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Clay Spohn papers, circa 1862-1985, bulk, 1890-1985

Spohn, Clay Edgar, 1898-1977

Muralist, Painter, Printmaker, Sculptor, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 19.9 linear feet

Summary: The Clay Spohn papers measure 19.9 linear feet and date from circa 1862 to 1985, with the bulk of the material dating from 1890 to 1985. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, business records, notes and writings, artwork, printed material, and photographs reflecting the life and career of painter and educator Clay Spohn.
Part 1 includes sketchbooks with annotated drawings by Spohn, writings including reminiscensces by Spohn, letters, clippings, and photographs of Spohn's artwork.
Part 2 includes biographical material; correspondence between Spohn and his colleagues; business records such as Spohn's general accounting records; Spohn's notes and writings on a variety of subjects; drawings and sketchbooks; printed material such as exhibition announcements and catalogs; and photographs of subjects such as Spohn, his family and colleagues, his house, and his artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

Clay Spohn (1898-1977) was a painter and educator from New York, N.Y. Born in San Francisco, Spohn studied at the Art Students League from 1922 to 1924, under George Luks, and Guy Pène du Bois, and became acquainted with Alexander Calder. From 1926 to 1927, he studied in Paris at the Academie Modern. Returning to San Francisco in 1927, Spohn became an active member in the Bay Area art scene. In 1945, Spohn was employed as instructor of drawing and painting at the California School of Fine Arts, where he befriended Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. Spohn moved to Taos, N.M., in 1952, and participated in several national exhibitions, but by 1964, he had returned to New York and taught at the School of Visual Arts until 1969. In 1971, the Oakland Museum sponsored a retrospective of Spohn's work.


The material on reel D169 was lent for filming by Clay Spohn in 1964. The material on reel 5461-5474 was donated by Spohn's friend and the executor of his estate, Urban Neininger, in 1978.

Location of Originals

  • Reel D169: Originals returned to lender, Clay Spohn, after microfilming.