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Gyorgy Kepes papers, 1825-1989, (bulk 1909-1989)

Gyorgy Kepes papers, 1825-1989, (bulk 1909-1989)

Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001

Painter, Designer, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 26.0 linear ft. (microfilmed on 20 reels)

Summary: Biographical material, correspondence, financial records, notes, writings, interview transcripts, exhibition files, a file for book "Art on a Public Scale", a file for the Times Square Project, art work, printed material, photographs, and audio-visual material reflect Kepes' career as a painter, muralist, designer, filmmaker, educator at the New Bauhaus (Chicago School of Design) and at M.I.T., and as founder of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

REEL 1211: Ninety-eight letters to Kepes, 1946-1974, are from colleagues including Josef Albers, Marcel Breuer, Alexander Calder, Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, Naum Gabo, Walter Gropius, Robert Motherwell, Pier Luigi Nervi, and Hans Richter. One letter each was received from Ansel Adams, Alexander Archipenko, Al Capp, Alduous Huxley, Le Corbusier, Margaret Mead, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Piet Mondrian, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Oppenheimer, Herbert Read, and David Smith.

REELS 5303-5321: Biographical material, 1940-1980, includes biographical sketches, diplomas, membership certificates, and award medals and certificates. General correspondence, 1936-1986, is between Kepes and colleagues including Josef Albers, Rudolf Arnheim, Marcel Breuer, Alexander Calder, Henry Dreyfuss, Walter Gropius, S. W. Hayter, Jean Helion, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, George Rickey, and various colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Correspondence files, 1946-1976, contain letters and printed material concerning six arts organizations, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Financial records, 1963-1974, consist of a record of personal checks and miscellaneous receipts. Notes, 1940-1974, include lists of art work, mailing lists, minutes of meetings, lecture notes, notes concerning exhibitions and publications, and miscellaneous notes. Writings consist of typescripts of lectures, grant proposals, and essays by Kepes and others. Interview transcripts are of the Urban Forum Seminar with John Cage, James T. Farrell, and Andreas Feininger, by Kepes, 1954, and of an interview of Kepes for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1968.

Exhibition files, 1963-1968, contain correspondence, writings, printed material, and photographs concerning the "Light as a Creative Medium" exhibition and the Triennale di Milano. A book file, 1970-1974, contains correspondence, notes, and writings connected with "Art on a Public Scale". The Times Square Project file, 1972-1974, contains correspondence, notes, writings, printed material, and photographs. Art work, 1924-1985, includes 2 sketchbooks, 450 annotated sketches by Kepes and others, caricatures for "The Emperor's New Clothes", 4 undated stencils of numerical and elliptical forms; and posters. Printed material, 1825-1989, includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Kepes, his wife Juliet, and others, press releases, lecture announcements, prospectuses, calendars of events, programs, brochures, booklets, books, reproductions of art work, blueprints, and miscellaneous printed material.

Photographs, 1909-1988, are of Kepes, his family, students, studio, exhibition installations, art work, and the work of others. Photographs of colleagues include Harry Bertoia, Alexander Calder, Serge Chermayeff, Max Ernst, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Mead, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Otto Piene, Herbert Read, Jonas Salk, and Saul Steinberg. One lantern slide shows Picasso creating a design with a light. There are photographs of the works of old masters, cityscapes, architectural details, and mechanical devices, used as teaching tools, and photographic prints of x-rays and photomicrographs showing experiments with light and other natural phenomena. A reel of microfilm from the British Museum contains the notes of J. M. W. Turner.

Audio-visual material, 1953-1972, consists of reel-to-reel audio tapes of interviews, lectures, and symposia, and motion picture film of interviews, art-related programs, and student projects, many of which were transferred to VHS. A few oversize documents have not been microfilmed.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, muralist, designer, filmmaker, educator; Cambridge, Mass. Born 1906. Died Dec. 29, 2001. Born in Selyp, Hungary, Kepes studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, working with Moholy-Nagy in Berlin and London before joining him at the New Bauhaus (later the Chicago Institute of Design) in 1937. From1946-1980 he was professor of visual design at MIT, as well as director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies from 1967-1974.


Material on reel 1211 was lent for microfilming 1974 by Gyorgy Kepes. He donated material on reels 5303-5321 in several installments from 1974-1993.


Funding for the preservation and transfer of 4 reels of motion picture film provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee

Location of Originals

  • Reel 1211: Originals returned to Gyorgy Kepes after microfilming.

Alternative Forms Available

Microfilm reels 1211 and 5303-5321 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

Restrictions on Use

Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce must be obtained from: Juliet Kepes Stone, 29B Jay St., Cambridge, Mass. 02139, or Imre Kepes, 11 Arnold Road, West Pelham, Mass. 01002-9757

How to Cite This Collection

Gyorgy Kepes papers, 1825-1989, (bulk 1909-1989). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.