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George Tooker papers, circa 1851-2010

More Information

Elissa L. Jerome
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter George Tooker measure 5.1 linear feet and date from circa 1851 to 2010. The papers document Tooker's personal and professional life through biographical material, correspondence, project files, gallery files, exhibition files, printed material, artwork and one sketchbook, and numerous photographs, including some taken by noted photographer George Platt Lynes.
Biographical material consists of membership and travel documents, writings on and by Tooker on his circle, an address book, resume, and papers regarding Tooker's education. Also included are biographical material related to Tooker's partner William Christopher who passed in 1973. A 1978 interview with Vermont Public radio on two sound reels is also featured.
Correspondence is with friends, colleagues, and organizations. Correspondents include Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Walter Bachinski, William Christopher, Otto Dix, Jared and Margaret French, Ralph Ginzburg, Xavier Gonzalez, Robert Isaacson, Edward Laning, Lincoln Kirstein, Lee Nordness, Bernard Perlin, Joan Peterson, Theodore Stamos, Bridget Tichenor, and others. Also included are family correspondence and correspondence regarding the Estate of William Christopher.
Project files document Tooker's commissions including the set and costume design for Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera The Saint of Bleecker Street and Tooker's participation in the selection of candidates for the Vestris Prize for Choreography. Files contain correspondence, business documents, printed ephemera, sketches, photographs, three volumes of vocal scores, and textile samples.
Gallery records include business correspondence and consignments with various key galleries in Tooker's career spanning the 1960s to the end of his career including D.C. Moore Gallery, Marisa Del Re Gallery, and Durlacher Bros..
Exhibition records include documents regarding the organization of several select exhibitions in Tooker's career incuding an early retrospective at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (1974) and a later traveling retrospective from 2008-2009.
Printed material consists of invitations, press releases, news clippings and exhibition catalogs documenting the careers of both George Tooker and William Christopher.
Artwork includes numerous sketchbooks, loose drawings, and sketches from Tooker's studies at the Art Students' League in the mid 1940s, in addition to an early ex-libris print created by Tooker in his youth. Also included is a sketchbook by William Christopher, as well as a study for the work The Subway, in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Photographic materials depict Tooker's family life as well as his early artistic collaborations depicted in a number of black and white photographs taken by George Platt Lynes and PaJaMa in the mid to late 1940s. A majority of the photographs depict artists and friends, among them: George Tooker and his companion William Christopher, Paul Cadmus, Jared and Margaret French, Lincoln and Fidelma Kirstein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, and Bridget Tichenor. Other photographs are of Tooker building his home, gardening, and working in his studio in Hartland, Vermont. Also included are installation views from the exhibition Painting in the United States (1949) at the Carnegie Institute in Pennsylvania. There are also a fair amount of photographs, transparencies, slides and negatives documenting artwork from both the studios of George Tooker and his late partner William Christopher.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
George Tooker donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1973. A subsequent addition was donated in 2018 by Aaron Watkins, the executor to George Tooker's estate.
Related Materials
Available in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with George Tooker conducted in 1966 by Grace G. Alexander for radio station WNYC, New York City.
Materials related to the George Tooker papers can be found the William Christopher papers at the Archives of American Art.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Elissa L. Jerome in 2016. A 2018 addition was processed by Ryan Evans in 2019.