Scope and Contents
The papers of graphic artist, muralist, and activist Hugo Gellert measure 6.9 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1986. They document his career as an artist and organizer for the radical left through an oral interview conducted by Sofia Sequenzia, legal papers, financial records, family papers, artifacts, correspondence, writings, organizational records, clippings, exhibition catalogs, various printed materials illustrated by Gellert, pamphlets, periodicals, mass mailings, photographs, and artwork.
Biographical Material includes an audio interview with Gellert; official documents related to memberships, property, and legal matters; financial documents that include bills, receipts, and contracts related to professional activities; papers of Gellert's brothers, Lawrence and Ernest; and artifacts. Correspondence is with other artists, writers, publishers, activists, friends, and family, including Ernest Fiene, Rockwell Kent, Harry Gottlieb, William Gropper, Philip Evergood, Howard Fast, and Jonas Lie. Writings include essays, book projects, notes, and notebooks written by Gellert; and stories and articles by other authors, including typescripts of early twentieth-century Hungarian short stories collected by Gellert.
Organizational Records are related to political and art organizations in which Gellert was an active organizer, officer, and in some cases, a founder. Because of his central role in many of these organizations, records often contain unique documentation of their activities. Records are found for the American Artists Congress, the Art of Today Gallery, the Artists Committee of Action, the Artists Coordination Committee, the Artists Council, Artists for Victory, Inc., the Committee to Defend V.J. Jerome, Hungarian Word, Inc., the National Society of Mural Painters, and other organizations.
Printed materials include a variety of political publications and periodicals with illustrations by Gellert, including New Masses, Art Front, Magyar Szo, and American Dialog; clippings related to his career, exhibition catalogs, political pamphlets, Hungarian literature, and mass mailings received from political organizations. Photographs contain a few personal photographs but are mostly news and publicity photographs, many of which depict prominent Communists and other newsmakers. Artwork includes sketches, drawings, designs, prints, and production elements for Gellert's artwork, as well as prints and drawings by Philip Reisman, Gyula Derkovits, and Anton Refregier.
A portion of the papers were donated in 1970 by Hugo Gellert. Additional papers were donated by Gellert and his wife, Livia Cinquegrana, in 1983 and 1986.
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are an oral history with Hugo Gellert from 1984, a recording of a lecture Gellert gave at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1985, and additional records of Artists for Victory, Inc., 1942-1946.
The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University holds additional papers of Hugo Gellert.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
The papers were processed to a preliminary level upon accession in 1970, 1983, and 1986. The first accession in 1970 was also microfilmed reel 2812. The papers were merged, re-processed and described in this finding aid by Megan McShea in 2006, and were digitized in 2007 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Project.