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Oral history interview with Bernard Chaet, 1997 June 18-August 15

Oral history interview with Bernard Chaet, 1997 June 18-August 15

Chaet, Bernard, 1924-2012

Art teacher, Painter


Collection Information

Size: 5 sound files (3 hrs., 30 min.) : digital, wav file

Format: Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 29 min.

Summary: An interview of Bernard Chaet conducted 1997 June 18-August 15, by Robert Brown, for the the Archives of American Art, in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Childhood in Dorchester section of Boston; early interest in drawing and art classes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; artwork for the Boston Post newspaper; shows at Boris Mirski Gallery; Mirski sending him to France and Italy for study; meeting Picasso; courses at Tufts University; beginning his teaching career at Yale University in 1951; his hiring of Josef Albers; Edith Halpert of the Downtown Gallery; Boston art dealers Margaret Brown and John Deering; Hyman Bloom; and the Institute of Contemporary Art (formerly the Institute of Modern Art). Leaving Boris Mirski Gallery in 1967; European travels (1949-50); early attempts to establish a mode of expression; his extremely self-referential outlook in the early 1950s and his feeling that except for New York's museums, Boston was then the hub of meaningful art activity; Josef Albers at Yale; discussion of the residencies of Stuart Davis, Willem de Kooning, Abraham Rattner, Ad Reinhardt, Conrad Marca-Relli, James Brooks, and Will Barnet; knowledge of artistic technique; writing for arts magazines; getting elected chairman of art department at Yale despite objections; Josef Albers in retirement; misery of his first 3 years as chairman; and hiring Gabor Peterdi for printmaking program. His paintings; peers' influence on his use of color; on the various themes in his work; his love of landscape and "fragments" from Nature; summering in Rockport, Massachusetts beginning in 1967; his work with watercolor; on being a good teacher; on his various later writings, especially his books on methods; on the Yale summer art school for younger students; the transformation of the Yale Art School into a graduate school.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bernard Chaet (1924-2012) was a painter and teacher from New Haven, Connecticut and Rockport, Massachusetts.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.


The digital preservation of this interview received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

How to Use This Collection

For information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Bernard Chaet, 1997 June 18-August 15. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.