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Ben Benn papers, 1905-1993

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series based primarily on type of material. Material within each series is arranged chronologically.

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Series 1: Biographical Material, 1983, undated
2 folders
Box 1

Two obituary notices of Ben Benn's death including the piece that ran in the New York Times, (1983). Also found is a copy of the entry on Benn published in
Who's Who in American Art,
15th Edition.
DescriptionContainer
Biographical Material, 1983, undated
1
1-2

Series 2: Correspondence, 1906-1993, undated
4 linear feet
Boxes 1-4

This series contains the personal and professional correspondence of Ben Benn and personal correspondence of Velida Benn (neé Gertrude Lopez). Found are several letters from Willard Huntington Wright (the Forum Exhibition Committee) and Juliana Force (Whitney Museum of Art). Also included is correspondence from additional museums and galleries, including the Artists' Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. Personal correspondence includes numerous letters, postcards, and greeting cards from colleagues and friends who formed a part of the Benns' social circle, including those from Oscar Bluemner, Sidney Geist, and Kaj Klitgaard, William Baziotes, and a postcard from Marsden Hartley.
The Correspondence series is arranged into five subseries:
2.1: Ben Benn correspondence, 1915-1993, undated
2.2: Ben and Velida Benn correspondence, 1911-1953, undated
2.3: Velida Benn correspondence, 1906-1963, undated
2.4: Postcards, 1910-1969, undated
2.5: Greeting cards, 1918-1967, undated
2.1:Ben Benn Correspondence, 1915-1993, undated
Chronological professional and personal letters received by Ben Benn relating to exhibitions, affiliations with various artists' groups, and relationships with other artists and friends. Found are letters from Alfred Barr, Holger Cahill, Juliana Force, Sidney Geist, Kaj Klitgaard, Rowan and Irene LeCompte, Audrey McMahon, Elie and Viola Nadelman, Samuel Rosenblum, Harry Salpeter, and Hugh Stix, and various art galleries and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Newark Museum, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Walker Art Center Also found is correspondence from containing letters from Hudson Walker and others, relating to Benn's one-man exhibition; included are price lists of Benn's paintings.
Appendix: Notable Correspondents from Series 2.1, Ben Benn Correspondence
DescriptionContainer
Correspondence, 1915-1953
1
3-43
Correspondence, 1954-1993
2
1-15
Undated Correspondence, undated
2
16-17
Loose Envelopes, 1916-1972, undated
2
18
2.2:Ben Benn and Velida Benn Correspondence, 1911-1953, undated
Correspondence exchanged between Ben and Velida when Benn traveled to Woodstock, N.Y., Gloucester, Ma., and St. Augustine, Fla., as well as from Benn's studio in New York. Benn's letters focus on personal matters, various activities, and projects, and include references to colleagues and to the paintings he sold to various individuals. Many of the letters are illustrated. Velida Benn's letters relate to her activities and the New York art scene.
DescriptionContainer
Correspondence, 1911-1934
2
19-42
Correspondence, 1935-1937, undated
3
1-3
Undated Correspondence, undated
3
4-6
Loose Envelopes, 1923, 1953
3
7
2.3:Velida Benn (Gertrude Lopez) Correspondence, 1906-1963, undated
This subseries, arranged chronologically, consists of letters received by Velida Benn from family, friends, and colleagues. Included are letters from Bessie Beatty, Rita Benton, William M. Fisher, Sidney Geist, Bernard Lopez, and Julio Osma. Also found are brief notes from Joseph Stella, Max Weber, and Marsden Hartley. Letters from Juliana Haskell relate to a Ben Benn one-man exhibition at Columbia University in 1928-1929. Included are numerous letters from publishers, theatrical agents, and producers to whom Velida Benn submitted her plays and poems.
Please see
Appendix B
for list of notable correspondents.
DescriptionContainer
Bernard Lopez Letters, 1906-1912, undated
3
8
William M. Fisher Letters, 1912-1917, undated
3
9-13
Bessie Beatty Letters, 1942-1947, undated
3
14
Correspondence, 1909-1963, undated
3
15-45
Undated Correspondence, undated
3
46-47
Loose Envelopes, 1923-1944
3
48
2.4:Postcards, 1910-1969, undated
This subseries is arranged chronologically and includes postcards to Ben and Velida Benn and Velida Benn from friends and colleagues. Postcards are from Hilton Kramer, Belle Krasne, Harry Salpeter, and others.
DescriptionContainer
Postcards, 1910-1969
3
49-53
Undated Postcards, undated
3
54
2.5:Greeting Cards, 1918-1967, undated
This subseries is arranged chronologically and includes holiday greeting cards received by Ben and Velida Benn from friends and colleagues.
DescriptionContainer
Greeting Cards, 1918-1967, undated
4
1-17

Series 3: Diaries, Notebooks, and Scrapbooks, 1915-1977, undated
11 folders
Boxes 4-5

This series houses Velida Benn's diaries, notebook and notes, and Benn and Velida's scrapbooks. The diaries include references to Benn's activities, exhibitions and other projects, and the Benn family. Of interest are entries relating to Hilton Kramer, Seymour Hacker, and Hudson Walker, among others. The notebook and notes contain miscellaneous lists by Velida Benn. Three scrapbooks contain copies of correspondence, clippings, price lists, announcements, and parts of exhibition catalogs documenting Benn's museum and gallery shows from 1915 -1972. The arrangement of the scrapbooks has been retained in their original order.
DescriptionContainer
Diaries, 1943-1959
4
18-20
Diaries, 1960-1977
5
1-4
Notebook and Notes, undated
5
5
Scrapbook #1, 1915-1960, undated
5
6
Scrapbook #2, 1949-1967, undated
5
7
Scrapbook #3, 1916-1972, undated
5
8

Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1910-1979, undated
9 folders
Box 5

Scattered personal business records that include miscellaneous receipts, a check register, a bank statement, an eviction notice, a file pertaining to the conservatorship of Ben Benn's estate, address books and lists, and lists and records of paintings purchased or held on consignment.
DescriptionContainer
Paintings Sold or Held by Galleries, circa 1910- circa 1971, undated
5
9
Receipts, 1919-1968
5
10
Eviction Notice, Benn's residence at 206 West 105th Street, NY, NY, 1936
5
11
Check Register, 1973-1974
5
12
Bank Statement, 1975
5
13
Address Books and Lists, 1965-1966, undated
5
14-16
Legal Proceeding Pertaining to Conservatorship of Ben Benn, 1979
5
17

Series 5: Artwork, 1924-1974, undated
6 folders
Box 5, 7; 6 oversized items

Sketches and sketchbooks by Ben Benn, mostly in pencil, and fashion sketches, in pencil, by Velida Benn. Also found is an etching inscribed to Ben Benn from Marie G. Williams, 1924.
DescriptionContainer
Etching, 1924
5
18
Sketches, 1937-1974, undated
5
19-24
Oversized Sketchbooks, 1957-1972, undated
7
1-5
Oversized Sketches, undated
7
6

Series 6: Printed Material, 1911-1991, undated
2 linear feet
Boxes 5-6

This series houses announcements, exhibition catalogs, newspaper and magazine clippings, news bulletins, programs, reproductions and miscellaneous printed materials. Exhibition catalogs include
Ben Benn: Painter, The Jewish Museum,
1965 and
Ben Benn, An American Painter, 1884-1983
, Hammer Galleries, 1983. Magazine clippings include numerous reviews of Benn's work by Sidney Geist, Hilton Kramer, and Sidney Tillim. Also found are miscellaneous literary and art-related periodicals featuring Benn's artwork and
Artists and Writers Chap Books
(1933-1935) that include artwork by Velida and Ben Benn.
DescriptionContainer
Exhibition Announcements, 1911-1977, undated
5
25-34
Exhibition Catalogs, 1918-1944
5
35-37
Exhibition Catalogs, 1950-1991
6
1-3
Newspaper Clippings, 1915-1982, undated
6
4-9
Magazine clippings, 1916-1965, undated
6
10-14
Artists and Writers Chapbook
, 1933-1935
6
15
News Bulletins, 1936-1937, undated
6
16
Programs, 1919-1950, undated
6
17-18
Offprints, various, 1927-1940, undated
6
19
Miscellaneous printed material, 1914-1975, undated
6
20-24
Reproductions, 1905-1975, undated
6
25-27
Books, circa 1919, undated
6
28-30

Series 7: Photographs and Negatives, 1920-1969, undated
6 folders
Box 6

Photographs of works of art, personal photographs, and negatives that include images of Benn's paintings and exhibition installation shots; photographs and snapshots of Ben and Velida Benn, including an image of Benn taken by Peter A. Juley and Son; and negatives of Ben Benn and works of art.
DescriptionContainer
Photographs of Works of Art, 1920-1964, undated
6
31-32
Photographs of Ben and Velida Benn, 1936, 1963-1969, undated
6
33
Photographs of Exhibition Installations, undated
6
34
Photographs of Family Members, undated
6
35
Negatives, undated
6
36

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.