Skip to main content

Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1930s-2010, bulk 1960s-1990

Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1930s-2010, bulk 1960s-1990

Lippard, Lucy R., 1937-

Author, Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 56.3 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York writer, art critic, curator, and teacher, Lucy R. Lippard, measure 53.3 linear feet and date from the 1930s to 2007, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1960s to the 1990s. Over half of the collection consists of correspondence files documenting Lippard's professional relationships with artists, writers, galleries, art institutions, and political organizations, and her interest in conceptual and minimalist art, feminism, and political activism. Also found are Lippard's notes and writings including sound recordings and interviews, teaching and exhibition files, printed material, several works of art, and photographs of artwork and artists. Scattered throughout the collection are a small number of records concerning Lippard's personal life.

A small amount of biographical material comprises resumes and an address book.

Correspondence files document all aspects of Lippard's professional life including her relationships with artists such as Carl Andre, Judy Chicago, Hanne Darboven, Ray Johnson, Sol LeWitt, and Henry Pearson; feminist artists including Mary Beth Edelson, Harmony Hammond, Donna Henes, and May Stevens; political and art-related activist groups such as Alliance for Cultural Democracy, Art Workers Coalition, Political Art Documentation/Distribution, Printed Matter, and Women's Caucus for Art; galleries and museums including Addison Gallery of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and publishers including Art International and Art Forum. The series also traces the development of Lippard's involvement in activist causes including censorship and the rights of artists, Central America and the impact of U.S. policy on the region, and equality and reproductive rights for women, as well as her interest in conceptual, minimalist, and post-minimalist art. The series includes scattered artwork and photographs of artists.

Writings are primarily by Lippard and include correspondence, manuscript drafts, extensive notes, and publication records for some of her best-known books such as "The Graphic Work of Philip Evergood" (1966), "Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object" (1973), "Eva Hesse" (1976), "Ad Reinhardt" (1985), and "Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America" (1990), as well as essays for publications such as Art Forum and Studio International and contributions to exhibition catalogs. Also found are edited transcripts from conferences, symposia and interviews conducted by and of Lippard, some audio recordings of interviews and symposia, including an interview with Donald Judd, and notes and typescripts for lectures and speeches.

A small number of files document Lippard's teaching work during the 1970s and 1980s, primarily at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she taught several courses and seminars.

Exhibition files document Lippard's involvement with exhibitions she helped to organize or curate such as "A Different War: Vietnam in Art" (1989-1991) "557,087" and "955,000" (1969, 1970), "2,972,453" (1971) "c.7,500" (1973-1974) and those for which she wrote catalog contributions.

Printed material includes a collection of articles written by Lippard and a small amount of material concerning events, such as speaking engagements, in which Lippard was involved. Other printed material reflects Lippard's wide range of artistic, political and activist interests and documents exhibitions and performances and the activities of art-related and political groups. Material includes many exhibition catalogs, announcements, invitations, printed posters, news clippings, journal articles, brochures, pamphlets and other publications.

Artwork includes 16 items by unidentified artists, including 2 by children. Photographs consist primarily of photographs of works of art in addition to a small number of photos of exhibition installations.

An addition of 3.0 linear feet donated 2015 includes subject files on feminist and conceptual art as well as land use, development, and local politics and history in New Mexico.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lucy R. Lippard (1937-) is a writer and art critic in New York, New York.


Lucy R. Lippard donated her papers in several increments between 1972-1995, 2006, and 2015.

Related Materials


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

A Finding Aid to the Lucy R. Lippard Papers, 1930s-2007, bulk 1960s-1990, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
New York writer, curator, art critic, and teacher, Lucy R. Lippard (1937-) is the curator of numerous exhibitions and the author of 20 books and other writings that trace the emergence of minimalist, post-minimalist, and conceptual art and document Lippard's committment to feminism and political activism.
Born in New York City in 1937, Lippard earned a B.A. from Smith college in 1958 and a M.A. in 1962 from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. In the 1960s she began writing art criticism for the journals
Art International
. In 1966 she curated the landmark "Eccentric Abstraction" exhibition at the Fischbach Gallery in New York City which established the standard for what would be considered post-minimalist art. Lippard then curated the first of four defining conceptual art exhibitions that became known as her "numbers shows," each titled after the populations of the cities in which they took place, with catalogs in the form of a set of 10 x 15 cm index cards. Opening at the Seattle Art Museum in 1969, "557,087" was followed by "955,000" in Vancouver, Canada, a few months later. "2,972,453" was held at the Centro de Arte y Comunicacíon in Buenos Aires in 1971 and "c.7500" opened in Valencia, California, in 1973-1974 before traveling to several other venues in the United States and Europe.
Lippard's first book,
The Graphic Work of Philip Evergood
was published in 1966, followed by
Pop Art
the same year.
Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object
(1973) and
From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art
(1976) documented the emergence of conceptual art and the early years of feminist art respectively. In 1976 Lippard published her seminal book on the life and work of Eva Hesse.
Between 1977 and 1978 Lippard lived on a farm in Devon, England, intending to write a novel. During her walks across the English countryside she became interested in landscape art and conceived of her book
Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory
which was subsequently published in 1983. Other books include
Get the Message?: A Decade Of Art For Social Change
Ad Reinhardt
(1985), and
Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America
(1990). Lippard has also written regular columns on art and politics for the
Village Voice
In These Times
Z Magazine
, and has been a contributing editor of
Art in America
Lippard was radicalized during a trip to Argentina in 1968 when she was invited to be a juror at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires. On her return to the United States she became heavily involved in anti-war activities and the Art Workers Coalition. She is a co-founder of several feminist and artist organizations including the feminist collective Heresies, which produced
Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Art and Politics
from 1977-1992, Ad Hoc Women Artists, Alliance for Cultural Democracy, Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America, Artists Meeting for Cultural Change, Women's Action Coalition, and Women's Art Registry. In 1976 she was a founder of Printed Matter, a New York nonprofit dedicated to producing publications by artists. She also worked closely with Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space devoted to the promotion of artists' books, installation art, and video and performance art, and served on the organization's International Committee.
Lippard has been a visiting professor at the School of Visual Arts, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Queensland, Australia. She has received honorary doctorates in fine arts from Maine College of Art, the Massachusetts College of Art, Moore College of Art, and San Francisco Art Institute, as well as awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants in criticism, the Smith College Medal and the ArtTable Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts.
Lippard has lived in New Mexico since 1992 and continues to work as a freelance writer and speaker.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as eight series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1960s-circa 1980s (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1950s-2006 (Boxes 1-28, 51, OVs 54-63; 28.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, 1930s-1990s (Boxes 28-41, 51-52, OVs 64-66; 13.24 linear feet)
Series 4: Teaching Files, 1966-1993 (Boxes 41, 52; 0.76 linear feet)
Series 5: Exhibitions, 1960s-1990s (Boxes 42-45, 52, OVs 67-68; 4.2 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1940s-2007 (Boxes 45-49, 52, OVs 69-77; 5.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork and Ephemera, circa 1960s-circa 1990s (Boxes 50, 53; 4 folders)
Series 8: Photographs, 1950s-circa 1990s (Boxes 50, 53, OV 71; 1.0 linear foot)
Lucy R. Lippard donated her papers in several increments between 1972-1995, 2006, and 2015.
Processing Information note
The papers were processed to a minimal level by Catherine S. Gaines between 2004-2006. All accessions were merged and fully processed, and the finding aid was revised by Stephanie Ashley in 2012-2014 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For materials containing social security numbers, the numbers were redacted in photocopies filed in the collection; the originals are filed separately.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1930s-2010, bulk 1960s-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available