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Ivan C. Karp papers and OK Harris Works of Art gallery records, 1960-2014

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Catherine S. Gaines and Joy Goodwin
Scope and Contents
The Ivan C. Karp papers and OK Harris Works of Art gallery records measure 80.3 linear feet and are dated 1960-2014. The collection documents the operation and activities of the contemporary art gallery founded by Ivan C. Karp in the SoHo area of Manhattan. Exhibition files, artists' files, printed material, and photographic materials reveal the wide range of artists represented by OK Harris and the gallery's role in introducing Photo-realism to the public. Also included are administrative files, prints by OK Harris artists, business and personal correspondence, 39 journals by Karp spanning a period of 62 years, and other personal papers. Material pre-dating the 1969 establishment of OK Harris Works of Art consists of printed items and a few letters.
Correspondence, both professional and personal, is with museums, galleries, art dealers, art collectors, and graduate students. Artists John Baeder, Deborah Butterfield, John Clem Clarke, John DeAndrea, Jim Dine, Leonard Dufresne, Robert Ginder, Ralph Goings, Duane Hanson, Richard McLean and Tom Wesselmann are among the correspondents.
Admininstrative files concern the daily operation of OK Harris Works of Art. Included are instructions regarding administrative functions and forms for routine activities to enable employees to conduct business in Ivan Karp's absence. Along with files about other items occasionally sold at the gallery, there are files about projects of interest to the Karps, sample announcements, invitations, and advertisements.
Exhibition files document group shows, collectibles and antique exhibitions, summer invitationals, and special event exhibitions at OK Harris Works of Art. The files include photographs and slides, schedules, lists of titles and prices, artists' resumes, installation layouts, reviews and publicity materials, and other items.
Artist files constitute the largest series in the collection at 34 linear feet, and document the gallery's relationships with artists throughout its 45 year history. Files are comprised of biographical information, correspondence, notes, publicity and other printed material (including a few items pre-dating the gallery). Among the many transactions recorded are arrangements for and documentation of solo exhibitions at OK Harris. There are photographs, slides and color transparencies of individual works, and some views of exhibition installations. John Baeder, Muriel Castanis, Don Celender, Ralph Goings, John Kacere, Richard McLean, Robert Rohm and John Salt are among the most extensively documented artists.
Printed material produced by OK Harris Works of Art includes exhibition catalogs, exhibition announcements, invitations, checklists, price lists posters, and notices of gallery sponsored events and activities. Printed material from other sources consists of exhibition reviews, articles about Ivan and Marilynn Karp, OK Harris Works of Art, and the gallery's artists. These appeared in art and mainstream periodicals, newspapers, exhibition catalogs, and books. Also found are posters, reproductions of artwork, and miscellaneous printed items. Artwork consists of 40 prints by artists affiliated with OK Harris. Most are signed; 2 are black and white prints, the remainder are color lithographs. Included is Radical Realism I, a set of 6 prints issued by Mother Lode Editions, 1972.
Thirty-two linear feet of photographs, negatives, slides, transparencies and digital images are of artwork by OK Harris artists, exhibition installation views, and miscellaneous subjects. Photographs of artwork by 59 OK Harris artists are found in binders called "Artists' Photo Books." Installation views of exhibitions held at OK Harris Works of Art during its 45 year history fill 61 binders. Miscellaneous subjects include OK Harris office space, galleries and staff. Also found are photographs of group shows, art fairs, and gallery artists' exhibitions at other venues.
The Ivan C. Karp personal papers include obituaries from print and internet sources along with other biographical information, published versions of brief interviews conducted for various purposes, writings, a few materials relating to business and academic activities, and some personal photographs. Journals, 1950-2012 (bulk 1991-2012) record travel, daily activities, and reflections.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Marilynn Karp, wife of Ivan C. Karp, donated scattered papers in 2011 and 2013, and the bulk of the collection in 2014.
Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Ivan C. Karp conducted by Richard Brown Baker, 1963 October 18; by Paul Cummings, 1969 March 12; and by Ronny Cohen, 1986 April 17-1988 October 18. The Marilynn Gelfman Karp Collection of Ephemera owned by the New-York Historical Society includes OK Harris printed material, prints, and posters.
Processing Information
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2014 by Catherine S. Gaines and Joy Goodwin with assistance from Rachel Salzmann and Harriet Shapiro. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.
Material with a Social Security number was redacted with a copy left in the collection. The original document is maintained separately.