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Josef Presser and Agnes Hart papers, 1913-1980

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Judy Ng
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York painters and teachers Josef Presser and Agnes Hart measure 4.3 linear feet and date from 1913 to 1980, with the bulk of the material from 1940 to 1980. The collection documents their personal and professional lives as partners, artists, and educators and consists of biographical material, business and personal correspondence, teaching files, printed material, and scattered photographs. The collection also includes writings, personal business records, and artwork by Presser.
The collection is divided into two series. Series 1 consists primarily of Presser's papers from 1913 to his death in 1967, and Hart's correspondence dating from 1967 to 1977 regarding the management of his estate. Biographical material includes an address book, curriculum vitae, family history, and personal identification records. Presser's personal correspondence is with family and friends, including the artists Charles Hopkinson and Vera Fraser. Business related correspondence is with various collectors, galleries, museums, art associations, and art schools. There is also correspondence related to Presser's law suit against the New York Port Authority, and Presser and Hart's real estate purchases in Hurley and Woodstock, New York. Hart's correspondence concerns Presser's estate and artwork after his death, including letters related to the organization of Presser's memorial exhibition in 1968.
Writings by Presser include essay fragments, 4 notebooks, and numerous note fragments. His teaching files include memoranda, syllabi, and class assignments from his tenure at New York University from 1947 to 1952. There are also memoranda from the New York School of Visual Arts and the Prospect Hill School. Personal business records include bank registers, artwork sales records, and receipts from his residency in Paris in the 1960s.
Printed material consists of bulletins, clippings, and exhibition announcements and catalogs related to Presser's career. There are also draft and final versions of Presser's memorial exhibition catalog, and a copy of the 1951 conference Artist and the Museum sponsored by the Artists Equity Association and the Woodstock Artists Association.
Artwork consists of loose sketches, artwork on postcards and printed material, and 9 sketchbooks dating from the 1950s to 1960s. Photographic material includes photographs of Presser with friends and family, and photographs of his studio and artwork. There are also 4 photographs of the artist Abraham Walkowitz dating from the 1940s.
Agnes Hart's papers documenting her own career are arranged in Series 2 and date from 1930 to 1980. Biographical materials include two engagement calendars, curriculum vitae, consignment lists, and critiques. Her correspondence with family and friends includes letters from artist Lucile Blanch, journalist Agnes Smedley, and Yaddo director Elizabeth Ames. Business correspondence is with galleries, collectors, art associations, and art schools.
Teaching files include employment contracts, class catalogs, newsletters, and photographs from Hart's tenure at the Art Students League (1965-1975), and class catalogs and memoranda from Dalton Schools and Parnassus Square. Printed material includes bulletins, clippings, and exhibition announcements and catalogs related to Hart's career. There are also draft and final versions of the 1956 Yasuo Kuniyoshi memorial exhibition catalog. Additional photographic material consists of a photograph of the Central Cown Art Center, a gallery Hart managed in 1937.
The papers of Josef Presser were lent for microfilming by Agnes Hart in 1968. Excluding certain printed material, Hart later donated the bulk of these papers and additional Presser materials in 1977 and 1979. Hart donated her papers in 1978. Frances Hitchcock, Hart's sister, gave additional material in 1981.
Separated Material
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel N69-1) including original clippings and exhibition announcements. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
The papers of Josef Presser and Agnes Hart received preliminary processing as three separate collections upon arrival at the Archives and portions of the Presser papers were microfilmed on reel N69-1. The three collections were merged into one logical arrangement and described by Judy Ng and digitized in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.