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Oral history interview with Jeanne L. Wasserman, 1993-1994

Oral history interview with Jeanne L. Wasserman, 1993-1994

Wasserman, Jeanne L., 1915-2006


Collection Information

Size: 5 sound cassettes (7 hrs., 30 min.) : analog.

Format: Originally recorded on 5 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 10 digital wav files. Duration is 7 hrs., 12 min.

Summary: An interview of Jeanne L. Wasserman conducted 1993-1994 by Robert F. Brown for the Archives of American Art.

Wasserman recalls her childhood in New York City and New Rochelle, N.Y., and the progressive education she received at the Feldston School, especially art instruction by Peppino Mangravite, and later at Radcliffe College. She remembers visiting New York City art galleries and conversations with Alfred Stieglitz. In 1938, she eloped with Max Wasserman, and she comments on their early art collecting activities together in the 1950s, particularly as it contrasted with the avant-garde collection they assembled in later years.

Wasserman speaks about artists she became acquainted with through her collecting activities, including Niki De Saint-Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Robert Indiana, Claes Oldenburg, Yaacov Agam, and George Rickey; her involvement with the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from the late 1950s onward as a trustee and member of the exhibitions committee; ICA directors James Plaut, Thomas Messer, Sue Thurman, Andrew Hyde, Christopher Cook, Stephen Prokopoff, and David Ross; the evolution of her participation at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge from volunteer to curator; shows that she organized, the controversy that some of them aroused; working with conservator Arthur Beale and director John Coolidge; and of her and her husband's involvement with the art collection at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including her husband's bequest to the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jeanne L. Wasserman, (1915-2006) was a museum curator and art collector from Boston, 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.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

Use requires an appointment.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Jeanne L. Wasserman, 1993-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.