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A Finding Aid to the Thomas Hess papers, 1939-1978

Thomas Hess papers, 1939-1978

Hess, Thomas B., 1920-1978

Author, Editor, Art critic, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 10.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York editor and art critic Thomas Hess measure 10.0 linear feet and date from 1939 to 1978. The collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, extensive writings and notes, artists and subject files that also include recorded conversations with artists and others, printed materials, photographic materials, and artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas Hess (1920-1978) was an editor and art critic in New York, New York. Hess of was editor of "Art News," 1946-1972 and wrote several books on American art, including "Abstract Painting: Background and American Phase," 1951; "Willem de Kooning," 1959, 1967, 1968; "Barnett Newman," 1969, 1974; and "Ad Reinhardt Cartoons," 1972.


The Thomas Hess papers were donated in multiple increments from 1985 to 1987 by Hess' children, Anne Helen, William, and Philip Hess, except for a file on Barnett Newman donated by Newman's widow, who presumably had borrowed it from Hess. In 2014, additional correspondence, writings, photographs, printed material, and cartoons, including some by Ad Reinhardt, were donated by Elizabeth Wolff, Hess' sister.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Location of Originals

  • Reel 5028 relating to Barnett Newmann: Originals located at the Barnett Newman Foundation, 654 Madison Ave., #1900, New York, N.Y.