Getty Foundation Three Year Major Collections Processing Project Completed

By the Archives
January 10, 2006

Three major research collections representing a large body of primary source material documenting the evolution of modernism in American art history have been organized, arranged, preserved, and cataloged according to archival standards. Web-accessible electronic EAD (Encoded Archival Description) finding aids have been created and made available on this website as well as on the Research Libraries Group’s Archival Resources website.

The records of Macbeth Gallery comprise the largest collection processed during the project and provide almost complete coverage of the gallery’s operations from its inception in 1892 to its closing in 1953, over sixty years of success as a major New York firm devoted to American art. From the late nineteenth to the early twentieth-century period there is significant correspondence (some illustrated) with artists such as Cecilia Beaux, Emil Carlsen, John F. Carlson, Charlotte Buell Coman, Arthur B. Davies, Charles Harold Davis, Charles W. Hawthorne, Charles Hazeltine, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Jonas Lie, J. Francis Murphy, Henry Rankin Poore, Chaucey F. Ryder, William Sartain and Abbot Handerson Thayer. From the early to mid-twentieth-century period correspondents include Jay Connaway, Carl Gaertner, Rockwell Kent, James Lechay, Herman Maril, Ivan G. Olinsky, Ogden M. Pleissner, Constance Richardson, and Andrew Wyeth. Also found are rare photographs of American artists, such as Chester Beach, Emil Carlsen, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, Maurice Prendergast, and Julian Alden Weir – many of them original prints and the majority of them autographed.

The Walt Kuhn Family papers and Armory Show records contain the original documentation of the legendary Armory Show of 1913 which introduced modern European painting and sculpture to the American public. As Secretary for the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, the artist-run organization that organized the Armory Show, Walt Kuhn retained the bulk of existing records of the exhibition. Valuable records of the New York artists’ clubs, the Kit Kat Club, and the Penguin Club are also found within the collection. Kuhn’s personal and family papers document his own artistic career, and offer personal contemporary insight into the Armory Show.

The Joseph Cornell papers document the life, work, interests, and creative activities of the self-taught artist, who was best known for his shadow box constructions, assemblages, and collages. Included are Cornell’s diaries which span almost the entirety of his career as an artist. Unlike the format of most diaries, Cornell’s diaries are loose pages, notes, and sketches that record his day-to-day thoughts, feelings, impressions, dreams, and ideas; and reflect on his various art projects and creative activities. Also of particular note are Cornell’s source files, largely comprised of bits of printed materials devoted to people (ballerinas, actresses, singers, artists, and writers) and topics (astronomy, romantic and modern ballet, birds, films, literature, music, plants, and science, among others). Other files relate to specific art works, "explorations," publishing projects, and exhibitions.