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Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers, 1833-1980, bulk, 1900-1980

Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers, 1833-1980, bulk, 1900-1980

Dasburg, Andrew Michael, 1887-1979

Painter, Lithographer

The papers of Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2008.The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 18,204 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 8.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1900 to 1980, and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection is divided into the papers of Andrew Dasburg (6 linear feet) and the papers of Grace Mott Johnson (2.8 linear feet), and documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage, and friendships with many notable artists in New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. Found are scattered biographical, legal, and financial materials. Extensive correspondence (particularly in Dasburg's papers) is with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, Vera Spier Kuhn, and Ward Lockwood. Dasburg's papers also include letters to Johnson and his two later wives.

Biographical/Historical Note

Andrew Dasburg (1887-1979) was a painter and lithographer in Taos, N.M. Studied at Art Students League, New York City, circa 1902, taking night classes with Robert Henri. He received a scholarship to the League's classes in Woodstock, N.Y., circa 1905, where he studied under Birge Harrison. In 1911, he made Woodstock his summer home, living and teaching there for many years. Dasburg was prominent in New York art circles, and was among the youngest artists who exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913. He also showed his work at Alfred Stieglitz's 291 Gallery. In 1916, he made the first of many visits to Taos, settling there permanently in 1930. He married painter Grace Mott Johnson in 1909. During the 1920s, Dasburg was influential in promoting primitive painter John Kane. Johnson and Dasburg were divorced in 1922.

Provenance

Material on reels 2043-2054 and 2063 was donated by Dasburg's son Alfred in 1980. Material on reels 4276-4278 was lent for microfilming by Syracuse University's George Arents Research Library in March 1989. The photocopies of the ten Morgan Russell letters to Dasburg on reel 2803 were donated in 1978 by Syracuse University, and discarded after microfilming. The 1989 loan includes only the typescripts of those letters.

Related Materials

Additional Andrew Dasburg papers: Also located at New Mexico State Archives, Santa Fe.

Also found in the Archives of American Art are two oral history interviews with Andrew Dasburg, July 2, 1964 and March 6, 1974. Additional related collections at other repositories include the Andrew and Marina Wister Dasburg Papers at the New Mexico State Archives, the Andrew Dasburg Papers at Syracuse University Library, and the Grace Mott Johnson Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Funding

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

Location of Originals

  • Reels 2803 and 4276-4278: Originals in Syracuse University, George Arents Research Library, Syracuse, New York.

A Finding Aid to the Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson Papers,
1833-1980
(bulk 1900-1980)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.dasbandr
Finding aid prepared by Erin Corley
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter Andrew Dasburg and sculptor Grace Mott Johnson date from 1833 to 1980, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1900 to 1980, and measure 8.8 linear feet. The collection is divided into the papers of Andrew Dasburg (6 linear feet) and the papers of Grace Mott Johnson (2.8 linear feet), and documents each artist's career and personal lives, including their brief marriage, and friendships with many notable artists in New Mexico and New York art colonies during the early twentieth century. Found are scattered biographical, legal, and financial materials. Extensive correspondence (particularly in Dasburg's papers) is with family, friends, and fellow artists, such as John F. Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Marsden Hartley, Henry Lee McFee, Vera Spier Kuhn, and Ward Lockwood. Dasburg's papers also include letters to Johnson and his two later wives.
Johnson's correspondence is also with numerous artist friends and others, including John F. and Margaret Carlson, Florence Ballin Cramer, Jo Davidson, Florence Lucius, Walter Frankl, Lila Wheelock Howard, Henry Lee McFee, Mary Riley, Lee Simonson, Lindsey Morris Sterling, Alice Morgan Wright, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Vera Spier Kuhn. Letters to her son Alfred are quite detailed and revealing. Writings are by Dasburg, Johnson, and others. Johnson's writings include a very brief diary and her poetry. Writings by others are about the Taos and New Mexico art communities. Printed materials about both artists include clippings and exhibition catalogs. There are numerous photographs of Dasburg and Johnson, individually and together, and with friends and family. Of note are a group photograph of Birge Harrison's art class in Woodstock, New York, which includes Johnson and Dasburg, and a photograph of Dasburg with friends Konrad Cramer and John Reed. Dasburg's papers also include snapshots of Florence Lucius, Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer, Frieda and D. H. Lawrence, and Mabel Dodge Luhan. Original artwork by the two artists include two sketchbooks by Johnson and three prints and two drawings by Dasburg.
Biographical Note
Andrew Michael Dasburg (1887-1979) was born in Paris, France, to German parents. After his father died and when he was five, Dasburg and his mother moved to New York City. In 1902 Dasburg started attending classes at the Art Students' League and studied with Kenyon Cox and Frank Du Mond. He also took night classes with Robert Henri. In 1907 he received a scholarship to the Art Students' League summer school in Woodstock, New York and spent three summers studying there in Birge Harrison's painting class. While in school he became friends with many young artists, including Morgan Russell and his future wife, Grace Mott Johnson.
Grace Mott Johnson (1882-1967) was born in New York City. She began drawing when she was four years old, and when the family moved to a farm in 1900 she enjoyed sketching horses and other farm animals. At the age of 22 she left home to study at the Art Students' League with sculptors Gutzon Borglum and James Earle Fraser, and also attended Birge Harrison's painting class in Woodstock. Throughout her career she would sculpt animals from memory, and would often attend circuses and farms for inspiration.
In 1909 Johnson and Dasburg went to Paris and joined the modernist circle of artists living there, including Morgan Russell, Jo Davidson, and Arthur Lee. During a trip to London that same year they were married. Johnson returned to the United States early the next year, but Dasburg stayed in Paris where he met Henri Matisse, Gertrude and Leo Stein, and became influenced by the paintings of Cezanne and Cubism. He returned to Woodstock, New York in August and he and Johnson became active members of the artist community. In 1911 their son Alfred was born. Both Dasburg and Johnson showed several works at the legendary Armory Show in 1913, and Dasburg also showed at the MacDowell Club in New York City, where he met the journalist and activist John Reed who later introduced him to Mabel Dodge (Luhan), a wealthy art patron and lifelong friend. In 1914 Dasburg met Alfred Stieglitz and became part of his avant-garde circle. Using what he had seen in Paris, Dasburg became one of the earliest American cubist artists, and also experimented with abstraction in his paintings.
Dasburg and Johnson lived apart for most of their marriage. By 1917 they had separated and Dasburg began teaching painting in Woodstock and in New York City. In 1918 he was invited to Taos, New Mexico by Mabel Dodge, and returning in 1919, Johnson joined him there for a period of time. Also in 1919, Dasburg was one of the founding members of the Woodstock Artists Association with John F. Carlson, Frank Swift Chase, Carl Eric Lindin, and Henry Lee McFee. In 1922 Dasburg and Johnson divorced, and also at that time he began living most of the year in Santa Fe with Ida Rauh, spending the rest of the year in Woodstock and New York City. Dasburg became an active member of the Santa Fe and the Taos art colonies, befriending many artists and writers living in these communities, and remaining close friends with Mabel Dodge Luhan. Here he moved away from abstraction, and used the southwestern landscape as the inspiration for his paintings.
In 1928 he married Nancy Lane. When that marriage ended in 1932, he moved permanently to Taos, and with his third wife, Marina Wister, built a home and studio there. Dasburg periodically taught art privately and at the University of New Mexico. In 1937 he was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which left him unable to paint again until 1946. In 1945 he and his wife Marina separated. Dasburg was recognized for his career as an artist in a circulating retrospective organized by the American Federation of Arts in 1959. He also had retrospectives in Taos in 1966 and 1978. His artwork influence several generations of artists, especially in the southwest, and he continued creating art until his death in 1979 at the age of 92.
Grace Mott Johnson lived in the Johnson family home in Yonkers, New York during the 1920s and later moved to Pleasantville, New York. In 1924 she went to Egypt to study ancient Egyptian sculpture. During the 1930s she became a civil rights activist. She produced very little art during the last twenty years of her life.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 2 series of each artist's papers:
Series 1: Andrew Dasburg Papers, circa 1900-1980 (Box 1-7; 6.0 linear feet)
Series 2: Grace Mott Johnson Papers, 1833-1963 (Box 7-10; 2.8 linear feet)
Provenance
Material on reels 2043-2054 and 2063 was donated by Dasburg's son Alfred in 1980. Material on reels 4276-4278 was lent for microfilming by Syracuse University's George Arents Research Library in March 1989. The photocopies of the ten Morgan Russell letters to Dasburg on reel 2803 were donated in 1978 by Syracuse University, and discarded after microfilming. The 1989 loan includes only the typescripts of those letters.
Location of Originals
  • Reels 2803 and 4276-4278: Originals in Syracuse University, George Arents Research Library, Syracuse, New York.
Processing Information
Most of the collection was microfilmed shortly after donation on reels 2043-2054 and 2063. The papers were processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2007 and digitized in 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers were digitized in 2007 and are available on the Archives of American Art'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

Andrew Dasburg and Grace Mott Johnson papers, 1833-1980, bulk, 1900-1980. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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