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John Bernard Myers papers, [circa 1940s]-1987, (bulk 1970-1987)

John Bernard Myers papers, [circa 1940s]-1987, (bulk 1970-1987)

Myers, John Bernard, 1920-1987

Author, Editor, Dealer, Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 2.0 linear ft.

Biographical/Historical Note

Critic, editor, writer, art dealer; New York. N.Y. Born Buffalo, N.Y., 1919 or 20; d. 1987. Myers had llifelong interests in poetry, puppets, and painting. He was a partner in the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 1951-1970, and served as gallery director; went on to operate the John Bernard Myers Gallery, 1970-1975. He was managing editor of "View" magazine, 1944-1947, edited several poetry and art publications including "Semi-Colon" and "Parenthese," and wrote extensively on art. Myers' autobiography, "Tracking the Marvelous: A Life in the New York Art World," was published in 1984.


Donated by the estate of Ricky Dale Horton, 1990.

Related Materials

Other material relating to John Bernard Myers in the Archives of American Art includes an interview with Myers conducted by Barbara Rose, circa 1969.

Scope and Contents

Primarily writings and journals, also correspondence, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting Myers' work as a writer and critic. His work as a gallery director and art dealer is not documented through his personal papers.

Correspondence, mainly incoming letters, 1960-1987, are from colleagues, admirers, friends, and publishers, concerning professional and personal matters. Included are a series of letters from friend and English professor Guy Davenport, a contributor to "Parenthése," the magazine Myers published between 1975 and 1979; a file concerning an incident with critic John Canaday containing letters of complaint to the New York Times and Art In America and an apology from Mr. Canaday; and correspondence concerning "Tracking the Marvelous," including letters from the publisher and editor, contracts, fan mail, and Myers' rebuttal to an unflattering review.

Writings, 1959-1987 and n.d., include manuscripts of published and unpublished books, articles and essays, and miscellaneous pieces by Myers. Included are the manuscript of his autobiography, "Tracking the Marvelous;" "Knowing what I Like, Essays by John Bernard Myers," 1985 (unpublished); and "Forward and Backward-A Chronicle in Fragments and Episodes," ca. 1976, about Mark Rothko's suicide (published later as part three of "Tracking the Marvelous"). Among the articles and essays are "New York Letter," 1959, and "New York Painting since Surrealism". Miscellaneous writings are book and exhibition reviews, poems, and notes on puppets. Diaries, 1969 and 1974-1983 (11 vols.) record Myers' experiences and reflections. Writings by other authors are poems; "Random Thoughts on the Gimmickists," an essay by Tibor de Nagy; and submissions to "Parenthese," a journal of words and pictures edited by Myers, ca. 1975-1979.

Printed matter, 1951-1987, by Myers includes his book, "Tracking the Marvelous;" exhibition catalogs and announcements, 1977-1987; articles, 1964-1983; and book and exhibition reviews, 1970-1975. Publications edited by him include "Semi-Colon," 1953-ca. 1956; "Parenthese," 1975, 1979, and proofs of an issue dated 1977. Other printed matter consists of exhibition catalogs; clippings about Leonid Berman, Grace Hartigan, Mark Rothko, and reviews of "Tracking the Marvelous."

Miscellaneous papers include artwork, consisting of collages by Arthur Cady, (illustrations for "Another Medici Child," by Myers), and original artwork for a Tibor de Nagy Gallery announcement of a Red Groom's exhibition featuring extension painting, ca. 1962; a resume, ca. 1980, and memorial pamphlets; transcripts of interviews conducted by Myers of Alexandra Anderson, Red Grooms, and Marisol, and an interview of Myers conducted by Alfred Sturdevant. Records of the Southampton Artists' Theatre Festival (John Bernard Myers, Producer) consist of "Director's notes on Second Season, ATF," 1969, notes and music by Ann Sternberg for a 1969 production of the musical "Gertrude Stein's First Reader," and music from unidentified productions. Also, minutes and memoranda of the Ingram Merrill Foundation (John Bernard Myers, Secretary), 1983-1984.

Photographs, 1940s-1985, are of Myers and unidentified friends; color slides and transparencies of the interior of his home in Brewster, N.Y., 1978; puppets; and "St. George," a painting by Grace Hartigan.

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

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