Harriet E. Shapiro and Erin Kinhart
Scope and Contents
The scattered papers of Abstract Expressionist painter Elaine de Kooning are dated circa 1959-2013 and measure 1.1 linear feet and 0.003 GB. Found within the papers are letters, writings, a sketch of John F. Kennedy, notes, a sound recording, a few documents regarding Willem de Kooning, transcripts of interviews of de Kooning, transcripts of recorded conversations between de Kooning and others, and transcripts of lectures by de Kooning and others. There are a few photographs of de Kooning and of de Kooning with others, including John F. Kennedy, artist James Bohary, and Ad Reinhardt, and of artwork. Most of the transcripts and few photographs are digitized. Also found are printed materials and two scrapbooks containing a variety of documents about de Kooning's protest against the death penalty and efforts to save the life of convicted criminal Caryl Chessman.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art in 2003 by Denise Lassaw, de Kooning's goddaughter and her mother Ernestine Lassaw, and in 2013-2015 by Denise Lassaw. Interview transcripts and lectures were donated in 2015 by Doris Aach, a friend who transcribed them for de Kooning.
Among the holding of the Archives is an oral history interview conducted in 1981 by Phyllis Tuchman, for the Archives of American Art's Mark Rothko and His Times oral history project. Also found is a collection of Elaine and Willem de Kooning financial records.
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Harriet E. Shapiro in 2013. Additional papers were processed in 2015 by Erin Kinhart. Born-digital material was processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.