Selections From The Fairfield Porter Papers


Fairfield Porter (b. 1907 d. 1975), still best remembered as a painter, is now also seen as one of the most articulate art critics of his generation. A poet, philosopher, and political intellectual, Porter’s writings and correspondence provide a detailed chronicle of life in the American art world from his undergraduate days at Harvard to the year of his death.

In researching the biography Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art, Justin Spring relied heavily on the Fairfield Porter papers in the Archives of American Art, and also on a lengthy interview with Fairfield Porter, conducted by Paul Cummings in 1968 for the Archives' Oral History Program. While writing the biography, Spring also organized and cataloged an additional gift to the Archives of Porter's papers from the artist's widow, Anne Elizabeth Channing Porter.

The exhibition, co-curated by Spring and the Archives’ Manuscript Curator, Liza Kirwin, brought together over sixty photographs, letters, sketches, notebooks, and printed materials from Porter's papers, as well as a few items from the papers of his friend Richard Stankiewicz and a letter from gallery owner John Bernard Myers.


In 2006 the collection was digitized, and can now be viewed online in its entirety: Fairfield Porter papers, 1888-2001 (bulk 1924-1975)