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Werner Drewes papers, 1838-2015, bulk 1890-1990

Werner Drewes papers, 1838-2015, bulk 1890-1990

Drewes, Werner, 1899-1985

Muralist, Painter, Printmaker

Collection Information

Size: 15.6 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter, printmaker, designer, and teacher, Werner Drewes, measure 15.6 linear feet and date from 1838-2004, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1890s-1990s. The papers document Drewes' life and career through biographical and family material; correspondence with family members, artists, galleries, and art institutions and organizations; scattered teaching notes and writings including a diary; catalogs and inventories of artwork; three scrapbooks; printed material; 38 sketchbooks, loose sketches, and prints; and photographs of Drewes, his family, friends and colleagues, exhibitions, travels, and works of art. Also found are scattered papers of Drewes' second wife, Maria Drewes.

Biographical material documents Drewes' family history through family trees and biographical notes made by family members, and also includes 3 of Drewes' passports, some student and military records, resumés, and a partial interview transcript.

Correspondence is with family members; artists including Ed Boccia, Thomas Eldred, T. Lux Feininger, Clark Fitz-Gerald, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Helion, Gerhard Marcks, Arthur Osver, Karl Schrag, and Albert Urban; and galleries and art organizations and institutions such as Richard York Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, and others. Correspondence also relates to the Drewes estate, as well as to loans, exhibitions and sales of artwork.

Notes and writings include a diary kept by Drewes between 1918-1920 in Europe, a "love letter" in verse form written by Drewes to his first wife, Margarete, some teaching notes and notes on design, and 2 essays about Drewes written by others.

Catalogs and inventory records provide comprehensive documentation of the artwork Drewes created over the course of his career. Entries include titles, assigned numbers, subjects, dimensions, media used, and sketches or photos of artwork.

Three scrapbooks provide scattered documentation of Drewes' life and career, and include clippings from the 1920s and 1930s, and a scrapbook created by Maria Drewes for her husband's memorial service.

Printed material includes event announcements and exhibition catalogs, as well as news clippings tracing Drewes' career from the 1920s to the 1980.

Artwork consists of greeting cards made by Drewes, as well as 38 sketchbooks and numerous loose sketches in pencil, ink, watercolor, and crayon.

Photographic material includes vintage family photographs, prints, negatives, slide tranparencies, and 8 glass plate negatives, of Drewes, his family and friends, events including exhibitions and travels, and artwork.

Found in Maria Drewes' papers are correspondence, 17 diaries primarily documenting travels with Werner Drewes, two scrapbooks with designs for jewelry, and photos of family, friends and jewelry.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, printmaker and designer Werner Drewes (1899-1985) was born in Canig, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in 1930. Lived in Reston, Virginia.

Provenance

The Werner Drewes papers were donated in 2005 by Werner Drewes' sons Wolfram U. Drewes, Harald D. Drewes, and Bernard W. Drewes. Some material had been previously loaned for microfilming in 1979, and was subsequently included in the 2005 gift. 4 additional items were donated by Karen E. D. Seibert in 2015.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Werner Drewes Papers, 1838-2015, bulk 1890-1990, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.drewwern
Finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter, printmaker, designer, and teacher, Werner Drewes, measure 15.6 linear feet and date from 1838-2015, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1890s-1990s. The papers document Drewes' life and career through biographical and family material; correspondence with family members, artists, galleries, and art institutions and organizations; scattered teaching notes and writings including a diary; catalogs and inventories of artwork; three scrapbooks; printed material; 38 sketchbooks, loose sketches, and prints; and photographs of Drewes, his family, friends and colleagues, exhibitions, travels, and works of art. Also found are scattered papers of Drewes' second wife, Maria Drewes.
Biographical material documents Drewes' family history through family trees and biographical notes made by family members, and also includes 3 of Drewes' passports, some student and military records, resumés, and a partial interview transcript.
Correspondence is with family members; artists including Ed Boccia, Thomas Eldred, T. Lux Feininger, Clark Fitzgerald, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Helion, Gerhard Marcks, Arthur Osver, Karl Schrag, and Albert Urban; and galleries and art organizations and institutions such as Richard York Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, and others. Correspondence also relates to the Drewes estate, as well as to loans, exhibitions and sales of artwork.
Notes and writings include a diary kept by Drewes between 1918-1920 in Europe, a "love letter" in verse form written by Drewes to his first wife, Margaret, some teaching notes and notes on design, and 2 essays about Drewes written by others.
Catalogs and inventory records provide comprehensive documentation of the artwork Drewes created over the course of his career. Entries include titles, assigned numbers, subjects, dimensions, media used, and sketches or photos of artwork.
Three scrapbooks provide scattered documentation of Drewes' life and career, and include clippings from the 1920s and 1930s, and a scrapbook created by Maria Drewes for her husband's memorial service.
Printed material includes event announcements and exhibition catalogs, as well as news clippings tracing Drewes' career from the 1920s to the 1980s.
Artwork consists of greeting cards made by Drewes, as well as 38 sketchbooks and numerous loose sketches in pencil, ink, watercolor, and crayon.
Photographic material includes vintage family photographs, prints, negatives, slide tranparencies, and 8 glass plate negatives, of Drewes, his family and friends, events including exhibitions and travels, and artwork.
Found in Maria Drewes' papers are correspondence, 17 diaries primarily documenting travels with Werner Drewes, two scrapbooks with designs for jewelry, and photos of family, friends and jewelry.
Biographical/Historical note
Painter, printmaker and designer Werner Drewes (1899-1985) was born in Canig, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1930. A student of the Bauhaus, and a prolific artist and teacher, Drewes worked with many kinds of media and produced numerous woodcuts, etchings, oils, watercolors, drawings and collages over the course of his life.
Drewes served for two years on Germany's Western Front during World War 1, before studying at the Bauhaus, Weimar, from 1921-1922. He then traveled throughout Europe, Asia and North and South America with his wife Margaret before returning to Germany in 1927 and enrolling at the Bauhaus, Dessau. During his time there Drewes forged his artistic ideas from the radical influences of renowned architects and artists including Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oscar Schlemmer, and learned the Bauhaus teaching approach that would serve him throughout his career. In 1930 Drewes, Margaret, and their 2 young sons emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City where Drewes attended the Art Students League. From 1935-1936 he taught drawing and printmaking at the Brooklyn Museum School as an employee of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project (WPA FAP). In 1936 he became a founding member of American Abstract Artists and the following year joined the American Artists' Congress and became an American citizen. From 1937-1940 he taught painting and printmaking at Columbia University.
In the early 1940s Drewes taught at the Master Institute in Riverside Museum, New York City, and worked as a technical supervisor for the Graphic Art Division of the FAP. From 1944-1945 he worked at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17 improving his intaglio technique and then teaching design, printmaking and photography at Brooklyn College. In 1946 he taught design at the Institute of Design in Chicago before being appointed Professor of Design at the School of Fine Arts of Washington University in Saint Louis, where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1965.
Following Margaret's death in 1959, Drewes married jewelry designer and fellow professor of Washington University, Mary (Maria) Louise Lischer in 1960. On Drewes' retirement he and Maria moved to Pennsylvania where he continued to paint, focusing primarily on still lifes and landscapes. He moved to Washington in 1972 and published his
American Indians
portfolio, before finally setting in Reston, Virginia, where the
Rose Catalog
of his prints was published and where he lived as a working and exhibiting artist until his death in 1985.
In October 1984 a comprehensive retrospective,
Sixty-Five Years of Printmaking
, was held at the then named Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art. Drewes' work can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, New York Public Library, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Arrangement note
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1838-1980s (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 1, 16)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1878-2004 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 16)
Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1922-2002 (0.5 linear feet; Box 2)
Series 4: Catalogs and Inventory Records, circa 1919-circa 1980s (2.3 linear feet; Boxes 2-6)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1920s-1985 (3 folders; Box 5)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1897-2015 (1 linear feet; Boxes 5-6)
Series 7: Artwork and Sketchbooks, circa 1890s-2002 (3.67 linear feet; Boxes 6-9, 16-17)
Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1890s-2000 (5.53 linear feet; Boxes 9-14, 17, MGP 2)
Series 9: Mary (Maria) Louise Lischer Drewes Papers, 1930s-1980s (1 linear foot; Box 15)
Many of the records were assigned color-coded alpha-numeric labels prior to donation. In series where these labeling systems predominate, material has been arranged according to those systems and all previously assigned labels are indicated in the Container Listing. Many folder titles are taken from the original labels. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
The collection is arranged as 9 series.
Provenance
The Werner Drewes papers were donated in 2005 by Werner Drewes' sons Wolfram U. Drewes, Harald D. Drewes, and Bernard W. Drewes. Some material had been previously loaned for microfilming in 1979, and was subsequently included in the 2005 gift. 4 additional items were donated by Karen E. D. Seibert in 2015.
Processing Information note
The collection, including 0.8 linear feet of material previously loaned for microfilming on reels 1497-1498, was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2014, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes may not be numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and paper clips were removed. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reels 1497-1498 available 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. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Werner Drewes papers, 1838-2015, bulk 1890-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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