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Merle Schipper papers, circa 1930s-1999

Merle Schipper papers, circa 1930s-1999

Schipper, Merle, 1922-2001

Writer, Art historian, Art critic

Collection Information

Size: 12.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Los Angeles art historian, art critic, and writer Merle Schipper measure 12.1 linear feet and date from circa 1930s to 1999. The papers include biographical material, correspondence, writing and research project files, printed material, writings by others, photographs, and artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

Merle Schipper (1922-2001) was an art historian, writer, and art critic active in Los Angeles, California.

Provenance

The Merle Schipper papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2002 by the Merle Schipper Estate via Schipper's daughter Amy Schipper Howe.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Merle Schipper Papers, circa 1930s-1999 in the Archives of American Art
AAA.schimerl
Author
Finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel
Biographical/Historical note
Merle Schipper (1922-2001) was an art historian, writer, and art critic active in Los Angeles, California.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Merle Solway Schipper was naturalized in Los Angeles in 1950 and received a PhD in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1974. Schipper was a familiar figure on the Los Angeles art scene. Her primary scholarly focus grew out of her dissertation research on Jean Helion, but much of her writing attention was devoted to Los Angeles artists and art world events. She was a regular contributor to many art periodicals, including
ArtScene
,
Images and Issues
,
Artweek
,
ARTnews
, and the
Los Angeles Daily News
.
As an independent curator, Schipper’s research interests led to several exhibitions, including
Americans in Paris: the 50s
(1979) at California State University, Northridge,
Visions of Inner Space
(1988) co-curated with Lee Mullican at UCLA's Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery,
Marmo: the New Italian Stone Age
(1989),
Being There/Being Here: Nine Perspectives in New Italian Art
(1991), traveling exhibition sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute, and an exhibition of William Spratling for the Craft and Folk Art Museum in 1997. Schipper also taught and lectured at UCLA, USC, CSU Northridge, and Claremont Graduate School.
Merle Schipper died in 2001.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 7 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1970s-1998 (5 folders; Box 1)
Series 2: General Correspondence, 1944-circa 1998 (0.3 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Writing and Research Project Files, circa 1930s-1999 (7.8 linear feet; Boxes 1-9)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1933-1997 (3.1 linear feet; Boxes 9-12, OV14-16)
Series 5: Writings By Others, circa 1944-1991 (0.2 linear feet; Box 12)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1960s-circa 1992 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 12-13)
Series 7: Artwork, 1982-1992 (0.1 linear feet; Box 13, OV16)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of Los Angeles art historian, art critic, and writer Merle Schipper measure 12.1 linear feet and date from circa 1930s to 1999. The papers include biographical material, correspondence, writing and research project files, printed material, writings by others, photographs, and artwork.
Biographical material consists of a notebook planner and professional contact addresses, as well as Schipper’s resume and bibliography. Scattered correspondence is both personal and professional with family and colleagues.
Over one-half of the collection consists of Schipper’s writing, research, project, and exhibition files. There are drafts, essays, manuscripts, notes, and research documentation about California art and artists, an exhibition of craftsman William Spratling curated by Schipper, Schipper's dissertation and additional projects on Jean Helion, the exhibition
Americans in Paris in the 1950s
(1997), additional exhibitions, as well as transcripts of interviews with artists. The research files on Helion include an interview transcript with Willem de Kooning about Helion and correspondence with artists about Helion, including Charles Biederman, Alexander Calder, Philip Guston, Carl Holty, Jack Tworkov, and others. Additional exhibition files are found for
Visions of Inner Space
(1988) and
Marmo: The New Italian Stone Age
(1989). Artists interviewed by Schipper include Billy Al Bengston, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Laddie John Dill, Kenneth Noland, Eric Orr, and others.
Extensive printed materials include clippings and copies of journals and periodicals containing Schipper's writings.
There are a few scattered writings by others about art and artists. Photographs are of Schipper, artists, artwork, and places, including Paris. Artwork includes one original poster print by Kiki Smith and one drawing by Matt Mullican.
Provenance
The Merle Schipper papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2002 by the Merle Schipper Estate via Schipper's daughter Amy Schipper Howe.
Processing Information note
The papers were minimally processed and a finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution’s Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing when possible to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator’s original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

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. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Merle Schipper papers, circa 1930s-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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