Richard McDermott Miller papers, 1962-2001

A Finding Aid to the Richard McDermott Miller Papers, 1962-2001, in the Archives of American Art, by Tal Nadan

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Richard McDermott Miller (1922-2004) was a sculptor and educator in New York, NY. Miller was born Richard Alan Miller in 1922. After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the 1940s, Miller returned to his home town of New Philadelphia, Ohio, to work in the family plaque business.

At the age of 40, he and his wife, Gloria Bley Miller, moved to New York City. This transition is the focus of Miller's posthumously published autobiography, Heading for New York: A Sculptor's Journey. Upon arriving in New York, Miller began using McDermott (his mother's maiden name) as his middle name.

Countering prevailing tastes, Miller abandoned the popular abstract style to explore the human form. In addition to executing portraits and medals, his primary focus was the nude female figure. He worked with live models, creating sculpture in clay or wax, often casting in bronze. Because of his dedication to naturalistic work, Miller became known as the "Figure Sculptor of SoHo." Miller completed several large-scale commissions for public spaces across the country. He taught sculpture at Queens College, and, with his wife, wrote the textbook Figure Sculpture in Wax and Plaster.

In New York, Miller was a prominent presence among the city's sculpture organizations, writing many letters to newspapers demanding proper recognition for sculptors. He was active in the Sculptors' Guild, and active member and president (1989-1992) of the National Academy of Design, and president (1997-2000) of the National Sculpture Society. Upon his death in 2004, he bequeathed his SoHo building to the National Sculpture Society.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of sculptor Richard McDermott Miller measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1962 to 2001. The papers document his work as an artist and teacher in New York City through biographical material, financial and business records, writings, subject files, and correspondence. His personal records about the National Academy of Design, of which he was an active member and president, are included.

Biographical material consists of a resume and exhibition history, as well as notes and correspondence not involving Miller's vocation. Financial and Business records contain account books of income and expenses, records of his bronzes and a register of his work. Writings include speeches Miller prepared as he practiced for his teaching career. Also found are miscellaneous texts and drafts of unknown purpose, and musings on art. Artwork consists of one ink drawing.

Subject files reflect Miller's activities in New York City. Of particular interest is his pursuit of gallery representation, which led him to friendship and affiliation with Louis Pollack and the Peridot Gallery. There are also files relating to the Sculptors' Guild and the National Sculpture Society. Correspondence is mainly with other artists, patrons and collectors.

A significant portion of Richard McDermott Miller's papers relates to the National Academy of Design. Included are financial and legal records, correspondence, and minutes stemming from his involvement with the Academy. This series is especially rich for the period of his presidency, 1989-1992.

The small number of photographs found in this collection are mainly promotional in nature, and some are annotated.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 9 series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Peridot Gallery (New York, N.Y.)
  • National Sculpture Society (U.S.)
  • Sculptors Guild (New York, N.Y.)

Subjects-Topical:

  • Sculptors--New York (State)--New York
  • Art--Study and teaching

Names:

  • Pollack, Louis
  • National Academy of Design (U.S.)

Provenance

The papers were donated by Richard McDermott Miller to the Archives of American Art in 2001.

Separated and Related Materials

The holdings of the Archives of American Art include additional photographs of Miller among the Louise Finklestein papers, circa 1944-2000, and sound tapes and partial transcripts of the Alliance of Figurative Artists lectures and panel discussions, 1969-1970, in which Miller participated.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by intern Tal Nadan in 2008.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

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

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Richard McDermott Miller 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

Richard McDermott Miller papers, 1962-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1969-1997
(Box 1; 2 folders)

This series includes Miller's resume and exhibition history, as well as a small number of personal notes and correspondence, such as a record of jury duty, a description of a dream, and a real estate advertisement placed in The Village Voice.

Box Folder
1 1 Resume and Exhibition History, 1974-1997
1 2 Miscellaneous Notes and Correspondence, 1969-1980,undated

Series 2: Financial and Business Records, 1962-circa 2000
(Box 1: 0.4 linear ft.)

Financial records consist of account books (7 volumes and one loose page) which record sales and expenses in the early years of his career. Some of the ledgers contain specific references and contact information for his models.

Miller's three-volume register of his work in bronze describes 400 pieces and includes standard catalog information, casting history, and some sketches. A two-volume sculpture register (with reproductions of thumbnail size photographs) is a seemingly comprehensive list of all of his work through 2000.

Box Folder
1 3 Account Books (vols. 1-2), 1962-1963
1 4 Account Books (vols. 3-4), 1964-1965
1 5 Account Books (vols. 5-7; loose page), 1966-1968, 1973
1 6 Bronze Sculpture Registers (vols. 1-2), 1963-1979
  • "Bronzes, Book One, #1 thru 75, Feb. 63-Mar. 66"
  • "Bronzes, Book Two, #76 to 205 [1967-1979]"
1 7 Bronze Sculpture Registers (vol. 3), 1980-1999
  • "Bronzes, Book Three, #206-400 [1980-1999])"
1 8 Sculpture Register (2 vols.), circa 2000
  • "Richard McDermott Miller-Early Sculpture (Before 1962)"
  • "Richard McDermott Miller-Bronze Sculptures Numbered 1-411"

Series 3: Writings, 1968-1969
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Writings of particular note are the speeches Miller prepared as he practiced for his teaching career. Miscellanous writings include texts (some with many drafts) of unknown purpose. Some seems to be press releases or textbook pages, but others record thoughts and musings on art.

Box Folder
1 9 Speeches (New School course), 1968
1 10 Miscellaneous Writings, 1969, undated

Series 4: Artwork, 1985
(Box 1; 1 folder)

This series consists of an unsigned ink drawing executed in April 1985 and annotated with the name "Eliza Decker."

Box Folder
1 11 Drawing, 1985

Series 5: Subject Files, 1962-2001
(Boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear ft.)

This series reflects the artist's own organization of his professional records. Many focus on a single exhibition or project, and others reflect a continued relationship with galleries and consultants. Subject files may contain correspondence, notes, printed material, invoices, records of consignment, and photographs. These files mostly record Miller's professional activities and relationships with art institutions rather than interaction with individuals.

Box Folder
1 12 615 Company, 1979
1 13 Alwin Gallery, 1967-1972
1 14 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1964-1996
1 15 Art Consultants - General, 1982-1996
1 16 Avnet Shaw, 1965-1973
1 17 B. C. Holland Gallery, 1965-1967
1 18 Bishop John Neumann Project, 1978-1979
1 19 Canton Art Institute, 1971-1973, undated
1 20 Canton Art Institute/ Canton Museum of Art, 1980-1986
1 21 Canton Art Institute/Canton Museum of Art, 1999-1997
see also: Kent State University)
1 22 Cavalier Galleries, 1988-1995
1 23 Chess Set Project, 1967-1989
1 24 Cleveland Institute of Art, 1966-1991
1 25 Columbia Union National Bank, 1976-1986
1 26 Committee to Protect Public Monuments from Sandblasting, 1966-1997
1 27 Dover Publications, 1983-1987
1 28 Duke University, 1967-1975
1 29 Feingarten Galleries, 1966-1967
1 30 FFS [Friends of Figurative Sculpture] Gallery, 1994-1995
1 Figure Sculpture in Wax and Plaster (see: Dover Publications; Watson-Guptill Publications)
1 31 Foothills Art Center, 1979-1991
1 Galleries
1 32 General, 1962-1984
1 33 Show Lists, 1962-1986
1 34 Golden Swimmer Project, 1988-1989
1 35 Hakone Open-Air Museum, 1985-1996
1 36 Hartford Festival of Lively Arts, 1965-1978
1 37 Imprimatur Gallery, 1983-1987
1 38 J. J. Brookings Gallery, 1986-2000
1 39 Joe DeMers Gallery, 1973-1980
1 40 Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture, 1977-1986
1 41 Kent State University, 1974-1983
(see also: Canton Art Institute/Canton Museum of Art)
1 42 Loveland Academy of Fine Arts, 1996-1997
1 43 Marcella Halpert Galleries, 1972-1978
1 44 Medallic Art Company, 1965-1967, undated
1 45 Middendorf/Lane Gallery, 1981-1988
1 46 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1965, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Models, 1963-2000
2 2 Modern Art Consultants, 1982-2000
2 3 Modern Art Foundry, Inc., 1964-2000
2 4 Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, 1978-1981
2 5-6 National Sculpture Society, 1977-2001
(2 folders)
2 7 National Service Industries, Inc., 1989-1993
2 8 Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 1989-1998
2 9 Parties, 1973-1986
2 10 Pearlstein, Philip (with transcript of dialogue), 1977-1986, undated
2 Peridot Gallery (later Peridot/Washburn; Washburn Gallery)
2 11 General, 1962-1980, undated
2 12 Letters, 1964-1976
2 13 Show Lists, 1965-1979
2 14 Statements, 1964-1978
2 15 Queens Museum, 1977-1983
2 16 Redevelopment Authority of the City of Reading, 1982-1985
2 17 Reviews, 1964-1988
2 18 Schulman Investment Co., 1979-1987
2 19 Scottsdale Artists' School, Inc., 1965-1971
2 Sculptors' Guild
2 20-21 By-Laws, 1994-1995
(2 folders)
2 22 General, 1974-1994
2 23 Speakers Program, 1994
2 24 Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1965-1971
2 25 Suburban Bronze Works, 1968-1971
2 26 "The Figure Sculptor of So Ho" Video, circa 1987
(1 VHS videocassette)
2 27 University of Houston, 1971-1985
2 28 Voices in Bronze Project, 1995-2000
2 29 Watson-Guptill Publications, 1966-1973
2 30 Weatherproofing, 1963-1973

Series 6: Correspondence, 1963-2001
(Boxes 2-3; 0.8 linear ft.)

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically, and chronologically within each folder. Files labeled "General" are reserved for correspondents with whom there is a very small amount of correspondence. Correspondence is characterized by a more familiar tone between Miller and his friends, patrons, and collectors. Some letters include photographs or clippings which are references in the text. "F-General" contains an illustrated letter from Larry Fadden.

Additional correspondence is found among the subject files (Series 5). Biographical material (Series 1) also contains a small number of letters.

Box Folder
2 31 A-General, 1974-1980
2 32 B-General, 1963-1992
2 33 C-General, 1967-2000
2 34 Columbia University, 1971-1972
2 35 D-General, 1967-1992
2 36 E-General, 1969-2001
2 37 Elliot, Robert K. and Ida Lee, 1986-1999
2 38 F-General, 1966-2001
2 39 G General, 1969-2001
2 40 H-General, 1967-2000
2 41 Hale, Nathan Cabot, 2000
2 42-43 Heckscher, William S., 1964-1973
(2 folders)
Box Folder
3 1 Holden, Donald, 1985-1999
3 2 J-General, 1965-1983
3 3 Jones, Ron, 1992-1998
3 4 K-General, 1966-2000
3 5 L-General, 1964-1997
3 6 Leeber, Sharon Corgan, 1981-2000
3 7 Levine, Elizabeth, 1984-1995
3 8 M-General, 1964-2000
3 9 N-General, 1973-1981
3 10 O-General, 1974-1998
3 11 P-General, 1967-2000
3 12 Q-General, 1969-2000
3 13 R-General, 1967-2000
3 14 S-General, 1969-1997
3 15 Stroud Family, 1965-1983
3 16 T-General, 1967-1991, undated
3 17 U-General, 1965-1993
3 18 V-General, 1967-1980
3 19 W-General, 1968-2000
3 20 Y-General, 1967-1978
3 21 Z-General, 1968-1971

Series 7: National Academy of Design Files, 1972-2001
(Boxes 3-4; 1.0 linear ft.)

Elected to the Academy in 1977, Miller served on several committees and at various times acted as treasurer. He became president in 1989 and served until 1992. The bulk of this series relates to Miller's activities as president and the general business of the institution during that period, which was marked by a change in directorship.

Records in this series are the remnants of Miller's engagement with the institution and are by no means comprehensive. General records - minutes, writings and correspondence - reflect his participating in Academy activities. Also included are clippings concerning the National Academy of Design and about topics of interest for personal research on issues regarding the artistic climate of the times.

Box Folder
3 22 Cain, Walter O., 1990-1992
3 Correspondence
3 23 Legal, 1989-1991
3 24 Presidential, 1989-1992
3 25 Dobkin, John H., 1985-1990
3 26 Donation Records, 1988, undated
3 27 Exhibitions, 1989-1991
3 28 Finance Committee, 1989-1992
3 29-30 Financial Records, 1988-1991, undated
(2 folders)
3 31 Fundraising, 1988-1994
3 32-33 Gallagher, Edward P., 1990-1992
(2 folders)
3 34 General Records, 1972-1985
3 35 General Records, 1989-1990
3 36-37 General Records, 1991
(2 folders)
3 37 General Records, 1992-1993
3 38 General Records, 1995-2001, undated
3 39 Hutchins, Robert S., 1989-1991
3 40 Investments, 1987-1991
3 41 Membership Information, 1989-1990
3 42 Middleman, Raoul, 1999-2001
3 43 Mission Statement Committee, 1995-1996
3 44 Morse, Samuel F. B., 1990-1992
Box Folder
4 1-2 Museum Board, 1998-1992
(2 folders)
4 3 New York Academy of Art, 1983-1992
4 4 Portrait Program, 1989-1991
4 Printed Material
4 5 Clippings, 1989-1991
4 6 Mailings, 1989-1991
4 7 Publications, 1989
4 8 Search Committee, 1989-1990
4 9 Staff, 1989-1992
4 10 Teaching Philosophy, 1989-1992
4 11 Treasurer's Records, 1980-1987
4 12 West Coast Membership, 1990-1992

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1981
(Box 4; 1 folder)

This series consists of photographs of sculptures that appear to have been used in promotional reproductions. Some are annotated.

Box Folder
4 13 Promotional Photographs of Sculptures, circa 1981, undated