Skip to main content

José de Creeft papers, 1871-2004, bulk 1910s-1980s

José de Creeft papers, 1871-2004, bulk 1910s-1980s

De Creeft, José, 1884-1982

Sculptor, Painter, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 28.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Spanish-born sculptor and educator José de Creeft measure 28.1 linear feet and date from 1871 to 2004 with the bulk of the material dating from the 1910s to the 1980s. Found are biographical materials, correspondence, fifty diaries, writings, subject files, personal business records, printed materials, twenty-seven photo albums and other photographs, scrapbooks, and scattered sketches.

Biographical/Historical Note

José de Creeft (1908-1982) was a Spanish-born sculptor active in New York City, New York. Born in Guadalajara, Spain and raised in Barcelona. He studied at the Academie Julian, emigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1940, and taught at the Black Mountain College and at the Art Students League.

Provenance

José De Creeft's widow, Lorrie Goulet, donated the papers in 1985 and 2009.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Location of Originals

  • Reels D150 and 375-378: Originals returned to Jose de Creeft after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the José de Creeft Papers,1871-2004, bulk 1910s-1980s, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.decrjose
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Josefson
Biographical/Historical note
José de Creeft (1908-1982) was a Spanish-born sculptor active in New York City, New York.
José de Creeft was born in Guadalajara, Spain and raised in Barcelona. In 1900, he apprenticed to sculptor Don Augustine Querol and studied drawing with Idalgo de Caviedas. De Creeft moved to Paris in 1905 and began formal art training at the Académie Julianand. He also took a studio in the Batteau Lavoir in Montmartre, where he interacted with Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Manolo, and Pablo Gargallo, all of whom also had studios there. During this period, de Creeft became friends with the artist Mateo Hernandez.
In 1915, de Creeft rejected the traditional technique of reproducing sculpture in stone from clay and plaster models and turned to direct carving in wood and stone. He was also one of the first sculptors who practiced assemblage and incorporated found objects into his work. His notable assemblage sculpture
El Picador
, a large figure on horseback, received worldwide press coverage and was exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Independents in 1926. Between 1919 and 1928, his work was exhibited in various Paris salons. In the late 1920s, he created 200 stone carvings for Roberto Ramonje's Forteleza (fortress) in Mallorca. It was around this time frame when de Creeft met Alexander Calder, who became his student in direct carving. De Creeft encouraged Calder to display his mechanical toys and Calder put his
Circus
together for the first time in de Creeft’s studio.
De Creeft emigrated to the United States in 1929, right after marrying fellow sculptor Alice Robertson Carr. They divorced nine years later.
While in New York, de Creeft began sculpting with lead sheets beaten into three-dimensional forms and established a studio at 1 Washington Square. His first solo exhibition was at the Ferargil Galleries in New York City and included
The Portrait of Cesar Vallejo
in chased lead and
The Silver Fox
of found materials.
In 1932, de Creeft accepted a teaching position in sculpture at the New School for Social Research. He also taught courses at Black Mountain College, where he met his second wife, sculptor Lorrie Goulet, the Art Students League, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Norton Gallery and School of Art. In 1946, de Creeft and Goulet purchased a hundred-acre farm in Hoosick Falls, NY where they established a studio and part-time residence.
Perhaps De Creeft's most well-known monumental scuplture is
Alice in Wonderland
in Central Park, New York City. The 12' x 16' bronze was dedicated during a public event in 1959 and gave de Creeft worldwide recognition. In 1995 a short film about the making of the sculpture was produced by J. D'Alba and narrated by Lorrie Goulet.
De Creeft was as founding member of the American Artist’s Congress, the Sculptors Guild, and the Artist's Equity Association. De Creeft was represented by the Georgette Passedoit Gallery from 1936 to 1949. Later, he joined The Contemporaries (gallery) and exhibited there until 1966. Kennedy Galleries represented de Creeft from 1970 until his death in 1982.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1914-1979 (Boxes 1, 27; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1910s-1980s (Boxes 1-6; 4.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Diaries, 1926-1981 (Boxes 6-11; 5.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Writings, 1871-1977 (Boxes 11-13, 28; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1924-1980 (Boxes 13-16, 27; 2.4 linear feet)
Series 6: Personal Business Records, 1909-1980s (Boxes 16-17, 27; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1921-1980s (Boxes 17-21, 27, 33; 4.7 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1900-2004 (Boxes 21-25, 29, 31; 5.1 linear feet)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1929-1982 (Box 26, 30, 32; 1.8 linear feet)
Series 10: Artwork, 1920s-1930s (Box 26; 2 folders)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of Spanish-born sculptor and educator José de Creeft measure 28.1 linear feet and date from 1871 to 2004 with the bulk of the material dating from the 1910s to the 1980s. Found are biographical materials, correspondence, fifty diaries, writings, subject files, personal business records, printed materials, twenty-seven photo albums and other photographs, scrapbooks, and scattered sketches.
Biographical materials include address books, awards, recorded interviews with and about de Creeft, membership materials, naturalization records, resumes, and travel documents.
Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and concerns exhibitions, de Creeft's involvement in arts organizations, and awards. There are also scattered personal letters from family and friends. Correspondents include Alexander Calder, Nina, Alice, Barbara and William de Creeft, Hunt Diederich, Joseph Escudar, and Gil Gomez, Jacques Lipchitz, Edwin Dickinson, James Johnson Sweeney, Costantino Nivola, Abraham Rattner, and Lamar Dodd, among others.
De Creeft's fifty diaries are nearly complete for the period dating from 1926 to 1981. Some are bound volumes and others are loose pages. The bulk of the diaries are in Spanish and many include sketches. Additional writings, called "escritos varios" by José de Creeft, are mostly in Spanish and consist of typed manuscripts and essays, including "Roosty Was My Friend, 1957, notebooks, an artist's statement, and writings by others, including drafts for
The Sculpture of de Creeft
by Jules Campos, and a video recording entitled
José de Creeft
by Bob Hanson. There is one sound recording of Lorrie Goulet reading poetry.
Subject files are varied and include files on de Creeft's teaching positions at the New School for Social Research, Black Mountain College, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Art Students League. There are files for some of his sculpture projects, inlcuding
Alice in Wonderland
,
Poet
, and a proposed model for the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial in Georgia, as well as compiled information about various art related topics of interest.
De Creeft's business records include appraisals, contracts, leases, price lists, and scattered receipts. Also found are art inventories in the form of three sets of index cards, some of which include photographs.
Printed materials include books, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, exhibition labels, postcards, and posters.
There are loose photographs and twenty-seven photograph albums depicting de Creeft, his family, friends, and works of art. There are photos of Alexander Calder; de Creeft and Goulet with Raphael Soyer, posing with Soyer's portrait of them; Gertrude Lawrence; art juries, which also include images of Chaim Gross, Jacques Lipchitz, Theodore Roszak, and William Zorach; students, friends, and faculties of Black Mountain College, the Art Students League, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Norton School of Art, which also includes images of Joseph Albers, Alexander Calder, Julio De Diego, Walter Gropius, J. B. Neumann, and Abraham Rattner.
Seven mixed media scrapbooks document de Creeft's career from 1929 to 1982. Also found are scattered pen and pencil sketches and one sketchbook dating from the 1920s.
Provenance
José De Creeft's widow, Lorrie Goulet, donated the papers in 1985 and 2009.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art also holds an interview of José De Creeft conducted October 1-8, 1968 by Forrest Selvig and the papers of de Creeft's wife Lorrie Goulet.
Location of Originals
  • Reels D150 and 375-378: Originals returned to Jose de Creeft after microfilming.
Processing Information note
Portions of the collection were milcrofilmed onto reels D150, 375-378 upon receipt of a loan and returned to the donor. Most of the collection was later donated in multiple accessions. The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Josefson in 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the collection are available on microfilm legacy reels D150, 375-378 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. The order of the papers presented in this finding aid do not match the order of the papers as they were microfilmed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

José de Creeft papers, 1871-2004, bulk 1910s-1980s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available