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Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers, 1851-1986, bulk 1920s-1960s

Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers, 1851-1986, bulk 1920s-1960s

Hirsch, Stefan, 1899-1964

Muralist, Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 19.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of artists and educators Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo measure 19.4 linear feet and date from 1851 to 1986, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920s to the 1960s. Their artistic, teaching, and journalism careers are documented through biographical materials, correspondence, writings and notes, professional files, printed materials, photographs and motion picture films, and sketchbooks and other artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

German-born Stefan Hirsch (1899-1964) was a painter and educator. Elsa Rogo (1901-1966) was married to Hirsch and was an artist, educator and journalist.

Provenance

Portions of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers were donated in 1996 by the Elsa Rogo estate, via Sylvia Siskin, executrix. Additions were donated 2002 and 2014 by professor James Oles, Art Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts on behalf of Sylvia Siskin.

Funding

Funding for the preservation of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo home movies shot in Mexico was provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo Papers, 1851-1986, bulk 1920s-1960s
AAA.hirsstef
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Josefson
Scope and Contents note
The papers of artists and educators Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo measure 19.0 linear feet and date from 1851 to 1986, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920s to the 1960s. Their artistic, teaching, and journalism careers are documented through biographical materials, correspondence, writings and notes, professional files, printed materials, photographs and motion picture films, and sketchbooks and other artwork.
Biographical materials include address lists, resumes and biographical sketches, identification cards, material relating to Hirsch's military service, and legal documents. Two sound recordings, one personal and another of Rogo on Spanish National Radio, are also found here.
Correspondence is both professional and personal. Professional correspondence concerns commissions, exhibitions, travel, and teaching. Notable correspondents include Josef Albers, Justus Bier, Downtown Gallery (Edith Halpert), Carlos Mérida, Lewis Mumford, Ben Shahn, and many others. Personal correspondence is largely between Hirsch and Rogo. Writings are found for both Hirsch and Rogo and include notebooks, diary fragments and transcripts, lectures, essays on art, articles, and notes. A manuscript by Hamilton Easter Field is also found and a writing by an unknown author. Professional files document teaching positions, projects, commissions, memberships, and other professional activities undertaken by Hirsch and Rogo. They document Hirsch's teaching career at Bard College, Bennington College, and his mural work in South Carolina and Mississippi. Files concerning Rogo's work with the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs are found here, as well as files documenting their professional and personal travel. These contain a wide variety of materials, such as correspondence, printed material, meeting minutes, photographs, and writings. Also found are scattered files relating to general areas of interest.
Hirsch's and Rogo's business records include contracts concerning Elsa Rogo's book agreements, records settling the estate of the Hirsch family in Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Germany, insurance records, a lease, price lists, and general receipts and invoices. Also found are personal art collection records including a sales agreement and a list of Latin American art owned by Hirsch and Rogo. Printed materials include books, brochures, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Stefan Hirsch and others, issues of magazines and other periodicals, copies of published writings by Hirsch and Rogo, and a dismantled printed materials scrapbook.
Photographs are extensive and include personal photos of Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo, their family, friends, and colleagues. Numerous travel photos were taken by Rogo in her role as a journalist in Latin American and the United States. The bulk of the professional travel photos were taken in Mexico in the 1930s to the 1960s and show events, cities, and cultural activities. Also found are glass plate negatives, photographs of works of art, and sixteen reels of motion picture film taken in Mexico, Bard College, and Oqunquit, Maine.
Eighteen sketchbooks are largely unsigned but are likely by Stefan Hirsch. Additional artwork includes sketches and etchings by Hirsch, sketches by Elsa Rogo, and works by others including Raul Anquiano and Efren Villalobos.
Biographical/Historical note
German-born Stefan Hirsch (1899-1964) was a painter and educator. Elsa Rogo (1901-1966) was married to Hirsch and was an artist, educator and journalist. They were active in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and Vermont, and traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Latin America where they documented local arts and crafts, village life, and befriended prominent Mexican artists.
Born in Nurnberg, Germany, Stefan Hirsch grew up in Europe and studied art at the University of Zurich. After settling in the United States in 1919, he took summer courses under Hamilton Easter Field in Ogunquit, Maine. Hirsch developed a Precisionist style combined with Social Realism but much of his work was difficult to restrict to one specific style. Hirsch was a founder and exhibitor at the avant-garde Salons of America which served as an alternative to the Society of Independent Artists. During the 1930s and 1940s, Hirsch participated in the U.S. government's Federal Art Project and painted murals in Aiken, South Carolina and Booneville, Mississippi. Hirsch began his teaching career in 1937 at Bennington College in Vermont, and later accepted a position at Bard College where he served as the chairman of the art department until he retired in 1961.
In 1930, Hirsch married Elsa Rogo. Together, they traveled throughout Mexico and Latin America where they became involved in the social and art scenes. They befriended prominent Mexican artists like Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros. As a journalist, Rogo documented Mexican life, events, and art extensively through photographs. Rogo also served in the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, established in 1940 to promote cultural diplomacy and solidarity primarily in Latin America. In Taxaco, Mexico, she taught art to school children. Her book,
Walls and Volcanos: The Creative Impulse of the Mexican People
, was published in 1937.
Stefan Hirsch died in 1964. Elsa Rogo died in 1966.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1899-1986 (0.6 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920s-1960s (3.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-4)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1920-1960s (1.2 linear feet: Boxes 4-5)
Series 4: Professional Files, 1912-1966 (2.8 linear feet; Boxes 6-8)
Series 5: Personal Business Records, 1927-1957 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 8-9)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1851-1964 (2.9 linear feet; Boxes 9-12, 19)
Series 7: Photographs and Motion Picture Film, circa 1870-1960s (6.3 linear feet; Boxes 12-17, 20-21)
Series 8: Sketchbooks, circa 1930s-circa 1940s (0.6 linear feet; Box 18)
Series 9: Artwork and Artifacts, 1916-1982 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 18-19)
Provenance
Portions of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers were donated in 1996 by the Elsa Rogo estate, via Sylvia Siskin, executrix. Additions were donated 2002 and 2014 by professor James Oles, Art Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts on behalf of Sylvia Siskin.
Processing Information note
Multiple accessions were merged and processed and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Josefson in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing when possible to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

Additional Forms Available

Nine reels of motion picture film in this collection have been preserved and also copied to video for research access and are available in the Archives of American Art offices. Projection prints of these films, compiled into two 16 mm reels, are also available for loan. In addition, the sound recordings have been digitized for research access.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Original film reels and archival negative copies are stored off-site and are closed to researchers. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers, 1851-1986, bulk 1920s-1960s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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