Terrain Gallery records, circa 1950s-2005, bulk 1955-1985

Terrain Gallery

Collection size: 5.3 linear feet

Collection Summary: The records of the Terrain Gallery measure 5.0 linear feet and date from circa 1950s-2005, bulk 1955-1985. The collection mainly consists of exhibition files documenting over one hundred and fifty exhibitions and the gallery's relationship with its artists. Gallery records include founding documents, correspondence, writings and an interview, financial records, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Founding documents include statements of purpose, notes outlining plans for establishing a gallery, letters, and lists of expenses. There are several versions of the gallery's manifesto "For the Union of Aesthetics and Ethics," drafted by founding members, including Martha Baird, Louis and Regina Dienes, Nat Herz, Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman, Sheldon Kranz, Barbara Lekberg, Nancy Starrels, and others.

Correspondence mostly consists of Dorothy Koppelman's letters with artists, museums, and arts organizations concerning the scheduling of exhibitions and the gallery's loans of artwork to cultural institutions. Also there are a number of the letters with art critics, e.g., Dore Ashton, Thomas Hess, Hilton Kramer reflecting Dorothy Koppelman's efforts to obtain press coverage for the Terrain Gallery. Frequent correspondents include Sigmund Abeles, American Federation of Arts, Philip Bragar, Lawrence Campbell, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Peter Milton, Lee Nordness, Andrew Rush, and Lyn Ward. Also found are scattered letters from Chaim Koppelman, Eli Siegel, and Theodoros Stamos.

Exhibition files document the dealings of Dorothy Koppelman and the gallery's co-director Carrie Wilson with artists, museums, and the press, with the bulk of the material dating from 1955-1985. Materials consist of biographical information, sales of artwork, printed material, photographs of exhibition installations and artwork.

Writings and an interview contain annotated typescripts and handwritten drafts on Aesthetic Realism by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman and others. Included is a transcript of David Bourdon's interview with Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman. The Koppelmans' discuss the purpose of Eli Siegel's Aesthetic Realism, the impact of Siegel's philosophy on their work, and the response of critics, often negative, to Aesthetic Realism's place in art history.

Financial records consist of ledgers, financial reports, sales and loans, consignment receipts, and scattered legal materials with the majority of the records dating from 1955-1983. Four scrapbooks contain a variety of exhibition materials: letters, statements about the gallery, lists, announcements, and printed material. One scrapbook chronicles the gallery's early exhibitions from 1955 through 1960. The other three scrapbooks document three exhibitions held at the Terrain Gallery.

Photographs are of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman, Harold Jacobs, Gerson Leiber, Vincent Longo, Ad Reinhardt, and others. There are several photographs of artwork by Michael Ponce de Leon and Edith Schloss.

Biographical/Historical Note: Terrain Gallery is an art gallery in New York, N.Y., established in 1955 by Dorothy Koppelman. Opened under the direction of Dorothy Koppelman and informed by the guiding philosophy of Eli Siegel's Aesthetic Realism. The gallery's first home was at 20 West 16th Street in New York City then moved to 39 Grove Street, New York, N.Y from 1963- 1973; in 1974, the Terrain Gallery moved to its present address at 141 Greene Street.

Donated 2006 by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelmann.

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Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American art is the Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman papers, circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005.