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Emil J. Bisttram papers, 1902-1982

Bisttram, Emil, 1895-1976

Muralist, Painter


Collection Information

Size: 2.3 Linear feet, (on 6 microfilm reels)

Summary: Papers relating to work done for the Federal Art Project; business and personal letters; printed material; biographical data; correspondence; and photographs.
REEL 79: Correspondence, memoranda, and other material relating to federal art programs in New Mexico and Arizona. Includes correspondence with Public Works of Art Project administrators about a mural in Taos County Court House done by Bisttram, Bert G. Phillips, and Victor Higgins; memoranda; press releases and reports; catalogs of Treasury Department art projects shown at the Corcoran Gallery; and Federal Art Project dismissals and a proposal for a Bureau of Fine Arts.
REEL 581: Business and personal letters to and from Bisttram, including a letter from Lily and Eero Saarinen, and letters from Raymond Jonson; clippings; 91 catalogs; 22 reproductions of Bisttram's work; newspaper and magazine articles describing the artist colony at Taos and Santa Fe.
REEL 2787: Baptismal and naturalization records; correspondence; a photograph of Bisttram; clippings and printed material.
REELS 2892-2894: Biographical material; one or more letters from Ray Jonson, Stanton Macdonald-Wright; Oscar Berninghaus, Mrs. Walter Ufer, and other artists; correspondence with Olin Dows and others involved in the Treasury Relief Art Project, with galleries, museums, art organizations, and students; writings and notes; the draft for a book about Dynamic Symmetry; drafts for a book The Creative Process in the New Age; sketches and drawings; business, financial, and legal records; exhibition catalogs and announcements; certificates and awards; transcripts of interviews of Bisttram; and photographs of Bisttram and his paintings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter; Taos, N.M. Was an exponent of Dynamic Symmetry, a painting technique.


Papers microfilmed on reel 581were lent for microfilming 1973, and some was subsequently donated with a gift in 1983 (and refilmed on reels 2892-2894).

Location of Originals

  • REEL 581 (selected papers): Originals returned to lender, Emil J. Bisttram, after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels 79, 581, 2787, and 2892-2894 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Emil J. Bisttram papers, 1902-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.