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Jimmy Ernst papers, 1802-2010, bulk 1930-2005

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Christopher DeMairo
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Jimmy Ernst measure 16.3 linear feet and date from 1802 to 2010, with the bulk of the records dating from the 1930s to 2005. The collection documents Ernst's work as a professional artist, educator and lecturer, and his involvement with the abstract expressionist art movement in the United States through biographical material, correspondence, writings, some personal business papers, teaching materials and lecture notes, printed material, photographs as well as sound and video recordings. Also found is a series of research material, drafts, notes, publicity, correspondence, and interviews pertaining to the writing of Ernst's memoir, A Not So Still-Life (1984).
Biographical material is comprised of resumes and other summaries of Ernst's career; documents such as passports, will and estate records, contact lists, and school papers from his childhood in Germany; records of the awards Ernst received; and sound and video recordings, including interviews.
Correspondence includes Ernst's letters to and from family, friends, colleagues, and organizations. Topics concern artwork, some political and philosophical issues, services, and personal matters. Also included are a few files of Dallas Ernst's correspondence.
Writings include essays and short writings by Ernst concerning politics, art, poetry, and his own life experiences. Also found are drafts of writings that would later go on to be published, such as his "Freedom of Expression in the Arts" (1964) and "A Letter to the Artists of the Soviet Union" (1961). Additionally, there are a few files that contain writings by Dallas Ernst as well as drafts, essays, M.A. theses, and reviews by other artists, students, and critics in regards to Ernst's art, exhibitions, and career. Papers pertaining to the writing of Ernst's memoir, A Not So Still-Life (1984) include research material, drafts, notes, photographs, publicity material, correspondence, and interviews.
Teaching and lecture material consists of correspondence, drafts of speeches, notes, and videos of talks given by Ernst. Documentation covers the periods that Ernst taught at Brooklyn College's Department of Design from 1951 to 1977, lectured at museums and universities in the United States and Europe, and gave commencement speeches to the graduates of Silvermine College of Art in 1969 and Long Island University in 1982.
Exhibition papers include one video, correspondence, ephemera, and lists of artworks shown in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe from 1951 to 1999. After Ernst's death in 1984, his wife Dallas Ernst handled the exhibiting of his art.
Personal business papers document the handling, sale, and consignments of Ernst's artwork. The material is predominantly correspondence with galleries that represented Ernst, although there are files containing receipts, tax documents, and acknowledgements for services and donated artwork. There is also one file concerning Dallas' involvement in the reproduction of sculptures done by Max Ernst.
Printed material includes clippings, newsletters, bulletins, periodicals, and books concerning Ernst's life and career; exhibitions catalogs and announcements; miscellaneous clippings and printed material, some of which were collected by Ernst and annotated; and some reproductions of Ernst's artwork.
Photographs and slides document Ernst's personal and professional life. They include images of the Ernst family both in the United States and Europe, snapshots taken at events and during trips, images of Max and Jimmy Ernst's artwork.
Multiple languages
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated in 2012 by Amy Ernst, Jimmy Ernst's daughter.
Related Materials
Also found in the Archives are the Max and Dorothea Ernst letters concerning Max Ernst's American citizenship status (photocopies) microfilmed on reel 3829
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Processing Information
This collection was processed and a finding aid was written by Christopher DeMairo in 2019.