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Oral history interview with Paule H. Nitze, 1996 Apr. 30

Oral history interview with Paule H. Nitze, 1996 Apr. 30

Nitze, Paul H. (Paul Henry), 1907-2004

Art patron, Author, Collector

Collection Information

Size: 1 sound cassette (60 min.) : analog.

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 1 digital wav file. Duration is 44 min.

Summary: An interview of Paul H. Nitze conducted 1996 Apr. 30, by Liza Kirwin and Richard Wattenmaker, for the Archives of American Art's Oral History Program, at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, D.C.

Nitze mainly recalls his acquaintance with Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi. He discusses meeting Calder in Berlin, Germany at the opening of a Calder exhibition in 1929; how Calder moved to Nitze's Berlin pension and they "became pals" that first day; their plans to bicycle to Russia with other friends; sharing an apartment with Calder in New York City; a performance of the Circus there and how "everybody loved him"; and Calder's courtship and marriage to Louisa James. Nitze talks about meeting Noguchi through Sidney Spivak and how Noguchi made a bronze head of Nitze as re-payment for his support; and Noguchi's "instinct for making things acceptable to the modern art world." He also discusses his early desire to be an art dealer and pursuing that career in Paris until he realized that "the whole profession was a bunch of crooks"; his own art collection and how, at age 15, he bought two paintings by Austrian Hans Grüss, and later acquired works by Degas, Van Gogh, and Monet.

Biographical/Historical Note

Paul H. Nitze (1907-2004) is a statesman, author, art patron, and collector from 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 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.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Paule H. Nitze, 1996 Apr. 30. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.