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Hassel Smith papers, circa 1900-2004, bulk 1930-1995

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 9 series.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1930-1990, 2004
0.25 linear feet
Box 1

Biographical materials include biographical sketches, curriculum vitae, interview questions for an interview with Paul Karlstrom, a transcript of an in-depth interview with Jan Butterfield, and a questionnaire about Smith's career with responses. Also found are appointment books from 1974-1978, school ephemera, genealogical materials, loose notes, addresses, and miscellaneous papers related to organizations Smith belonged to.
Materials are arranged by document type.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Series 2: Correspondence, 1930s-2003
1 linear foot
Boxes 1-2

This series consists of Smith's correspondence with family, artists, former students, galleries, universities, and friends. Among the correspondents are artists Elmer Bischoff, Wayne Thiebaud, and Clyfford and Patricia Still, as well as art dealers Paule Anglim, Andre Emmerich, Charles Gimpel, and Kathryn Swanson of the New Arts Gallery. Family correspondence is from Smith's second wife, Donna, his sons Joseph and Bruce, and his stepsons Mark and Stephen.
Additional letters are from friends, including Henri Lenoir, the founder of the San Francisco bohemian Vesuvio Cafe, and artist and writer Robert Wollard. Wollard letters are not only written as himself, but also as various characters associated with the "Natural Surrealist Party" and the Firesign Theatre. Also of interest are a letter to Thomas Albright in response to Albright's review of a Smith exhibition, and letters to Lawrence Ferlinghetti discussing the provenance of Smith's paintings in Ferlinghetti's possession. There is a group of illustrated letters sent to Smith upon the release of
Hassel Smith: Drawings and Poems
in 1999. These include letters from Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira, and Wayne Thiebaud.
Named files were established for those correspondents with more than scattered letters. The remaining correspondence is filed in general alphabetical files.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1953-2003
0.25 linear feet
Box 2

Personal business records document Smith's finances, exhibitions, and his business with galleries and museums. There are also records related to his personal finances. Found are consignment forms, records of gifts, price lists, exhibition checklists, guest lists, loan records, shipping records, condition reports, conservation reports, and court records from a case against the Iannetti/Lanzone Gallery.
Materials are arranged by document type.
The bulk of this series has been scanned. Personal finance, legal, and medical records have not been scanned.

Series 4: Teaching Materials, 1960s-1980s
18 folders
Box 2

Teaching materials includes Smith's notes on art and art history, student handouts, syllabi, employment information, and administrative documents. There are surprisingly few records in this series, given the extent of Smith's teaching career and lectures. There do not appear to be any records in his papers documenting his teaching career in England.
Materials are arranged by document type.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Series 5: Writings, 1940s-1994
0.25 linear feet
Box 2

Writings and fragments by Smith concern the art market, art institutions, and social criticism. Of special interest is a lengthy essay by Smith about the art community in San Francisco.
Writings by others include essays about Smith and his work, and quotations and essays by artists and critics. Also found are writings by friends Henri Lenoir and Robert Wollard, an entry from the journal of his son Joseph, and essays about art and literature in San Francisco.
Materials are arranged by author and writing title/subject.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Series 6: Artwork, 1928-1995
8 folders
Box 2

Scattered artwork by Smith includes handmade family Christmas cards, doodles and sketches, a folded paper fortune teller, and an exhibition announcement with humorous pen additions. Also found is artwork by others including Elmer Bischoff and Robert Wollard.
Materials are arranged by artist and document type.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Series 7: Printed Materials, 1928-2003
1.25 linear feet
Boxes 3-4

Printed materials include clippings; exhibition announcements and catalogs about Smith and other artists; menus; a poster; and pamphlets and flyers from the California School of Fine Arts, the Mother Lode School run by Smith, and Bristol Polytechnic. There are also miscellaneous printed materials related to Smith's interests in music and politics, including a copy of the pictorial edition of the
Communist Manifesto
edited by Smith.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
The bulk of this series has been scanned. In most cases, only the cover, title page, and individual relevant pages have been scanned from published materials.

Series 8: Photographic Materials, circa 1900, 1941-2004
0.5 linear feet
Box 4

Photographic materials are of Smith, his family, his wife Donna, and his sons and stepsons. Found are photographs of Smith's artwork from different periods in his career, of exhibition installations and receptions, and of Smith's studios. Photographs of others include Robert and Mary Fuller McChesney, Kathryn Swanson, and Elmer Bischoff's wife and son. Also found are photographs of Smith teaching at a Summer Art School in Sonoma County, California in 1955, and at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California in 1988. Reproductions of artwork by others include David Park, Henri Lenoir, Cornelius Sampson, and Smith's stepson, Mark Harrington.
Materials are arranged by subject.
Original photographs have been scanned. Negatives, slides, and unannotated photographs of artwork have not been scanned.

Series 9: Sound Recordings, 1965-1980
10 folders
Box 4

Sound recordings include 1 sound tape reel of the radio show,
Art Review
, with host John Fitz Gibbon reviewing Smith's artwork, and nine sound cassettes of student critiques overseen by Smith at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Materials are arranged in chronological order.
The sound recordings have been digitized for research access and are available at the Archives of American Art offices.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.