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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

Representative image for Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg papers, circa 1890s-2002, bulk 1919-1999

This site provides access to the papers of Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2012. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 19,897 images.

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation; funding for the digitization of the collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 15.6 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Los Angeles painters and art instructors Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg measure 15.6 linear feet and date from circa 1890s to 2002. The papers document the careers of the two artists, 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, photographs, and one sound recording.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art instructor and painter Lorser Feitelson (1898-1978) lived and worked in Los Angeles with his wife Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999), also one of southern California's leading painters.

Provenance

Portions of the collection were donated by Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg in 1973 and 1977. The Feitelson and Lundeberg Foundation donated additional material 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 Lorser Feitelson lectures recorded by Bonnie Trotter, 1973-1974.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation; funding for the digitization of the collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.feitlors
Author
Finding aid prepared by Michael Yates and Jayna Josefson
Biographical Note
Art instructor and painter Lorser Feitelson (1898-1978) lived and worked in Los Angeles with his wife Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999), also one of southern California's leading painters. Together, Feitelson and Lundeberg founded the movement known as Subjective Classicism, or Post-surrealism. Their work had a great influence on southern California art and they formed many relationships with artists and critics of the area.
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.
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 was 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 serving as 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's tuition to attend classes at the Stickney Memorial School of Art. That summer Lundeberg met Lorser Feitelson, who had recently taken 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 working 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 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, 19; 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 (Box 15; 1 item)
Series 12: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1919-1978 (Box 23; 0.2 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Los Angeles painters and art instructors Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg measure 15.6 linear feet and date from circa 1890s to 2002. The papers document the careers of the two artists, 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, photographs, and one sound recording.
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. Materials consist of letters with critics, museums, artists, and friends, including Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley, Reuben Kadish, John McLauglin, Diane Moran, and Abraham Rattner. 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 sound 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.
Provenance
Portions of the collection were donated by Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg in 1973 and 1977. The Feitelson and Lundeberg Foundation donated additional material in 1999 and 2002. Additional material donated 2014 by Lorrie Madden, a student of Feitelson's.
Separated Material
In 1964, Feitelson loaned for microfilming a scrapbook of clippings primarily concerning his activities with the federal Works Progress Administration. The scrapbook was microfilmed on Reel LA1 and returned to Feitelson. It is not included in the container inventory in this finding aid.
Related Material
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. Also found are Lorser Feitelson lectures recorded by Bonnie Trotter, 1973-1974.
Location of Originals
  • WPA scrapbook, Reel LA 1: Originals returned to Feitelson after microfilming.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection were microfilmed on receipt on Reels 1103-1104, and 3990; these reels are no longer in circulation as they do not represent the current arrangement or all of the papers. Previously filmed and unfilmed accessions were merged and fully processed in 2007 by Michael Yates with funding provided by the Getty Foundation. In 2011, Jayna Hanson prepared the papers for digitization, and they were fully digitized in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. An addition of 0.2 linear feet received in 2014 is unprocessed.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of this collection was digitized in 2012 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials not scanned include documents with private information, tax records, duplicates, photographs of artwork, slides, transparencies, and additional papers donated in 2014. One sound recording has not been digitized. In some cases, publications have had only title pages and relevant pages scanned.

Material lent for microfilming on reel LA 1 is 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. 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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