Louis, Morris, b. 1912 d. 1962
Active in New York, N.Y.; Baltimore, Md.
10.2 linear feet
ADDITION 6.1 linear feet
Collection Summary: Biographical material, correspondence, photographs, receipts, banking and tax records, notes, writings, printed material, and a sample of canvas reflect the career of Morris Louis. The remaining half, documenting the administration of his estate, includes general correspondence, notes, writings, clippings, photographs, interviews, and business records.
In the personal papers, biographical accounts, 1964-1966, outline the life histories of Morris and Marcella Louis. General correspondence, 1941-1962, is primarily from colleagues, including Helen Frankenthaler and Clement Greenberg. There is a postcard from David Smith, 1962, and a letter from the André Emmerich Gallery enclosing pages from a guest book signed by Leonard Bocour, Donald Judd, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitsky, David Smith, and Frank Stella, among others. Business records consist of receipts, 1951-1963, for household expenses, studio rent, travel, shipment of art work, and Louis' art supplies, banking records, 1945-1964, such as deposit slips, bank statements, and cancelled checks, and tax records, 1951-1962.
Seven notebooks, 1956-1962, record the payments, attendence, and addresses of Washington Workshop Center for the Arts students, studio rent, travel expenses, and brief annotations on Louis' art work. Notes also include lists of art work, 1960-1962, and a recipe card written by Louis. Writings consist of typescripts "Morris Louis" by Dan Robbins, and a dialogue with Dr. Ira Lewis. Printed material consists of clippings, 1950-1962, exhibition announcements and catalogs, 1937-1962, and brochures, 1950-1960, including one for the Washington Workshop Center for the Arts. There are also 5 photographs of the Rome-New York Art Foundation exhibition, 1960, two photographs of Morris Louis, and a sample of canvas labelled "No. 26 Dawn".
Related to the estate are letters, 1962-1986, from Leonard Bocour, Helen Frankenthaler, Clement Greenberg, a family friend who relates an account of Louis' death, and others. In addition, correspondence is included in files on art historian Diane Upright (Headley) and attorney I.S. Weissbrodt, along with business records, notes, and printed material, and several letters from Louis and one from Frankenthaler in a file on the Bernstein family.
The bulk of the estate records consist of files on 30 galleries and museums, among them the Andre Emmerich Gallery, Baltimore Museum of Art, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Israel Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in Shiga, Japan, containing mostly correspondence, business records, printed material, notes, and a few photographs documenting exhibitions of works of art.
Interviews are transcripts, many with corresponding audio on cassette, about Louis, 1966-1979, conducted by Anita Faatz with artists, students and friends of Louis. Incuded are additional notes by Faatz and transcribed commentary by some interviewees.
Remaining estate records include files on the Morris Louis Film Project, 1979-1985, and the National Symposium of Art Museum Docents, 1983; miscellaneous notes, essays "As I Remember Morris Louis", by an unidentified author, and "Morris Louis: A Painter 'Recollected in Tranquility'" by Doris Margaret Thornton, 1972, clippings, 1966-1988, and an undated photograph of Louis. Other photographs are of the Brenners, Diane Upright Headley, James Lebron looking at Louis' work, 1980, and one of Roy Lichtenstein's variation on a Louis "Unfurled", 1973.
ADDITION: The bulk of the addition consists of printed material including newspaper clippings, magazine articles, catalogs, and miscellaneous press material compiled from exhibitions and projects organized after the death of Louis. Correspondence concerns Louis's estate and is with Marcella Louis Brenner and the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the Morris Louis estate lawyer I.S. Weissbrodt, and various museums that organized Louis exhibitions after his death. Photographs are of Louis' exhibitions. Other files include transcripts of interviews with Anita Faatz, Jeff Doring, WETA, and Pierce Prods. Also included is video footage (0.4 linear ft.) on Betamax and U-matic tapes produced and directed by Mark Muheim, Muheim Motion Pictures, for Marcella Brenner of the exhibition Morris Louis Now: An American Master Revisited, at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2007. The final product, a comprehensive video using the footage from this project, was never created.
Biographical/Historical Note: Morris Louis (1912-1962) was a painter in Washington, D.C. Born Morris Louis Bernstein in Baltimore, Md. He participated in the WPA Easel Painting Project, and adopted the name Morris Louis.
Marcella Louis became administrator of his estate of paintings, as a result of an agreement with his family, the Bernsteins. In 1964 she married scientist Abner Brener.
Donated in 1976, 1986 and 1988 by Marcella Brenner, Louis' widow and again in 2009 and 2012 by Brenner via Ann M. Garfinkle, Executor. Twenty-five exhibition catalogs included in the Louis Estate papers were transferred to the NMAA/NPG library in 1988. Microfilmed in 1994 with funding provided by grants from Jack Amsterdam, the Bezalel Foundation, Inc. (Henry Sonneborn III), Ms. Miriam Klein, Philip L. Milstein, Norman M. Morris, and Solomon Star, Esq.
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