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

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Diana Shenk
Scope and Contents
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.
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.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation.
Processing Information
This collection was processed by Diana Shenk in 2009, with funding provided by the Getty Foundation.