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Associated American Artists records, ca. 1934-1981

Associated American Artists records, ca. 1934-1981

Associated American Artists

Collection Information

Size: 55 linear ft.

Summary: The records of the Associated American Artists measure 55 linear feet and date from circa 1934 through 1981. They document the organization's work producing and selling limited-edition prints by American artists. The records contain voluminous files on artists; dealers, galleries, and museums; and clients. Also found is business correspondence, financial records, sales and exhibition catalogs, thirteen dismantled scrapbooks, and posters.

The dates of the records include the portion that was loaned to the Archives in 1965-1966 and microfilmed on reels D254-D256.

Biographical/Historical Note

Organized in 1934 to stimulate interest throughout the U.S. in the ownership of works of art by promoting the sale of prints through department stores. In 1935, oils, watercolors, and other media were added. Later the department store project was abandoned in favor of a New York headquarters.

Provenance

Records described in this finding aid were donated by the organization in the late 1970s through 1988. Related Associated American Artists' records were loaned to the Archives by Sylvan Cole and Adolf Dehn in 1965-1966 and microfilmed on reels D254-D256. Photocopies of correspondence between Grant Wood, Reeves Lewnthal, and Maurice Liederman of AAA were given to the Archives in 1974 by Mrs. Allan Kine and microfilmed on Reel 3176 and discarded.

Related Materials

Photocopies of correspondence between Grant Wood, Reeves Lewnthal, and Maurice Liederman of AAA were microfilmed on Reel 3176 and discarded.

Location of Originals

  • Reels D254-D256: Originals returned to lenders, Sylvan Cole and Adolf Dehn, after microfilming.

A Preliminary Finding Aid to the Associated American Artists Records,
circa 1934-1981
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.assoamea
Historical Note
The Associated American Artists was created in 1934 with the mission of bridging the gap between artists and their audiences by making fine art affordable, accessible, and attractive for the general American public. The A.A.A. offered new editions of prints to collectors at very reasonable prices. This was accomplished by publishing limited-edition prints of etchings and lithographs by American artists that sold for as little as five dollars each. The organization commissioned original graphic art from many notable American artists, whose art often reflected or commented on the social ideas of the era. All lithographs and etchings were produced in editions ranging from 125 to 250 impressions. Between 1934 and 1945, the organization published more than 600 limited-edition prints. An early collaboration allowed the prints to be displayed and sold in fifty department stores nationwide. Later, the department stores were abandoned in favor of a headquarters in a gallery in New York City. By the 1950s, the organization began to design fabrics as well.
The organization was also notable for its innovative use of modern merchandising and advertising techniques to sell and introduce high-quality artwork to a broad audience. New products were introduced in newspaper articles and magazines that targeted both the public and professional trade audiences. Prints were also advertised on the back of periodicals, which introduced the art to an even wider audience across the country.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 9 series:
Series 1: Artist Files, circa 1958-1980 (Box 1-19; 18.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Dealers, Galleries and Museums, circa 1958-1980 (Box 19-29; 10.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Client Files, circa 1958-1980 (Box 29-48; 19 linear feet)
Series 4: Business Correspondence, 1959-1980 (Box 48-49; 2 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1960-1981 (Box 50-51; 1 linear feet)
Series 6: Sales Catalogs, 1955-1979 (Box 51-53; 2 linear feet)
Series 7: Exhibition Catalogs, 1950-1978 (Box 54; 1 linear foot)
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1958-1980 (Box 55-57; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 9: Posters, circa 1960s-1970s
Provenance
Records described in this finding aid were donated by the organization in the late 1970s through 1988. Related Associated American Artists' records were loaned to the Archives by Sylvan Cole and Adolf Dehn in 1965-1966 and microfilmed on reels D254-D256. Photocopies of correspondence between Grant Wood, Reeves Lewnthal, and Maurice Liederman of AAA were given to the Archives in 1974 by Mrs. Allan Kine and microfilmed on Reel 3176 and discarded.
Location of Originals
  • Reels D254-D256: Originals returned to lenders, Sylvan Cole and Adolf Dehn, after microfilming.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by volunteers between 2003-2005.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm.

How to Cite This Collection

Associated American Artists records, ca. 1934-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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