Skip to main content

Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1837-1984, bulk 1935-1979

Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1837-1984, bulk 1935-1979

Fleischman, Lawrence Arthur, 1925-1997

Collector, Dealer

Representative image for Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1837-1984, bulk 1935-1979

This site provides access to the papers of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2004. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 7,205 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 4.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art collectors, art patrons, and philanthropists Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman measure 4.9 linear feet and date from 1837 to 1984, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1935-1979. The papers are comprised mostly of correspondence with artists, museums, and arts organizations. Also found are scattered biographical materials, artists' autograph letters purchased by the Fleischmans, exhibition files, notes and writings, printed material, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lawrence Fleischman (1925-1997) of New York City was an American art collector, patron, philanthropist, and benefactor. His wife, Barbara, is also an art collector.

Provenance

The collection was microfilmed in accretions on reels D8-D10 and 3646; the film is no longer in circulation. Letters that were loaned for microfilming in 1965 were subsequently donated, except for five letters which are filmed on reel D197. All accretions were merged and arranged, and a finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010. The collection was prepared for scanning in 2011 by Stephanie Ashley and fully scanned in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Related Materials

Among the Archives holdings are two oral history interviews with Lawrence A. Fleischman. The first was conducted by Paul Cummings in 1970 and the second conducted by Gail Stavitsky in 1994. Both interviews have transcripts available.

Funding

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman Papers,
1837-1984
bulk 1935-1979
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.fleilawr
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald and Stephanie Ashley
Biographical/Historical note
Lawrence Fleischman (1925-1997) of New York City was an American art collector, patron, philanthropist, and benefactor. He and his wife, Barbara Greenberg Fleischman, assembled an impressive collection of art and artifacts that they shared with the public as part of their philanthropic activities aimed at fostering a wider appreciation of the arts around the world.
Lawrence Fleischman was born on February 14, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Stella and Arthur Fleischman, the owner of a large carpet business. He attended the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, and studied engineering at Purdue University. In 1942, he interrupted his studies to volunteer for service in the U.S. Army during World War II. While serving in France, he met a doctor who further fostered Fleischman's ever growing interest in American art. Following the war, he graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Detroit. Fleischman met Barbara Greenberg in Detroit and they were married in 1948.
Beginning in the late 1940s, Fleischman established a fledgling television station, developed holdings in real estate, and began purchasing art work. Initially the Fleischmans collected undervalued 20th century American art and were friends with several artists, including John Marin, Charles Burchfield, Stuart Davis, and Ben Shahn. They also expanded the scope of their collection to include 19th century American works.
During the 1950s, Lawrence Fleischman realized how there were few American art historians and college departments, as well as a lack of primary source material. Fleischman worked with Edgar P. Richardson, then director of the Detroit Institute of Art, to raise funds and they founded the Archives of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Art in 1954. The Archives of American Art was, and still is, dedicated to the collection, preservation, and study of primary source records that document the history of the visual arts in the United States. Lawrence A. Fleischman is a founding Trustee of the AAA and served as the Chairman of the Board from 1958 to 1966. His wife, Barbara joined the Board of Trustees in 1997 and served as Chair from 2003 to 2007. She is a Trustee Emerita.
Lawrence Fleischman's business and philanthropic interests included the Arthur Fleischman Carpet Company, the Lee Plaza Hotel-Motel in Detroit, Art Adventurers, the Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit, the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Cultural Committee of the United States Information Agency, and the Art Commission of Detroit, which governed the Detroit Institute of Art. He also served as an officer of the Board for many of the arts-related organizations.
In 1996, the Fleischmans moved their family from Detroit to New York City, where Lawrence Fleischman became a partner in the Kennedy Galleries.
The Fleischmans philanthropic activities include generous support of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Cleveland Museum, the British Museum, the Vatican Museum, and lifelong support of the Archives of American Art.
Lawrence Fleischman died on January 31, 1997 in London, England. Barbara Fleischman lives in New York City and continues to be an active supporter of the visual arts.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1958 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1949-1984 (Boxes 1-4, 7; 3.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Autograph Letters, 1837-1942 (Box 4; 4 folders)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1953-1960 (Boxes 4-5, 7; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1957-1962 (Box 5; 3 folders)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1935-1969 (Box 5-6; 6 folders)
Series 7: Photographs, 1953-1965 (Box 6; 13 folders)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of art collectors, art patrons, and philanthropists Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman measure 4.9 linear feet and date from 1837 to 1984, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1935-1979. The papers are comprised mostly of correspondence with artists, museums, and arts organizations. Also found are scattered biographical materials, artists' autograph letters purchased by the Fleischmans, exhibition files, notes and writings, printed material, and photographs.
One folder of biographical material includes a biographical account and a certificate of appreciation from the Common Council for the City of Detroit.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of correspondence documenting the Fleischman's art related activities and interests primarily during the 1950s and 1960s. Individual correspondents include Aaron Bohrod, Charles E. Burchfield, Charles B. Culver, Philip Evergood, Earl Krentzin, John Marin, Jr., Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle, Peter Pollack, Edgar P. and Constance Richardson, Charles Coleman Sellers, and Franklin Watkins. One letter from Charles E. Burchfield includes four etching plates used to create the color print of
Hot September Wind
.
Arts organizations and galleries represented in the correspondence include the American Federation of Arts, the Archives of American Art, the Arts Commission of the City of Detroit, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, Kennedy Galleries, M. Knoedler and Co., Inc., Kraushaar Galleries, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Midtown Galleries, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the School of the Society of Arts and Crafts, the United States Information Agency, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Winterthur Museum.
Autograph letters purchased by the Fleischmans include letters written by artists Washington Allston (addressed to Thomas Sully), Albert Pinkham Ryder, and John Taylor Arms.
Exhibition files document the various exhibitions of art work from the Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman Collection at the University of Michigan Museum of Art; the Detroit Institute of Art; in Central and South America; in Greece, Israel and Russia; and at the Milwaukee Art Center. The files contain letters, notes, printed material, and photographs.
Three folders of notes and writings include "Introduction to Earl Krentzin Catalog" by Lawrence Fleischman and "Selection of Excerpts from the Soviet Press and Radio Attacking U. S. Culture" by unidentified authors.
Scattered printed material includes miscellaneous clippings and catalogs not connected with the Exhibition Files series. There is also a book
John Marin: The Man and his Work
by E. M. Benson that was autographed by Marin to the Fleischmans in 1953.
Photographs include portrait photographs of Lawrence Fleischman, photographs of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman with colleagues, of art work from the Fleischman Collection, of Truman and Grace Bailey in their studio, and a copy photograph of Thomas Eakins as a boy.
Provenance
The collection was microfilmed in accretions on reels D8-D10 and 3646; the film is no longer in circulation. Letters that were loaned for microfilming in 1965 were subsequently donated, except for five letters which are filmed on reel D197. All accretions were merged and arranged, and a finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010. The collection was prepared for scanning in 2011 by Stephanie Ashley and fully scanned in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Separated Materials note
Five letters that were originally loaned for microfilming on reel D197 were not included in later donations. These include one postcard from Constance Richardson, 1956; one letter from Constance Richardson, 1957; one letter from Franklin Watkins, 1955; one letter from Lawrence Fleischman to Wilbur H. Hunter, 1960; and one letter from Richard D. Tucker, 1960.
Related Archival Materials note
Among the Archives holdings are two oral history interviews with Lawrence A. Fleischman. The first was conducted by Paul Cummings in 1970 and the second conducted by Gail Stavitsky in 1994 . Both interviews have transcripts available.
Processing Information note
The collection was microfilmed in accretions on reels D8-D10 and 3646; the film is no longer in circulation. Letters that were loaned for microfilming in 1965 were subsequently donated, except for five letters which are filmed on reel D197. All accretions were merged and arranged, and a finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010. The collection was prepared for scanning in 2011 by Stephanie Ashley and fully scanned in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2011 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Material not scanned includes duplicates, two published books, photographs of works of art, and writings not authored by the Fleischmans. In some cases, only the covers and title pages have been scanned.

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

Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1837-1984, bulk 1935-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available