Mark Baum papers, 1926-1997

A Finding Aid to the Mark Baum Papers, 1926-1997, in the Archives of American Art, by Barbara Aikens

Download PDF Version of this page [Download PDF Version]

Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Mark Baum was born in 1903 in Sanok, Poland. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1919 and settled in New York City. Baum studied at the National Academy of Design in 1924-1925 and at the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts with C. W. Hawthorne in the summer of 1926. He was also trained as a furrier and supported himself and his family as an expert cutter of fur coats.

Early success with his figurative painting gave Mark Baum a reason to hope for a lifelong career as an artist. He had a show of watercolors at the Whitney Studio Galleries in 1929 and work was purchased by Juliana force. Baum followed his success with an exhibit of oil paintings at the Marie Harriman Gallery in 1930. Baum paid a visit to Alfred Stieglitz at his American Place gallery and recorded in his notes that Stieglitz bought a painting for his own collection.

During the Depression, Baum worked for the Works Program Administration in the easel division. He married in 1933 and his sons William and Paul were born in 1936 and 1939. Baum's wife Celia was an elementary school teacher who went on to receive a Ph.D. in education and become a professor of education at Brooklyn College.

In 1941, Mark Baum exhibited his paintings at the Perls Gallery. Other exhibitions at the St. Etienne Gallery in 1947 and the Laurel Gallery in 1948 established mark Baum as painter of sturdy figures, and city architectural views and landscapes. Some time in the late 1940s, Baum stopped painting for a while and, when he resumed, broke completely with his previous style. He adopted a staircase motif for a series of abstract and geometric patterns and elements appearing in endless combinations of vast surfaces of painted space.

In the early 1960s, Mark Baum took up residence in costal Maine, where he converted a spacious barn in Cape Neddick into a studio. He lived there until his death in 1997. The work of Mark Baum is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Return to top

Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of Mark Baum date from 1926 through 1997 and measure 1.7 linear feet. Found within the collection are biographical and personal files; family and professional correspondence; exhibition announcements and catalogs; lecture notes and cassette tape recordings of lectures; writings, newspaper clippings, photographs and slides, loose sketches, sketchpads, sketchbooks, and stencils.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection has been organized on the folder level in a preliminary fashion and arranged into 7 loose series of similar materials. The collection has not been arranged at the item level.

Subjects and Names

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


  • Painters -- Maine -- Cape Neddick

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Slides
  • Sketchbooks
  • Sketches
  • Sound recordings


William Baum, son of Mark Baum, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in 2001.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed to a preliminary level in 2003 by volunteers.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Mark Baum 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

Mark Baum papers, 1926-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Return to top

Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical and Personal Files, 1926-circa 1997
(Box 1; 5 folders)

1 Certificate of Naturalization, 1926
1 Biographical Material, 1970-circa 1997
1 Autobiographical Writing, circa 1950s, 1980s
1 Automobile Accident, 1991-1992
1 Power of Attorney, 1995

Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1996
(Box 1; 13 folders)

1 Baum, Celia, 1947, 1963-1965, 1971
1 Baum, Paul (son), 1955-1965
1 Baum, William (son), 1957-1970
(5 folders)
1 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, 1983, 1985
1 Malcolm, Norman, 1957-1969, 1982-1990
1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984-1985
1 Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Inc., 1980-1981
1 Galleries and Museums, Various, 1960-1985
1 General, 1932, 1955-1996

Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1963-1986
(Box 1; 4 folders)

1 Writings About Art, 1963-1965, 1985
1 Audio-taped Lectures, undated
1 Lecture Notes, undated
1 Notes, Miscellaneous, 1981-1986

Series 4: Exhibitions, 1929-1996
(Box 1; 3 folders)

1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, Baum, 1929-1981
1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, Others, 1956, 1987-1996
1 Exhibition Correspondence and Notes, 1929-1987

Series 5: Newspaper Clippings, 1929-1963
(Box 1, OV 3; 2 folders)

1 Newspaper Clippings, 1929-1953, 1963
OV 3 LIFE Magazine, 24 January 1954

Series 6: Sketchbooks and Sketchpads, circa 1940s-circa 1990s
(Boxes 1-2; OV 3; 12 folders)

1 Loose Sketchbook Pages and Sketches, circa 1940s-circa 1990s
2 (hol) Notebooks and Sketchpads, circa 1940s-circa 1990s
OV 3 Oversized Sketchbook (tracing paper tablet), undated

Series 7: Photographs and Slides, circa 1920s-circa 1990s
(Box 2; 4 folders)

2 (hol) Personal Photographs, circa 1920s-1990s
2 (hol) Photographs of Artwork, circa 1950s-circa 1990s
2 (hol) Slides of Paintings, circa 1988
(2 folders)