Thomas Hess papers, 1941-1978

Hess, Thomas
Arts administrator, Author, Editor
Active in New York, N.Y.

Collection size: 8.1 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 14 reels)

Collection Summary: Materials related mainly to Hess' tenure as editor of ART NEWS, 1946-1972, including personal and professional correspondence, interviews, business records, sketches, drawings, photographs and miscellaneous printed material.

REELS 3685-3697: A resume, 1973; investment revisory reviews, 1971-1973; notes, including "Yale" notes containing ca. 40 drawings; writings, including drafts of articles for ART NEWS and NEW YORK magazines, 1961-1978 and undated; material relating to his books, WILLEM DE KOONING and BARNETT NEWMAN; press releases and clippings; art work by Hess and others; correspondence, with letters, some illustrated, from Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Meyer Schapiro, David Smith and others; and ca. 775 subject files, mostly on artists. The majority of the files contain photographs of art, a few contain photographs of the artist, exhibition catalogs, clippings or other miscellaneous printed material.

REEL 5028: A file on Barnett Newman containing 7 letters from Newman ("Barney") to Hess and others, and to Hess concerning Newman, 1966-1972. Includedare two regarding unfavorable reviews by critics, John Canaday and Max Kozloff, and a letter from Cleve Gray discussing lithographs executed in 1959. Also, transcripts of video interviews in which Newman discusses his use of color, scale, and "the void" in his work, 1964 and 1966; and 2 lists of Newman's sculpture and paintings. [All items except one letter are photocopies.]

UNMICROFILMED: Two untranscribed reel-to-reel tapes from the De Kooning file of a conversation between Harold Rosenberg, Hess, and De Kooning, taped by Betty Wolff, March [2, 1964]; New York City Department of Parks blueprints for Riverside Park on the Hudson River and one, with photograph, for an ampitheatre and playground; miscellaneous photographs of artists and works of art, including those of Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock and Miles Forst; 11 photographs of the Kansas City Museum of Art and School of Art; and a poster of a De Kooning painting.

Biographical/Historical Note: Editor, art critic; New York, N.Y. Born 1920, died 1978. Editor of ART NEWS, 1946-1972. Author of several books on American art, including ABSTRACT PAINTING: BACKGROUND AND AMERICAN PHASE, 1951, WILLEM DE KOONING, 1959, 1967, 1968, BARNETT NEWMAN, 1969, 1974, and AD REINHARDT CARTOONS, 1972. Appointed Consultive Chairman of the Department of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978. Worked at the Museum of Modern Art on "Magic Realist" exhibition. Founded LOCATION, 1963-1964, a magazine.

Donated 1985-1987 by Hess' children, except for Barnett Newman file (reel 5028) which was donated by Newman's widow, who presumably had borrowed it from Hess. The photocopies on reel 5028 were discarded after microfilming.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 3685-3697, and 5028 (fr. 553-602) available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
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