Scope and Contents
The papers of Emil J. Bisttram measure 2.4 linear feet and date from 1902-1983. The papers document Bisttram's life and career through biographical material, business and personal correspondence, writings, professional files, printed material, photographic materials and original artwork. Biographical material includes resumes, baptismal and naturalization records along with several awards and certificates. Also included are business and personal letters to and from Bisttram, including a letter from Lily and Eero Saarinen, and letters from Raymond Jonson; and correspondence with Public Works of Art Project administrators and others involved in the Treasury Relief Art Project, with galleries, museums, art organizations, and students. Writings consist of book drafts by Bisttram for a book on dynamic symmetry and a book on Bisttram's life and career. Also found is information for a course Bisttram taught as well as overview information on the Bisttram School of Fine Art. Other writings include essays and writings on art and Taos, New Mexico by Emil and Mayrion Bisttram, and writings related to government art programs. The professional files contain correspondence, contracts, reports and receipts related to Bisttram's Treasury Relief Art Program work, exhibitions and the establishment of the Taos school of art including legal and property records; invoices, artwork lists, shipping records and materials related to Bisttram's Guggenheim fellowship application. Also found are printed material related to a selection of Bisttram's exhibitions and the art scene in Taos, N.M. Photographs, slides and negatives depict Bisttram, his artwork and select exhibitions. Original artwork includes approximately 175 drawings and sketches of bodies, animals, many of which use dynamic symmetry shapes and figure proportions.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The records were donated by Mayrion Bisttram, Emil Bisttram's wife, in three accessions in 1963, 1978 and 1983. Papers microfilmed on reel 581 were lent for microfilming in 1973, and some were subsequently donated with the 1983 gift (and refilmed on reels 2892-2894).
Existence and Location of Originals
REEL 581 (selected papers): Originals returned to lender, Emil J. Bisttram, after microfilming.
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sabine Lipten in 2023.