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Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, (bulk 1919-1999)

Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, (bulk 1919-1999)

Feitelson, Lorser, 1898-1978

Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 15.6 linear feet

Summary: This collection documents the life and career of artists Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg, including their establishment of the Post-surrealism movement in southern California, their work for federal arts programs, and their later abstract artwork. Found are biographical materials, correspondence, personal business records, exhibition files, printed materials, and photographs. There is one circa 1957 reel-to-reel audio recording of an episode of Feitelson on Art.

Biographical documentation is found for both artists, Lundeberg's early life is documented by school notebooks, yearbooks, diplomas, calendars, awards, and a "memory book". Feitelson's biographical materials include family certificates, and documents compiled by Lundeberg regarding Feitelson's funeral. Also found are curriculum vitae and biographical sketches for both artists.

Correspondence is extensive and includes both personal and professional correspondence for both Feitelson and Lundeberg. Correspondence includes letters with artists, critics, and museums. Correspondents include Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, Reuben Kadish, John McLauglin, Diane Moran, Abraham Rattner, and numerous arts museums and galleries. Of special interest is Feitelson and Lundeberg's correspondence with Museum of Modern Art curator Dorothy Canning Miller.

A small amount of exhibition materials, mostly loan agreements and checklists, are found in the papers documenting exhibitions and loans of their artwork to exhibitions. Personal business records concern the management of their artwork and personal collections. Found here are lists of artwork, price lists, appraisal reports, sales invoices, purchase receipts, tax documents, and a set of index cards for their artwork. There are a few scattered legal documents as well. In addition to personal business records, there is a series of records of the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Foundation, established by Lundeberg in 1978.

Scattered research and teaching files are mostly Feitelson's. They document his personal research, teaching activities, and television programs, particularly the program Feitelson on Art. Writings, however, are found for both artists and include artist statements, writings about art and art styles and movements, writings about each artist, and writings about the federal arts program in southern California. Of interest are numerous writings by other contemporary writers and critics, including Jan Butterfield, Jules Langsner, Stephen Longstreet, Esther McCoy, Diane Moran, Henry Seldis, and Millard Sheets.

A small amount of artwork is found within the collection by Feitelson and Lundeberg, mostly sketches and drawings. There is one print by Hans Burkhardt.

Printed materials include newsclippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, lecture announcements, posters, press releases, and printed reproductions of Feitelson's and Lundeberg's artwork. There are also pamphlets produced by the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Program and Lundeberg's poetry.

Photographs are extensive and include many of Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg, as well as of family, friends, and students. There are four photo albums and numerous photographs of Feitelson's and Lundeberg's artwork, including some exhibition installations.

There is one circa 1957 reel-to-reel audio recording of an episode of Feitelson on Art, focusing on Paul Gauguin.

An addition of 0.2 linear feet received in 2014 includes Feitelson's art history and teaching notes, writings by Feitelson, and photographs and contact sheets of Feitelson and works of art.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lorser Feitelson (1998-1978) and Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999) were painters in Los Angeles, Calif. and husband and wife. Feitelson, was also a graphic artist and teacher, and director of the WPA in California.

Provenance

Scrapbook on reel LA 1 was lent for microfilming 1964 by Lorser Feitelson, material on reels 1103-1104 & 3990 donated 1973 and 1977 by Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg. Circa 26 feet of additional material, mostly of Lundeberg's, was donated by the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Arts Foundation in 1999 and 2002. Additional material donated 2014 by Lorrie Madden, a student of Feitelson's.

Related Materials

Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Lorser Feitelson conducted by Betty Lochrie Hoag, May 12, 1964, with Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg conducted by Betty Lochrie Hoag, March 17, 1965, and with Helen Lundeberg conducted by Jan Butterfield, July 19 and August 29, 1980, and the Lorser Feitelson lectures.

Funding

All accessions prior to 2014 were merged and fully processed in 2007 with funding provided by the Getty Foundation.

Location of Originals

  • WPA scrapbook, Reel LA 1: Originals returned to Feitelson after microfilming.

A Finding Aid to the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Papers,
circa 1890s-2002,
bulk 1919-1999
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.feitlors
Biographical Note
Lorser Feitelson was born in Savannah, Georgia on February 11, 1898, and grew up in New York City. By the age of twelve, he was painting in oils, and three years later he began to paint in earnest after attending the Armory Show. At the age of eighteen, Feitelson had his own studio in New York City. Over the next few years, he met other artists, including Arthur Davies, Walter Pach, and John Sloan. From 1919 to 1926, Feitelson lived in Paris and traveled to New York to exhibit; he also spent some time in Italy.
In 1927, Feitelson moved to Los Angeles, the city that would remain his home for the rest of his life. There he met his wife and artist, Helen Lundeberg, and married in 1933. Together Feitelson and Lundeberg founded the movement known as Subjective Classicism, or Post-surrealism, which sought to combine orderly and integrated compositions with the subjective association of objects and introspective moods. Feitelson's and Lundeberg's work had a great influence on southern California art and they formed many relationships with artists and critics of the area.
Feitelson taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and the Stickney Memorial School of Art, became involved in the operations of the Centaur Gallery, and helped to found the Stanley Rose Gallery and the Hollywood Gallery of Modern Art. Beginning with the first Post-surrealist exhibition 1934, Feitelson and Lundeberg's work was exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and included in the Museum of Modern Art's "Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism" exhibition of 1937. Feitelson continued to create Post-surrealist paintings until 1942. During this same time, Feitelson also served as the Supervisor of Murals, Painting, and Sculpture for the Southern California Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project.
In 1944, Feitelson began to paint abstract shapes that he referred to as "magical forms." Feitelson continued working in an abstract manner throughout the fifties, and in 1959 was included by Jules Langsner in the exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" along with Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, and John McLaughlin. From this exhibition emerged the term "hard edge" painting, which referred to the presence of geometric shapes and flat pictorial space in the work of these artists. During the final two decades of his life, Feitelson continued to work regularly, and continued to explore abstraction.
Feitelson taught for many years at the Art Center School and was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He also hosted the television program "Feitelson on Art" from 1956-1963, as well as being a frequent guest on the program "Cavalcade of Books" to discuss art publications. Lorser Feitelson died in 1978.
Helen Lundeberg was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 24, 1908. At the age of four, her family moved to Pasadena, where she attended Pasadena High School and Junior College. In the spring of 1930, a family friend sponsored Lundeberg to attend classes at the Stickney Memorial School of Art. That summer Lundeberg met Lorser Feitelson when he took over the teaching of her construction and composition class. The following year, Lundeberg's work was included in an exhibition for the first time. By 1933, Lundeberg had a solo exhibition at the Stanley Rose Gallery. Throughout the 1930s, Lundeberg painted in a Post-surrealist manner and created some of her best known works including "Double Portrait of the Artist in Time" (1935). She also began to work for the California Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project in 1936. Over the next six years, she designed murals for libraries, high schools, and parks. She and Feitelson married in 1933.
During the next five decades, Lundeberg created a distinctive and diverse body of work that included surreal images of floating mountains and falling skies, austere landscapes and architectural forms, and abstract works with brilliant colors. She remained from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1999 one of the leading and most respected figures in the history of southern California art. Her work has been exhibited in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1922-1995 (Boxes 1-2, 19; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1998 (Boxes 2-4; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Exhibition Records, 1936-1989 (Boxes 4- 5; 0.25 linear feet)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1943-1998 (Boxes 5-6; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 5: Feitelson and Lundeberg Foundation Records, 1978-1997 (Boxes 6-7, 18; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Research and Teaching Materials, 1940s-1960s (Boxes 7-8; 0.75 linear feet)
Series 7: Writings, 1930-1989 (Boxes 8-9; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Artwork, 1920s-1991 (Boxes 9, 19; 9 folders)
Series 9: Printed Materials, 1923-2002 (Boxes 9-11, 20; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 10: Photographs, circa 1890s-1993 (Boxes 11-14, 16-19, and OV 21-22; 4.3 linear feet)
Series 11: Audio Recording, circa 1957 (Boxes 15; 1 item)
Provenance
Scrapbook on reel LA 1 was lent for microfilming 1964 by Lorser Feitelson, material on reels 1103-1104 & 3990 donated 1973 and 1977 by Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg. Circa 26 feet of additional material, mostly of Lundeberg's, was donated by the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Arts Foundation in 1999 and 2002. Additional material donated 2014 by Lorrie Madden, a student of Feitelson's.
Location of Originals
  • WPA scrapbook, Reel LA 1: Originals returned to Feitelson after microfilming.
Processing Information
The 1973 and 1977 donations of this collection were microfilmed upon accession on reels 1103-1104, and 3990. All accessions were merged and fully processed in 2007 by Michael Yates with funding provided by the Getty Foundation. In 2012, the papers were fully digitized with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reels LA 1, 1103-1104 and 3990 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, (bulk 1919-1999). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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