Scope and Contents
The papers of Wisconsin painter, educator, and draftsman John Wilde measure 21.3 linear feet and 0.008 GB and date from 1935 to 2011. The papers consist of biographical material, correspondence, interviews, writings and notes, 27 journals, personal business records, exhibition files, two scrapbooks, photographic materials, six sketchbooks, artwork, and nearly 90 limited edition, letterpress artist collaboration books – many that include artwork contributed by Wilde.
Biographical materials include certificates and awards, a diploma from the University of Wisconsin, curriculum vitae, memorials, and membership files. Correspondence is with family and friends, and colleagues Karl Priebe, Gertrude Abercrombie, Sylvia Fein, Dudley Huppler, Marshall Glasier, Robert Cozzolino, Theodore Wolff, Peter and Helga Gardetto, Andrew Balkin Editions, Warrington Colescott, Tandem Press, Harvey Littleton, and others. Letters from Walter Hamady are access restricted and housed separately.
There are interviews with Wilde from Harry Bouras' radio show Critics Choice, as well as an interview with Gertrude Abercrombie by Studs Terkel's for Terkel's WFMT radio show broadcast in Chicago.
Wilde discusses his artwork and other topics in 27 journals spanning seven decades. Additional writings by Wilde include term papers, his thesis titled "A Survey of the Development of Surrealism in Painting and Its Chief Innovations with Special Emphasis on the Life and Work of Max Ernst," transcriptions for gallery talks and speeches, notes, and various other writings. Writings about Wilde are by Theodore Wolff, Michael Seefeldt, and other authors. Wilde's personal business records include account books, appraisals, donation papers, inventory books and lists, and a draft of Wilde's last will and testament.
There are exhibition files for Leaders in Wisconsin Art (1982), John Wilde: Drawings 1940-1984 (1984), Wildeworld: The Art of John Wilde (1999), John Wilde: Recent Work (2003), With Friends: Six Magical Realists (2005), and others.
Printed materials include art auction catalogs, calendars, clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, invitations, magazines and journals, poetry booklets, press releases, programs, and an annual report. There are also two scrapbooks containing clippings and other printed materials compiled by Wilde. There are photographs of Wilde, his studio and estate, his close friends and fellow artists, and of works of art by Wilde and others. Few photographs are in digital format.
A series of nearly 90 artists collaboration books, many illustrated by Wilde, include Five Poems by Khatchik Minasian, Poems for Self Therepy by George Economou, Six Poems by J.D. Whitney, John's Apples by Reeve Lindbergh and 44 Wilde 1944, What His Mother's Son Hath Wrought (WHMSHW), The Story of Jane and Joan, and A Hamady Wilde Sampler/Salutations 1995. Other books are by Walter Hamady, Mary Laird Hamady, and others.
Six sketchbooks contain drawings and studies, as well as sketches of himself, his friends, and of his first wife Helen. Interspersed througout the sketchbooks are lists of artworks, accounting notes, and other notes and writings. Additional artwork includes files marked as preparatory drawings by Wilde, a large collage by Jerome Karidis titled Homage to the Queen Gertrude Abercrombie, and a few drawings by others.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The John Wilde papers were donated incrementally between 1975 and 2015 by John Wilde and his estate. Portions were previously lent for microfilming. Additional letters from Walter Hamady were lent for microfilming by John Wilde in December 1999.
Also avaialbe at the Archives of American Art are materials lent for microfilming (reel 5661 and 4710) including letters from Walter Hamaday. Lent material was returned to the lender and is not described in the collection container inventory.
Portions of the loaned material on reel 4710 were subsequently donated, but a comparison of the film and papers was not completed.
An interview with John Wilde conducted in 1979 by Michael Danoff for the Archives of American Art and the collection, Maurice W. Berger correspondence with John Wilde, 1952-1959, are also found in the Archives of American Art.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2017 with funding from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care Fund, using accelerated processing strategies implemented by the Archives to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.