Louis Wiesenberg papers, 1916-1981

A Finding Aid to the Louis Wiesenberg Papers, 1913-1981, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Louis Wiesenberg (1893-1943) was born in Poland and studied art in Montreal and at the National Academy of Design in New York. He settled in New York where he painted and drew. He later moved back to Montreal, but continued to exhibit in New York.

In 1909, Wiesenberg immigrated to Montreal, Canada, with his father and two sisters, leaving his mother and three other sisters in Poland until money could be sent for their passage. His father, who had studied painting in Paris, established a small paint shop in which Louis learned about paint, brushes, and other artistic tools.

After studying art at the Monument Nationale School in Montreal, Louis Wiesenberg continued his studies at the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1916. Following the death of his eldest sister in 1917, Wiesenberg returned to Montreal to assist in his father??s business, but continued to exhibit his artwork in Montreal, Ottawa, and New York.

In 1922 Wiesenberg married Raizel, a singer, and they eventually settled in New York City. They befriended many artists, including Milton Avery and Mark Rothko. In 1928, a series of portrait drawings of authors by Wiesenberg was published in the Herald Tribune. He also worked at various art-related jobs including teaching art at a children??s camp in order to make ends meet. During the Depression, Wiesenberg??s health began to fail.

Louis Wiesenberg died on December 22, 1943 in New York City.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter Louis Wiesenberg measure 0.6 linear feet and date from 1913 to 1981. Found within the papers are biographical material; letters - mostly written by his widow Raizel Wiesenberg attempting to organize a posthumous exhibition; notes and writings, including manuscripts describing Wiesenberg??s thoughts on art; numerous drawings of figure studies and landscapes; printed material, including catalogs from exhibitions by obscure organizations such as the Level Club and the Society of Independent Artists; and photographs of Wiesenberg, his family and his artwork.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 6 series.

Subjects and Names

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


  • Level Club Condominium (New York, N.Y.)
  • Society of Independent Artists (New York, N.Y.)


  • Painters -- New York (State)-- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Writings


  • Wiesenberg, Raizel


The Louis Wiesenberg papers were donated in 1981 and 1982 by Raizel Wiesenberg Arp, the artist's widow.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed in February 2007 by Jean Fitzgerald.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Louis Wiesenberg 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

Louis Wiesenberg papers, 1913-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1916-1981
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Biographical material consists of a National Academy of Design student identity card, a New York military census card, and a biographical manuscript written by Wiesenberg??s wife, Raizel.

1 (hol) Identity Cards and Biographical Manuscript, 1916-1981, undated

Series 2: Letters, 1917-1981
(Box 1; 7 folders)

Letters discuss art-related business and are primarily from Raizel Wiesenberg relating to her attempts to organize a posthumous exhibition of her husband??s work.

1 (hol) Letters, undated
1 (hol) Letters, 1917-1918
1 (hol) Letters, 1925-1942
1 (hol) Letters, 1944
(2 folders)
1 (hol) Letters, 1947-1968
1 (hol) Letters, 1980-1981

Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1939-1943
(Box 1; 4 folders)

This series consists of manuscripts by Louis Wiesenberg concerning art-related topics, poems by Raizel Wiesenberg dedicated to her deceased husband, and miscellaneous notes.

1 (hol) Drafts of "What is Art?" by Louis Wiesenberg, undated
1 (hol) Manuscript "Michelangelo Buonarotti" by Louis Wiesenberg, undated
1 (hol) Poems by Raizel Wiesenberg, 1943
1 (hol) Miscellaneous Notes, 1939, undated

Series 4: Artwork, 1927-1932
(Box 1; 19 folders)

Artwork by Wiesenberg consists of miscellaneous sketches in pencil, charcoal, and watercolor, torn from sketchbooks. Images include figure studies and landscapes.

1 (hol) Sketchbook Cover, 1927
1 (hol) Drawings, 1932, undated
(18 folders)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1924-1944
(Boxes 1-2; 7 folders)

Printed material consists of clippings and exhibition catalogs primarily from the Society of Independent Artists.

1 (hol) Clippings, 1931-1939, undated
1 (hol) Exhibition Catalogs, 1924-1929
1 (hol) Exhibition Catalogs, 1931
2 (pam) Exhibition Catalogs, 1931
2 (pam) Exhibition Catalogs, 1936-1937
2 (pam) Exhibition Catalogs, 1938-1939
2 (pam) Exhibition Catalogs, 1940-1941
2 (pam) Exhibition Catalogs, 1944

Series 6: Photographs, 1913-1973
(Box 2; 5 folders)

Photographs are of Wiesenberg, his family and his artwork. There is also a photograph of a portrait of Wiesenberg by Gershon Benjamin.

2 (pam) Photographs of Louis Wiesenberg, 1913-1935, undated
2 (pam) Photographs of Wiesenberg and Family Members, 1920, undated
2 (pam) Photographs of Artwork by Wiesenberg, undated
2 (pam) Slides of Artwork by Wiesenberg, 1973
2 (pam) Photograph of Portrait by Gershon Benjamin, undated