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Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman papers, circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005

Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman papers, circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005

Koppelman, Chaim, 1920-2009

Educator, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 4.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman measure 4.0 linear feet and date from circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005. The collection documents the activities of Chaim Koppelman and his wife, Dorothy Koppelman, as artists and educators, and their affiliation with the Terrain Gallery and the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Materials include biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, subject files, teaching files, exhibition files, personal business records, scrapbooks, printed material, sketches, sketchbooks, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Chaim Koppelman (1920-2009) lived and worked in New York as a printmaker, educator, and Aesthetic Realism consultant. Painter, gallery director, Aesthetic Realism consultant, and educator Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) resides and works in New York City.

Provenance

The collection was donated by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman in 2006.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman Papers,
circa 1930s-2006,
bulk 1942-2005
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.koppchai
Author
Finding aid prepared by Joy Weiner
Biographical Note
Chaim Koppelman (1920-2009) lived and worked in New York as a printmaker, educator, and Aesthetic Realism consultant. Painter, gallery director, Aesthetic Realism consultant, and educator Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) resides and works in New York City.
Chaim Koppelman was born in Brooklyn in 1920. Koppelman studied at the American Artists School with Carl Holty and at the Art Students League with Jose De Creeft and Will Barnet. Simultaneously, he began to study in classes taught by Eli Siegel, critic, poet, and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism. In 1942, Koppelman was drafted in the U.S. Army. Before going overseas in 1943, he married Dorothy Myers. In the army, Koppelman continued his studies in painting and sculpture, where he attended the Art College in Western England, Bristol, and the Beaux Arts School in Reims, France. Chaim Koppelman took part in the Normandy invasion and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
After Koppelman returned to New York in 1944, he studied at the Amédée Ozenfant School, where he eventually became Ozenfant's assistant. Around this time, Koppelman turned from painting and sculpture to printmaking. In 1955, Chaim Koppelman, his wife, Dorothy, and other artists and poets studying Aesthetic Realism established the Terrain Gallery. For many years, Koppelman was the head of the gallery's Print Division and then later became an advisory director.
Chaim Koppelman held a number of teaching positions in universities and arts institutions. He lectured at Brooklyn College, the Art Education Department from 1950-1960. In 1959, Koppelman founded the Printmaking Division at the School of Visual Arts, where he served on the school's faculty until 2007. At the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, he taught artists how to relate their artwork and their everyday lives. He wrote: “After having tested his aesthetic concepts in literally thousands of works of different periods, in different styles, in different media, I say that Eli Siegel’s Theory of Opposites is the key to what is good or beautiful in art….When Eli Siegel showed that what makes a work of art beautiful—the oneness of opposites—is the same as what every individual wants, it was one of the mightiest and kindest achievements of man’s mind.”
Among the awards Chaim Koppelman received were: two Tiffany Grants, 1956, 1959; New York Artists Equity Annual Awards Honoring Will Barnet, Robert Blackburn, Chaim Koppelman, 1992; and the Purchase Prize, Art Students League in 2005. Koppelman was a member of the National Academy and a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA). In 2004, SAGA presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to his solo and group exhibitions at the Terrain Gallery, Chaim Koppelman's work was featured at the Beatrice Conde Gallery, International Print Center (New York), Library of Congress, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts. His prints are in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the National Gallery.
In December 2009, Koppelman died at age 89 in New York City.
Born in 1920, Dorothy Koppelman attended Brooklyn College, the Art Students League, and American Artists School where she trained under Joseph Solman. During this time, she began to study poetry, and the relation of art and the self in classes with Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism.
Dorothy Koppelman has had a number of solo and group exhibitions at the Terrain Gallery. She has also shown her paintings at the Atlantic Gallery, Art Gallery of Binghamton, New York, Beatrice Conde Gallery, the Broome Street Gallery, and at MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum, the Whitney Biennial 2006 Peace Tower, the National Academy, and the Butler Art Institute.
Dorothy Koppelman has served on the faculty at several arts institutions: the National Academy, Brooklyn College School of Education, and the School of Visual Arts. She has given presentations on Aesthetic Realism at the Fondazione Piero della Francesa in Italy, and with Carrie Wilson at the 31st World Congress of the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA). On August 16, 2002, in a talk given on Eli Siegel Day in Baltimore, she said, “Eli Siegel explained the true meaning of art for our lives. No one—no scholar, no artist, no person—in all the centuries ever saw this before: that we can learn about ourselves from the very technique of art!...He showed that far from being in a separate world, art has the answer to the trouble in this one.”
She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society of Contemporary Artists and New York Artists Equity. She has received an Honorable Mention from the Brooklyn Society of Artists, 1957; a Tiffany Grant for painting, 1965; and awards from the American Society of Contemporary Artists, 1996, 1999. Dorothy Koppelman’s work has been included in the collections of Hampton University, Virginia; Rosenzweig Museum, Durham, North Carolina; New-York Historical Society; Yale University; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, as well as other institutions.
Dorothy Koppelman lives in New York City. She is a consultant on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, where she also teaches the Critical Inquiry, a workshop for artists. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, and is President of the Eli Siegel/Martha Baird Foundation. She continues her study in classes with Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 12 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1940-2001 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1942-2003 (Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1930s-1989, 2005 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Subject Files, 1942-2004 (Boxes 1-2; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 5: Teaching Files, 1940s-2006 (Box 2; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Exhibition Files, 1940s-2005 (Boxes 2-3; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Personal Business Records, 1944-1969 (Box 3; 3 folders)
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1942-2003 (Box 3; 2 folders)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1937-1971, 2004 (Box 3; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 10: Artwork, 1933-1949, 1980-2000 (Box 3; 3 folders)
Series 11: Sketchbooks, 1944-2005 (Boxes 3-4; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 12: Photographs, 1930-circa 2004 (Box 4; 0.25 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman measure 4.0 linear feet and date from circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005. The collection documents the activities of Chaim Koppelman and his wife, Dorothy Koppelman, as artists and educators, and their affiliation with the Terrain Gallery and the Aesthetic Realism Foundation. Materials include biographical material, correspondence, writings and notes, subject files, teaching files, exhibition files, personal business records, scrapbooks, printed material, sketches, sketchbooks, and photographs.
Scattered biographical material includes resumes, artist's statements, copies of entries in Who’s Who directories, and miscellaneous items.
Correspondence includes personal correspondence and general correspondence. Personal correspondence mostly consists of Chaim Koppelman's letters written to Dorothy while he was serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He describes his daily activities, observations on army life, and his travels while stationed in England, France, and Germany. Of interest is Chaim Koppelman's letter to Dorothy describing his meeting Picasso and visiting the artist's studio. Personal correspondence also includes Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman's letters with family and friends. Notable correspondents include Sari Dienes, Nat Herz, Sheldon Kranz, Amédée Ozenfant, Hilla Rebay, and Theodoros Stamos. Hilla Rebay's letters to Chaim Koppelman discuss museum-related activities at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, including the Guggenheim's memorial exhibition for Wassily Kandinsky. There is also a file of letters from Eli Siegel to Chaim Koppelman. General correspondence includes mostly incoming letters to Chaim Koppelman from collectors, colleagues, students, and arts institutions. Frequent correspondents include: Associated American Artists, American Federation of the Arts, Audubon Artists, DeCordova and Dana Museum and Park, Pratt Graphics Center and Print Council of America.
Writings and notes contain annotated typescripts and handwritten drafts by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman. Chaim Koppelman's writings include essays and talks on art, artists, and printmaking based on Aesthetic Realism; also found are some poems. Dorothy Koppelman's writings consist of artist's statements and essay-length pieces that were prepared for Aesthetic Realism talks on the work and lives of artists, held at the Terrain Gallery of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation and other venues. Also found is a sound recording of Chaim Koppelman's 1968 conversation with Richard Anuszkiewicz, Roy Lichtenstein, and Clayton Pond; the artists discuss the influence of the Siegel Theory of Opposites on their work.
Subject files document the activities, projects, and professional affiliations of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman. Included are materials on exhibitions, applications for fellowships and grants, awards, drafts of writings, donations and acquisitions of artwork by museums. Teaching files provide an overview of the faculty positions held by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman over the course of their careers. Found are extensive files on Chaim Koppelman's tenure at the School of Visual Arts. Exhibition files chronicle the Koppelmans' solo and group shows at the Terrain and other venues; substantive files contain Chaim Koppelman's correspondence with museums and arts institutions and sales information.
Two scrapbooks contain exhibition-related materials, such as artists' statements, press releases, awards, printed material, and photographs of artwork. Artwork includes sketches and illustrated letters by Chaim Koppelman. There are twenty annotated sketchbooks by Chaim Koppelman and a sketchbook by Dorothy Koppelman. Photographs and snapshots are of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman; many of the snapshots of Chaim Koppelman and others document his army service while stationed in the United States and Europe. Four photograph albums include black and white photographs of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman in their studio; included are snapshots of the Koppelmans with family and friends at exhibition openings, gatherings, and on their travels. There are photographs of Regina Dienes, Gerson Lieber, Bernard Olshan, Joseph Solman, and Theodoros Stamos.
Provenance
The collection was donated by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman in 2006.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art also holds the Terrain Gallery records of which Dorothy Koppelman is the director.
Processing Information
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2012 by Joy Weiner. 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, subseries, and folder levels. 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.

How to Cite This Collection

Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman papers, circa 1930s-2006, bulk 1942-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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