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Jack Tworkov papers, circa 1926-1993

More Information

Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Contents
The Jack Tworkov papers measure 9.7 linear feet and are dated 1926-1993, with the bulk from the period 1931-1982. Tworkov's work as a painter and influential teacher, as well as his personal life, are documented by extensive journals and substantive correspondence that record his ideas about art and teaching, and illuminate his relationships with friends, colleagues, and students. Many sketchbooks, writings, interviews, photographs, and moving images are also included.
Biographical material includes Tworkov's citizenship certificate, awards, diplomas, a copy of Jack Tworkov: Video Portrait, produced by Electronic Arts Intermix, and a motion picture film, USA Artists: Jack Tworkov, produced by National Education Television.
Correspondence consists largely of incoming letters. It is both professional and personal in nature and often combines both spheres. Correspondents include artists Jennifer Bartlett, William H. Calfee, Giorgio Cavallon and Linda Lindeberg, Grace Hartigan, Helene Herzbrun (also named Helene McKinsey), Karl Knaths, Joe Summerford, Joan Thorne, and Adja Yunkers; cartoonist Robert C. Osborn; collectors Donald M. Blinken and David A. Praeger (who was also Tworkov's lawyer); illustrator Roger Dovoisin; critics Dore Ashton and Andrew Forge; critic and poet John Ashbury; galleries that represented Tworkov: Egan Gallery, Leo Castelli, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, Poindexter Gallery, Stable Gallery and Zabriskie Gallery; and many museums, arts organizations, colleges and universities.
Interviews with Tworkov include one with Ricky Demarco videotaped in 1979 and two conducted on video by Twokov's daughter Helen in 1975. The remaining interviews are sound recordings, one conducted by Grace Alexander for the show Artists in New York in 1967, one conducted by Michael Newman in 1980, and the remainder by unidentified interviewers. None have transcripts.
All writings are by Tworkov and include poems, an artist's statement, and documentation for two children's books by Tworkov illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. Two additional notebooks contain miscellaneous notes, teaching notes, and some specific to identified courses. Lectures exist as untranscribed sound recordings.
Tworkov's journals (33 volumes) span a period of 35 years, from 1947 until 1982, with the final entry dated a few weeks before his death. They record his reflections on painting, his challenges as a painter, aesthetics, the role of the artist in society, Jewish identity, painters he admired (especially CĂ©zanne and Edwin Dickinson), politics, and teaching. They also recount everyday life: the comings and goings of friends and family members, social engagements, professional activities, illness, and travel.
The lone subject file concerns Mark Rothko and includes a photograph of Rothko and the guest list for the dedication of the Rothko Chapel in Houston.
Artwork consists of a small number of sketches by Tworkov in pencil and ink. Tworkov's sketchbooks (28 volumes) contain sketches and some finished drawings. Most are in pencil, but scattered throughout are a few pencil sketches embellished with colored marker or pastel, and a small number in ink.
Photographs are of people, places and events. Most photographs are of Tworkov alone and with others including Giogio Cavallon, though most friends and students are unidentified. Of note are views of Tworkov producing a series of prints at Tamarind Institute. Also found is an informal portrait of Wally Tworkov. Events recorded include the jurying of "Exhibition Momentum" in Chicago, 1956. Among the places shown are Tworkov's studios at Black Mountain College and in Provincetown. When known, photographers are noted; among them are Paul Katz, Herbert Matter, Arnold Newman, Renate Ponsold, Theo Westenberger, Dennis Wheeler, and Howard Wise.
A separate series of audiovisual recordings was established for those recordings that could not be readily identified to be arranged in other series. They consist of three videocassettes (2 VHS and 1 miniDV).
Jack Tworkov lent the Archives of American Art papers for microfilming in 1970-1971. Jack Tworkov's daughters, Hermine Ford and Helen Tworkov, donated the rest of the collection in 2009, which included some of the material from the original loan.
Separated Material
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel N70-38 and 62) including writings by Tworkov, notebooks, notes for teaching and talks, notes on art and miscellaneous subjects, poems, artist's statements, biographical data, the transcript of a 1970 interview with Tworkov conducted by Phyllis Tuchman, and a few letters and drafts of letters, 1950-1963. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Related Material
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are two oral history interviews with Jack Tworkov, one conducted by Dorothy Seckler, Aug. 17, 1962, and another by Gerald Silk, May 22, 1981. There is also a small collection of three letters written by Jack Tworkov to friend Troy-Jjohn Bramberger.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2012. It was digitized in 2013 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Audio visual recordings that were unidentified at the time of processing, but have subsequently been reviewed, have been intellectually incorporated into the appropriate biographical material (Series 1), interviews (Series 3), and writings, notes, and lectures series (Series 4). Motion picture film reel was inspected and re-housed in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.