Skip to main content

Robert John Goldwater papers, 1902-1974

Goldwater, Robert John, 1907-1973

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 5.4 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of art historian, educator, editor, and museum director Robert John Goldwater measure 5.4 linear feet and date from 1902-1974. Found are correspondence, subject files, teaching records, writings, and printed material. Also included are the papers, primarily correspondence, of Goldwater's father, S. S. Goldwater, M. D., a nationally recognized expert in the fields of public health, hospital administration, and hospital design and construction.
The bulk of Robert John Goldwater's correspondence focuses on his writings and editing work, including his work for Magazine of Art and the Museum of Primitive Art. It is with academic colleagues, art museums, colleges and universities, publishers, former students, and family. There is also scattered correspondence with artists. A list of correspondents is found at the end of this finding aid.
Subject files concern topics of interest to Goldwater as well as exhibitions and organizations with which he was involved, and include correspondence, printed material, and notes. Teaching records are from Goldwater's work at both Queens College and New York Universtity and consist mainly of course syllabi, bibliographies, and notes, as well as some administrative records.
The largest series in the collection consists of Goldwater's writings, including drafts, manuscripts, and notes for several books, reviews, and talks and lectures. Found here are complete and partial manuscript versions of his books Artists on Art; From David to Delacroix; Jacques Lipchitz; Paul Gaugin; Rufino Tamayo; and Symbolism. Printed material includes many items about or mentioning Goldwater, as well as printed or published articles and reviews written by him.
The papers of S. S. Goldwater, M. D. (1873-1942) consist primarily of correspondence documenting his work as a hospital administrator, public health expert, and New York City's Commissioner of Hospitals. They also include biographical information, legal documents, photographs, printed material, and writings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert John Goldwater (1907-1973), a native New Yorker, studied art history at Columbia College (B.A., 1929), Harvard University (M.A., 1931), and New York University (Ph.D., 1937). Goldwater was a Carnegie Corporation Fellow, 1930-31, a Guggenheim Fellow, 1944-45, and a Fulbright Fellow in France, 1944-45. He was especially interested in primitive art, primitivism and symbolism in modern art, and the history of art criticism.


The Robert John Goldwater papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 1976 by Goldwater's widow, Louise Bourgeois.