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John Opper papers, 1926-2011

John Opper papers, 1926-2011

Opper, John, 1908-1994


Collection Information

Size: 1.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of abstract painter and teacher John Opper measure 1.4 linear feet and are dated 1926 to 2011. The papers contain both professional and personal correspondence, including letters from immediate family. Biographical materials consist of essential data including passports, birth and death certificates, and curriculum vitae. Personal business records relate to the artist's Bowery Street and Amagansett studios, and to art sales through the Grace Borgenicht Gallery. A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings. Additional clippings, group and solo exhibition catalogs and announcements documenting Opper's career, and galley sheets of a children's book illustrated by Opper are included among the printed material. Photographs are of Opper, his family, friends, and paintings. Digital photographs depict the artist and relatives and also include images of genealogical records. The collection also contains a few pen and ink drawings by Opper.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Opper (1908-1994) was an abstract painter in New York, New York and Amagansett, New York. Opper attended the Hans Hofmann school in New York.


Donated by the artist's children, Jane and Joseph Opper, March 27, 2013.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the John Opper Papers, 1926-2011, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Chicago born abstract painter and teacher John Opper (1908-1994) moved to New York in the 1930s where he lived and worked for most of his career.
Opper was a founding member of the American Abstract Artist group in 1936, studying with Hans Hofmann the same year. He studied at Cleveland School of Art, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University and Art Institute of Chicago. Opper received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1969. He was represented by Grace Borgenicht Gallery. He became known for his abstract style that was influenced by both abstract expressionism and color field painting.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1953-1994 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1948-1994 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1960s-1993 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Materials, 1930-2011 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbook, 1937-2005 ( Box 2; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Artwork, 1963 (Box 2; 1 folder)
Series 7: Photographs, 1926-circa 2011 (Box 3; 0.2 linear feet)
Donated by the artist's children, Jane and Joseph Opper, March 27, 2013.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2014 by Rachel Salzmann. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

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 Opper papers, 1926-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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