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Edward Plunkett papers, circa 1900-2006

Plunkett, Edward M.

Collection Information

Size: 4.2 Linear feet

Summary: Edward Plunkett papers measure 4.2 linear feet and date from circa 1900-2006. Biographical material includes a hand-written biography, identification cards including a United States passport, and a series of autobiographical essays written by Plunkett in his later years at a retirement community in Madison, Wisconsin. The correspondence series is comprised heavily of mail art sent to Plunkett correspondents including Robert Delford Brown, Russell Butler (a.k.a. buZ blurr), Anna Banana, Buster Cleveland, Crackerjack Kid, Ken Friedman, John Held, Jr., E. F. Higgins III, Ray Johnson, Tim Mancusi, Carlo Pittore, May Wilson, William Wilson, and W. S. Stipe. The printed material series includes editioned mail art publications including Collective Farm, No. 3, Post-Office Dinner, 1982 (number 15/100), and unused source material for his mail and collage art. The photographic material series consists of some images of Plunkett, his earlier, more traditional artworks, and snapshots from his travels. The artwork series consists of traditional drawings, paintings, and collages on paper, in addition to a number of altered published books, miniature booklets, and collaged notebooks in various states of being finished. Many of the interleaved notebooks have not been glued to the paper.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edward M. Plunkett (1922-2011) was a mail artist, painter, and educator based in New York City. Plunkett was born in Highland Park, Michigan, attended the University of Chicago and the School of the Chicago Art Institute, and went on to teach at The Chicago Art Institute. Plunkett came to New York City in 1949 to pursue graduate studies at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and then the Sorbonne in Paris before settling permanently in New York. Plunkett's mature style as an exhibiting painter and illustrator often included social scenes and city life in a caricature-like style heavily influenced by Surrealism. In a 1977 article in Art Journal Plunkett describes his engagement with the emerging genre of mail art and how he coined the name "New York Correspondence School" in the early 1960s to describe the work he was making with contemporaries such as Ray Johnson. His paintings have been exhibited at The Whitney Museum in New York, in museums in Holland, Switzerland and The Museum of Modern Art in Paris. His work is found in numerous collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and his mail art is featured in many art and manuscript collections of mail artists.


The collection was donated in 2019 and 2020 by Wendy Fern Hutton, niece of Edward M. Plunkett.

Language Note

English .