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John Saccaro papers, 1935-1975

Saccaro, John M., 1913-1981

Muralist, Lithographer, Painter, Etcher, Printmaker


Collection Information

Size: 1.6 Linear feet, (on 3 microfilm reels)

Summary: Letters, notes and writings (1935-1972), financial material (1937-1966), printed material (1946-1970), photographs, sketchbooks and audio tapes document Saccaro's painting and writing careers.
REEL 723 (frames 72-645): Nine sketchbooks contain ink, crayon, and pencil sketches by Saccaro. Subjects include figure and animal studies as well as calculations for his later x-ray works. Eleven illustrated notebooks (1940-1969) contain Saccaro's ideas and thoughts about art; opinions on artists such as Karl Baumann, Dong Kingman, Robert McChesney, and Jose Ramos; and ideas and sketches for stories.
REEL 723 (frames 646-858): Four pages of notes concern "alpha," "omega," and "x-ray" painting and "squirt pieces". Thirteen letters (1947-1964) concern exhibitions, teaching at UCLA, a story Saccaro wrote, and a drawing for ARTFORUM. Photographs show Saccaro, his family, his works of art, Elaine Mayes (a photographer who shared Saccaro's studio, 1960-1963), exhibitions (1956-1961), and groups of artists. Other materials include a drawing of Saccaro by Nathan Oliveira, a drawing of an idea for a soft sculpture, exhibition announcements, an artist's statement, a guest book, an interview transcript (1962), excerpts from an essay by critic Alfred Frankenstein, Saccaro's resume, and 11 clippings (1956-1973).
REELS 4211-4212: Correspondence (1935-1966) includes several letters from Saccaro to Marie and an illustrated letter from George Tomlin (1948). Writings include 6 notebooks and 13 drafts of short stories and essays (ca. 1954-1959). Two logbooks (1935-1951) list manuscripts sent to publishers. One logbook contains an essay about Marie Lynch, Saccaro's wife, painting his portrait in 1938. Other materials include consignment receipts from the Hollis Gallery (1959-1964), clippings (1946-1970), exhibition announcements and catalogs (1956-1960), a design for a soft sculpture, audio tapes of Paul Karlstrom's interview of Saccaro (1974) and a camping trip (1972), and a resume and school records of Marie Lynch. Photographs (1945-1975) show Saccaro, his family, friends, and art works.

Biographical/Historical Note

Draftsman, collage artist, painter, and writer; San Francisco, California. Studied at the California School of Fine Arts (1951-1954). Until recently, Saccaro's paintings were in the abstract expressionist style (his more recent paintings are characterized by a different approach, which Saccaro calls "x-ray"). Saccaro pursued a writing career before becoming a painter.


Materials on reels 723 (frames 72-645) and 4211-4212 were donated by his niece, Patricia Barrett, on behalf of John Saccaro's estate.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Reel 723 (frames 646-858): Originals returned to the lender, John Matthew Saccaro, after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels 723 and 4211-4212 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

John Saccaro papers, 1935-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.