Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Franz Bader, 1978 November 2

Bader, Franz, 1903-1994

Photographer, Dealer


Collection Information

Size: 27 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 31 min. Bader's heavy accent makes this interview difficult to understand.

Summary: An interview of Franz Bader conducted 1978 November 2, by Julie Link Haifley, for the Archives of American Art.

Biographical/Historical Note

Franz Bader (1903-1994) was an art dealer and photographer in Washington, D.C.


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 others.



Interview with Franz Bader
Conducted by Julie Haifley
At Washington, DC
November 2, 1978



The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Franz Bader on November 2, 1978. The interview took place at Bader's home in Washington, DC, and was conducted by Julie Haifley for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The reader should bear in mind that he or she is reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose. This is a rough transcription that may include typographical errors.

JULIE HAIFLEY:  It's November 2, 1978 and we're here at Mr. Bader's house in Washington, D.C.  This is a check to see if the tape is working.


Now, I suppose the first thing that we'd like to talk about is something about your childhood and what you remember about growing up in Vienna [Austria].

FRANZ BADER:  I was born 1903 and within Vienna, it was just after the great time in Vienna, great time and just before the end let's say:  great time I mean in art, Schiele, Klimt, and the beginning of the high point of Kokoschka to mention a few.  In literature, Stefan Zweig, Werfel, in music Gustav Mahler and so on. 

Again, I was a child at this time.  I do remember the path of the old monarchy and I was 15 years old when there was the revolution.  I still remember having seen the old Kaiser greeting the first [inaudible] coming to Vienna or vice versa.  I always was interested in art.  My mother was kind of a same amateur painter and we had these great museums.  They are like the one which has the most Breugels in the world which I went to them each Sunday to see.

My father had a -- was a businessman who had an agency for flour and I was the only child and with us being in [inaudible] offered me the business, but I just felt I didn't want to spend my life making bread more expensive for people.  And so I made my own little revolution --

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  -- since at this time it seemed for us to be kind of [inaudible].  And I became an apprentice in a book shop, something which my father very much disapproved, but there was nothing else to do.   I was two years as an apprentice in order to become an assistant and then after two or three years more I would have been able to -- if I could get a concession to open my own book shop.

So I mention all of this because books and paintings were the background of my life and before I left two years earlier, I acquired apprenticeship in the oldest bookshop in Vienna.  It was founded in 1789 and it was officially titled that they sold books to the Kaiser and so on.  I know the monarchy [inaudible].  [They laugh.]  There never was one.

But anyway, it was a very interesting life in publishing and then when Hitler came, naturally everything changed and I left then, which is a story in itself.  It was against the advice of the American Consul in Vienna.  We registered about two days after Hitler came in and then through a -- kind of a fantastic circumstances and the goodness of heart of some Americans who guaranteed for us we should -- never, never having met us, never knew about us, we are able to escape at the last moment, which was nearly a year after Hitler came.


MR. BADER:  Do you want me to go on?

MS. HAIFLEY:  Do you think you could tell a little bit more about your childhood and maybe your schooling?

MR. BADER:  All right.  Childhood -- okay childhood in Vienna was -- in a way it wasn't much different than it was here, with the exceptions that each sun -- each Sunday we took our -- the streetcar to the end stop and walked in the Viennese woods, which always was very much for us.  And then there were museums and their exhibitions and there were sometimes some concerts, and I had regular schooling.  I did not have any special art education. 

And what the childhood, it's -- I don't know.  There was no radio naturally and no television.  As a matter of fact, for me today, most of the time there is no television either.  I believe that life is short and if you do certain things which you enjoy then your life is full, and in order to do some of the other things like weekly listening seven hours or eight hours to television then something else has to be cut off, and I have nothing to cut off at the present.  And books, books were always more or less the means in my life.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did you read a lot as a child?

MR. BADER:  Yes, and you know when I was 13 years old it was a Jew's -- the Bar Mitzvah, my grandfather bought me all the classics, all bound in the same binding, about 50 volumes.


MR. BADER:  He wanted to start my library, but I had read the volumes but that's all right.

MS. HAIFLEY:  What a wonderful gift that must have been?

MR. BADER:  Oh, yes, because before I was -- I always read and reading really was, it was lucky when there came -- do you want to talk about it?

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  There came, during a very bad Nazi period, actually the 9th of November which is 1938, so it's now exactly 40 years there was what they called a Kristallnacht where a man was killed in Paris and there were great problems, which I -- I don't know.  I just had luck.  I don't know why.

Sometimes I wondered why some of my friends were at least as good as I and maybe better, but they were put in a concentration camp and I was not.  Maybe it's in my own Jewish background, the questioning, the searching.  I do not know.

But anyway, I was once arrested and nothing happened to me and I had luck.  I came out in a short time.  But during this time an American came from there, a man, and I met him [inaudible] in the bookshop.  I didn't -- I had to leave the -- let the bookshop go after the League was gone, after the Nazis came because I didn't have four Aryan friends, patrons as it was requested.

And he came and he saw that I was very upset and like giving me some volumes.  He said, "There's a man in Scotland who is -- knows another man."  Actually, the man in Scotland was Edward Muir, the translator of Thomas Mann, "And he knows a man in America, he said, "who wants to open a bookshop in Washington, D.C."  So he wrote to the American Bookseller Association, Edward Muir did, and then the American Bookseller Association wrote to James H. Whyte and that's W-h-y-t-e.  And to my great astonishment I got a regular letter from him that he was going to open a bookshop in Washington and he can use me.

And all those things were completely against any kind of logic and possibility, so much that I think after that if I go on this street and the light is red, so what?  All cars would stop because I go by.  [They laugh.]  You know it was a lot of things like this had to happen and they did, and when I arrived in Washington Mr. Whyte had to pay me the fare from New York to Washington.  He gave me a $25 job.


MR. BADER:  And so the whole thing started.  But coming back to Vienna there are a lot of things, like my passport was either stolen or lost and to get these things back but all this is written into many novels and short stories, and I am unfortunately not the only one who has gone through those things.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And you mentioned your grandparents.  Were they still alive then or --



MR. BADER:  No, my father was alive and was deported after I left and had to leave.  He ended up in Auschwitz.  The brother of my grandfather, the grandfather of my father, was knighted in Vienna, which was very rare for a Jew at this time.  It was a temporary knighthood because he was one of the leaders of the [inaudible].  I have actually upstairs I have the certificate that he was -- and he was an assistant to [inaudible].

And for my mother, both her grandfathers, they are -- they are teachers and I have here some quite fantastic things and I don't want you to read it, but look how these things live.  There are letters of recommendations because they were -- they were famous.  They found a lot of things and then I even -- one even became what they called [inaudible], which is [inaudible] which only could have been bestowed by the bishops because of his life and the excellent way how he was teaching.  So I actually had three grandfathers.  I don't have the bishop [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]  And you were married when you came here?  You were --

MR. BADER:  Yeah, I was married in '28.  Actually, that seems to be the year of all time of anniversaries.  It would be 50 years in about a month and my wife she also -- she was also born in Vienna as I was and she came over.  She always painted a little bit like -- yeah, but she was very pretty and very interested in dresses, so she painted dresses and things like this.  But here she started painting all by herself, which is American you see.  In Europe you wouldn't start by yourself.  You wouldn't make a poem by yourself.  See I remember as a child if I made a poem I had it hidden.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  Once in a while I tried to show it, you see.  That is the enormous tradition in paintings or in what -- whatever they may be.  So you really don't dare to come out and here, the truth of it is you show it.  If they didn't like it, so what.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Right.  How did you meet your wife?

MR. BADER:  Oh, I was a good table tennis player. 

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.] 

MR. BADER:  I'm not Chinese or anything else and so I'm that way.  And in the evenings I went out and so, when we both came over, we both came over with $12 each.  That's all that was permitted, and no new clothes, no owning of anything.  And I remember my mother gave me a bottle of rum for tea actually and at the border there the Nazi guards say, "Oh, again, you want to smuggle out something." 

Right away they took it away, so we had nothing with the exception of this $25 job and it was very beautiful because I came from my -- after a year of real depression, previously living under [inaudible] if it means something to you other than [inaudible].  And then you come here and the air is free and the mind -- it goes -- you come like you come meet your friends and this is one of the reasons why I am very happy.  If I could have in some way contributed something because I feel the United States, and of [inaudible], don't -- are not opening only the doors to save people from death or concentration camps and so on.  People who come over have the same type of duty to contribute whatever is in their character, in their character to contribute.  After all, if I had done a good job here coming over, there may be other people who met the same conditions and some people may get letters as I wrote to unknowns helping, and then people may find [inaudible].  Now look, they had luck with those people.  They contributed something, why don't we do it too?

But I mean I'm -- never -- it wasn't my character to take and say thank you and not have a feeling in a certain way, either a quest that you act and repay.  I don't want to use the word repay, like in a commercial.  And I think this is very important.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did you ever meet the person who sponsored --

MR. BADER:  Yes.

MS. HAIFLEY:  -- you?

MR. BADER:  She was a -- I should want to tell you another tale here as well.  In a humorous way, a letter arrived to someone, got our letter because they had the maiden name of my wife.  Her name was Blosch [phonetic] back then.  She said, "What does this crazy man want?" and she sent it to her aunt in Philadelphia.  The aunt in Philadelphia had a brother who was a teacher in the high school.  The aunt in Philadelphia was a democrat.  Her brother was a republican.  The aunt said, "These crazy people, let's throw it away," and the brother said, "Let's [inaudible] for them."  And the [inaudible], but she impressed people because she was a teacher in a high school and she had a little place in Philadelphia, a country house where it could be.  So this evidently was cause and effect.  She thinks this was completely out of the ordinary.  Actually, that's been older than my wife.

Situations always look horrible and then it turns out fine and I'm convinced as much in other things that it's just a question of luck.  If you wait long enough then things change.  After all I am not -- as you know, we were very happily married and I was 67 years old and then I met my wife.  And it's a new life.  I mean the life is -- the whole life is a circle.  You see you can explore horribly.  The other half can see being explored which is nothing whatever to do with the first half.  It doesn't interfere.  It's just different.  I didn't have much during my first half.  Now I have been -- I'm on top of the world by [inaudible] and otherwise.

And to finish up about Vienna it's -- see life is very different and I came first -- on the first days someone took me out for lunch and I ordered some pork and potatoes and rice.  The friend said, "You will eventually die.  You have to do -- you have to eat green vegetables."   Never, ever anybody told me about being rustic.  But never anybody told me about humidity or this time the ocean didn't have any polluted water.  Now if you even -- when I came the last time to Vienna and out to swim, outside of Vienna, "What do you mean swimming?  Nobody swims.  That's all polluted."  When I was there it was a little, complete little village of weekend houses.  People are supposed to be going out swimming.  So the world changed.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]  Now let's get back to when you first came here and started working at Whyte's.  What were James and Donald Whyte like?

MR. BADER:  They were brothers.  Of course this is [inaudible].  James Whyte had a -- had a bookshop in St. Andrews, in Scotland.  His brother really knew art and he worked with an art gallery in New York and [inaudible], and he had a beautiful collection.  And he had beautiful work.  And working with at this time was really quite different.  The first show before I came when it opened up, they had a bookshop in the gallery 1707 8th Street, which is across the street from the Metropolitan crowd, which I was told at this time, before I came, even had a branch at the Museum of Modern Art.  It was probably more or less an office to get membership but still.

And the first show that they had were the French Impressionists, Cézanne, Rousseau, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and actually the great triumph of Donald Whyte was that he sold this Cézanne oil, which was only three feet long and maybe one foot high, of three [inaudible] for $12,500.  And we had -- and then afterwards here there was something --

MS. HAIFLEY:  That was the exhibition -- that exhibition was before you came?

MR. BADER:   Just, before I came. 


MR. BADER:  I came about two months after that one.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did they open in 1938?

MR. BADER:  Yes.


MR. BADER:  Yeah, and I came in February of '39.  Then there was an exhibition where I was there of [Hazard] Durfee watercolors.  I believe two of the ones at the Phillips [The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC] they sold.


MR. BADER:  And I don't know, I think I showed you the article in Art International about the collection.  What's his name?  It was -- I hope my [inaudible] isn't coming out.  Is it?


MR. BADER:  You cut it a little bit?


MR. BADER:  No, you cut it.  I mean you cut my half -- my speech, you know, if everything I say is coming out.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]  [Laughs.]  Yes.

MR. BADER:  I mean this man who was a very famous collector, he bought two -- two Durfees from me for $200 each and he took it home on approval, and he came back the next day and said, "Mr. Devine, I'm glad you consented to sell those two pictures."

MS. HAIFLEY:  He called you Mr. Devine?

MR. BADER:  Yeah, and as a joke, you know.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And he has -- he gave me credit in this article in Harpers.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Oh, I bet it was Richard Brown Baker.

MR. BADER:  Yes.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Right.

MR. BADER:  And he -- well, he wrote and said I started his collection, which is one of -- now, one of the famous museums now.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Yes.  Yes.

MR. BADER:  And then the Whytes had also represented a number of Washington artists over this time.  I wouldn't see any percentage.  It was there was no other way they could show.  When I came there was in a little gallery and bookshop in Georgetown, Mrs. Fox and she closed shortly afterwards.  And there was nothing on Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown, nothing.  The Freer Gallery had existed and naturally Corcoran, which had the biennials, which were rather boring, and usually they only showed their regular collection, which also was nothing at this time.  And I remember my shock to see a portrait by Bismarck hanging there.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.] 

MR. BADER:  It seems like this, you know, and the head of the school at this time was Richard Lahey --


MR. BADER:  -- a man who died a few months ago with who I was very happy.  See here this is what I am doing.  I knew that he was doing some [inaudible] paintings, so I got in touch with him and they had a show of his about two years ago.  And he was kind of about to cry because he said, "I know everybody believes I am dead and here I am again."  And he still painted.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  Anyway, that was the Corcoran and the Phillips.  The Phillips was very small.  They had Jimmy Maclaughlin who then was drafted and lost in the war.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And was that before they added the new wing?

MR. BADER:   Oh, yes, they -- the new wing was long after the war and then John Garrant and Howard Geiser [phonetic] -- actually and oh, by the way Howard Geiser -- Howard Geiser worked in our gallery making frames or fixing frames up and from there then he went to the Phillips, but this was all they had.  And they had Ms. Bier who was the personal, the secretary at the time at the Phillips, but this was all.

And Dumbarton Oaks, the museum didn't exist.  It came much later.  They had the library and in the library, of course, in all those rooms there were Renoirs and French Impressionists hanging.  I don't know if they were really open to the general public, but I think this was about all.  So if the artists couldn't see where there were other artists because there was no other way even to go even if they wanted to.

There are a number of people like Prentice Taylor, Paul Howard, Arliss Acheson, and Bernice Goss [phonetic], and maybe two or three other ones -- Bernice Goss, I don't represent anymore -- but a number of those artists stopped in at this time with me and they are still in it.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]  How did it happen that you took over the gallery upstairs?

MR. BADER:  One day the thing is that the Whytes, they are very rich, and money can be sometimes very helpful and sometimes it isn't good.  And I don't think money brought the best out of those people.  James Whyte was a very lovely person and a very intelligent and brilliant person, but he didn't seem -- he didn't see why he should get up before -- with -- before 12:00 o'clock.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And things like this and in the bookshop if a salesman came in and say, "Mr. Bader, how many copies should we order?"  He'd say, "What do you think?"  He said, "100?" and I saw two so I said, "Right because look, this gentleman thinks it's going to be a best seller."  The gentleman happened to be the salesman [they laugh] who wanted to sell the hundred copies you see, and Donald was recently married or not too long married, and he practically was never in the gallery.

I don't want to be critical of them because other people may hear that I'm -- I'm grateful to both and I'm still a friend of Donald.  He is still writing, but he just wasn't interested.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  And we had beautiful previews.  I remember the secretary of the gallery for the whole day she had to stay at home.  She had to go buy a new evening dress for each show and get new flower arrangements and people even phoned us "What would you serve tonight for the preview," you know --

MS. HAIFLEY: [Laughs.] 

MR. BADER:  -- which always cost a lot of money.  And then one day Donald arrived and just decided he'd had enough and left and there was the second floor empty.  And this was a time where I had then convinced James Whyte to start his Washington artists, which I thought is a way to introduce contemporary art to people.  Well, to me as I said it was a time where department stores, they couldn't even sell a Cézanne reproduction.  It was too advanced, too modern.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  Or the Lolala Meckling [phonetic] who was the -- a reviewer for the [Washington] Star at this time who wrote very harshly about Cézanne.  She just couldn't see it.  So -- but we had a lot of newspaper space and Sunday we had practically a whole page in the Post and the Star, not for us, but since we were the most important one we got the lion's share of it.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  And we found that if someone buys a painting by some Washington artist and he knows the family, he may not like it but he would be rather certain that this is not swindle, you see.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  And then he may even dare to like it and defend it to his friends, but he otherwise wouldn't because contemporary art at this time was just nothing but a joke for most of the people.  And he had found that this was a way to break the barrier and I think this idea had contributed to breaking the barrier.  Then we started with group shows and one man shows, maybe sold a couple of pictures, and it was a sensation.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And how did you make your contacts with your local artists then?

MR. BADER:  I'll tell you, they came there as artists come now.  I practically never have gone out to look for them.  Now, someone tells about me -- I have -- each day I have about two to five calls for exhibitions.  And at this time artist, a friend [inaudible], Paul Howard, the one -- which was a cartoon of me like I showed you before.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  -- he was a friend of Mr. Jamison, whom I didn't mention, and he
bought -- they said he wasn't ready for a show but they said Mr. Jamison would be and he was, and this was authentic stuff.  I think I have mentioned Mr. Jamison to you before.  He's the one here.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  [Inaudible.]  And then there wasn't -- it was just after the WPA and there was -- I don't know if the name Bruce means something to you.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  Edward Bruce.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.] 

MR. BADER:  Mrs. Bruce, Peggy Bruce lived here in Washington.  When I met her he already had died, Mr. Bruce, but she had an enormous heart for artists.  She took all the artists out to the Virgin Islands --


MR. BADER:  -- and -- yes, she really was dedicated to them.  She is still alive.  I think her collection she is going to leave to the American University or has left.  And there were people who were together and then one mentioned the other one, and so it started, and the interest grew.  As you know, in art interest has grown fantastically.  In the whole United States it became accepted, due to television and the radio and magazines.  And then I remember the National Gallery opened.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Right.

MR. BADER:  I had to borrow a tuxedo [they laugh] for the opening of it.  I didn't have one.  And then a number of other galleries opened.  And then I remember came someone from Boston.  I forgot the one that opened the first gallery in Boston, or in Williamsburg, I had an opening of a gallery.  But wherever I go I see something unfortunate mingling in with sayings.  [They laugh.]

Let's see.  Is there any question you have I could go into or not?

MS. HAIFLEY:  So you had some one man shows and some group shows, too?

MR. BADER:  Yes, once in a while we had shows from New York.  For instance, later on the Whyte Gallery there, the bookshop moved to Connecticut Avenue, 1518 and then we had actually two stores.  One was dedicated a little too -- well, to art and -- but they had -- we had for instance, since it's not apropos we had a Tomalio [phonetic] show at this time and we had a show of George Gross, which was -- George Gross was due to Karis Crosby, who I mentioned to you --

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]  Yes.

MR. BADER:  -- the other day.  I have a book of poems of hers, yes.


MR. BADER:  And then most of the other artists where we had autographing parties came because they had let -- just showed the contemporary art like all the Sitwells did and there I really was frightened.  I had the show -- I had the autographing party of 86 with [inaudible] and Emily said, "You are crazy.  She is the most unpleasant person."  And she came in and she -- I won't say she'd say anything, you know her fingers full of rings and I found that she just wanted to have respect in this society where we do not -- or I do not regard titles or money as something particular to respect.  Talent and creativity is something else and I asked her tell me as I'm [inaudible] there was one Peter Lazzari who is older, very great artist living here, still friends.  And I said, "Peter make some drawings," and he said, "No, Mr. Bader.  There's a horrible picture of mine hanging at Tate Gallery and nobody can do anything."

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  So I told him, "Don't make any sketches," and then some woman got up and saved me seat then which he particularly hated because whoever got him a seat when she corrected and then he -- it was the only woman ever titled because of her poems.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And then we sit, "That's Peter Lazzari sitting and making a sketch of you," so she said, "Mr. Bader," so I went there and confiscated the drawing, which I naturally afterwards gave back to Peter.


MR. BADER:  But she told Alice Long who was -- who was one of my favorite customers, "Oh, yes, and then Mr. Bader confiscated the drawing and destroyed it," so --

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  -- this is -- I don't know where it is.  It's right here.  Yeah, and then [inaudible] we had the first one of -- the first show of Asian artists around here, which was maybe 1946-47, but shortly after the [inaudible] was founded and the people we showed like Berno and so on, they were still taxi drivers.  Some had been exported to Paris and then they became Existentialists and it was the end of them because they were gifted artists and taxi drivers, but they were not as sophisticated.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  Then we had a show of Grandma Moses, which was the first one.  There was one [inaudible] before and Dr. Otto Kallir, who was actually their niece was the gallery [inaudible] in New York and discovered her.  I remember when he came around her pictures.  He was very upset and he said, "What should I do?"  Her pictures are $100 and if someone comes in her family and gives her $10, she says oh, my oh, my, I get $10.  

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  We had actually two shows and the family in the book is mentioned.

MS. HAIFLEY:  What effect did the war have on it; the gallery business?

MR. BADER:  Well, a Frenchman came over.  Again, all the rage was contemporary art and lectures.  We had a lot of the French and Dali, for instance, came to Washington, a friend of Karis Crosby.  I never had great respect for him.  I hope he doesn't listen to this and sue me --

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  -- because I feel if someone gets a talent he gets that talent to be used for mankind and progress, but not entirely for his profit because he does that.  We had all kinds of shows like this and the whole community, international community came.  I saw, for instance, De Gaulle passing by the gallery looking at the window, Charles De Gaulle.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Oh, oh.

MR. BADER:  There was – the Ambassador later on was Paul Bonet and I mean all these people as you showed you were lifting up.  There was an international concentration because we, at this time, it was still was [inaudible].  But at this time we had a complete selection of picture galleries and take, for instance, De [inaudible] shows, when they bought they always paid cash and they did not want to officially list their [inaudible]. 

And once they bought plans I had from Munich and other cities and then the plan -- they bought it -- wanted to have a plan for San Francisco and so on, and I got worried and this time I called the FBI, and to see if they can get it, just sell it to them but they said, "No."

And I remember on VE Day I was very enthusiastic and I took a bottle of scotch around and at first came a British girl, we toasted, American girl, then came a Russian girl.  She was very polite but she never came back again.  They are not permitted to mingle.  You know they have to be completely separate.

But we had all these people coming.  I had Eleanor Roosevelt was writing in "My Day" in The Daily News.  Do you know about this?

MS. HAIFLEY:  A little bit.

MR. BADER:  Yeah, and well, they -- regular column, money I think went to the [inaudible], and she was a very -- and I always did math anyway.  And I had an exhibition by Guda Loop [phonetic] who had met her once and Guda Loop said -- and she described her so casually -- this is all [inaudible], have I ever showed [inaudible]?  So she wrote her.  So unannounced it was in the time where there was a very great [inaudible] those were feeling.  She just came in unannounced [inaudible] at this time and looked at the show, and she didn't like it.  She admired it.  She had to go there but since she didn't like the show she wrote she didn't like it.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  She came another time and wrote about us and she liked it.  Jackie Kennedy came.  She, you know she wrote for the Times Herald before and she interviewed us and when I was introduced to her I had this show by William Roy who was the famous artist at this time and we had represented him actually, and she came in and I was introduced.  She probably had a very good public relations person, so she reminded me, you know the -- on the interview, which I later on found, and I will never forget the -- she bought a picture and then she phoned if you can deliver it.  So I said that the delivery is gone, but she said, "The Senator is coming home tonight and he would so much enjoy it".  So I delivered it myself.  Could have been a snapshot of my life and I often think of the way he was -- Kennedy was sitting in the back living room like a tired human being, his legs up on the table, you see.  And yeah, I had most -- an [inaudible] with most of the president's wives bought.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Do you remember what pictures she bought?

MR. BADER:  Oh, she bought one of Roy.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Oh, of Roy's?

MR. BADER:  Of Bill Roy, yeah.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  When I had the opening it was just before the election and he said, "Look, I have the election, but then I have to go to the Senate, the rest of the Senate at this time."  But they were -- this was already when I had my own gallery, which was across the street from
the -- from the state -- old State Department.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Could you tell me something about your Voice of America broadcasts?

MR. BADER:  Oh, I had quite a few.  I had actually one -- I think that the Voice of America I think it was a German broadcast about the bookshop and I had some German tourists come in, walk up to see the bookshop because they heard the broadcast.


MR. BADER:  They broadcast it three times at Christmastime and had [inaudible].  There were quite a few foreign broadcasts and I enjoyed it I must say.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did you talk about American art?

MR. BADER:  Yes.  Yes, I did.  I also had as you probably know I opened there an exhibition of my prints by my artists in Vienna as the official bicentennial opening --

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  -- which was not so long ago.  I take, for instance, when I was across the street from there, from the State Department there was the Cuban crisis and everybody was frantic like there would be no tomorrow.  And then one of the advisors to Kennedy came and ordered this book, How to Build a Boat because he wants to use it in Martha's Vineyard the following summer, so we said if he buys a book to build a boat then there must be some hope and not the [inaudible].  And people didn't know how much they tell me if they buy books and practically gave it to read a book when [inaudible] . 

There was Alice Long who was which for me is really the greatest book reader I have ever seen.  When she came -- two or three days after I came I met her.  She came in the bookshop, into my bookshop at this time.  She always encouraged a lot of artists and I had no idea who she was, and I told her everything came out at this time about my experiences, things like this.  And from then on she came at least once a week and we had always a little shelf for her for books we think she may like.  Rachel Carson, my reading copy I gave her.  She read all night and at 9:00 in the morning she phoned her for more information.  I have never seen anybody more intellectual.  She [inaudible].  She published an anthology of poems and she told me yes, she knows poetry because if she has to go in an airplane or is driving and she gets bored and she recites poetry.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And she had -- now she said that I have left her because I don't have a regular bookshop anymore.  I have deserted her.


MR. BADER:  So --

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did she ever buy any paintings?

MR. BADER:  Yes, very regularly actually and only buy Washington artists and people she liked.  But she is very beautiful as an independent of -- independence of character, which you really do not find too often.  [Inaudible].  You know for instance, take Lowell Nesbitt.  I was eating once at a Yugoslavian restaurant on M Street which has a French name.  I forgot the French [inaudible].  Anyway and there were some prints, which I liked, so I sent him a message and so I had the first exhibition of his work and actually he came in the Roosevelt collection because in this -- from this exhibition Roosevelt bought and he always -- which Nesbitt always gives me credit for.  And I had all the exhibitions of [inaudible], for instance, and oh, I forgot to mention before Herman [inaudible], whom I think you've met.  I remember --

MS. HAIFLEY:  He was in your first show --

MR. BADER:  Yeah, yeah.

MS. HAIFLEY:  -- wasn't he?

MR. BADER:  Yeah, and I remember when I saw him this weekend.  I go out there every Sunday and I remember when he was drafted and came in and was frightened.  But, for instance, you asked me about French people, there was the -- did you know John Allieau Helion?  He's a rather [inaudible] French artist.  He was in Washington and I remember when he came and said, "Look," -- he did later on by the way married the daughter of Peggy Guggenheim.


MR. BADER:  So he learned to know his way around.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  Anyway, he came and said, "Look, I am drafted.  I hate war.  I hate to go, but if I don't go I never can see Paris."  So he went, he was prisoner of war, and James Whyte helped to get him out of the concentration camp or the prisoner of war camp, you see.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  There were -- practically everybody was in America at this time and it was a very, very beautiful to go through.  You got so many new ideas.  Yes, I had fine things.  I had the first show of Austin paint -- contemporary painters after the war, which I got as a high medal, which I think I showed you where they have a -- where they have then photographing them both.  And then I had a first show of the contemporary German painters and there are all those in those old German books, and I do want to mention this in this connection.


MR. BADER:  -- and [inaudible] traveling in Europe starting in Vienna, then went to Germany and to Greece and so on.  The reason for it in my own mind was not to show that we are great, we are greater than anybody, but I wanted to show and what [inaudible] this particular exhibition was, and I mentioned before, people dared to paint.   There were people here that they had pictures that people from all circles of life, like Acheson or there was an old Russian jeweler who did some very beautiful primitive paintings, and people from all layers of life, and I wanted to show to Europe that this is the way of the American Art scene is.  It has changed my life. 

But not everybody had the time and the money and then the necessary push to go to art school, and it isn't always necessary, which will bring me to something else about "who is an artist" is something which has been on my mind for some time and I think it's the root to all the problems we had, that you can't prove who is an artist.  You see, you cannot disprove it either.  I had one customer who was bothering me for years and she took art lessons and after three months she came and told me as an artist, "Mr. Bader, I have to advise you," to do such and such you see.  And this is real big problem. 

I have known one artist organization, which was founded by two people, which were some [inaudible], but then they only let -- they just blackballed other people who are much better than they were.  In the middle ages and so on artists were apprentices and so on.  You had to go through a certain, not school, but you had to make certain tests, which isn't the case right now, which is fine.  But then if it comes to more important things like now art bank or whatever, they want to make you know, then who has the right to be there?

But anyway, [inaudible].  The reason why I carried the German books showed us then and German artists, that was actually sometimes was a tact by other refugees [inaudible], and so on.  The reason is that I feel people who have gone through war, concentration camps, persecutions and so on have the right to do something and not the right, a duty, and doing something doesn't mean hatred. 

If some want to hate, that's fine.  But hatred always brings hatred about and I think -- I have no children, but people who have children, while they're young, they're still little [inaudible], people like this should have a chance to live a life of -- without fear, or with less fear.  And if people understand each other in music, in literature, in art then they respect each other, and if you respect each other it may be a little more difficult to kill each other.

You see, and this is one of the main reasons that I don't underestimate myself, but each person in his own way has to add to things like this, and if enough people do those things, not only in this way or in other ways, then maybe the world will continue to exist.  Otherwise if we start to learn that the Germans are bad, and most are, but I would be first in saying complete Nazi, I would say I don't want to talk with him, a German person who is 30 years old today because he or she is a German.  And I will -- I would acknowledge that my opinion is that certain characteristics I [inaudible] and it's racist.

Do you understand what I mean there? 

MS. HAIFLEY:  Yes, mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  Did I make myself understood?

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  And that way it is with that -- there are a lot of other things in our life and if we try to contribute -- if each person tries to contribute something to our civilization, as in some way I try -- after all I have been a very good salesman and probably would be today, but I just don't want to care anymore.  But I could have made maybe a fortune selling automobiles or houses, not at the very first, but after I had been two years advice or something.  But anyway -- but it never came in my  mind and I never, until about maybe 10-15 years ago I never made more than $10,000 a year and I didn't mind.  And why should you mind?  What you do with the money you get?  You do what you like to do, what's pleasant to you.  For me, pleasant is friends, books, it's paintings, and working in a bookshop or hide in a bookshop.  I could take 10 books a week home and read.  It's like being a [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  You see I could see so many paintings.  I went to a gallery, an official gallery.  They all knew me.  They showed me what I wanted to show.  Everywhere I went I saw smiles.


MR. BADER:  And this for me is really the essence of life.  I'd much rather have a smile and very little in the bank, than to have very sad faces around me and a lot of money.  I'm sorry.  I probably shouldn't have said that.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]  That's okay.  Did you visit the Washington Workshop for the Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art?

MR. BADER:  At this time, yes.  The Washington -- the Workshop for the Art, it was -- I don't know that it had really as much importance as they say it did.


MR. BADER:  As they say it did.


MR. BADER:  People -- it was really more -- maybe I don't know enough because it really was for working artists [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  Maybe it was more of the people who were involved with it?

MR. BADER:  Yes, the institute had lectures and filled out very large rooms.  I meant for this Huxley whom I also had come in from out of [inaudible].  That was not improved but they had an enormous amount and they really wanted to bring Dean Thomas here before I got acquainted with him.  They had all the right art classes and I believe that Ken Noland was one of the people teaching there.  The influence at this time was very, very great and again, it brought the workshop.  I think it was more a working relationship which had less to do with outsiders, which may be as important.  But there wasn't a lot of jewelries. 

For instance, when Howard Merrick [phonetic] – it was hard for me to believe that Howard Merrick met Noland because the Americans who found the letters, was reciting all their letters, had them -- gave scholarships and on the jury, I remember it was Mr. Jameson, Lucille Edmonds, and me.  And one of those was a scholarship to Catholic U. and we gave it to Howard Merrick where he met Ken Noland.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Oh, I see.

MR. BADER:  So all of those little things I feel -- my finger was in although nor do I -- I didn't intend there were not a lot of jewelers at this time and I had had an exhibition of June Davis of the first that had run at the [inaudible] and then run at the American [inaudible] where I bought it [inaudible]. 

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And then I had a show, which was unsuccessful.  At the time they used all kinds of collages and one kid he called, "It looks like after a traffic accident," because there was a lot of glass and actually had quite a few of the [inaudible].  But I wasn't convinced and Ken Noland at this time painted -- he was very much influenced and I felt -- I didn't see his own character coming in.  Then they changed and the older changed galleries.  I remember one day Robert Gates who was very -- whom we also had shown and this was on Maryhill actually but all of it was for beginners.  And two or three other artists, my artists came to me and said, "You ought to form a cooperative.  We want to have people who paint similarly and can exchange ideas," and so they formed the Jefferson Place Gallery.

My idea was I didn't -- I didn't object to it because they had the perfect right.  But my idea was it was an era.  The people at this time, they would keep positions and still that was -- I can only show good art, which I feel is honestly created and if you want to use the commercial term, it's well-priced.  The rest is up to you or whoever comes because if I only show what I believe is the common is the only direction of art then I become part of the brainwashing process, which I don't want to institute this.  So [inaudible] amounted to having two of the two only art working, or weren't working, and so that -- this was the Jefferson Place Gallery started.  But it was after 1950 or thereabout, I think, or '53 or '54, something like this.  Also, Bob Gates was very, very good artist.  He is so -- he is in a home now and he is in very bad shape.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And what about the time that you started your own shop?  You became general manager at Whyte's at some point.

MR. BADER:  I was partner and general manager, yeah.


MR. BADER:  But we [inaudible] have brought you [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm, [inaudible]?

MR. BADER:  Right, yeah.  Anyway, James Whyte, who really preferred to work as little as he could --

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  It shouldn't be a criticism.  That was his life, you see.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. BADER:  And they started to build the underpass and we are not in some place that the people observed.  And we didn't have the business.  They had dug up all the sidewalks and it was just -- and Mrs. Long almost broke her arm there, how do you say it, on the pass of the [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  Anyway -- and business was very bad.  So on one day I told James right after Christmas, "Now look, you have the Christmas business.  Let's pay our bills and close up because there's no way -- as it is right now this business cannot afford two executives.  Why don't -- I don't take any money anymore and you are the general manager, and you do everything and save the shop?" which was very hard.  The shop wasn't even air conditioned at this time and the door opened, this building and digging, and the dust.  We had to air condition all these things, but it was fine. 

And so I became general manager and previously when we moved from one shop -- we had at first only 15, 18 [inaudible] and then we had 15, 18, and 20.  I had bought 25 at the end of the stock, of the company I mean.  So I was vice president and general manager and which was a lot [inaudible] to begin with, you know.  He was used to putting money in business each month and I came to him and said, "Now, look, Mr. Whyte.  Our business is expecting that I put money in."  He looked like I had fired him because he kept the money anyway.  And again, I don't want to joke about him.  I am grateful to him.  He gave me the chance to start.

And then this went on until James Whyte was married and divorced, and remarried, and his new wife, she wanted to run the whole thing, which was a problem.  So we decided to part and in the beginning it wasn't pleasant.  His -- the mother of James Whyte was a countess, [inaudible], had the most expensive lawyer in town and I came to our first meeting, and the lawyer looked at me like a cat and a half-dead mouse and said, "Don't you have a lawyer?  You better get one."


MR. BADER:  And I found out that I had played chess with a man named Howard Leventhal, who is now judge of the district court, [inaudible] and I phoned him, and he came right away.  But their attention and unpleasantness was afterwards.  Whyte came always in the shop and even told me, he said, "Thanks very much," and we parted just to get this stinking bad thing out of it.  And we decided maybe he just had to buy me out.  I still had a contract and so -- and the cash I had received from it at this time was $7,500 and with this I opened up my business in [inaudible], and practically all of the artists followed me.  But in the -- and none of our customers called me Mr. Whyte.  I mean I never -- I always corrected them but I said I was Mr. Whyte because he never said what he wanted to be seen.  I [inaudible] there, you know. 

And then I opened up there and we continued to grow and when they tore down the Mills building, they told me first.  The man who told me was [inaudible].  He was a friend of mine [inaudible], and I contacted GW and [inaudible] with my life.  There was a problem.  I went there and the treasurer looked at me and said, "You know why should we have you here.  We would make much more money on parking?"  And I went and hired and rented a place in Georgetown and from the vice president of GW, Mr. Brown at the time, I said I decided should do this.  [Inaudible] give me time and a piece of the president and then over who would be vice president showed me the [inaudible].  And unfortunately the president died and my friend the vice president didn't become president.


MR. BADER:  So at the end, the man who wanted to have a parking lot has become a very good friend of mine.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  See how the world is.  But this is the main way of how I started this and I didn't have to pay too much rent but at this time we were very [inaudible] that I had to get $20,000 to rebuild the whole building.


MR. BADER:  Which I did.

MS. HAIFLEY:  How did -- how did you buy the place in the Mills building for your first workshop?

MR. BADER:  Very good and they actually -- you see on G Street [inaudible].  The whole -- the whole front -- the whole front there was rented by American Orthopedics Association who used to have their headquarters across the street.  Meanwhile they moved -- now they moved to Pennsylvania Avenue unless he went to the [inaudible] or something.  But anyway, and the -- and the Carrs had problems renting these offices, and when I came in, due to my reputation also, I could now easily rent.  So they had the whole thing rented in a short time, which may be very helpful because Mr. Carr is still my friend and there are now talks about rebuilding Pennsylvania Avenue, including the place where I am in.


MR. BADER:  And so if I have to move I'm sure Mr. Carr will be helpful there.  Sorry I come -- I pulled those things up from all different kinds of things, but it comes slowly -- it comes slowly to my mind.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And then the Whyte Gallery closed after you left, didn't it?

MR. BADER:  No, it still existed for two or three years.  Then Whyte sold his place to a bookshop, which then in turn went out of business.


MR. BADER:  And they moved out from there and someone [inaudible] the whole building.  We had bought the building then for I think $50,000.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Inaudible.]

MR. BADER:  Which is meaningless today.  Needless to say that I didn't have any money.  I mean mine was always [inaudible], but my -- I think the highest salary I got at Whyte's, which was more than it is today, but a hundred times more.  It was about $7,000 and then [inaudible] when I first had started to work, which he did after two years.

MS. HAIFLEY:  At Whyte's?

MR. BADER:  At Whyte's after two years.  For one year they needed someone for -- for not bookkeeping but writing orders and selling books, helping and so on.  She started me at $17.50.  It was a five and a half day week.  I worked six days or more [inaudible] and when I first became manager after about two years, I got $77.50, so the bookshops always don't want to pay too much.  It was not the bestselling bookshop [inaudible] at this time, but you have to pay for it if you have a profession that you love. 

And I have never been bored in my life.  I was always -- the only problem I have today is more along [inaudible]. And I didn't mind and Tony would have liked to buy more clothes and art, and now [inaudible].  And she really doesn't care about money either.  She can't have a good job.  She has [inaudible] and then she had a Master's in [inaudible] university hospital administration.  But if I say, "Do you need a new dress?" she says we could buy books or a painting instead, so it's a different life, and of course I'm not desperate. 

I make a really good living and [inaudible] get my soul situated.  And -- but justice and explanations maybe important to so many people.  [Inaudible].  And to go in the gallery business of art, you meet so many artists.  Maybe they have some ideas of what is [inaudible].  [They laugh.]  That being said, and it's -- and now it isn't so bad as it was when the first gallery started.  There are a lot of amateur women, society women, who opened up then went out of business after six months or so.  What happened is that there are certain necessary formalities for like discounts and when to pay the artist and those kind of things.  It's just people have no idea about this, you see and they became -- competition I don't mind, but it became [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  I see.

MR. BADER:   [Inaudible], you see and when artists come, they say, "Look, Mrs. such and such has given a friend of mine a cocktail party [inaudible]," and I don't know what all happens, you know.  Just this made a little problem at this time.  But at present, most of the other galleries are professionally [inaudible].  I'm not always [inaudible] equally to terms and I'm glad I'm alone.  I'm a loner.  I don't want to be next to another gallery.  I don't want competition [inaudible].  But I feel that I cannot [inaudible] in reference to move.  If I can't get people to come and see me, if I can't offer people enough that they would come see me, then why do all these things? 

And actually I don't have to anymore but I do feel that it's my life.  It's my dedication and I still give something, a certain amount of -- I know more the gallery which shows the most contemporary things.  But what I show people believe art and in little things.  Take, for instance, I take [inaudible] insurance.  I practically had no loss.  If you believe in people they won't cheat you.  I remember when I came [inaudible] about 16-18 [inaudible] yes, "Oh, how nice.  Oh, I forgot my money."  It was a weekend.  I said, "Do you want to take it home?  You can bring the money on Monday."  "You mean to say you trust me?  My parents always say, 'Don't trust a stranger.'"  I said, "You're parents are right."

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  But I was [inaudible] and I got a lovely letter from her, "It's so beautiful in my lonely life to meet someone who trusts me."  There are hundreds of these little things which really consists of my life and the way I do business today sometimes.  I had a little [inaudible] print.  They always wanted to have [inaudible] and he bought it, gave me a check.  Then he'd say, "Which kind of identification do you want?"  I'd say, "The only thing I want is to wish you luck and happiness with the picture."  I was sure it made this -- his purchase much more important, and why not?  If he wants to swindle, I'm sure he would have all kinds of identification.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And I don't think I ever [inaudible] there are people who didn't pay right away or made some difficulties, but it was never any great amount.  And when they came back after years and apologized.  It's the life I want to live and I think it -- to come back to my philanthropy which I have mentioned before, if all -- if more people dared to live as they're saying we should live, then life may be much more easy for a lot of people, and it depends very much on the [inaudible] people to do it.  You can't go out with a big drum and say, "Do this.  Do this.  Do this."  But if people live according to how we live and their own cultures, then maybe the world will continue to be beautiful.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Going back to when you first opened your own gallery, what was your inaugural exhibition there?

MR. BADER:  [Inaudible].  I always have it -- normally a show of my friends and artists.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And most of them had followed you from --

MR. BADER:  From Whyte --

MS. HAIFLEY:  -- from Whyte's?

MR. BADER:  -- at this time, I think.  Everybody asks me [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  And what were --

MR. BADER:  But people really didn't ask.  People didn't dare to ask [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  And they were Washington artists?

MR. BADER:  Yeah, at this time I only, and I want to stress it because there are always misinterpretations in the paper [inaudible] said she was the first one to represent Washington artists and I told her the face is wrong.  But I don't mind but after all, she opened up in 1953 or so and I had pushed the Washington artists since 1939.  And I only have taken now some non-Washington artists because they lived here.  There is this German born girl or the [inaudible].  She lived in New York, she lived here, and then she moved.  And there is Lee Weiss, who is one of my main artists.  Her husband was transferred to Washington.  He was an economist. 

They actually got the house to rent right next to me, so she lived here and if they moved I can't cut them off because they moved because this would be foolish I think.  And then one or two of them were very great Dutch families came here who had gotten in touch with three Dutch artists and I showed them when I visited in the summer, so it became other friends.  But it can be Michelangelo and if he's unpleasant, I wouldn't show their work.  I think I have never had a contract with an artist.  Never, and I never had a problem.  I cannot force the artists to paint beautifully for me.  I said always paint [inaudible] to create and he cannot force me to have enthusiasm.  So if we don't really understand each other then why do it?

There was a very good artist who once told me, "I am the artist and you are the dealer."  I said, "Look, my friend, if this is our relationship, then I think we'd better part."  And I gave him a week, but not long for long and he'll call me for lunch.  He didn't so I asked him to pick up his paintings.


MR. BADER:  If I would have gone this way I could have really been very rich and never booked someone -- usually the dealer books an artist up.  He doesn't book him up because he loves the artist.  There is always a reason to it and I get enough for three years, in three -- in a certain price in three years his pictures will sell for much more and so on.  I never -- I never have done anything in my life --

MS. HAIFLEY:  You haven't made any arrangements like that?

MR. BADER:  Never.

MS. HAIFLEY:  What kind of arrangements do you make?

MR. BADER:  I tell them that from now on -- if I see a new person I will try them out.  I hang one or two and they show them in the Christmas show or the book show.  And by the way the Christmas shows I have yearly since the beginning, but that was a long time ago.  After -- and then the artist came.  I say, "Look, fine.  We'll have a one man show and as long as we are together you cannot show anywhere else, and if you do with my permission there has to be [inaudible]." 

Usually, the commission should be split but I really don't care.  I mean the painting for me is important and this is it.  And if there is a misunderstanding then we just parted, but it's very, very rare.  It just goes on as long as -- as long as we wanted and I would [inaudible] another, especially if someone was showing at the same time at another gallery and so on.  Otherwise I never had limited or cancelled our agreement, and I probably should have with some because I had started with some in '39 and they are not all of the quality and I wouldn't have kept them today. 

But in '39 there were a lot of [inaudible] who had -- young people, people just coming out.  They were encouraged and they had talent.  But encouragement, talent, and opportunity still doesn't mean they are an artist.  They have to prove that they really can draw and not all did, and some of those mercifully have stopped.  They don't send me pictures anymore or they just don't paint.  [Inaudible]. 

But otherwise, I have [inaudible].  For instance, Nesbitt came to me saying, "Look, I have a -- I like much rather to be together with a gallery," like [inaudible] at this time, which was in Alexandria.  "They are friends of mine and we are grouping to change ideas," and I said, "Fine."  That was no problem.  And there was never a fight, nor never anybody took something out because of [inaudible] I had -- I had [inaudible] to have an exhibition.  I think so.  I've forgotten why we parted, but we are still on good terms.  Or they go away for a while and then they come back and they come, "Now, look, I can get a show there next month," and I say, "Fine, go ahead."  But there has never been scenes or anything of this so it should have been as calm as possible.

MS. HAIFLEY:  You had some exhibitions called "New Phases" in the summers.

MR. BADER:  I had them practically each year.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And you still do that?

MR. BADER:  I think that's -- yeah, I had it last year -- if I find enough.  I still have -- I have shows of five or six people.

MS. HAIFLEY:  And that's a way of starting out?

MR. BADER:  Starting out and I think if I'm not mistaken Ken Noland was in one of those.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Oh, really?

MR. BADER:  I mean all of those people whom I have shown at this time, I mean and the pretty young generation which has come up, and then I'll see if they -- if I have a show and some of those, if the new faces work, then I say, "Fine, let's have another -- a follow-up show."  And if they don't want one [inaudible] interestingly enough.  And they're realizing, too because it doesn't mean if they -- if I don't sell or can't handle that, that they are no good.  It means that they may not [inaudible] or it means that they are not the right thing for my [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. BADER:  Which gives them a kind of a candy.  [They laugh.] [Inaudible.]

MS. HAIFLEY:  And when you moved to the new location on Pennsylvania Avenue, that was when you stopped selling regular books?

MR. BADER:  Yes, it was there.  All right. The book seller has become a very different idea than it used to be.  As a matter of fact, I think that I have contributed in books, the ideal literature much more than people realize.  I may have contributed less in the field of painting and art and more in books than I get credit for.  At this time, books -- publishers sent us reading copies.  We had -- we were used to reading about 10 books a week.


MR. BADER:  It wasn't really reading; we went through, and [inaudible] finished, but they had it right here and then it started that the publishers came.  They tried -- firms just comes out, $20,000 advertising and 30,000 copies.  And when I ask who wrote it, they didn't even always know.  They didn't know which plot, what really was in it. 

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  They only [inaudible] sex plot, then they news [inaudible] selling it and just the idea has gone -- I found I could change lives of people if in at a certain time they read a book.  It may have happened to you.  It has happened to a lot of people.  It may not even be the best book in the world and if you would maybe read the book five years later, you wouldn't even have liked it.  But a good book at a certain time is very important and it seemed to be always a kind of a [inaudible] become 75 years old, this being a normal change.  [They laugh.]

Anyway, and it turned out I [inaudible].  They would come tell me that I am the only person in the whole trade who really has done those things, and it was seen here -- I think there was another one somewhere in Pennsylvania.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And so I sell [inaudible] and you see, if you read a book -- [inaudible] -- if you read a book, you can judge it and then you can order it because you know if it's your book or not.  Like take again, the Rachel Carson book.  I was one of the few people who read the book before [inaudible] she had the articles in the New Yorker.  So I had a very large amount, I'd say 120 copies which was at the time was very much, as other bookshops would have only one.  [Inaudible].  You see and for me, selling a book it's, I think, very important and newer artists, particularly [inaudible] artists which were, when I had the bookshop, very great coming in [inaudible] there. 

So as far as I can think these writers were damaged by too much publicity, but it has become necessary to publish a large edition and spend a lot of money for advertising.  If you advertise, you called someone, oh, they say that he is the greatest, and I think you have to add humility and modesty to create, which are those two things you do not take criticism.  If you do not take criticism it hurts your work. 

So I'm glad it became more complicated and to order more books and there have been return policies and you can return after a certain time.  But each book can only be returned let's say six months after publication.  So each book has another return date.  Do you understand what I mean?  If one book is published on the 15th of April, it can be returned six months later.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Because you couldn't sell it?

MR. BADER:  If you didn't -- if you really don't sell it to a publisher.

MS. HAIFLEY:  A publisher, oh.

MR. BADER:  And the other one is published on the 1st of May, then you return it six months later, after the 1st of May.  So if I would have done a complete inventory to know when and if --

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Inaudible].

MR. BADER:  -- you don't do it then you are stuck with it.  You see and all those things have come up.  And then I've felt also that my heart was more in selling paintings and sculptures, and on Pennsylvania Avenue we had a bookshop.  In the back was the gallery so I changed and now we are -- I think we really are the best bookshop in town; the best art bookshop.  And of course there's the National Gallery and so on.  They buy all their books from us.  Which we have Mrs. [inaudible] who is running the [inaudible] these days.  We are a working bookshop.  If someone comes we know what he wants.  If someone goes today to this type of shop, they just don't have [inaudible] because that is a different kind of customer.

MS. HAIFLEY:  You do a lot of special ordering, too don't you?

MR. BADER:  Some, yes, but we know what we had, you see and if we've got someone that's like a [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  [Inaudible] something I will show you.  [Inaudible] here about my relationship to James Whyte.  This [inaudible] very much was the situation, you see.  Long after I left he [inaudible] and he dedicated it to me.


MR. BADER:  But I don't like to come off as the [inaudible] oh, one of my kind of favorite subjects.  I feel that people are forced into reading.  They are pushed into reading and in big shops and department stores, the books are no more filed by artists.  They are filed by title.


MR. BADER:  And I -- and then you remember when the new Steinbeck came out or when the new Hemingway came out, For Whom the Bell Tolls, you know.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:  And [inaudible] to be the other ones and so the other people, but this is the sense of it.  You don't read something because of the plot.  You read something about the literary content and then you want to know more about this person, and I think this is the most interesting thing on all.  Without this it becomes again, it becomes about commas.  I have nothing against commas.  Nothing is -- for me, it isn't enough challenge to make it [inaudible] -- know how we do it.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Let's see, I think another thing I wanted to ask you about was the Washington Gallery of Modern Art and how you felt about that, and whether you went there often.

MR. BADER:  Yes, I went there.  I think the first day I saw [inaudible].  Have you actually contacted her?

MS. HAIFLEY:  I've talked with her but I haven't interviewed her yet.

MR. BADER:  She is the great person in Washington art.  She really is.  You know she was the director of the Baltimore Museum before and she had an -- she did a marvelous job and I think she was there together with Alice Stanley.  And I think there was a problem between the two of them and she was there when they had the exhibition of Van Gough.  And [inaudible] --

MS. HAIFLEY:  She told me about it.

MR. BADER:  -- everybody.  People were just standing in line around the blocks and then later there was -- it was the director -- the director who is now in Los Angeles.


MR. BADER:  I have his name here because I have here this Ivers picture and he wrote me.  I hope it's still [inaudible].  He wrote me [inaudible] the exhibition and Ivers, and Ivers told me that this is the only copy, that he had a copy and this is the only other one.  It's the last one Ivers did before he left Europe and I think they are the first pop paintings before [inaudible], which means their seed.  And you see they are moving and it looks like something else, but there is a [inaudible] down in [inaudible].  But about [inaudible], there he -- [inaudible] I was very fine.  They had good exhibitions and they had bad exhibitions.  It was a very nice addition to Washington.

MS. HAIFLEY:  Did you feel that it cost her an interest in contemporary art?

MR. BADER:  Yes, it definitely did.  It's only unfortunate that the Corcoran had too many problems as far as I can see, still has you know [inaudible].  It's a gallery which really should be the gallery for Washington and the different directors made different imprints and the farther we look back is how we appreciate people who used to be there.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  I don't want to be nasty about it, but there is that.  At present, Jane Livingston, who is the chief director, is I'm sure a very knowledgeable lady, but she is running that Washington Gallery without seeing any art at any gallery, with exception of very few or some with whom she is friends and I think this is wrong, and I told her so.  And now she has this assistant to her and I like him.  He's a very nice man. 

But I feel that she has -- nobody has the right to talk about Washington art without seeing it and if she would have called the different galleries and said, "I come in four weeks," they could have examined each one of them, or a number of artists, and then if she would have said, "Look, I don't like their art," the artists there -- the artists and the dealers would have to accept it.  But to have an exhibition of Washington artists without seeing this -- without seeing enough Washington artists, it's not responsible as far as I can see.

Again, thinking of hiring someone.  It may be a better idea just doing it but the Corcoran -- and she had talked with them -- I don't know [inaudible] my artists, who also was an artist, so he's an artist.  She is in her 60s now or beginning 60.  She is very active.  She looks much younger.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And I didn't show her because showing a husband and wife isn't always good.

MS. HAIFLEY:  [Laughs.]

MR. BADER:  And she cried and said, "Look, during the show of Washington artists, until the Corcoran gives me a chance maybe I can make it still.  I do not know.  But where should I go?"  If she goes to any gallery they say, "Oh, we have so many other artists."  The only hope for those people is to come through one great show so that the attention is drawn to them.  They are painting so many people in Washington, as far as I can see many too many has become a pastime for people, and which makes it very difficult.  For the Corcoran I think if they have a show for Washington artists, they may get 5,000.  I don't know how many [inaudible].

MS. HAIFLEY:  Mm-hmm.  [Affirmative.]

MR. BADER:   But from those days [inaudible] were sincerely fighting.  They come -- often I see pictures people [inaudible], and then [inaudible], "Sorry, I can't do anything.  It doesn't make any sense to take the -- say it -- to be nice, "Yes, bring it in," and I put it somewhere where I never would see it, or the customers would see it.  I say customer but I mean really more the public.  And there are never enough galleries here naturally, and galleries -- to run a gallery it costs money.  To have an exhibition costs money [inaudible].  I have to send out 4,500 announcements each time before --

MS. HAIFLEY:  Every three weeks?

MR. BADER:  Every three weeks because I cannot handle any review, which I would always [inaudible] on the reviewers.  Some reviewers have only one day time to meet, to go and see shows, and then another day to write about it.  In Washington alone are 80 galleries and [inaudible].  They just can't do it.  And other ones like [inaudible], who is more interested in [inaudible] shows and besides he has a different philosophy.


Last updated...June 9, 2009


How to Use This Collection

Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Franz Bader, 1978 November 2. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.