Mitchell Siporin papers, 1913-1990

Siporin, Mitchell, b. 1910 d. 1976
Painter, Educator, Photographer, Printmaker, Illustrator
Active in New York, N.Y.; Africa

Collection size: 5.3 linear feet

Collection Summary: Biographical information, correspondence, photographs, writings, research and subject files, works of art, motion picture film, interview transcripts, financial material, printed material and miscellany relating to Mitchell Siporin.

Personal photographs of Siporin, stage sets and art work by him.

Circa 1000 letters relating to his painting, his teaching, his service as a war artist during World War II and the Federal Art Project, including letters from Sheldon Cheney, Edith Halpert, Edward Rowan, Holger Cahill, Edward Millman, Max Abramowitz, Lee Nordness, and others; biographical material; notes and lectures; art history research files; sketches; price lists for his art works; expense accounts and tax records; blueprints and architectural plans; photographs, including WWII photographs and photographs of his art work; reproductions of his art work; exhibition catalogs; and clippings.

Letters from Siporin to his brother and sister-in-law, Seymour and Mary Sipporin, as well as letters to Siporin from Jack Levine and Carl Holty. Writings, including scripts for lectures, journal articles, an unfinished novel by Siporin, a journal describing his experience in North Africa during WWII as a war photographer and painter, notes taken during sabbaticals, and a eulogy written by Siporin for Henry Varnum Poor. Photographs of Siporin with friends and family, including Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Peter Pollack, Edward Millman, and Philip Guston and a portrait of Siporin by Arnold Newman, as well as Siporin's artwork. Subject files, including the Woodstock Art Conference, American Artists' Congress, the American Federation of Arts, WWII, the Army at War exhibit, Siporin's involvement in the WPA, as well material on Siporin's Haymarket drawings used for a 1934 issue of Left Front magazine. Works of art including two studies for St. Louis, Missouri, Post Office murals, and a sketch of Siporin by S.P. Kaufman.

A VHS video and DVD copy, transferred from 16mm motion picture film, showing Siporin at work on his St. Louis frescoes (b&w, 3 min., no sound). Interview transcripts of an interview with Siporin conducted by Geofrrey Swift as well as an interview with Siporin conducted by Melvyn Bragg for the BBC. Financial records, including sales contracts. Printed material, including exhibition catalogs and programs, and newspaper clippings as well as an exhibition poster from Babcock Galleries. Also included is a small amount of material relating to Jennie Siporin, Mitchell Siporin's mother.

Biographical/Historical Note: Mitchell Siporin (1910-1976) was a painter and photographer from Newton, Massachusetts.

The collection has been donated in several installments beginning in 1978 when Siporin's widow Miriam lent materials for microfilming (reels 1328 and 1332). She also donated materials at that time and again in 1992, at which time it was also microfilmed (reels 2011-12 and 2061). In 2003, Judith Siporin, Siporin's daughter, donated the materials previously lent on reel 1332 and 16mm motion picture film. In 2005 Mary Siporin, Mitchell Siporin's sister-in law donated papers, and in 2008 Judith donated another installment.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 1328, 1332, 2011-2012, and 2061 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
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