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C. J. Bulliet papers, circa 1888-1959

Biographical Note

Known for his support of modernism, C. J. Bulliet spent the majority of his long newspaper career in Chicago. Born Clarence Joseph Bulleit in Corydon, Indiana, he studied English, astronomy, and mathematics at Indiana University. After graduating in 1905, he became a member of the Indiana University Total Eclipse Expedition to Spain in its search for a planet within Mercury's orbit. During World War I the spelling to Bulliet was changed to avoid any connection with Germany.
Upon returning to the United States, Bulliet began his newspaper career as a reporter for the Louisville Herald, soon moved to the Indianapolis Star as a police reporter, and eventually was named its drama critic. Between 1912 and 1921, he traveled extensively throughout the country as a press agent for Shakespearean actor Robert B. Mantell. During this period, he published his first book, a biography titled Robert Mantell's Romance. World War I interrupted Mantell's tour for two years, during which time Bulliet was press representative for D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. He returned to the Louisville Herald for two years before moving to Chicago.
In 1923, the Chicago Evening Post established "The Art World Magazine," a weekly tabloid section reporting local, national, and international art news. C.J. Bulliet became the magazine's first (and only) editor. In addition, he served as the paper's drama critic. When the Chicago Evening Post was sold in 1932, becoming the Chicago Daily News, Bulliet was appointed its art critic. Although Bulliet was an experienced reporter, writer, and editor with a broad general knowledge of theater and drama, he had virtually no background in art or art history. An avid reader, he was determined to learn as much as he could, and managed to make himself an expert in a relatively short time. From 1924 until his death in 1952, C. J. Bulliet was the most important art critic in Chicago. His strong support of modernism and the gossipy, entertaining style of his columns made him a popular and controversial figure with great local influence on public opinion, exhibitions, and patronage. In addition to his work on the Chicago newspapers, C. J. Bulliet contributed articles to Art Digest, the New York Times, and other national publications.
Once established as an art editor and critic, C. J. Bulliet began writing extensively on art, and published many books on the subject for general readers. The first, Apples and Madonnas: Emotional Expression in Modern Art (1927), was extremely well-received and remained in print through many editions. Other titles include: Tour of the Exhibition of the Works of Alexander Archipenko (1927), The Courtezan Olympia: An Intimate Survey of Artists and their Mistress-Models (1930), Art Masterpieces: In a Century of Progress Fine Art Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (1933), Paintings, An Introduction to Art (1934); The Significant Moderns and Their Pictures (1936), Masterpieces of Italian Art (1939), French Art from David to Matisse: As Set Forth in 20 Masterpieces of the French Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (1941), Art Treasures from Vienna (1949), and The Story of Lent in Art (1951). He published books on other subjects, as well. In addition to his 1918 biography of Robert B. Mantell, they are: Venus Castina: Famous Female Impersonators, Celestial and Human (1933) and How Grand Opera Came to Chicago (1940-1941).