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John Altoon art work and papers, circa 1940-1969

Altoon, John, 1925-1969



Collection Information

Size: 2.3 Linear feet

Summary: Over 300 pencil and pencil and ink drawings, circa 1950s-1960s, mostly contained in sketchbooks and tablets, as well as numerous loose sketches and several mixed-media works on board. Also found are Altoon's letters and a ship's log dating from his years of WWII Navy service in the Pacific.
An addition of 0.6 linear feet donated 2017 included approximately 100 sketches by John Altoon, 1956-1966 and undated, created in printmaker Kenneth Tyler's Los Angeles workshop.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Altoon (1925-1969) was a painter in Los Angeles, Calif. Altoon (born Altoonian), was a major figure in the Los Angeles art scene from the 1950s until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He began painting in the abstract-expressionist style, but by the mid-1960s his works turned to the figure, characterized by skillful draftsmanship and sexual imagery.


Donated 1998 by Roberta L. Thompson, John Altoon's widow and in 2017 by printmaker Kenneth E. Tyler who collaborated on projects with John Altoon.

How to Use This Collection

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

John Altoon art work and papers, circa 1940-1969. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.