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Colin de Land collection, 1968-2008, bulk 1980-2003

More Information

Kate Phillips
Scope and Contents
The Colin de Land collection measures 15.15 linear feet and 0.901 GB and dates from 1968 to 2008, with the bulk of the collection dating from the early 1980s through 2003. The majority of the collection consists of photographic material, primarily snapshots, documenting daily life in and around de Land's gallery American Fine Arts, Co., as well as de Land's pesonal life and affairs. There are candid photographs of exhibition openings, day-to-day gallery operations, art fairs, vacations, social gatherings, and New York City street scenes. Also included are some personal objects belonging to de Land and his wife Pat Hearn, as well as two scrapbooks containing items once decorating the walls of de Land's office at American Fine Arts. The collection includes video recordings documenting trips to Cape Cod, Hearn's illness, and occasional art world events.
The bulk of the collection consists of snapshots, along with their negatives and the envelopes provided by commercial photographic printers. The envelopes are sometimes annotated. The photographs, not typically identified by photographer, were taken by de Land, Hearn, and gallery employees, artists, and visitors. Most of the snapshots provide a candid record of life within de Land's circle, and not formal documentation of gallery exhibitions.
The figures in this collection often occupied blurred boundaries between artist, gallery employee, critic, and friend. Many of the photographs include AFA staff, including Daniel McDonald, Patterson Beckwith, and Craig Wadlin. Also of note are photos showing AFA artists, including John Waters, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Moyra Davey, Dennis Balk, Peter Fend, and Jack Pierson.
In addition to life within the gallery, de Land's cameras also documented a larger art world of the era, candidly showing openings at other galleries, art fairs such as Art Basel, Art Cologne, and the Berlin Artforum, as well as festivals including the Venice Biennale and Documenta, many of which included AFA artists. There is some documentation of the Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair and The Armory Show. The photographs frequently include de Land and Hearn's friends and fellow art dealers Paul Morris, Matthew Marks, and Carol Greene. Some images include artists that showed at Pat Hearn Art Gallery, such as Mary Heilmann. Collectors, celebrity visitors to the gallery, and critics also occasionally appear in the photographs. There is one 1968 photograph of de Land's mother and a small number of 1970s images of both de Land and Hearn.
In addition to the snapshots, there are a variety of other photographic formats, including digital, in the collection. The contents of the slides are of similar nature to the snapshots. The contact sheet binders offer some formal exhibition installation documentation, but are not exhaustive.
The collection also includes film and video footage. Thirty-five reels of Super-8 motion picture film primarily documents frequent vacations to Cape Cod, as well as the final stages of Hearn's illness and subsequent death. The 31 DV-mini cassettes include similar content, and some footage of opening receptions and other art world events.
Most of the official gallery records are missing, most likely lost in the frequent floods in the gallery basement. Two scrapbooks include material that was often photographed on the walls surrounding de Land's desk at AFA. Additional artifacts include one small painting by artist Charles Clough, inscribed to Hearn, a baseball hat frequently worn by de Land and appearing in many of the snapshots, and one page of an autographed calendar.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Colin de Land papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2008 by Dennis Balk, an artist represented by American Fine Arts, Co. and a close friend of de Land.
Related Materials
The archival gallery records of Colin de Land's art gallery American Fine Arts, Co. as well as the gallery records of the Pat Hearn Gallery are available at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York. The gallery records there also include a fair amount of de Land's personal papers. Bard also acquired de Land's and Hearn's personal library.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to an intermediate level by graduate intern Kate Phillips in 2012. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019, also with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.