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Dorothy Gees Seckler collection of sound recordings relating to art and artists, 1962-1976

Dorothy Gees Seckler collection of sound recordings relating to art and artists, 1962-1976

Seckler, Dorothy Gees, 1910-1994

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 1.6 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Dorothy Gees Seckler (1910-1994) was an art historian from Bronxville, New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts.


The bulk of the collection, including the interviews with the Provincetown artists, was donated 1995 by Don Seckler, son of Dorothy Seckler. The source of acquisition for the Seckler interviews with the Woodstock artists is unknown.

Related Materials

Other related materials in the Archives' collections include several additional interviews conducted by Seckler for its oral history program, a full recording and transcript of the August 28, 1963 symposium on pop art, for which brief sound notes are found in this collection, and a transcript of the John Jones interview with George Segal in the John Jones interviews with artists collection, 1965 October 5-1965 November 12.


Funding for the transcription of Seckler's interviews with Provincetown artists was provided by Shirley Gorelick in 2014.

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Gees Seckler collection of sound recordings relating to art and artists measures 1.6 linear feet and dates from 1962 to 1976. Recordings include 20 interviews conducted by Seckler, one interview by John Jones, and 17 additional recordings of mostly contemporary art-related programs and interviews taped from radio and television broadcasts. Recordings are on 26 sound cassettes and 25 sound tape reels.

Interviews with Artists consist of 17 interviews by Dorothy Seckler with artists including Elise Asher, Fritz Bultman, Judith Rothschild, Giorgio Cavallon, Marcia Marcus, Jean Cohen, William Freed, Lillian Orlowsky, Shirley Gorelick, Hans Hofmann, Wolf Kahn, Raoul Middleman, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Olin Orr, Larry Rivers, Alvin Ross, George Segal, Jean Tinguely, and Niki de Saint Phalle. Several interviews are with two subjects at once. Many of these interviews were conducted in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and are referenced in her introduction to the catalog for the exhibition "Provincetown Painters, 1890's -- 1970's" held at the Everson Museum and the Provincetown Art Association in 1977, and several interviews were conducted as research for articles Seckler wrote and published in "Art in America." Also found are group interviews on specific subjects, including an interview with Julio de Diego, Marion Greenwood, Fletcher Martin, and Anton Refregier on the Woodstock art colony, and with Sally Avery, Boris Margo, Jan Gelb, Margit Beck and others on Op Art. In September of 1966, Seckler recorded some of Andy Warhol's "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" in Provincetown, which includes a performance by Nico and the Velvet Underground, as well as an interview with one of the band's members, John Cale. A single interview conducted by John Jones of George Segal appears to have been copied by Seckler to prepare for her April 1966 interview of Segal.

Broadcast materials include sound recordings of television and radio broadcast programs taped off the air presumably by Seckler. Most programs are interviews, with subjects including Maxim Karolik, James Thomas Flexner, R. Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Alex Katz, Phillip Pearlstein, Roslyn Drexler, Barnet Newman, Saul Bellow, Ben Shahn, Marshall McLuhan, Isamu Noguchi, Andrew Wyeth, and William H. Whyte. Other recordings include documentary programs related to contemporary art, book reviews, and a comedy performance with actor Peter Ustinov.

Photographs include 12 color slides from October of 1967 that appear to have been shot in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Subjects include Dorothy Seckler and two other unidentified women.

All of the sound recordings in this collection were digitized for research access in 2011-2012 and are available at the Archives of American Art offices. Researchers may view the original reels for the archival notations on them, but original reels are not available for playback due to fragility. Digital transcripts of Seckler's interviews with Provincetown artists are available on the Archives of American Art's website.

In addition, a transcript of the John Jones interview with George Segal is available on microfilm reel 3949, available through interlibrary loan.

Use of original papers requires and appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

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