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Robert John Goldwater papers, 1902-1974

Robert John Goldwater papers, 1902-1974

Goldwater, Robert John, 1907-1973

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 5.4 linear ft.

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) was an art historian from New York, N.Y.


The donor, Louise Bourgeois, was the widow of Robert Goldwater.

A Finding Aid to the Robert John Goldwater Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical 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.
His teaching career began at New York University in 1934. Five years later, Goldwater moved to Queens College. In 1957, he joined the faculty of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where he remained until his death in 1973.
Goldwater wrote a large number of articles, books, and reviews on a variety of art topics. His books include:
Primitivism in Modern Painting
Artists on Art from the XIV to the XX Century
Rufino Tamayo
Modern Art in Your Life
Vincent van Gogh
Jacques Lipchitz
Paul Gauguin
Senufo Sculpture from West Africa
Space and Dream
What Is Modern Sculpture
(1969), and
From 1957-1963 Goldwater was Director of the Museum of Primitive Art, and for the next decade was Chairman of its administrative committee. In addition, Goldwater served as book review editor of the College Art Association's Art Bulletin from 1944-1947, and from 1947-1953 he was editor of the American Federation of Art's
Magazine of Art
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1934-1973 (Box 1; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 2: Subject Files, 1931-1973 (Box 1; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 3: Teaching Records, 1935-1973 (Boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear ft.)
Series 4: Writings, 1932-1973 (Boxes 3-5; 2.2 linear ft.)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1931-1974 (Box 5; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 6: Papers of S. S. Goldwater, M.D., 1902-1956 (Boxes 5-6; 0.9 linear ft.)
The donor, Louise Bourgeois, was the widow of Robert Goldwater.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2006.

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. ACCESS RESTRICTED: written permission required.

How to Cite This Collection

Robert John Goldwater papers, 1902-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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