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Anton Refregier papers, circa 1900-circa 1990

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Stephanie L. Ashley
Scope and Contents
The papers of Woodstock area painter, muralist, and designer, Anton Refregier (1905-1979) date from circa 1900 to circa 1990 and measure 35.9 linear feet. The collection records Refregier's early commercial work and murals for the Works Progress Adminstration (WPA) and documents his career through to the 1970s with records of commissions for many public and private buildings, exhibitions in the United States and abroad, teaching positions, essays and publications, and extensive travel, particularly to the Soviet Union and Mexico. The collection contains scattered biographical material, personal and business correspondence, notes and writings, diaries and journals, mural and tapestry files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork including sketches and cartoons for murals, and photographs of Refregier, his friends, family and travels.
Biographical material contains legal records such as Refregier's will and marriage and death records, passports, resume material and 2 interview transcripts.
Correspondence, both chronological and alphabetical, constitutes almost a third of the collection and documents all aspects of Refregier's career including his work for the WPA, private commissions, representation by ACA Galleries, his involvement with groups such as the Woodstock Artists Association and his teaching work for institutions such as Bard College. Also documented are his involvement with local political groups and international organizations such as the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship and the World Peace Council, and travels including visits to the Soviet Union. Notable correspondents include Henry Dreyfuss, Philip Evergood, Rockwell Kent, Emmy-Lou Packard, and Byron Randall. Correspondence also includes family letters written primarily by Refregier to Lila Refregier, in addition to greeting cards received by the Refregier family, many of which contain original arwork.
Writings are primarily by Refregier and include drafts of many essays and autobiographical writings, in addition to copies of published works including Natural Figure Drawing, An Artists Journey and Sketches of the Soviet Union.
The collection contains diaries and journals from 12 years in various formats including published and handmade day planners and typed and handwritten journal entries. They include sketches and primarily record travel and daily activities including specific projects such as the New York World's Fair mural (1938-1939).
Mural and Tapestry files document individual commissions bid on and/or completed by Refregier. The creation of the Rincon Annex Post Office mural and subsequent controversies over its subject matter are well-documented here, as are many of Refregier's commissions for banks, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers, and schools.
Exhibition files document at least 15 of Refregier's exhibitions, including his first one-man show at ACA Galleries (1942) and his exhibition of paintings at the Hermitage Museum (1967) in what was then Leningrad.
Personal business records contain addresses of contacts. Scattered records referencing market values for Refregier's work can be found throughout the series in records such as bills and receipts, financial notes and tax records.
Printed material provides extensive coverage of Refregier's entire career through announcements, invitations, catalogs, and news clippings. His interests in art, literature, music, theater and politics are also well-represented in these files.
The collection contains 10 scrapbooks, mostly in fragmented condition, which contain a mixture of photographs, sketches and other artwork, notes and fragments of writings, and printed material. The scrapbooks document a variety of subjects including Refregier's family life, travels to Guatemala and the Soviet Union, and the artist at work.
Artwork consists primarily of artwork by Refregier in the form of mural design sketches and cartoons in various media, including pencil, ink and pastel, in addition to 21 sketchbooks, many of which also contain journal entries and notes. Also found here are prints and reproductions of Refregier's "Peace card" block engravings for every year from 1950-1973, with the exception of 1970.
Photographs document all phases of Refregier's career and include family photographs dating from circa 1900, photos of Refregier in the studio including work for the WPA, Refregier and other artists and individuals at events and parties from the 1940s-1970s, travel snapshots probably taken in Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, and the Soviet Union, and photographs of artwork and installations. Individuals pictured include Julio de Diego, Marion Greenwood, Rockwell Kent, Pablo O'Higgins and David Siqueiros; also, a series of press photographs by Albert A. Freeman pictures Refregier with Howard Fast, Norman Bel Geddes, Marion Greenwood, John Kingsbury, Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Harry Stockwell. One photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 2 by Eugene Morley and 4 by Max Yavno can also be found here.
Donated 1983 by Lila Refregier, widow of Anton Refregier, and in 1992 by Brigit R. Sutton, Refregier's daughter.
Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are an oral history interview with Anton Refregier, 1964, Nov. 5 by Joseph Trovato; and Papers regarding Anton Refregier mural controversy, 1953.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a preliminary/intermediate level and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Preliminary/intermediate processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, following the original order for the most part. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles but not arranged further with the exception of some chronological arrangement by year or decade. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.