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Jan van der Marck papers, 1942-2010

Jan van der Marck papers, 1942-2010

van der Marck, Jan, 1929-2010

Curator, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 9.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers or curator and arts administrator Jan Van der Marck measure 9.0 linear feet and date from 1944 to 2010. His career is documented through biographical material, files on artists and art historians, museum administration records, and other professional records. Also found are papers concerning Van der Marck's personal interest and research on modern bookbinding.

Biographical material includes records of Van der Marck's personal collection of artwork, books, and photographs; early records consisting primarily of school documents, writings, and photographs; and one journal. Additionally there are copies of published interviews, one file of letters from friends, and several photographs of Van der Marck. Files on artists and art historians may include correspondence, photographs, slides, news clippings, exhibition catalogs, lists of artworks, exhibition planning documents, as well as articles or other writings by Van der Marck about the artist. Of note are files on Arman, Robert Indiana, Christo, Jacques Lipchitz, George Segal, Beverly Pepper, and Brian O'Doherty.

Museum Administration records document Van der Marck's activities as director or curator at various museums. Files may include museum exhibition planning records, administrative records, printed material, correspondence, and photographs. Also found are records of Van der Marck's other professional activities, such as his participation as guest curator of exhibitions, committee participant, and exhibition juror, as well as lecture files containing invitations, press materials, and drafts of his lectures. Additionally there are a few research files and copies of his published articles.

Papers concerning bookbinding document Van der Marck's research and personal collection of contemporary bookbinding and book arts. Included are files on bookbinders, slides and photographs of bindings, correspondence with libraries, and records of his purchase or donation of these works.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jan van der Marck (1929- 2010) was a curator and arts administrator in Detroit, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, and Miami, Florida.


The papers were donated in 2011 by Sheila Van der Marck, Jan Van der Marck's widow.

A Finding Aid to the Jan Van der Marck Papers, 1942-2010, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Jan Van der Marck (1929-2010) was a curator and museum administrator in Detroit, Mich., Chicago, Ill., and Miami, Fla.
Van der Marck was born in Roermond, the Netherlands, in 1929. His family owned a printing and publishing business. He studied art history at the University of Nijmegen and earned his doctorate in 1956 with a dissertation on 19th-century Belgian book illustration. In 1957 he came to the United States on a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to research the relationship between museums and their audiences and studied briefly at Columbia University. In 1962 he was assistant director of fine arts exhibitions at the Seattle World's Fair. Van der Marck became curator at the Walker Art Center in 1963 and became the founding director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1967. While in Chicago he invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap the museum building in canvas. He later served as project manager for their "Valley Curtain" project in 1971 and 1972.
After leaving the Museum of Contemporary Art, Van der Marck worked briefly at the University of Washington in Seattle, and then served as director of the Dartmouth College Galleries and Collections from 1974 to 1980. At Dartmouth he continued to support non-traditional artworks and oversaw the installation of the lawn sculpture "X-Delta" by Mark di Suvero, despite negative campus reactions. In 1980 he became the director of the new Center for the Fine Arts in Miami. After a disagreement with trustees he left the Center and became chief curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1986. In 1995 he lost his job at the Detroit Institute when it was ruled that he violated a city residential requirement.
Aside from his work as an arts administrator, Van der Marck wrote and published many catalog essays, articles, and monographs on artists, lectured on contemporary art, and participated in arts organizations. He also maintained an interest in contemporary bookbinding.
The papers were donated in 2011 by Sheila Van der Marck, Jan Van der Marck's widow.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2012 by Erin Kinhart.
The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles and dates, but not arranged further. Folder titles were transcribed from original folder headings where they existed. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders. Staples and other fasteners were not removed, but materials were removed from binders or damaged binding when necessary.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Jan van der Marck papers, 1942-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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