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Bernard Harper Friedman papers, 1926-2011, bulk 1943-2010

Bernard Harper Friedman papers, 1926-2011, bulk 1943-2010

Friedman, B. H. (Bernard Harper), 1926-2011

Art historian, Author

Collection Information

Size: 30.6 linear feet

Summary: The papers of writer, art critic and collector Bernard Harper Friedman, 1926-2011, bulk 1943-2010, measure 30.6 linear feet. Extensive professional and personal correspondence, writings, 41 diaries, a large number of his published and unpublished writings, and subject files document Friedman's career as a writer, relationships with cultural institutions and art world figures, and his personal life. Also included are biographical materials, interviews, 5 scrapbooks, and photographs.

Biographical materials include educational records, documentation of Friedman's World War II service in the U.S. Navy, and birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Correspondence is with friends, family, artists, art world figures and institutions, writers, publishers, and literary agents. Among the correspondents are: John I. H. Baur, Harry Bertoia, Flora Biddle, Norman Bluhm, James Brooks, Fritz Bultman, Leo Castelli, William N. Copley, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler, Brendan Gill, Robert Goodnough, Cleve and Francine Gray, Howard Kanovitz, Grace Knowlton, Stanley Kunitz, Conrad Marca-Relli, Mercedes Matter, Fred W. McDarrah, Rory McEwen, Robert Motherwell, Arnold Newman, Barnett Newman, Dorothy Norman, Alfonso Ossorio, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Robert Richenburg, Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, Judith Rothschild, Irving Sandler, Salvatore Scarpitta, Jon Schueler, Sidney Simon, David Slivka, Clyfford Still, Myron Stout, Calvin Tompkins, and David Windham.

There are transcripts of interviews with B. H. Friedman, his daughter and wife conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine's "Adult Development Study," and 2 recordings of interviews with Friedman for radio broadcast.

Writings by Friedman include manuscripts of novels, short stories, plays, articles, monographs, and art criticism, some published versions of his work, and a variety of notes. Also found are recordings of lectures by B. H. Friedman and panel discussions in which he participated. Other authors represented are John Cage, W. B. Henry, and Jon Schueler. Friedman's diaries, 1948-1993 (41 volumes) record activities, thoughts, and events.

Subject files compiled by Friedman reflect professional and personal interests, activities, and projects. Many concern publicity for published writings or efforts to find publishers. Especially well documented is his interest in Jackson Pollock, Timothy Leary, and Alfonso Ossorio, and his affiliation with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The majority of printed material is about or mentions Friedman. Five scrapbooks consist mainly of printed material.

Most photographs are of B. H. and Abby Friedman, their family, and friends. Among the individuals pictured are: Elise Asher, Cary and Norman Bluhm, Sandy Friedman, Joellen Hall, Doug Huebler, Howard Kanowitz, Stanley Kunitz, Lee Krasner, Sheridan Lloyd, Barnett and Annalee Newman, Alfonso Ossorio, Magda Salversen, Salvatore Scarpitta, John Schueler, and Myron Stout. A photograph album records scenes from a 1979 performance of Whispers, a stage adaptation by Alan Wynroth from Friedman's novel of the same title.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bernard Harper Friedman (1926-2011), a writer best known as the author of the first biography of Jackson Pollock, was also an art critic and art collector involved in the cultural life of New York City.


The Bernard Harper Friedman papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2012 by his daughter, Daisy Friedman.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Bernard Harper Friedman papers,1926-2011, bulk 1943-2010, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Bernard Harper Friedman (1926-2011), a writer best known as the author of the first biography of Jackson Pollock, was also an art critic and art collector involved in the cultural life of New York City.
Bernard Harper Friedman, known professionally as B. H. Friedman, was called Bob by family and friends. After interrupting his studies at Cornell University to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he graduated in 1948 with a degree in English. Friedman and his new bride, fellow student Abby G. Noselson (1926-2003), returned home to New York City and he began a real estate career in his uncles' firm, Uris Buildings Corporation. While a businessman, Friedman spent much of his spare time writing. He produced fiction, plays, and criticism; Friedman's articles on art, literature and music appeared in a wide variety of periodicals. During this period, Friedman also pursued his interests in jazz, collecting abstract art, and psychedelic drug experiences with Timothy Leary.
His first published novel,
, about the Abstract Expressionist milieu, appeared in 1962. A year later, B. H. Friedman became a full-time writer. For nearly 20 years, he divided his time between New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he was affiliated with the Fine Arts Work Center as a director and consultant. During this period, he published several novels and two biographies:
Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
, written with Flora Biddle. More novels and short story collections were published, and staged readings of seven plays were presented between 1987 and 2007.
, a memoir of using psychedlics with Timothy Leary, appeared in 2006.
A founding member of Fiction Collective, a nonprofit publishing group run by and for writers, Friedman was also a member of several national writers' organizations. He served as a trustee of the Whitney Musuem of American Art, 1961-1968, and then as honorary trustee. B. H. Friedman died from complications of pneumonia on January 4, 2011 in New York City.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1926-2011 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1946-2011 (Boxes 1-15; 14.7 linear feet)
Series 3: Interviews, 1969-2001 (Box 15; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, 1940s-2010 (Boxes 16-23; 8 linear feet)
Series 5: Diaries, 1948-1993 (Boxes 24-25; 1.75 linear feet)
Series 6: Subject Files, 1940-2010 (Boxes 25-30; 4.45 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1954-2010 (Box 30-31; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1960-2006 (Boxes 30-32; 0.8 lilnear feet)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1950s-2008 (Box 30; 0.4 linear feet)
The Bernard Harper Friedman papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2012 by his daughter, Daisy Friedman.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimum level with a finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines in 2013. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder level. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

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.

ACCESS RESTRICTED; written permission required.

How to Cite This Collection

Bernard Harper Friedman papers, 1926-2011, bulk 1943-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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