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Judith Wechsler papers, circa 1940-2003, bulk 1971-1994

More Information

Megan McShea
Scope and Contents
The papers of filmmaker and art historian Judith Wechsler measure 17.4 linear feet and consist of film production material from several of Wechsler's documentary films released between 1989 and 1994. Most of the collection consists of sound recordings and motion picture film. Notable content includes interviews with Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Philip Pearlstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Jo Spence, Yolanda Sonnabend, Dominique de Menil, Walter Hopps, Aaron Siskind, and Harry Callahan, as well as footage of artists working in their studios. Production elements found include original sound recordings, original camera negative outtakes, work print picture and soundtrack, trims, various pre-print master material, and video copies of completed works.
Documentaries with production material in the collection include
Jasper Johns: Take An Object
, produced with Hans Namuth,
Harry Callahan
Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
(1991), and five episodes of
The Painter's World: Changing Constants of Art from the Renaissance to the Present
(1989), a six-part television series produced by WGBH in Boston. Episodes of the series for which records are found include "The Training of Painters," "The Arrested Moment," "Portraits," "Abstraction," and "Painting and the Public". Also found are two reels of soundtrack labeled "Two Photographers," a title for which no other documentation is found.
The Painter's World episodes "Abstraction," "The Arrested Moment," and "Portraits" address the evolution of painting style and traditions, and the "Painting and the Public" episode addresses the role of patronage and the evolution of art museums. Footage found for "The Training of Painters" consists of footage of Josef Albers teaching at Yale University shot around 1955, likely shot by John Cohen.
Jasper Johns: Take An Object
was a collaborative project between Wechsler, Hans Namuth, and Paul Falkenberg, who worked together under the corporate name of Museum at Large. Footage consists of multiple interviews with Johns, a 1971 session of Johns working in his Houston Street studio, and a 1989 session of Johns working at Universal Limited Art Editions, as well as additional material of John Cage and others speaking about Johns' work.
Harry Callahan
, Callahan discusses the inspiration behind his work and recollects about his time with Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Aaron Siskind. For
Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
, Siskind covers the beginning of his career, and the inspiration and methods behind his work. The "Two Photographers" content and relationship to the collection is unknown.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 2008, 2017, and 2019 by Judith Wechsler.
Related Materials
Release prints of each of the titles represented in the collection are held by the Harvard Film Archive. Digital video copies of edited films are available on Judith Wechsler's website (, accessed 2017).
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Megan McShea in 2017. Motion picture film reels in the collection were also inspected and re-housed in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. An addition was processed and added to the collection in 2019.