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Joseph Kaplan papers, 1915-1977

Joseph Kaplan papers, 1915-1977

Kaplan, Joseph, 1900-1980

Painter, Designer

Collection Information

Size: 4.5 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of the painter, photographer, printmaker, and teacher Joseph Kaplan measure 4.5 linear feet and date from 1915-1977. The bulk of the collection consists of printed material, specifically exhibition catalogs. Also found are a large number of photographs taken of and by Kaplan. The papers also include biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, and artwork.

Biographical material contains a few of Kaplan's personal documents, a number of certificates and medals he recieved during his lifetime, a travel itinerary notebook, and a few hand-written notes.

Kaplan's correspondence is primarily from colleagues, art organizations, galleries, museums, and colleges and universities such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Academy of Design, and Audubon Artists, inc. Also found are letters from friends and colleagues such as Chaim Gross, Adolph Gottlieb, Raphael Soyer, Louis Lozowick, Milton Avery, and Sol Wilson, as well as a large number of letters to his wife Virginia written during his travels.

Personal business records concern Kaplan's art sales, loans, exhibition notifications, and his involvment in the WPA. His artwork is documented in price lists and inventory lists. Some of the material consists of routine transactions not necessarily related to Kaplan's work, including bank records, an address list, and income and expense reports.

Printed Material includes news clippings, exhibition catalogs, exhibition annoucenments, and invitations for Kaplan shows. There are a few published copies and page proofs of Kaplan's commerical artwork.

Artwork includes four Kaplan etchings, three of which are metal plates and one linoleum block. Also included are a few unidentified pen and pencil sketches.

Photographs depict Kaplan, mainly later in his life, and his family. Also found are four of Virginia Kaplan's photograph albums containing images of her and friends from early adulthood. Photographs of Kaplan's friends and colleagues include images of Aya and Eitaro Ishigaki, Chaim Gross, Raphael Soyer, William Gropper, and Joseph De Martini. Also included are photographs taken by Kaplan of New York City, his travels, and artist demonstrations. There are also a large number of photographs of Kaplan's artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Kaplan (1900-1980) was a painter, printmaker, photographer, and teacher who worked primarly in New York and Provincetown.


The Joseph Kaplan papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Marilyn Kearney in 1981.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Joseph Kaplan Papers, 1915-1977, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Joseph Kaplan (1900-1980) was a painter, printmaker, photographer, and teacher who worked primarly in New York and Provincetown. He was most active in the 1940s through the 1950s. Earlier in his career he worked on several WPA Federal Art Projects and Treasury Relief Art Projects.
Joseph Kaplan was born in Minsk, Russia and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1888 at the age of 12. He married Virginia Haber in 1927 and they had no children.
Kaplan studied at the Eductional Alliance Art School and the Art Students League. He went to Provincetown in the mid-twenties as a student of Charles W. Hawthorne with whom he previously studied with at the National Academy of Design. Afterwards he revisited Provincetown intermittently and began to regard the Cape as his summer studio, working there each summer since 1948.
In 1948 he won the first of many gold medals from the Audubon Artists at the National Academy of Design for a marine painting. He was also the first recipient of the John J. Newman Memorial Medal, given by the National Society of Painters in Casein for his
Wellfleet, Low Tide
. The Shore Studios in Provincetown, the Harry Salpeter Gallery and then Krasner Gallery in New York City represented Kaplan's artwork.
Kaplan predominantly worked in watercolor and oil paint, depicting landscapes and seascapes, and becoming acclaimed as a Colorist and Romanticist. He occasionally painted figures and, as he gained recognition, he traveled extensively in search for subjects. In 1968 Kaplan recieved a grant from Chapelbrook Foundation to live and work for a year in Mexico.
Kaplan's work was included frequently in group exhibitions and he participated in more then 30 major shows in his lifetime. Throughout his career he was a member of many art organizations including Artists League of America, Audubon Artists, Provincetown Art Association, and Cape Cod Art Association. He was continually active in the art life in Provincetown serving as board members, trustees, and judges. He also occasionally taught at art schools including the American Artist School and John Reed Club, and taught a number of private pupils.
Joseph Kaplan died on February 28th, 1980 at the age of 79 in Brewster, Massachusetts.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1919-1975 (Box 1, 5, OV 7; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1929-circa 1975 (Box 1, OV 7; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, circa 1920-1977 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1915-1975 (Box 1, 2, 3, OV 7; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Artwork, circa 1940-circa 1960 (Box 3, 5; 2 folders)
Series 6: Photographic Material, 1917-circa 1975 (Box 4, 6, OV 7; 1.3 linear feet)
The Joseph Kaplan papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Marilyn Kearney in 1981.
Processing Information note
The collection was fully processed with a finding aid prepared by graduate intern Claire Norman in 2013.

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

Joseph Kaplan papers, 1915-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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