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Terrain Gallery records, circa 1950s-2005, bulk 1955-1985

Terrain Gallery

Collection Information

Size: 5.3 linear feet

Summary: The records of the Terrain Gallery measure 5.3 linear feet and date from circa 1950s-2005, bulk 1955-1985. The bulk of the records consists of exhibition files that document over one hundred and forty exhibitions as well as the gallery's relationship with artists. The collection includes founding documents, correspondence, artists' files, writings and an interview, financial records, scrapbooks, and photographs.
Founding documents include statements of purpose, notes outlining plans for establishing a gallery, letters, and lists of expenses. Included are several versions of the gallery's manifesto "For the Union of Aesthetics and Ethics," drafted by founding members Martha Baird, Louis Dienes, Nat Herz, Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman, Sheldon Kranz, Barbara Lekberg, Nancy Starrels, and others.
Correspondence consists of letters between Dorothy Koppelman and artists, museums, and arts organizations. Subjects discussed are the scheduling of exhibitions and the gallery's lending of artwork to cultural institutions. Included are Dorothy's letters to art critics, including Dore Ashton, Thomas Hess, and Hilton Kramer seeking press coverage for the gallery's exhibitions. Among the additional frequent correspondents are Sigmund Abeles, American Federation of Arts, Philip Bragar, Lawrence Campbell, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Peter Milton, Lee Nordness, Andrew Rush, and Lynd Ward. Also found are scattered letters from Chaim Koppelman, Eli Siegel, and Theodoros Stamos.
Artists' files document approximately seventy artists and include curriculum vitae, letters, and scattered materials, e.g., exhibition brochures and invitations. Exhibition files provide an overview of the gallery's dealings with artists, museums, and the press, with the bulk of the material dating from 1955-1985. Materials include biographical information, correspondence, sales of artwork, printed material, photographs of exhibition installations and artwork.
Writings and an interview contain annotated typescripts and handwritten drafts on Aesthetic Realism by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman and others. Included are several draft versions of David Bourdon's interview with Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman. The Koppelmans discuss the influence of Aesthetic Realism in their personal and professional lives as well as the critical response by the press and others to Aesthetic Realism's place in art history.
Financial and legal records consist of ledgers, financial reports, sales and loans, and consignment receipts, with the majority of the records dating from 1955-1983; scattered legal materials document the incorporation of the Terrain Gallery with the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.
Five scrapbooks contain a variety of exhibition materials: letters, statements about the gallery, lists, announcements, and printed material. Two of the five scrapbooks chronicle the gallery's early exhibitions from 1955 through 1960. The other scrapbooks document three exhibitions held at the Terrain Gallery.
Photographs are of Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman, Harold Jacobs, Gerson Leiber, Vincent Longo, Ad Reinhardt, and others. There are a few photographs of artwork by Michael Ponce de Leon and Edith Schloss.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Terrain Gallery is an art gallery in New York, N.Y., established in 1955 by Dorothy Koppelman (1920-) and informed by the guiding philosophy of Eli Siegel's Aesthetic Realism. The Terrain has as its motto as stated by Siegel, "In reality opposites are one; art shows this" and also gave rise to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation."


Donated 2006 by Chaim and Dorothy Koppelmann.

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