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George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978

George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978

Constant, George, 1892-1978

Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 4.6 linear feet

Summary: The papers of modernist painter and printmaker George Constant measure 4.5 linear feet and date from 1912-2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932-1978. They consist of biographical material, inventories of artwork, sound recordings of interviews and statements on art, personal and business related correspondence, greeting cards, printed material, an exhibition-related video recording, and photographs of Constant, his family and friends, and his work. A small portion of the correspondence and printed materials are written in Greek.

Biographical material includes artist statements written and recorded by Constant, two sound recordings of interviews discussing his philosophies on art and his work, inventories of artwork, personal property deeds and legal correspondence, and other miscellaneous material.

Correspondence is predominantly in the form of business and personal letters, postcards, and greeting cards received from family and friends. These include correspondence from Constant's daughter, Georgette Preston, and extended family members. Other frequent personal correspondents include Milton and Sally Avery, Lewis Balamuth, Margaret Brunning, David Burliuk, Nathaniel Burwash, Rhys Caparn, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, Phillip Cavanaugh, Morris Davidson, Charles Eaton, Vilko Gecan, Marchal Landgren, Roy Neuberger, Walter Pach, Nell Perret, Constantine Pougialis, Wallace Putnam and Consuelo Kanaga, Hi Simons, and Helen Slosberg. Business related correspondents include Audubon Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Ferargil Galleries, Guild Hall, Heckscher Museum, Lyman Allyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Spanish Refugee Appeal, and the Whitney Museum. Additional business correspondence related to Constant's work with the WPA are also included in the series.

Printed material includes books and booklets on American and Greek art, including a limited print edition of "George Constant," by George Constant, clippings and articles reviewing Constant's work, exhibition announcements and catalogs of Constant's shows, periodicals profiling his artwork, and dance and theater related programs that Constant consulted on.

Photographs are primarily of Constant's artwork, but also include black and white prints of Constant and his family and friends in St. Louis, Missouri., Dayton, Ohio, and in and around his studio in Shinnecock Hills, N.Y. The collection also includes photo stills from his 1965 exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum.

Biographical/Historical Note

George Constant (1892-1978) was a painter from New York, N.Y.


The papers of George Constant were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1978. Additional materials were donated in 2001 and 2007 by his daughter Georgette Preston.

A Finding Aid to the George Constant Papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Greek American George Zachary Constant (1892-1978) worked from his studios in Shinnecock Hills, and New York City, New York as a painter and printmaker. A founder and lifelong member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Constant worked for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) during the Depression and early years of World War II, and exhibited regularly at major galleries and museums from the 1920s to 1970s.
Born in Arahova, Greece, Constant was raised by his two uncles after the death of his parents in 1896. In school and at the monestary one of his uncles led, Constant showed an early interest in classical Greek aesthetics. At the age of eighteen, he immigrated to the United States and continued his art studies at Washington University before transferring to the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, Constant taught at the Dayton Art Institute and continued to produce and exhibit his work locally. In 1922, he moved to New York, joined the Society of Independent Painters, and became close friends with Society founder and art critic Walter Pach. During the 1920s, his etchings were shown at the Valentine and Downtown Galleries, and at the New Art Circle of J.B. Neumann, where he presented his first one man gallery show in 1929.
From the 1930s to 1940s, Constant produced prints, watercolors, and oil paintings for the WPA, many of which were purchased by museums and public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum. During this same period, Constant exhibited his work at the Boyer Gallery in the late 1930s, and at the Ferargil Gallery from the 1940s to early 1950s. In the decade between 1955 and 1965, Constant also worked on color and set design for seventeen dance productions created by the choreographer Alwin Nikolais. In the last two decades of his career, Constant produced works from his studio in Shinnecock Hills, New York and continued to exhibit at numerous galleries, including Grace Borgenicht Gallery, Guild Hall, Mari Galleries, Tirca Karlis Gallery, and Artium Gallery.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into 4 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1923-2007 (Box 1; 17 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1930-1979 (Box 1-2; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1927-2005 (Box 2-3; 2 linear feet)
Series 4: Photographic Material, 1912-1978 (Box 4-6; 1 linear foot)
The papers of George Constant were donated by the artist in 1969 and 1978. Additional materials were donated in 2001 and 2007 by his daughter Georgette Preston.
Processing Information note
George Constant's donations from 1969 were originally microfilmed on reels N69-77 and N69-125; these reels are no longer in circulation. The 2007 final addition was merged with earlier accessions and the entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Judy Ng in February 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

All of the sound and video recordings in this collection were digitized for research access in 2011 and are available at the Archives of American Art offices. Researchers may view the original cassettes for the archival notations on them, but original cassettes are not available for playback due to fragility.

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

George Constant papers, 1912-2007, bulk 1932-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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