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John Caldwell papers, circa 1909-1996

John Caldwell papers, circa 1909-1996

Caldwell, John, 1941-1993

Curator, Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 1.7 linear ft.

Summary: The papers or curator and writer John Caldwell measure 1.7 linear feet and date circa 1909 to 1996. The collection documents Caldwell's life and career through a variety of materials, such as biographical material including legal papers relating to the Caldwell Estate, letters from friends and colleagues, writings by Caldwell such as a draft version of a speech and draft essays, printed material including articles written by Caldwell for the New York Times, photographs of Caldwell, family members, dealers, donors, and artists, as well as a video recording documenting the 1985 Carnegie International.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Caldwell (1941-1993) was a curator and writer from Pittsburgh, Pa. and San Francisco, Calif. Caldwell was a critic for the New York Times, curator of contemporary art for the Carnegie Museum of Art, and a curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Provenance

Donated 2002 by the John Caldwell estate, via Joan Witek, executrix of the estate of John Caldwell.

A Finding Aid to the John Caldwell Papers,
circa 1909-1996
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.caldjohn
Author
Finding aid prepared by Carla De Luise
Biographical Note
John Caldwell (1941-1993) was a curator and art critic in New York, NY, Pittsburg, PA, and San Francisco, CA. He was born on November 16, 1941 in Nashville, Tennessee. He received a bachelor's degree in modern French history from Harvard University in 1963 and his master's degree in art history from Hunter College, New York, NY, in 1973. While studying at Hunter, Caldwell also served as associate editor at the New-York Historical Society (1967-1973). From 1973 to 1976, Caldwell pursued a doctorate in eighteenth and nineteenth century American art history at Yale University and worked as an assistant to the curator of American art at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, CT.
In 1975, Caldwell won an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship with the Metropolitan Museum of Art; in 1977, he was appointed assistant curator of American art at the museum. From 1980 to 1984, Caldwell served as art critic for the suburban weekly sections of the
New York Times
. During this period, Caldwell's interest in contemporary art grew. In 1984, Caldwell accepted a position as adjunct curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA. A year later he was promoted to curator of contemporary art at the museum, a position that he held until 1989. Both Caldwell and John R. Lane, the director of the Carnegie Museum of Art, infused new energy into the 1985 Carnegie International, a triennial exhibition, that brought together many contemporary American and European works of art. Caldwell also spearheaded the 1988 Carnegie International and was the only curator in the history of the museum to have organized two consecutive Internationals. During his tenure at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Caldwell organized solo exhibitions on artists that included Susan Rothenberg (1984), Sean Scully (1985), and Richard Deacon (1988).
In 1989, two years after John R. Lane was appointed director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Caldwell joined his former colleague and served as the first curator of painting and sculpture for the museum. At SFMoMA, Caldwell organized retrospective exhibitions on artists that included Sigmar Polke (1990-91), Luciano Fabro (1992), and Jeff Koons (1992-1993). He also curated one person shows of new works by artists that included Matthew Barney (1991), Sherrie Levine (1991), and Susana Solana (1991).
Caldwell died in 1993 at the age of 51 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1909-1996, undated (Box 1, OV 4; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Letters, 1970-1994, undated (Box 1, OV 4; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1983-1992, undated (Box 2; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1977-1996, undated (Box 2, OV 4; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Photographs, circa 1941-1993, undated (Box 3; 2 folders)
Series 6: Video Recording, 1985 (Box 3; 1 folder)
Scope and Content Note
The papers or curator and writer John Caldwell measure 1.7 linear feet and date circa 1909 to 1996. The collection documents Caldwell's life and career through a variety of materials, such as biographical material including legal papers relating to the Caldwell Estate, letters from friends and colleagues, writings by Caldwell such as a draft version of a speech and draft essays, printed material including articles written by Caldwell for the
New York Times
, photographs of Caldwell, family members, dealers, donors, and artists, as well as a video recording documenting the 1985 Carnegie International.
Provenance
Donated 2002 by the John Caldwell estate, via Joan Witek, executrix of the estate of John Caldwell.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Carla De Luise in 2007.

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

John Caldwell papers, circa 1909-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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