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Ruth Gikow papers, 1933-1982

Gikow, Ruth Levine, 1915-1982

Muralist, Painter


Collection Information

Size: 2.4 Linear feet, (on 3 microfilm reels)

Summary: Biographical material, letters, financial material, an interview transcript, notes, writings, a scrapbook, printed material, photographs, and an audio tape document Gikow's career as a painter of social commentary.
REEL D230: Exhibition catalogs, 1948-1965; a scrapbook containing a biographical account and clippings, 1937-1965; an undated photograph of Gikow; and 164 photographs of works of art.
REELS 4874-4875: Biographical accounts, 1959-1971; 7 passports, 1947-1972; letters, 1949-1981, from Gikow to critics and galleries, and from colleagues including Karl Fortess and Lee Nordness, and one letter each from Werner Drewes, Jo Hopper, and Raphael Soyer; a file concerning the Kent State Memorial Exhibition, 1971; receipts, 1951-1978; price lists, 1967-1980; a 3 p. interview transcript; an engagement calendar, 1971; miscellaneous notes and writings by Gikow and others; printed material, including clippings, 1947-1979; exhibition announcements and catalogs, 1940-1982; a book, History of the Jews in America, 1957, by Deborah Pessin, illustrated by Gikow; a book, Gikow, 1970, by Matthew Josephson, with reproductions of art works used in the book; and brochures; photographs of Gikow, her husband Jack Levine, her studio, artists, including Chaim Gross, Jacob Lawrence, and Raphael Soyer, and works of art; and an untranscribed reel-to-reel tape of an interview of Gikow conducted by Karl Fortess.
UNFILMED: Correspondence; photographs of Gikow and of her art work, including one of her demonstrating mural painting at the 1939 World's Fair; reproductions of her book and magazine illustrations; and a yearbook, 1933, from the Women's Art School at The Cooper-Union, where Gikow studied with John Steuart Curry. Also found are writings by Gikow including reminiscences about her life as an artist and as an artist's wife; address books; and exhibition announcements and catalogs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, mural painter, illustrator, serigrapher. Died 1982. Gikow was born in the Russian Ukraine, emigrating to New York City with her parents in 1920. She studied under John Steuart Curry at the Cooper Union Art School from 1932-1935. She also studied with Louis Ross, Louis Schanker and Raphael Soyer. After working as an assistant mural painter on the Federal Art Project, Gikow was awarded a commission to paint a mural for the Bronx Hospital. Her book illustrations include Crime and Punishment, and History of the Jews in America. Gikow was married to painter Jack Levine.


Material on D230 was lent by Gikow, 1965. Gikow and her husband Jack Levine donated the remainder in 1978 and 1983, which was microfilmed in 1994 with grants from the Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, and the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation. After microfilming, an addition to the collection was donated by Levine in May 1999. Papers of Jack Levine donated at the same time have been cataloged separately.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Reel D230: Originals returned to Ruth Gikow after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels D230 (frames 692-1388), and 4874-4875 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Ruth Gikow papers, 1933-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.