A Finding Aid to the Leonard Bocour Papers and Business Records,
1933-1993, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald
Table of Contents:
- Biographical Information
- Overview of the Collection
- How to Use the Collection
- Detailed Description and Container Inventory
American art collector, paint manufacturer, lecturer, and painter, Leonard Bocour (nèe Leonard Bogdanoff) was born in 1910 in New York City. He studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League. In 1928, he met German artist Emil Ganso who taught him how to make artists’ colors.
In 1932, Bocour established Bocour Hand Ground Artist Colors and sold paint directly to artists, greatly increasing his contacts and acquaintances in the art community. In this Depression era, Bocour often gave away paint to struggling artists who later became successful. Because artists would sometimes trade art work for tubes of paint, Bocour was able to build an impressive art collection that he would later loan for exhibition. He also donated numerous works of art to schools and museums.
Over the years, Bocour maintained a close relationship with artists, most notably Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Jack Levine, Morris Louis, and Philip Pearlstein. In the late 1930s, Bocour decided to increase his business by selling through retailers and wholesalers, gradually building a successful business.
From 1945 to 1955, Bocour joined the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and for many years taught a summer technical course. In 1947, he developed Magna, an acrylic resin miscible with oil or turpentine that had the same consistency as oil paint, but dried in a fraction of the time. In 1960, Bocour introduced Aqua-Tec which is an acrylic polymer emulsion miscible with water.
From 1952 to 1970, Samuel Golden was Bocour’s partner in the capacity of production manager. A merger with Zipatone, Inc. was carried out in 1982, but was dissolved in 1987. Zipatone, Inc. moved the company to Chicago, but Bocour remained in New York as president and consultant.
Beginning in the early 1960s, Bocour lectured at art schools and various arts organizations, discussing drawing, painting, and different art media as well as demonstrating his own products. He was a member of the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) and was president of the Art Material Manufacturers’ Association, inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1974. Leonard Bocour died on Labor Day 1993.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
The papers of American art collector, paint manufacturer, lecturer, and painter, Leonard Bocour measure 11.7 linear feet and date from 1933 to 1993. Found within the papers is biographical material, including identity cards, membership cards, and award certificates. Miscellaneous correspondence is primarily with artists and colleagues, including Helen Frankenthaler, Chaim Gross, Philip Guston, Alex Katz, Jack Levine, Morris Louis, David Oxtoby, and Philip Pearlstein and discuss exhibitions and other art-related topics. Also found are diaries and annotated daily calendars; personal business records regarding personal finances, donations, and lectures; business records for Bocour Artist Colors, Inc., including contracts, business correspondence, financial documentation, and printed material; notes and writings including address books and writings by Bocour and others; transcripts of interviews with Bocour that discuss his early career; and printed material including clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, booklets, and brochures.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection has been arranged into eight series primarily according to type of material. Materials within each series have been arranged chronologically, except for the Receipts for “Private Deals” and the Business Card File which are arranged alphabetically. Oversized material from various series has been housed in Box 13 (Sol) and OV14 and is noted in the Series Description/Container Listings Section at the appropriate folder title with see also/see references.
- Series 1: Biographical Material, 1940s-1990s (Box 1; 4 folders)
- Series 2: Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1950s-1990s (Box 1-4, 13, OV 14; 3.8 linear feet)
- Series 3: Diaries and Annotated Calendars, 1955-1987 (Box 4-5; 19 folders)
- Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1961-1992 (Box 5-7, 13; 2.2 linear feet)
- Series 5: Business Records for Bocour Artist Colors, Inc., circa 1942-1992 (Box 7-9, 13; 2.3 linear feet)
- Series 6: Notes and Writings, 1960-1993, undated (Box 9-10; 0.8 linear feet)
- Series 7: Interview Transcripts, 1970s-1980s (Box 10; 5 folders)
- Series 8: Printed Material, 1933-1993, undated (Box 10-13; 1.8 linear feet)
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.
- Bocour Artist Colors (Firm)
- Paint industry and trade -- New York (State) -- New York
- Collectors and collecting -- New York (State) -- New York
- Drawing -- Technique
- Painting -- Technique
- Painting -- Equipment and supplies
Types of Materials:
The Leonard Bocour papers and business records were donated by his widow, Ruth Bocour, in 1994.
Separated and Related Materials
Additional Leonard Bocour papers may be found at the Syracuse University Library, Special Collections Research Center.
How the Collection was Processed
The papers were processed to an intermediate level in August 2004 by Jean Fitzgerald.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The Leonard Bocour papers and business records 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
Leonard Bocour papers and business records, 1933-1993. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Biographical Material, 1940s-1990s
(Box 1; 4 folders)
Biographical material consists of biographical notes, identity and membership cards, award certificates for Bocour, and a photocopy of his son’s birth certificate.
|1||Biographical Notes and Birth Certificate for Peter Bocour, 1947-1990|
|1||Identity Cards and Blood Donation Card, 1944-1984|
|1||Membership Cards, 1950-1990|
|1||Award Certificates, 1950-1980|
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1950s-1990s
(Box 1 -4, 13, OV 14; 3.8 linear feet)
Correspondence consists primarily of letters exchanged with business colleagues and artists including Helen Frankenthaler, John Grillo, Chaim Gross, Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Alex Katz, Jack Levine, Morris Louis, Eugene Massin, Nathan Oliveira, David Oxtoby, and Philip Pearlstein, discussing exhibitions and other art-related topics. There are single letters from Anthony Caro, actor Robert DeNiro, Jimmy Ernst, Philip Evergood, Emil Ganso, Leon Golub, Frederick Hartt, Helen Hayes, Al Held, Joseph Hirshhorn, Ibram Lassaw, Jacob Lawrence, Roy Lichtenstein, Bill Mauldin, Alice Neel, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Gabor Peterdi, Ad Reinhart, George Rickey, James Rosenquist, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Frank Stella, and Jack Tworkov.
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1954-1972, undated
(69 folders; see also Box 13 and OV 14)
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1973-1977
(71 folders; see also Box 13)
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1978-1984
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1985-1993
(59 folders; see also Box 13)
|13 (sol)||Oversized illustrated letter from Jeffrey Dunn, undated|
|13 (sol)||Oversized letter from Ann Marie Rousseau, undated|
|13 (sol)||Oversized exhibition poster enclosed in letter from James Suzuki, 1973|
|13 (sol)||Oversized letter from David Oxtoby, 1973|
|13 (sol)||Oversized letter from David Sutherland, 1986|
|13 (sol)||Oversized letter from Jonah Kinigstein, 1991|
|OV 14||Two Oversized letters from David Oxtoby, 1968, 1969|
|OV 14||Oversized exhibition poster enclosed in letter from T. Kawashima, 1972|
Diaries and Annotated Calendars, 1955-1987
(Box 4, 5; 19 folders)
Thirty-two diaries and 9 annotated calendars contain brief notes about daily activities.
Personal Business Records, 1961-1992
(Box 5-7, 13; 2.2 linear feet)
Personal Business Records include documents concerning Bocour’s art collection and his public outreach activities. These records reflect business transactions not directly related to the operations of Bocour Artist Colors, Inc. Bocour’s donations were primarily of art work to schools and museums. His lectures focused on drawing and painting and demonstrated his paint products.
Personal Income Tax Returns, 1974-1979
|5||List of Art Work in Bocour Collection, 1986|
|5||Appraisal Reports on Art Work Owned by Bocour, 1989|
|5||Miscellaneous Receipts, 1961-1992|
Correspondence Regarding Donations of Art Work,
Correspondence Regarding Donations of Art Work,
Correspondence Regarding Lectures and Demonstrations, 1961-1977, undated
(27 folders; See Also Box 13)
Correspondence Regarding Lectures and Demonstrations,
|13 (sol)||Oversized poster and list of lectures by Bocour for Tempo Gallery, undated|
Business Records for Bocour Artist Colors, Inc., circa 1942-1992
(Box 7-9, 13; 2.3 linear feet)
These records document business transactions conducted by Bocour Artist Colors, Inc. and include financial records, correspondence with other companies, and business- related printed material. Files marked as "Private Deals" reflect Bocour’s practice of trading tubes of paint and other art products in exchange for original art work.
|7||Trademark Application, 1942-1943|
|7||Court Documents Concerning Name Change to Bocour, 1949-1951|
Contracts with Samuel Golden, 1954-1968
|7||Structural File Concerning Purchase of Shares of Samuel Golden, 1973|
|8||Contract with Oskar Vangerow, 1975|
|8||Contract with Rick Farrell, 1977|
|8||Contract with Plaid Enterprises, Inc., 1977|
|8||Contract with Union Local 810, 1981-1983|
|8||Contract with Zipatone, Inc., 1982|
|8||Tax Records, 1977-1987|
|8||Records Concerning Stocks, 1982-1985|
Correspondence with Inter-Society Color Council,
Correspondence with Heinz Jordan & Co., Ltd., 1972-1986
Correspondence with Zipatone, Inc., 1979-1991
Correspondence with Oskar Vangerow KG, 1976-1992
Notes from Meetings, 1982-1983
|8||Miscellaneous Notes, undated|
|8||Ledger of Comparative Balance Sheets, 1946-1948|
|8||Ledger of "L. B. Deals," 1963-1978|
Ledger of Annual Sales Totals, 1967-1982
(2 folders; See Also Box 13)
Receipts for "Private Deals," Paintings Received, 1963-1971
Receipts for "Private Deals," Paintings Not Received,
Receipts for "Private Deals," Paintings Not Received,
Receipts for Miscellaneous Deals, 1971-1978
|9||Invoices from Tiffany & Co., 1985-1987|
|9||Comparative Sales Report, 1963-1965|
|9||Notes about Products, undated|
Auditor’s Reports, 1955-1983
Label Designs, 1961-1972, undated
(4 folders; See Also Box 13)
|9||Miscellaneous Booklets, 1963-1965|
|9||Brochures for Aqua-Tec Paint, undated|
|9||Brochures for Bellini Paint, undated|
|9||Brochures for Casein Paint, undated|
|9||Brochures for Magna Paint, undated|
Brochures for Miscellaneous Products,
(2 folders; See Also Box 13)
|9||Price Lists and Order Forms, 1964-1979|
|9||Art Material Directory, 1980|
|9||Directory of Suppliers, 1982|
|9||Miscellaneous Printed Material, undated|
|13 (sol)||Oversized Address List of Customers, undated|
|13 (sol)||Oversized Ledger of Annual Sales Totals, 1967-1973|
|13 (sol)||Oversized Reports of Product Sales and Costs, 1983-1984|
|13 (sol)||Oversized Reports of Salesmen’s Performances, 1984|
Oversized Sales Representative’s Commission Report,
|13 (sol)||Oversized Label Designs, 1972|
|13 (sol)||Oversized Brochure for Zipatone Products, undated|
Notes and Writings, 1960-1993, undated
(Box 9-10; 0.8 linear feet)
Notes consist primarily of address books and a file of colleagues’ business cards. Writings by Bocour include autobiographical accounts, miscellaneous poems and typescripts about Emil Ganso, Eugene Massin, David Oxtoby, and various art-related topics. Writings by others include a transcript of the memorial service for Gandy Brodie, a typescript about Emil Ganso, and miscellaneous artists’ resumés and typescripts on various art-related topics.
Address Book, undated
|9||Address Book, 1969|
Business Card File, undated
|10||Miscellaneous Address Lists, undated|
|10||Miscellaneous Notes, undated|
Writings by Bocour, 1966-1992, undated
Writings by Others,
Interview Transcripts, 1970s-1980s
(Box 10; 5 folders)
Four interview transcripts describe Bocour’s early life and career. The interview with Abraham Joshua Heschel was conducted under the auspices of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and in it Dr. Heschel discusses his religious beliefs and his publications.
|10||Bocour Interviewed by Christopher Busa, undated|
|10||Interview with Bocour, 1973|
|10||"A Conversation with Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel," 1973|
|10||"Lee Solomon Talking to Ruth Bocour," 1974|
|10||"Conversation with Leonard Bocour," 1988|
Printed Material, 1933-1993, undated
(Box 10-13; 1.8 linear feet)
Printed material consists primarily of clippings that reflect Bocour’s enduring interest in art, artists, and art media. An exhibition catalog for Jacob Lawrence is autographed by the artist.
(18 folders; See Also Box 13)
|11||Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for the Bocour Collection, 1962-1978, undated|
Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Miscellaneous
|11||Press Releases, 1972-1981|
|12 (hol)||Booklets "Let’s Draw" and "Let’s Paint" by Bocour, 1977|
|12 (hol)||Booklet "Start" by Jay Folb, undated|
|12 (hol)||Miscellaneous School Brochures, 1947-1972, undated|
Brochures for American Federation of Arts, 1965-1973
|12 (hol)||Century Association Yearbook, 1984|
|12 (hol)||Board of Visitors Directory, Boston University, 1977|
|12 (hol)||NAMTA Membership Directory, 1983|
|12 (hol)||Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1962-1991, undated|
|13 (sol)||Oversized clipping, 1967|