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Burt Chernow papers, 1930-2002

Chernow, Burt, 1933-1997

Arts administrator, Educator, Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 21.8 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of Burt Chernow measure 21.8 linear feet and consist mainly of research materials gathered and produced in the course of writing Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography over an extensive period of close contact with the subjects, from the early 1980s until Chernow's death in 1997. Research materials for the biography include photocopies of personal documents of the Christos, hundreds of recorded interviews with Christo, Jeanne-Claude, their family members, and their associates, transcripts of interviews and research on interview subjects, other collected research material compiled chronologically, drafts of the biography written by Chernow, drafts of the biography and its epilogue produced after Chernow's death, and business records related to the book's production, which include significant correspondence with the Christos. Also found are the published German and U.S. editions of the biography, printed materials and photographs related to the book's subject matter, and fabric samples from five of the Christos' projects undertaken during Chernow's association with them. Chernow's career as an art critic, writer, educator, and arts advocate, primarily in Southern Connecticut, is documented in Chernow's other writings, organizational records, printed materials, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Burt Chernow was an art historian, writer, educator, collector, and dealer who founded the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and who, upon his retirement from Housatonic Community College, became the authorized biographer of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which he researched through close contact with the Christos from 1984 until his death in 1997. Although he had not completed the biography when he died, his wife Ann Chernow saw the manuscript through to publication, and the biography, Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography, was first published in Germany in 2000, and then in the United States in 2002.


Donated 2002 by Ann Chernow, the widow of Burt Chernow.

Language Note

The collection is in English, French and German.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' Hidden Collections grant program.