Skip to main content

Rudy Burckhardt papers, 1934-2015

Biographical Note

Rudy Burckhardt (1914-1999) was a Swiss-American photographer, filmmaker, and painter based in New York, N.Y. during the post-World War II era. Originally from Basel, Switzerland, Burckhardt relocated to New York in 1935 at the age of 21. Burckhardt shared a loft in Chelsea with American dance critic and poet, Edwin Denby, next-door to Willem and Elaine de Kooning.
After completing his service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1944, Burckhardt pursued an education in painting. He studied with French painter and writer, Amédéé Ozenfant in New York, circa 1948-1949; Italian painter and professor Giuseppe (Beppe) Guzzi in Rome; and the Academy of Naples, circa 1950-1951.
Burckhardt married painter and collagist, Edith Schloss in 1947 and in 1949 their son Jacob, a filmmaker, was born. The two separated and in 1964, Burckhardt married American painter, Yvonne Jacquette and the same year the couple's son Thomas (Tom), a painter, was born.
Throughout his career, Burckhardt collaborated with a number of notable post-war visual artists such as Joseph Cornell, Larry Rivers, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, Nell Blaine, Lois Dodd, and Red Grooms as well as writers and poets including Edwin Denby, John Ashbery, Phillip Lopate, and Kenneth Kock.
Burckhardt was hired to photograph New York-based visual artists, their work, studios, and exhibitions. A bulk of the black and white negatives that make up the collection were produced circa 1950 to 1975. Burckhardt photographed for the Leo Castelli Gallery for approximately 20 years. He also frequently photographed for Thomas B. Hess, editor of ARTnews.
Early exhibitions of Burckhardt's street photography include Photo League, 1948; Limelight Gallery, 1954; and Gotham Bookmart, 1972 and 1980. Painting exhibitions include the Tanager Gallery, 1959; Green Mountain Gallery, 1971, 1974, and 1978; and Blue Mountain Gallery, 1981; Brooke Alexander Gallery 1976 and 1978. A number of his films have been collected by and shown at the Museum of Modern Art, 1987 and circa 1993.