Scope and Contents
The papers of art historian, curator and painter, Abram Lerner measure 2.3 linear feet and date from circa 1930 to 2006. The collection is comprised primarily of documents related to Lerner's tenure at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including the years leading up to the museum's opening in 1974. Also included are professional files and correspondence following Abram Lerner's departure from the museum in 1984, as well as exhibition files, photographic materials and watercolor and sketchbooks reflecting his career as an artist.
Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and includes correspondents James T. Demetrion and Joseph and Olga Hirshhorn, as well as artists Philip Evergood, Walter Rosenblum and Raphael Soyer. Also included are notebooks with outgoing hand-written drafts from after his tenure with the museum, from 1991 to 2003. Writings include primarily lectures and tours related to the Hirshhorn collection and modern sculpture and painting, in addition to some early student and creative work, an interview with Lerner, and writings by others including an artist statement for Lerner written by Milton W. Brown. Some lectures are represented by audio recordings on sound cassette.
The professional files series includes an 1958 exhibition file related to Lerner's painting career, files related to the Hirshhorn bequest exhibition and a Henry Moore exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, records regarding an unpublished manuscript tentatively titled 50 Sculptors, as well as advisory roles and other professional materials including a planner from 1983. Printed material includes materials reserved for a scrapbook, especially regarding the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, various memorabilia and published audio recordings including an Acoustiguide and a Channel 13 program regarding David Smith. Photographic material includes photographs of Abram Lerner, Joseph Hirshhorn and the Hirshhorn Museum building, staff, artwork, and events during his tenure. Also included are numerous photographs of Raphael Soyer portrait paintings. Artwork includes two watercolor and sketchbooks from circa 1940 and 1954.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 2018 by Aline Libassi, Abram Lerner's daughter.
Also found at the Archives of American art is an oral history interview with Abram Lerner, 1975 Dec. 9-1976 Jan. 27, conducted by Paul Cummings. The Smithsonian Institution Archives maintains the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Papers, circa 1926-1982, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection Archive is maintained by the curatorial department of the museum.
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Ryan Evans in 2020.