Skip to main content

Joseph Kaplan papers, 1915-1977

More Information

Claire Norman
Scope and Contents
The papers of the painter, photographer, printmaker, and teacher Joseph Kaplan measure 4.8 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. There is a 0.3 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated in 2021 that includes travel slides taken in Mexico and Provincetown, Massachusetts by Joseph Kaplan, circa 1940-1950, and a photograph of Kaplan by Arnold Newman, circa 1950.
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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Joseph Kaplan papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Marilyn Kearney in 1981. Additional papers were donated by Deborah Meyer in 2021.
Separated Materials
307 nitrate negatives donated to the Archives of American Art with the Joseph Kaplan papers have been removed and are stored in off-site storage. Negatives were duplicated onto safety based film and only select prints were made.
Processing Information
The collection was fully processed with a finding aid prepared by graduate intern Claire Norman in 2013.