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Victor Mikhail Arnautoff papers, circa 1920-2017, bulk 1920-1953

Arnautoff, Victor Mikhail, 1896-1979

Educator, Artist

Collection Information

Size: 3.3 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of artist and art teacher Victor Mikhail Arnautoff measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1920 to 2017 with the bulk of the material dating from the 1920 to 1953. The collection contains biographical material such as marriage certificates, passports, naturalization certificates, and an Arnautoff family history; correspondence between family members, as well as with colleagues including Diego Rivera, and with institutions concerning Arnautoff's work; writings about Arnautoff and others, including his statement regarding the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearing; professional records related to mural projects and exhibitions of Arnautoff's work; and printed material including exhibition announcements and catalogs, clippings, and On the Drumhead by Mike Quin, illustrated by Victor Arnautoff. Also included are a scrapbook containing correspondence, printed material, and photographs highlighting Arnautoff's career with particular emphasis on the controversy surrounding his Dix McSmear lithograph, as well as photographic material depicting Arnautoff, other individuals, and works of art. The bulk of the collection is made up of artwork, including sketches, a sketchbook, watercolors, and prints.

Biographical/Historical Note

Victor Mikhail Arnautoff (1896-1979) was an artist and art teacher known for his murals. Arnautoff was born in the Ukraine and served in the Russian army during World War I. After a defeat in Siberia, he crossed into China, where he remained for five years. In China he met and married his wife Lydia, and they had their first two sons.


The Victor Mikhail Arnautoff papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 1983 by Jacob and Vasily Arnautoff, Victor Arnautoff's sons. Additional papers were donated in 2018 by Michael and Peter Arnautoff, Victor Arnautoff's son and grandson, and by Robert Cherney, a scholar who wrote a book about Arnautoff.

Language Note

The collection is in English and Russian. There are also a few materials in Chinese.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Gerald and Bente Buck.