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Peter Plagens papers, 1941-1985

Plagens, Peter, 1941-



Collection Information

Size: 4.9 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of art critic and painter Peter Plagens measure 4.9 linear feet and date from 1941-1985. Included are personal and professional correspondence; diaries; an interview of Plagens conducted by Mike Lloyd, 1977 (80 p.); photographs of Plagens, his family, studio, and art work; files on lectures, grants, fellowships, exhibitions, and a petition against the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; drafts of writings; files on Plagen's book, Sunshine Muse: Contemporary Art on the West Coast (1974); and 20 ink drawings and several drawings by Plagen's young son, Paul.

Biographical/Historical Note

Peter Plagens (1941-) is an art critic, painter, and writer living in New York City. Plagens studied studied painting at the University of Southern California and did graduate work at Syracuse University. In 1965, he returned to Southern California, where he worked as a curator and became a regular contributor to Artforum. His paintings were exhibited in such landmark exhibitions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's "24 Young Los Angeles Arts," in 1971, and the following year, the Whitney Biennial. He is best known for his first book, "Sunshine Muse: Modern Art on the West Coast, 1945-1970," published in 1974. In the mid 1970s, Plagens served as chair of the board of the fledgling Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. In the late 1980s, Plagens moved to New York, where he continued to paint and where he contributed art criticism to Newsweek. He has taught at numerous universities, including California State University, Northridge, University of Southern California, and University of North Carolina.


The collection was donated in 1985 by Peter Plagens.

Language Note

English .

How to Use This Collection

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

Peter Plagens papers, 1941-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.