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Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records, circa 1920-1983, bulk, 1949-1975

Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records, circa 1920-1983, bulk, 1949-1975

Perls, Frank, 1910-1975

Gallery owner, Dealer

Collection Information

Size: 23.8 linear ft.

Summary: The Frank Perls Gallery records and Frank Perls papers measure 23.8 linear feet and date from 1920-1983, with the bulk dating from 1949-1975. Personal papers include writings, military records, appointment calendars, and photographs. Gallery records date from its opening in 1939 until its closure in 1981 and consist of financial, sales, and legal records; exhibition files; exhibition catalogs and announcements; subject files that contain a variety of correspondence with artists, dealers, galleries, museums, and friends and family, as well as reference materials and photographs; and scrapbooks.

Personal papers contain biographical materials, including military records from Perls' service in the army during World War II, personal photographs, documentation on his estate settlement, and numerous short stories. Of particular interest are Perl's stories about his interactions with Pablo Picasso and his work to uncover fraud, fakes, and corruption in the art world. There are also many photographs of Picasso, photographs of family, the war, and Perls, including two original photographs of Perls by Man Ray.

Gallery sales, purchases, consignments, insurance appraisals, loans, provenance research, and general business expenses are well documented in the General Business and Financial Records. Perls jointly owned artwork with several galleries in New York, including the Curt Valentine Gallery and M. Knoedler Gallery, and these consignment and joint sales are documented in the invoices. A complete accounting of the Gallery's income and expense reports from 1950-1971 is also be found in this series. Artists extensively documented through financial transactions are William Brice, James Strombotne, and Howard Warsaw.

Extensive exhibition files document the gallery's exhibitions and Perl's curatorial work. Files contain varied documentation, such as photographs, catalogs, announcements, and publicity for Frank Perls Gallery shows from 1939 through 1971. Artists represented in this series include Sam Amato, Robert Chuey, Jaques Lipchitz, Pablo Picasso, James McGarrell, and James Strombotne. Files are also found for the two major retrospective exhibitions Perls organized and curated, Matisse Retrospective at University of California, Los Angeles, and Sixty Years of Picasso Prints at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, both in 1966. Additional information about these exhibitions is also found in the Subject Files.

Subject Files are extensive and varied in name, content, and topic. They consist mostly of correspondence with friends, family, colleagues, artists, critics, galleries and dealers, clients, arts organizations and associations, publications, and others. There are also reference files and exhibition files for exhibitions held at other galleries and museums in which Perls was interested, guest curated, or loaned artwork. The contents of each file unit varies, but many include correspondence, photographs, appraisal records, sales records, invoices, reports, and membership records. The files highlight his close personal relationship with many artists, including William Brice, Rico Lebrun, James McGarrell, Channing Peake, Pablo Picasso, and James Strombotne. Subject Files also contain abundant correspondence with colleagues and family members, including his brother Klaus, who owned and operated the Perls Gallery in New York. Many of the files concern Perl's work with art documentation and authentication. Subject Files have been arranged according to Frank Perls original order.

Scrapbooks contain newspaper articles, catalogs, and announcements about exhibitions at the Perls Gallery in New York during the late 1930s and the Frank Perls Gallery in Los Angeles during the 1950s.

Biographical/Historical Note

Frank Perls (1910-1975) was an art dealer and gallery owner from Beverly Hills, Calif. Perls introduced southern California to artists he believed represented the best modern art of America and Europe. Between 1950 to 1954, Frank Perls Gallery organized the first West coast exhibitions of Joan Miro, Marino Marini, and Alberto Giacometti. Perls also gave exhibitions to newly emerging artists of Southern California artists, including William Brice, Robert Chuey, Rico Lebrun, James McGarrell, Channing Peake, and Howard Warsaw.

Provenance

The Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records were donated by Joan Hazlitt, one of the executors of the Perls' estate, from 1976-1988.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation.

A Finding Aid to the Frank Perls Papers and Frank Perls Gallery Records,
circa 1920-1983
,
bulk 1949-1975
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.perlfran
Finding aid prepared by Diana Shenk
Scope and Content Note
The Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records measure 23.8 linear feet and date from 1920-1983, with the bulk dating from 1949-1975. Personal papers include writings, military records, appointment calendars, and photographs. Gallery records date from its opening in 1939 until its closure in 1981 and consist of financial, sales, and legal records; exhibition files; exhibition catalogs and announcements; subject files that contain a variety of correspondence with artists, dealers, galleries, museums, and friends and family, as well as reference materials and photographs; and scrapbooks.
Personal papers contain biographical materials, including military records from Perls' service in the army during World War II, personal photographs, documentation on his estate settlement, and numerous short stories. Of particular interest are Perl's stories about his interactions with Pablo Picasso and his work to uncover fraud, fakes, and corruption in the art world. There are also many photographs of Picasso, photographs of family, the war, and Perls, including two original photographs of Perls by Man Ray.
Gallery sales, purchases, consignments, insurance appraisals, loans, provenance research, and general business expenses are well documented in the General Business and Financial Records. Perls jointly owned artwork with several galleries in New York, including the Curt Valentine Gallery and M. Knoedler Gallery, and these consignment and joint sales are documented in the invoices. A complete accounting of the Gallery's income and expense reports from 1950-1971 is also be found in this series. Artists extensively documented through financial transactions are William Brice, James Strombotne, and Howard Warsaw.
Extensive exhibition files document the gallery's exhibitions and Perl's curatorial work. Files contain varied documentation, such as photographs, catalogs, announcements, and publicity for Frank Perls Gallery shows from 1939 through 1971. Artists represented in this series include Sam Amato, Robert Chuey, Jaques Lipchitz, Pablo Picasso, James McGarrell, and James Strombotne. Files are also found for the two major retrospective exhibitions Perls organized and curated,
Matisse Retrospective
at University of California, Los Angeles and
Sixty Years of Picasso Prints
at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, both in 1966. Additional information about these exhibitions is also found in the Subject Files.
Subject Files are extensive and varied in name, content, and topic. They consist mostly of correspondence with friends, family, colleagues, artists, critics, galleries and dealers, clients, arts organizations and associations, publications, and others. There are also reference files and exhibition files for exhibitions held at other galleries and museums in which Perls was interested, guest curated, or loaned artwork. The contents of each file unit varies, but many include correspondence, photographs, appraisal records, sales records, invoices, reports, and membership records. The files highlight his close personal relationship with many artists, including William Brice, Rico Lebrun, James McGarrell, Channing Peake, Pablo Picasso, and James Strombotne. Subject Files also contain abundant correspondence with colleagues and family members, including his brother Klaus, who owned and operated the Perls Gallery in New York. Many of the files concern Perl's work with art documentation and authentication. Subject Files have been arranged according to Frank Perls original order.
Finally, scrapbooks contain newspaper articles, catalogs, and announcements about exhibitions at the Perls Gallery in New York during the late 1930s and the Frank Perls Gallery in Los Angeles during the 1950s.
Historical Note
Frank Perls (1910-1975) was founder and sole owner of the Frank Perls Gallery in Beverly Hills, California.
Frank Perls was born in Germany on October 23, 1910. His parents, Hugo and Kaethe Perls, owned one of the leading art galleries in Berlin, and sold the work of many well-known artists. Artists works included in the gallery inventory were pieces by Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Cézanne, among others. His parents enjoyed a close friendship with Picasso, a relationship Perls maintained until Picasso's death in 1973. After his parents divorce in 1931, his mother left Germany and eventually opened the Galerie Kaethe in Paris.Frank Perls studied art history at the Universities of Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt and joined his mother at the Galerie Kaethe in 1932.
Frank Perls immigrated to the United States in 1937 and partnered with his brother, Klaus Perls, to open the Perls Galleries in New York. Two years later he moved to California and opened the Frank Perls Gallery on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. During those first years, the Gallery hosted exhibitions by Man Ray, Eugene Berman, and John Decker.
Perls closed his gallery in 1942 when he enlisted in the United States Army. Because he was fluent in both French and German, Perls served as an interpreter at the Military Intelligence Service, European Theater of Operations. He landed in Normandy with the 30th Infantry Division and was awarded the Bronze Star in 1944. In 1945, Perls was assigned to the Arts and Monuments Section of Allied Military Government in Germany. He was honorably discharged in September, 1945.
After the war, Perls returned to Los Angeles and managed the recently opened Associated American Artists Gallery in Beverly Hills. The gallery was organized in 1934 and marketed art to the middle classes with the opportunity to purchase prints at affordable prices. Perls made significant contacts during his tenure at the gallery and eventually opened his own Beverly Hills gallery in 1950.
The Frank Perls Gallery on Camden Drive was closely associated with the Pierre Matisse Gallery and the Curt Valentin Gallery in New York, both major sources of exhibition materials for the early years. Perls introduced southern California to artists he believed represented the best modern art of America and Europe - Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Ben Shahn, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, and Jean Dubuffet. Between 1950 to 1954, Frank Perls Gallery organized the first West coast exhibitions of Joan Miro, Marino Marini, and Alberto Giacometti. Perls also gave exhibitions to newly emerging artists of Southern California artists, including William Brice, Robert Chuey, Rico Lebrun, James McGarrell, Channing Peake, and Howard Warsaw.
Perls moved his gallery to Wilshire Boulevard in 1965 and stopped representing California artists at that time to focus primarily on major exhibitions of Henri Matisse and Picasso. In 1966, he helped organize an extensive traveling Henri Matisse exhibition at UCLA called
Matisse Retrospective
. Perls worked with Matisse's children, Pierre, Jean, and Marguerite Duthuit, to identify 345 prints and sculptures and attach family inventory numbers to them.
Frank Perls also organized several large Picasso exhibitions, including the
Bonne Fete Monsieur Picasso
exhibit at UCLA in 1961 and the
45 Selected Picasso Graphics
exhibition at Frank Perls Gallery in 1971. For his work in preparing these major exhibitions in California of Matisse and Picasso, Perls was made a life fellow of the Los Angeles County Museum.
Perls was a member of the Art Dealers of America, serving for several years on the Board of Directors and as director. He was also dedicated to exposing art fakes and forgeries, earning a reputation for discovering, exposing, and pursuing disreputable art appraisers and dealers. Perls wrote extensively about modern art and artists, as well as his experiences in short stories that often appeared in print.
Frank Perls died on February 8, 1975 from complications following open-heart surgery. The Gallery remained open until 1981 while his executor and family distributed the gallery inventory.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 5 series:
Series 1: Frank Perls papers, circa 1920-1981 (Box 1-2, 28; 1.1 linear feet)
Series 2: General Financial and Business Records, 1949-1975 (Box 2-4, 23-27; 3.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1937-1975 (Box 5-6; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Subject Files, circa 1939-1983 (Box 6-22; 16.5 linear feet)
Series 5. Scrapbooks, 1937-1957 (Box 28; 0.3 linear feet)
Provenance
The Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records were donated by Joan Hazlitt, one of the executors of the Perls' estate, from 1976-1988.
Processing Information
This collection was processed by Diana Shenk in 2009, with funding provided by the Getty Foundation.

Restrictions on Access

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

How to Cite This Collection

Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records, circa 1920-1983, bulk, 1949-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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