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Irving Petlin papers, 1952-2014, bulk 1970-1990

Petlin, Irving, 1934-2018


Collection Information

Size: 3 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter Irving Petlin measure 3.0 linear feet and date from 1952-2014. Materials include correspondence with other artists and collaborators, galleries, friends, and family; notes by Petlin related to his artistic process; exhibition and project files regarding the war in Vietnam and other projects; exhibition catalogs, announcements, and clippings related to Petlin's work and group and solo museum and gallery shows; periodicals related to the art world; books featuring Petlin as an illustrator or inscribed by author or editor friends of Petlin's; sketches by Petlin; an Italian contemporary art award; a piece of the Peace Tower collaboration with Mark di Suvero and other artists; and photographs of Petlin's works, installations, and Petlin in a studio.

Biographical/Historical Note

Irving Petlin (1934-2018) was a painter in Paris, France; New York, New York; and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Petlin was born in Chicago to Polish Jewish immigrants, attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and earned a MFA from Yale University. Petlin specialized in the medium of pastel, first gaining recognition in Paris after his service in the United States army. From there he went to Los Angeles, where he was principal organizer of the "Artists Protest Movement Against the War in Vietnam," and the 1966 "Peace Tower," with Mark di Suvero and other artists. Petlin and his wife, Sarah, a poet, moved to New York City for 28 years before returning to Paris. Petlin was heavily influenced by the political landscape around him and was an active member of the Art Workers' Coalition. He used allegory, mythology, and symbolism to illustrate politics and the human condition. He often collaborated on projects with other artists and was inspired by writers and poets. In the last decades of his life, Petlin split his time between his studio in Paris and his family's 18th century farmhouse in Martha's Vineyard continuing his work as an artist and activist.


The collection was donated in 2019 by Sarah Petlin.

Related Materials

Language Note

English , French , Italian .