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David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998

David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998

Bourdon, David, 1934-1998

Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 37.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York art critic and writer David Bourdon measure 37 linear feet and date from 1941-1998. The papers include scattered biographical materials, manuscript and published writings, extensive art and artists' research files, and printed materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

David Bourdon (1934-1998) was an art critic, editor, and author who worked primarily in New York City.

Provenance

The David Bourdon papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Les Levine, executor of the David Bourdon estate.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.bourdavi
Finding aid prepared by Valerie Vanden Bossche
Scope and Contents note
The papers of New York art critic and writer David Bourdon measure 37 linear feet and date from 1941--998. The papers include scattered biographical materials, manuscript and published writings, extensive art and artists' research files, and printed materials.
Biographical materials consist of school writings; 2 folders of correspondence, including correspondence with Ray Johnson; Bourdon's mother's family reminiscences, and other personal scattered materials. Writings include essays, stories, articles, and manuscript material for the books
Calder: Mobilist, Ringmaster, Innovator
(1980) and
Designing the Earth: the Human Impulse to Shape Nature
(1995). The bulk of Bourdon papers consist of his compiled research files on art, artists, sculpture, architecture and design, earth art, and for his book
Designing the Earth
. Individual research files may include printed materials, correspondence, writings, interview transcripts, notes, photographs, and press releases. Printed material covers many of the same subjects as those found in the research files as well Bourdon's published writings.
Biographical/Historical note
David Bourdon (1934-1998) was an art critic, editor, and author who worked primarily in New York City.
David Bourdon was born in 1934 in California but moved to New York City to attend Columbia University and continued to live there for most of his life. He wrote for numerous art publications and was known for his sharp insight and wit. From 1964 to 1966 and 1974 to 1977 he served as art critic for the
Village Voice
, was assistant editor of
Life
magazine from 1966 to 1971, associate editor of the
Smithsonian Magazine
from 1972 to 1974, and art critic for
Vogue
magazine from 1978 to 1983 when he became senior features editor. Bourdon was also a senior editor for
GEO
magazine in the early 1980s and New York correspondent for
du
magazine for about three years in the 1970s. He was a frequent contributor to
Art in America
, and, in the summer of 1977 produced a show-by-show review of the entire New York art season. Bourdon also served as president of the U.S. section of the International Association of Art Critics.
Bourdon was friends with many artists, including Andy Warhol, whom he met in the 1950s while Warhol was working as a commercial artist. Bourdon wrote a book on Warhol (1989) and was involved in the some of Warhol's Factory projects, including the 1963 series of Elvis Presley silk screens. Bourdon wrote about the Manhattan art world of the early 1960s and was one of the early writers on the Minimalist moement. He also wrote about the Earth Art movement in the 1960s-1970s and was friends with Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer. He wrote
Designing the Earth: the Human Impulse to Shape Nature
which was published in 1995. He also wrote books on Christo (1972) and Alexander Calder (1980).
David Bourdon died in 1998 at the age of 63.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 4 series. The found order has been maintained and is assumed to be that of David Bourdon.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1949-1997 (0.6 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Writings, 1941-1997 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
Series 3: Research files, 1945-1998 (25.8 linear feet; Boxes 2-28)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1962-1997 (linear feet; Boxes 28-39)
Provenance
The David Bourdon papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Les Levine, executor of the David Bourdon estate.
Processing Information note
The collection was re-boxed by Joy Weiner. The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid created by Valerie Vanden Bossche in 2014 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
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. 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

David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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