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Alice Trumbull Mason papers, 1921-1977

Mason, Alice Trumbull, 1904-1971

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 1.3 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of abstract artist Alice Trumbull Mason date from 1921 to 1977 and measure 1.3 linear feet. The collection documents her career as a painter, particularly her role as one of the founders of the American Abstract Artists group, through biographical materials; correspondence with family, friends, fellow artists, art galleries, museums, and organizations; writings and notes, including notebooks of poetry and other creative writings; a small amount of printed material; photographs of Mason, friends, and her artwork; and original artwork, including five sketchbooks.
Biographical material consists of resumes, passports, exhibition files, as well as documentation of her membership and active participation in art organizations, including her work as an officer in the American Abstract Artists group. Also found here are scattered personal financial and legal records. Personal and professional correspondence is with family members, including many detailed letters between her and her husband Warwood, fellow artists, including Paul Kelpe, art organizations, curators, museums, galleries, and others. Professional correspondence generally discusses selection of exhibition and awards, sale of artwork, and art events. Writings and notes, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s, consist of Mason's notes on art history and her creative writings, including poetry and "abstract writing." Also found are a few writings about abstract art and various notes and lists.
Printed material includes news clippings on topics of interest to Mason, and other miscellaneous items such as brochures, and exhibition announcements. Photographs include several portraits of Mason with her artwork, photographs of friends including artist Ibram Lassaw, photographs of an American Abstract Artists exhibition, and artwork by her and others. Original artwork found in this collection includes five sketchbooks belonging to Mason, including two that document her travels through Greece and Italy, and other loose drawings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alice Trumbull Mason was born in 1904 in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her mother, Anne Leavenworth Train, was an accomplished artist before she met Alice's father, William Trumbull, a descendent of the Revolutionary War era painter, John Trumbull. Alice spent much of her childhood in Europe with her family. From 1921 to 1922 they lived in Florence and Rome where she studied at the British Academy. In 1923 she continued her studies with painter Charles W. Hawthorne at the National Academy of Design in New York and from 1927 to 1928 attended courses at the Grand Central Art Galleries taught by Arshile Gorky. Gorky inspired her interest in abstract painting, and Mason painted her first non-objective works in 1929. In 1928 she returned to Italy and Greece and was greatly influenced by ancient art, Byzantium, and Italian primitives. She married Warwood Mason, a merchant seaman, in 1930 and her daughter Emily was born in 1932 and her son Jonathan in 1933. During this period she stopped painting and devoted her creative energy to writing poetry inspired by American avant-garde writers.

Provenance

A portion of this collection was donated by Alice Trumbull Mason in 1969. Additional material was donated from 1972 to 1977 by Mason's daughter, Emily Mason Kahn.

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Funding

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