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ACA Galleries records, 1917-1963

ACA Galleries records, 1917-1963

ACA Galleries

Representative image for ACA Galleries records, 1917-1963

This site provides access to the records of ACA Galleries in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2010. The records have been scanned in their entirety, and total 1,439 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 1.0 linear ft.

Summary: The scattered records of the ACA (American Contemporary Art) Galleries date from 1917 through 1963, measure 1.0 linear feet, and include writings by founder Herman Baron, artists Philip Evergood and Anton Refregier, and art critic Elizabeth McCausland; printed materials; and photographs of Baron, ACA artists, art collectors, works of art, and exhibitions. Correspondence is with David Burliuk, Philip Evergood, William Gropper, Lewis Mumford, Moses Soyer, Max Weber, and others. Also found is a small group of Herman Baron's personal papers. The records are a rich resource for documenting the Social Realist artists and the militant socialist artists during the great depression and the post-World War II era of "McCarthyism."

Biographical/Historical Note

ACA Galleries (est. 1932) is an art gallery in New York, N.Y. Also known as A.C.A. Gallery and American Contemporary Art Gallery. Founded by Herman Baron, Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Adolf Dehn on August 16, 1932 as an outlet for generally unknown and socially conscious artists. It was particularly important during the Depression period when it was closely allied with militant artists' organizations. Currently owned by Jeffrey Bergen.

Provenance

Ella Baron, widow of the ACA Galleries' founder Herman Baron, donated the records to the Archives of American Art in 1965 and 1966.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the ACA Galleries Records,
1917-1963,
in the Archives of American Art
AAA.acagall
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Hanson
Historical Note
Herman Baron, Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, and Adolf Dehn founded the American Contemporary Art (ACA) Galleries on August 16, 1932. Located at 1269 Madison Avenue in New York City, the galleries' first show featured watercolorist Hy Cohen. Baron encouraged freedom of expression and did not censor the artworks displayed in his gallery. As a result, the gallery became an outlet for generally unknown and socially conscious artists, including the Social Realists.
Born in Lithuania in 1892, Herman Baron immigrated to the United States as a child. He served in World War I and later attended New York University. Baron founded and edited
Glazier's Journal
(later
Glass Digest
) in 1924 as the first journal for the professional glazing trade. Additionally, he wrote short stories and plays for
American Hebrew
and
Young Israel
.
In response to economic issues facing the art market during the depresssion of 1930s, ACA Galleries organized relief efforts to financially support their artists. During this period, the gallery became closely allied with militant artists' organizations and some of the more politically radical artists. In 1935, the ACA Galleries and Herman Baron hosted the first meeting of the American Artists' Congress in the gallery space.
The ACA Galleries featured exhibitions of works by artists David Burliuk, Stuart Davis, Philip Evergood, William Gropper, Robert Gwathmey, Joe Jones, Rockwell Kent, Lee Krasner, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Lewis Mumford, Louise Nevelson, Alton Pickens, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Max Weber, Art Young, and others. Baron also organized exhibitions of many artists employed by or associated with the Works Progress Administration of the federal arts program. Due to the progressive nature of the works of art found in the ACA Galleries, Herman Baron came under considerable criticism during the McCarthy Era. Baron was condemned by Representative George A. Dondero for supporting "un-American" sympathies and was forced often to defend his gallery and artists.
For years the gallery focused on artists rights and supporting the work of artists, rather than a profit. In the 1950s, a shift occurred when Baron's nephew Sidney Bergen initiated professional business practices and transformed the gallery into a profitable venture. Now located at 529 West 20th Street in New York City, ACA Galleries continues to promote and support various social causes.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 5 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1930s-1960s (Box 1; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 2: Writings and Notes, 1938-circa 1960s (Box 1; 8 folders)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1939-1960 (Box 2; 4 folders)
Series 4: Photographs, circa 1930s-circa 1960s (Box 2; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 5: Herman Baron Personal Papers, circa 1910s, 1940s-1960s (Box 2-3; 0.3 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The scattered records of the ACA (American Contemporary Art) Galleries date from 1917 through 1963 and include writings by founder Herman Baron, artists Philip Evergood and Anton Refregier, and art critic Elizabeth McCausland; printed materials; and photographs of Baron, ACA artists, art collectors, works of art, and exhibitions. Correspondence is with David Burliuk, Philip Evergood, William Gropper, Lewis Mumford, Moses Sawyer, Max Weber, and others. Also found is a small group of Herman Baron's personal papers.
The records are a rich resource for documenting the Social Realist artists and the militant socialist artists during the great depression and the post-World War II era of "McCarthyism".
Correspondence with ACA artists consists of letters from Philip Evergood, David Burliuk, William Gropper, Robert Gwathmey, Joseph Hirsch, Lewis Mumford, Elizabeth Olds, Alton Pickens, Moses Soyer, Max Weber, and Art Young. Some of the letters concern the socialist and communist views of some of the artists, including responses to Congressional Representive George A. Dondero's public statements and attacks on modern art as a conspiracy to spread communism in the United States. There is a letter written by Holger Cahill to the editor of
Time
magazine concerning WPA artists. Also found is a letter from Raphael Soyer written to the ACA Galleries concerning the American Artists' Congress.
Writings include Herman Baron's written history of the ACA Galleries and scattered pages of Baron's book on Joe Jones and William Gropper. There are essays and writings by art critic Elizabeth McCausland, and artists Anton Refregier and Philip Evergood. Printed materials consist of ACA publications, newspaper clippings, published articles, printed illustrations by Philip Evergood, and printed materials about Congressman Dondero.
Photographs are of David Burliuk, Bruce Calder, Nicolai Cikovsky, Hy Cohen, Robert Cronbach, Alexander Dobkin, Philip Evergood, Mike Gold, Chaim Gross, William Gropper, Joe Jones, Mervin Jules, Irene Rice Pereia, Geri Pine, Philip Reisman, Vic Shifreen, Harry Sternberg, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, James Baare Turnbull, Nicky Walker, Abraham Walkowitz, Nat Werner, and Art Young. Photographers include Berenice Abbott, Arnold Newman, and Alfredo Valente. Additional photographs are of unidentified installations or exhibitions.
Herman Baron's personal papers include letters written to his wife and friends during World War I, writings by Baron for various magazines including
Glazier's Journal
. Personal photographs are of Herman Baron in his army uniform. There is also an obituary for Herman Baron written by art critic Elizabeth McCausland.
Provenance
Ella Baron, widow of the ACA Galleries' founder Herman Baron, donated the records to the Archives of American Art in 1965 and 1966.
Related Material
The Archives of American Art holds the Herman Baron papers, dating from 1937-1967 which were donated by Syracuse University, George Arents Research Library in 1984. Some exhibition catalogs may be found here.
Processing Information
The papers were microfilmed upon receipt on reel D304. The records were re-processed by Jayna Hanson in August 2008 and digitized in their entirety in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The collection has been digitized in its entirety and is available online via AAA's website.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

ACA Galleries records, 1917-1963. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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