Stanley Twardowicz papers, 1942-2009, bulk, 1942-1981

A Finding Aid to the Stanley Twardowicz Papers, 1942-2009, bulk 1942-1981, in the Archives of American Art, by Harriet E. Shapiro

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Stanley Twardowicz (1917-2008) was a painter, photographer and teacher. He is associated with the 1950's Abstract Expressionists of the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village, New York and with Beat Generation poet Jack Kerouac.

Twardowicz was born Stanley Jon Leginsky in July 1917, but took his godfather's surname at age 20 when he married. After working at various jobs, in 1940 Twardowicz enrolled in Detroit's Meinzinger's Art School.

In 1946 Twardowicz was awarded a scholarship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, his first exposure to a creative arts community. There he met Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jack Levine and Philip Guston. Through his associations at Skowhegan, Twardowicz obtained a teaching position at Ohio State University. He taught there until 1951, becoming friends with fellow instructor, Roy Lichtenstein. Twardowicz married (Ruth) Ann Mandel in 1949 and they lived in an artists' community near Guadalajara, Mexico. Twardowicz then travelled in Europe, his work edging towards an expressionist technique and mood. By 1953 Twardowicz painted in a fully abstract manner.

Upon his return to the States, Twardowicz frequented the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village, New York, where he met and was deeply influenced by Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock. During this time he had one-man shows and participated in group shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was represented in the Museum of Modern Art's travelling exhibition "Young American Painters."

In 1956 Twardowicz received a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative painting and moved to Northport, Long Island, where he befriended area artists Jules Olitski and George Grosz. Between 1958 and 1970 the Peridot Gallery in New York presented annual one-man shows of Twardowicz's work.

Twardowicz began his long teaching career at Hofstra University in 1964, where he met his third wife, Lillian Dodson, a fellow artist. Twardowicz's career as a photographer also prospered. Edward Streichen, then Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, selected six of Twardowicz's photographs for the Museum's permanent collection. In June 1967, Tardowicz took photographs of Jack Kerouac in his Lowell, Massachusetts home, which became the subject of an art book portfolio called Stashou and Yasho.

During the 1990's there was renewed interest in Twardowicz's work with a show at Mitchell Algus' Gallery in Soho, New York City. In 2001, the Phoenix Art Museum celebrated Twardowicz's contributions as a Color Field painter with a retrospective exhibition "Moving Color."

Twardowicz died on June 12, 2008 in Northport, Long Island.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter and photographer Stanley Twardowicz measure 1.1 linear feet and date from 1942-2009, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1942-1981. The papers contain biographical material, scrapbooks, letters, writings, printed material, photographs, sound and video recordings documenting the career of Stanley Twardowicz as a painter and photographer.

Biographical material consists of various curriculum vitae, a list of exhibitions and awards from 1942-1954, and typed excerpts from reviews of Twardowicz's one-man shows at Contemporary Arts Gallery during 1951.

Writings include an unpublished hand-written 70 page memoir by Twardowicz entitled "A Life with No Tears" covering the artist's early life through 1970; a master's thesis, "Stanley Twardowicz, Tracing the Roots of an American Modernist" by Kim Greer Verzyl written in 1978; and a 2008 writing by Gerald Nicoisa which describes his relationship with Twardowicz.

Two scrapbooks, organized chronologically, consist mainly of printed material - the artist's collection of exhibition announcements, catalogs, and press clippings. Also found letters advising of awards and fellowships and Ohio State Fair ribbons for excellence in fine art.

Chronological files containing printed materials relating to exhibitions, letters, and sound and visual materials as ket by Twardowicz. Of particular interest is the 1956 letter advising Twardowicz that he has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in creative painting.

Photographs include pictures of Twardowicz, family and friends. Photographs by Twardowicz are of his wife Lillian Dodson, Mike Kanemitsu, Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein, Jules Olitski, Ray Parker, Betty Parsons, and David Smith. There also is a photograph by Dorothy Lichtenstein of Lillian Dodson, Roy Lichtenstein, Ray Parker, and Twardowicz.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 5 series:

Subjects and Names

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


  • Dodson, Lillian
  • Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923- --Photographs
  • Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969
  • Olitski, Jules, 1922-2007
  • Parker, Raymond, 1922- --Photographs
  • Parsons, Betty--Photographs
  • Smith, David, 1906-1965--Photographs
  • Contemporary Arts (Gallery)
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
  • Ohio State Fair


  • Painters--New York (State)
  • Photographers--New York (State)

Types of Materials:

  • Awards
  • Drawings
  • Memoirs
  • Photographs
  • Resumes
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings
  • Theses
  • Video recordings


  • Lichtenstein, Dorothy
  • Nicosi, Gerald
  • Verzyl, Kim Greer
  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art


The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2010 by Lillian Dodson, widow of Stanley Twardowicz.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Harriet E. Shapiro in 2011.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Stanley Twardowicz papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The donor, Lillian Dodson, has retained copyright to materials created by Twardowicz. Archives of American Art has been given a non-exclusive license to reproduce and display. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Stanley Twardowicz papers, 1942-2009, bulk 1942-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1951-2007
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Biographical material consists of curriculum vitae, lists of exhibitions and awards.

Letters relating to awards and fellowships received by Twardowicz, in addition to various other biographical materials, are contained in his scrapbooks (series 3) and chronological files (series 4).

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Material, 1951-2007

Series 2: Writings, 1951-2008
(Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)

Writings by Twardowicz include an unpublished, hand-written 70 page autobiographical memoir, "A Life with No Tears." A master's thesis, "Stanley Tardowicz, Tracing the Roots of an American Modernist," by Kim Greer Verzyl, 1978, is supplemented by an edited version of Verzyl's interview with Twardowicz conducted on October 30, 1976.

Box Folder
1 2 By Twardowicz, 1951-2008
1 3 About Twardowicz, 1978-2008

Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1942-1951
(Box 1; 0.25 linear feet)

Scrapbooks (two volumes) mainly consist of exhibition announcements, catalogs, brochures and lists, newspaper and magazine clippings, and letters advising of awards and fellowships. Also found are three ribbons from the Ohio State Fairs of 1949 and 1951.

Both volumes, removed from three-ring binders, retain their original collation.

Box Folder
1 4-5 Volume 1, 1944-1948
(1 volume, disbound; 2 folders)
1 6-7 Volume 2, 1949-1951
(1 volume, disbound; 2 folders)

Series 4: Chronological Files, 1946-1981
(Box 1, OV 2; 0.6 linear feet)

Chronological files, established by the artist, contain exhibition announcements and catalogs, press clippings. Also found are letters from associates and institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art; of note is the letter of April 1956 advising Twardowicz he has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memoial Foundation fellowship in creative painting. Exhibition catalogs are from galleries in Rome, Italy and San Paulo, Brazil, as well as local galleries and institutions. There are no files for the years 1971 and 1977.

There is a sound recording of an interview with Twardowicz conducted by Rob Carter for WHPC radio in New York on the occasion of Twardowicz's exhibition at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, Long Island. Also found is a VHS videocassette, documenting "Stan's Painting Show," September 1995, at Lanning Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.

Box Folder
1 8-29 Chronological files, 1946-1970
(22 folders)
1 30-34 Chronological files, 1972-1976
(5 folders)
1 35-38 Chronological files, 1978-2009
(4 folders)
OV 2 Chronological files 1960-1970
(oversized items from box 1, folder 20-21; box 1, folder 23; box 1, folder 29)

Series 5: Photographs, circa 1960-1979
(Box 1; 3 folders)

Most photographs are unidentified and undated. Included are pictures of Twardowicz, friends, and family; the earliest is presumed to be Twardowicz and his younger brother as children. Photographs by Twardowicz are of artists; also found is a group photograph by Dorothy Lichtenstein.

Identified indivuals are: Lillian Dodson, Jack Kerouac, Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein, Kenso Olcata, Jules Olitski, Ray and Lil Parker, Petty Parsons, Bill Shotwell, David Smith, Stanley Twardowitz, Stan and Ann.

Box Folder
1 39 Stanley Twardowicz, photographer, circa 1960-1979
1 40 Dorothy Lichtenstein, photographer, undated
1 41 Miscellaneous, undated