Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers, circa 1910s-2007, bulk 1965-2000

Louis, Morris, b. 1912 d. 1962
Active in New York, N.Y.; Baltimore, Md.

Collection size: 17.8 linear feet

Collection Summary: The Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers measure 17.8 linear feet and date from circa 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1965-2000. The collection documents Morris Louis' career as a Color Field painter and founding participant in the Washington Color School, as well as the subsequent administration of his estate by his wife Marcella Brenner. Found within Morris Louis' papers are biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, scattered financial records, notes, writings, printed materials, and a canvas sample. The Morris Louis Estate papers include records of gallery exhibitions, mostly André Emmerich Gallery; artwork inventories; legal records concerning the lawsuit Bernstein v. Brenner; financial records of the sale of Louis' artwork; printed materials; writings about Louis; photographs of exhibition installations and artwork; and posthumous project files which include documentation of film projects by Robert Pierce Productions, a catalog raisonne, PBS documentaries, video recordings of the exhibition "Morris Louis Now", and numerous sound recordings of interviews with artists, many with transcripts, discussing Morris Louis and conducted by Anita Faatz.

Biographical/Historical Note: Morris Louis (1912-1962) was one of the earliest American Color Field painters, and, along with other Washington, D.C. painters, formed the movement known as the Washington Color School. Born Morris Louis Bernstein in Baltimore, Maryland. 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 Brenner.

The Morris Louis and Morris Louis Estate papers were donated by Marcella Brenner in several installments in 1976, 1986, and 1988. Subsequent donations in 2009 and 2012 were donated by Marcella Brenner via Ann M. Garfinkle, Executor. The Anita Faatz interviews were donated in 1976 by Marcella Brenner.

Partial funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Marcella Brenner Revocable Trust.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this collection
  • Portions of the papers were microfilmed on reels 4988-4994. While the microfilm is available for interlibrary loan, researchers are advised that the microfilm is incomplete and does not reflect the order of the papers as described in this finding aid.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Many of the audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with 26 artists conducted by Anita Faatz in 1970-1971 are access restricted and written permission is required from the person interviewed. Please contact reference services for more information. Any use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
    Audio of interviews with Corn
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Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Also found at the Archives of American Art are the Marcella Brenner journals, 1962-2000. The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) also holds papers of Morris Louis and the Morris Louis Estate in their Morris Louis Study Collection.