Scope and Contents
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.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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 for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
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.