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Marvin Harden papers, circa 1936-2005

Marvin Harden papers, circa 1936-2005

Harden, Marvin, 1935-

Painter, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 2.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of African American painter, printmaker, and educator Marvin Harden measure 2.0 linear feet and date from circa 1936 to 2005. Found within the papers are biographical materials, correspondence, teaching files, exhibition files, printed material, artwork, and photographs. Artwork includes a book of etchings "Natural Selections" (1991).

Biographical material includes papers pertaining to Harden's education and family history, including an essay written by his sister Lura Harden Miller.

Correspondence is with artists, colleagues, and organizations, including Eugene Anderson, Sandy Ballatore-Nelson, William Brice, Judy Chicago, Houston Conwill, Connor Everts, Jud Fine, Marion Lerner Levine, Pleter Plagens, Nancy Lee Riegelmen, Jan Stussy, Caroll Toon, William Wilson, Dobrick Gallery, Eugenia Butler Gallery, Gloria Cortella, Inc., Hank Baum Gallery, Jan Turner Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Teaching files primarily document Harden's career as an art educator at California State University, Northridge. Materials include teaching awards, assignments, course outlines, notes, and miscellaneous writings by Harden about his teaching philosophy. The files also contain correspondence and photographs with students, a student exhibition guest register, committee notes, memorandums, and evidence pertaining to an employment-related grievance with the university.

Exhibition files include announcements, correspondence, exhibition catalogs, floor plans, insurance documents, loan agreements, photographs, press releases, and price lists.

Printed material consists of announcements and invitations, exhibition catalogs, and a loose clippings scrapbook with articles and reviews about Harden's artwork and exhibitions. Also found is a copy of the first volume of the Journal published by the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, which includes a photograph of Harden and references to his involvement in developing the organization.

Artwork includes two sketches and an artists' book entitled "natural selections" which contains 12 aquatint etchings by Marvin Harden.

Among the black and white and color photographs are portraits and snapshots of Marvin Harden, family members, and colleagues, as well as Harden's home, studio, and land at Inwardness Ranch located near Cambria, California.

Biographical/Historical Note

Marvin Harden (1935- ) is an African American painter, printmaker, and educator living and working in California.


The Marvin Harden papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Marvin Harden in 2005.

A Finding Aid to the Marvin Harden Papers, circa 1936-2005, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
Marvin Harden (1935- ) is an African American painter, printmaker, and educator living and working in California. Harden received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1963. While there, Harden studied under John Paul Jones, Jan Stussy, and William Brice. He also became friends with UCLA classmate and feminist artist, Judy Chicago.
Harden’s first solo exhibition was in 1964 at Ceeje Galleries in Los Angeles, California. His drawings, paintings, and prints have been exhibited widely in museums, galleries, and universities in southern California, and also in New Mexico, New York, and Texas, among other locations. Harden has also been the recipient of artists’ fellowships awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.
Harden became a Professor of Art at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 1968, and in 1984 he received a Distinguished Teaching Award and Exceptional Merit Service Award. During his career at CSUN, Harden established the art department’s graduate teaching assistant program.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1950-1991 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1964-2005 (Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Teaching Files, circa 1964-2003 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1966-2004 (Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1964-2003 (Box 2; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 6: Artwork, 1989-2000 (Box 2; 2 folders)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1936-2001 (Box 2; 7 folders)
The Marvin Harden papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Marvin Harden in 2005.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Elissa L. Jerome in 2016.

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

Marvin Harden papers, circa 1936-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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