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David Parrish papers, 1940-2009, bulk 1964-1998

David Parrish papers, 1940-2009, bulk 1964-1998

Parrish, David Buchanan, 1939-


Collection Information

Size: 3.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Alabama photorealist painter David Parrish measure 3.1 linear feet and date from 1940 to 2009, with the bulk of the material from 1964 to 1998. Parrish's career is documented through scattered biographical material; correspondence with galleries, publishers, art organizations, and friends; photographs of Parrish, his studio, and artwork; original artwork by Parrish and others; and printed material.

Biographical material consists of resumes, one folder of financial records, brief artist statements written by David Parrish, and two essays about Parrish's works written by others. Also included is a VHS video recording of an interview with Parrish conducted by Bob Williams in 1997 in conjunction with an exhibition.

Correspondence is primarily of a professional nature and pertains to Parrish's relationships with various galleries, publishers, and arts organizations. Of note is correspondence with galleries that represented Parrish's work including French & Company, Sidney Janis, Nancy Hoffman, and Louis K. Meisel, and correspondence with fellow artist Don Eddy. Also included is a small amount of personal correspondence with friends and family.

0 Photographs of David Parrish include one baby photo, official portraits, photographs of him in his studio, with family and friends, and at exhibition openings. Also found are photographs and slides of his artwork, including gallery installations and early photographs of the interior of Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

Artwork includes a sketchbook kept by Parrish while a student at the University of Alabama, several ink drawings produced during his employment as a technical illustrator at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and a few sketches by others. Printed material includes exhibition catalogs, announcements, and posters, newspaper clippings, press packets, and other gallery publications documenting Parrish's career as an artist.

Much of the material in the collection includes recent annotations by Parrish describing his involvement with the projects and exhibitions, and identifying friends and colleagues.

Biographical/Historical Note

David Parrish (1939- ) is a Photorealist painter in Huntsville, Ala. Parrish is a first generation Photorealist painter whose work has been represented by French & Company, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, Sidney Janis Gallery, and Louis K. Meisel Gallery.


Donated 2009 by David Parrish.

A Finding Aid to the David Parrish Papers,
bulk 1964-1998
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
David Parrish (1939-) is a Photorealist painter living in Huntsville, Alabama.
Parrish was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and received his B.F.A. from the University of Alabama in 1961. He briefly moved to New York with plans to become a magazine illustrator, but was unable to find a permanent job. He moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1962 and became a technical illustrator for Hayes International Corporation. Parrish continued painting at his home studio, moving away from the painting style he learned in school, and instead working on paintings derived from photographs. He left his job as a technical illustrator in 1971 and became a full-time painter. That same year he joined French & Company in New York as a gallery artist and had his first one-man show at Brooks Memorial Art Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee.
During the 1970s Parrish saw success as a first generation photorealist. He was represented from 1973 to 1976 by Sidney Janis Gallery, and then moved to Nancy Hoffman Gallery. In 1987 he joined Louis K. Meisel Gallery, and is still represented by them today. Parrish's motorcycle paintings became his early trademark, and during the late 1980s into the 1990s he painted complex, intricate porcelain still lifes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and other pop culture icons. Parrish has shown his work in numerous group and solo shows, including many international shows, and is in the permanent collection of many museums.
The collection is arranged as 5 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1970-2000 (Box 1; 8 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-2008 (Box 1, 5; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 3: Photographs, 1940, 1960s-2009 (Boxes 1-2, 5; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Artwork, circa 1961-2002 (Boxes 2, 5; 5 folders)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1962-2009 (Boxes 2-4; 1.5 linear feet)
Donated 2009 by David Parrish.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to an intermediate level by Erin Kinhart in 2011.

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 Parrish papers, 1940-2009, bulk 1964-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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