, 1985
9 55-56 by John Graham, Paintings (circa 1925-1946), undated
(2 of 4 folders; not scanned)
Box Folder
10 1-2 by John Graham, Paintings (circa 1925-1946), undated
(2 of 4 folders; not scanned)
10 3-8 by John Graham, Sketchbooks and Drawings, circa 1980, 1985,
(6 folders; not scanned)
10 9 Antiques and Primitive Art, undated
(Not scanned)
10 10 by Elinor Graham, undated
(Not scanned)
10 11 by Old Masters, undated
(Not scanned; see also OV 15)
10 12-13 Postcards of European Architecture and Sculpture, undated
(2 folders; not scanned)
Box Folder
17 3-10 Portraits, circa 1880-1910
(8 folders)
(Probably Actors and Actresses)
17 11-12 Portraits, Unidentified, circa 1880-1910
(2 folders)
(Probably Actors and Actresses)
17 13 Equestrian Statues and Studies, circa 1920
17 14-15 Postcards, Gardens and Outdoor Sculpture, circa 1920s-1930s
(2 folders; not scanned)
17 16 Postcards, Works of Art, by Others, circa 1920s
(Not scanned)
Box
15 (OV) Oversized Photographs (See Box 9, folder 37, 51, 53, and Box 10, folder 11)

Series 7: Artwork, circa 1852-1961
(Box 10, OV 16; 1 linear foot)

This series includes sketchbooks, loose sketches and drawings, illustrated and annotated folders and envelopes, and artwork by artists other than John Graham in the form of drawings, prints, printed cloth, and a silhouette of Graham's daughter, Maria Dombrowski.

Sketchbooks include an early sketchbook with line drawings, mostly of horses, dated and inscribed by John Graham to his son David in 1934. One drawing in this volume appears to have been made by David Graham. Later sketchbooks are all dated in the last few years of Graham's life and depict mostly women, horses, mythical, and classical subjects.

Sketches and Drawings range from very rough sketches and doodles to finished drawings. There is a large text piece done with stencils, and many figures, equestrian subjects, mythical subjects, abstract drawings, and few landscapes and still lifes. Illustrated folders and envelopes, some of which are dated, contain a wide array of symbols, decorations, drawings, notes, and lists on a range of subjects. Additional annotated folders are found in the Writings series. Illustrated folders closely resemble a number of Graham's notebooks, also found in Writings.

Drawings which appear to have been made by others include several precise architectural drawings in pencil, one of which is dated '62, presumably 1862. There are also several equestrian drawings and a contemporary series of fantastical drawings of griffins and women, which do not appear to be in Graham's style. Prints include a series of illustrations of 19th century Russian Army uniforms and 19th century interiors which are hand painted, as well as fine prints of classical architecture and a couple of 20th century woodblock prints.

Additional artwork is found scattered throughout the collection, especially in Personal Business Records, Writings, and Printed Materials.

Box Folder
10 14-19 Sketchbooks, 1934, circa 1960-1961
(6 volumes in 6 folders)
10 20-23 Sketches and Drawings, circa 1953-1959, undated
(4 folders; see also OV 16)
10 24-29 Illustrated Folders and Envelopes, circa 1939-1961
(6 folders)
10 30 Artwork by Others, Drawings, circa 1862, 1946, undated
(See also OV 16)
10 31 Artwork by Others, Prints, undated
(See also OV 16)
10 32 Artwork by Others, Silhouette of Maria Dombrowski, 1937
10 33 Artwork by Others, Textile Print, undated
(Not scanned; see OV 16)
Box
16 (OV) Oversized Artwork (See Box 10, folders 20, 30, 31, 33)