Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, writer, and dancer George Deem measure 18.2 linear feet and 10.71 GB and date from 1904-2015, with the bulk of the material dating from 1960-2008. The collection documents Deem's path from Midwestern farm child to New York City artist and teacher who specialized in recreating works of great masters, especially Johannes Vermeer. Correspondence, exhibition files, subject files, project files, writings by and about Deem, printed and digital material and photographic materials all show the trajectory of Deem's development as an artist.
Biographical materials include resumes, an address book, appointment books, birth and death certificates, obituaries and memorial tributes, passports, family histories, jury summons, grant applications, military and educational records.
Correspondence is with family, friends, colleagues, curators, and art dealers. Much of the professional correspondence concerns commissions and reproduction permission requests. Among the correspondents are: Benny Andrews, Mieke Bal, Ulla Dydo, John Evans, Simone Fattal, Lee Guilliat, Vitaly Komar, and Dorothea Tanning. Correspondence with Walter Liedtke, Charles Molesworth, Robert Rosenblum, Arthur K. Wheeler, and Patricia William discusses proposed exhibitions and writings by Deem and others about his work.
Writings include some of Deem's classroom lectures, poems, and short pieces that appeared in independent literary arts publications.
Subject files document Deem's dealings with art consultants and galleries regarding placement of his work, participation in benefit auctions, and gifts of his artwork to the New Britain Museum of American Art. There is extensive correspondence with Allan Stone Gallery, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, and Pavel Zoubok Gallery. Deem's participation in mail art exhibitions is documented by exhibition announcements and correspondence. Also found is mail art correspondence from Richard Copy, Ray Johnson, Jean-Noel Lazlo, Antonio Sassu, Sam Wiener and others: some pieces are copies. The bulk of the project files chronicle Deem's artistic output. Information sheets and photographic materials provide provenance and source references for over 500 works. Files also document commissions undertaken by Deem including book projects, and set designs for dance and theater workshops. Exhibition files document solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad.
Printed material includes books by Deem, exhibition catalogs, reviews, and reproductions. In addition, there are articles and academic papers about Deem and his work. Photographic materials include photographs, digital prints and transparencies; subjects include Deem, family, friends, travels, studio, exhibition installations, and his artwork.
The addition to the George Deem papers consists of scattered biographical materials, correspondence, project and subject files, printed and digital material, and photographic materials. The bulk consists of writings, including a memoir of his early days in New York. Twenty-three notebooks include notes and drafts of writings about his artwork; activities and meetings with colleagues and friends are also recorded. Among the photographic materials are five photograph albums - four are devoted to George Deem, his family, and friends; the fifth houses photographs of Deem's artwork.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The George Deem papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2013 and 2015 by Ronald Vance, executor of the George Deem estate.
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2015 by Joy Goodwin. A preliminary arrangement and description was prepared by Sue Fox on behalf of the Estate of George Deem. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2020 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.