Ruth Bowman papers, 1936-2006, bulk 1963-1999

Bowman, Ruth, b. 1923
Curator, Art historian
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 21.1 linear feet (partially microfilmed on 2 reels)

Collection Summary: Biographical materials consist of certificates, resumes, and a few photographs of Ruth Bowman. Correspondence concerns Bowman's professional activities and interests. Among the most frequent correspondents are: American Association of Museums, Craft and Folk Art Museum (Los Angeles), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art.

Documented are Ruth Bowman's affiliations with Grey Art Gallery, the Jewish Museum (NY), Museum of Modern Art, New York University, Newark Museum, as well as with various arts organizations; also files pertaining to Sunrise Semester, KUSC radio station in Los Angeles, California. Included are Bowman's interviews with artists and art professionals; among her interviewees are Benny Andrews, Dore Ashton, Will Barnet, J. Carter Brown, Rosa Esman, Peggy Guggenheim, Thomas Hoving, Robert Indiana, and Alex Katz. Bowman's masters thesis and related research on Thomas P. Anshutz; also research material on Cezanne, Thomas Eakins, and Picasso.

Writings by Ruth Bowman, published and unpublished, include a thesis and articles about Thomas Pollock Anshutz, catalogs for American Federation of Arts and The Newark Museum exhibitions, lectures, as well as articles about museum education and visual arts programs. Research relates to her writings about Anshutz, and to unrealized projects concerning Anshutz, C├ęzanne, Eakins, Picasso, and other subjects. Also found are two brief writings about Bowman.

Subject files - general subjects, artists' files, Ruth Bowman activities, and "Sunrise Semester" - contain the majority of Bowman's professional correspondence along with printed material, writings, photographs, and sound recordings. Among the most thoroughly documented general subjects are: The Brooklyn Museum's Trustees Retreat, Canadian Museums Association, a 1981 Craft Symposium, International Network for the Arts, Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "Museum Directors' Forum", New York University Art Collection, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Council for the Arts. Artists' files are comprised mainly of printed material with a small amount of correspondence and some photographs. The Les Levine file consists of the first issue of Art-Rite featuring a brief article about Levine on its cover; Thomas Wilfred's file includes information about Lumia. Ruth Bowman activities include lectures, radio and television appearances, and participation in professional events. "Sunrise Semester," a collaboration between CBS television and New York University, offered early morning courses for college credit. Ruth Bowman was the instructor for "20th Century American Art," which is documented by general information, scripts, and sound recordings of all 46 classes.

Interviews conducted by Bowman are with English museum administrators and educators; people knowledgeable about a controversial proposal for an Annenberg Fine Arts Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; guests on KUSC radio shows "Sounds of Seeing" and "Live from Trump's"; and guests on the WNYC radio program "Views on Art." Interviews with miscellaneous individuals include Josef Albers, Hans Burkhardt, Carl Holty, Isamu Noguchi, and Helen Farr Sloan. Bowman interviewed a dozen American abstract artists - Ilya Bolotowsky, Rosalind Bengelsdorf Browne, Burgoyne Diller, John Ferren, Carl Holty, Harry Holtzman, Ibram Lassae, Jacques Lipchitz, Alice Mason, George McNeil, George L. K. Morris, and Ad Reinhardt - for a thesis on the subject, but eventually wrote on a different topic. Two interviews with Bowman were conducted by Duncan MacDonald and an unidentified interviewer.

Biographical/Historical Note: Ruth Bowman (born 1923) is an art historian and museum educator who worked in New York City and Los Angeles.

Interviews relating to American Abstract Artists purchased 1966 by the Archives of American Art from Ruth G. Bowman. WNYC Views on Art radio program interviews donated 1989 by the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, at the request of Bowman, who had earlier deposited them at the Gallery. Additional papers donated 2004 by Ruth Bowman.

How to Use this Collection

  • Research material including correspondence, writings and notes, photographs, and printed material on Cezanne, Thomas Eakins, and Picasso: Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce must be obtained from: Ruth Bowman, 200 East 66th Street, Apt. B-2101, New York, NY 10021.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
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