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John Jonas Gruen and Jane Wilson papers, 1936-2005

John Jonas Gruen and Jane Wilson papers, 1936-2005

Gruen, John Jonas, 1926-2016

Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 25.0 linear feet

Summary: Primarily papers of John Gruen, and to a lesser degree, those of his wife, artist Jane Wilson. Included are subject, lecture, and project files, correspondence, photographs, and interviews.

Files on artists and art-related subjects containing clippings, press releases, exhibition catalogs and announcements, typescripts of articles and published magazine articles, correspondence, and photographs of artwork and of Gruen; extensive tapes of interviews with artists, some transcribed. Files of published and unpublished writings, 1975- 1990, arranged alphabetically by subject. Files may include drafts, final manuscripts, correspondence, research notes and tear sheet of published article. Also, drafts and final manuscripts of: "The Party's Over", "Close-Up", and "The Artist Observed," and interviews, 1969-1993, conducted as research, including 62 cassettes and 8 reels (7 in.), and a few partial transcripts, 1969-1978.

An addition received 2003 includes files on Gruen's: lecture series "From Pop to Eternity" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; books "Facing the Artist", "The Artists Observed, "Flowers and Fables" and "Young in the Hamptons"; interviews with Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, and James Rosenquist conducted for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and his interview with Julie Andrews; photography exhibits; "The Party's Over", 1999,, "Nureyev" 2000, and a staged reading of "Try Try" by Frank O'Hara with music by Gruen, 2001; an interview with Gruen and Wilson, 2001; a monograph of Gruen's "Young in the Hamptons, Photographs of the 1950s and 1960s", 2003; manuscript outline for Gruen's lecture "What is a Critic, Who is a Critic, Why is a Critic?", 1983; printed material containing articles about or by Gruen, and the playbill for "Radiant Baby", the musical based on Gruen's biography on Keith Haring; personal and business correspondence with Gruen's agents, magazine editors, Jane Wilson, 1996-2002, Prestel Verlag regarding his book "Facing the Artist," 1997-1999, Emmett Williams, Dawn Lloyd, Lauren Bacall, Mikhail Beryshnikov, Leonard Bernstein, Anders Hellstrom, Ray Johnson, Robert Zakanich, and others. Of particular interest is a letter commenting on Gruen's article on Robert Rauschenburg, 1966.

Papers of Jane Wilson consist of biographical material, correspondence and exhibition catalogs. Letters pertain to her teaching career at Pratt, Parsons, and her later faculty appointment at Columbia, her election to the National Academy of Design, her exhibitions and sales. Included is a master set of published material on Wilson and her work.

An addition of 6.0 linear feet received 2016 includes material relating to Jane Wilson consisting of biographical material including material from her childhood; teaching files and notes; files on National Academy of Design; personal and professional correspondence; personal business records; exhibition and sales files; notes and writings; loose sketches; photographs and slides of works of art (contained in two binders) and audio visual material including a VHS video of Jane painting, 3 helical tapes of Jane Wilson, Port Washington Library, March 3, 1979, and additional photographs of works of art by John and Jane on CDs. Also included are a camera and undeveloped film.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Gruen (1926- 2016) was an art critic in New York, N.Y. Gruen is professionally known as John Jonas Gruen. He married artist Jane Wilson (1924-2015) in 1948.


Donated 1982, 1995 and 2003 by John Jonas Gruen and Jane Wilson and in 2016 by the Estate of Jane Wilson via Julia Gruen, Wilson's daughter.

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 Jonas Gruen and Jane Wilson papers, 1936-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.