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Oral history interview with Charles Searles, 1991 June 13

Archives of American Art
Transcript 149 pages.

An interview of Charles Searles conducted 1991 June 13, by Cynthia Veloric, for the Archives of American Art Philadelphia Project.

Searles discusses his early life in Philadelphia; military service; discovering African sculpture; attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; being included in the 1969 exhibit "New Black Artists"; traveling to Europe and Africa on a Cresson Fellowship from the PAFA; his experiences in Nigeria; exhibiting and teaching in Philadelphia, moving to New York City; his work in various media; subject matter; interest in dance and music; participating in Recherché; and being represented by the Sande Webster Gallery in Philadelphia.

Oral history interview with John Spencer, 1994 September 1

Archives of American Art
2 sound cassettes (1 hr., 23 min.): analog.

Transcript: 41 pages.

An interview with John Spencer conducted 1994 September 1, by Paul J. Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art.

Spencer discusses his work assisting Dean Cornwell on the Los Angeles Central Library murals between 1927-1933; his subsequent relationship with Cornwell; and his experience as a young artist in Southern California in the 1930s.

Oral history interview with Milford Zornes, 1999 July 18-September 5

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 152 pages

An interview of Milford Zornes conducted 1999 July 18-September 5, by Susan M. Anderson, for the Archives of American Art, in Zornes' studio/home, Claremont, California.

Beginning with his childhood in Oklahoma, this interview recounts the formative influences on Mr. Zornes' development as an artist, including his close relationship with Millard Sheets at Pomona College. He discussed the impact of the Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco on his work and on other artists of the California School as well as the importance of nature. He recalled his prolific work on federally-funded art projects such as the PWAP and his mural commission for the Claremont Post Office. Mr. Zornes discussed the impact that WWII had on the California School in general and his particular experience on the China-Burma-India front as one of forty-two official US army artists. He described his long career as a teacher in various educational institutions as well as in outdoor painting workshops conducted around the world. Finally, Mr. Zornes discussed his struggle with macular degeneration and the subsequent change in his working methods due to his recent blindness.

Oral history interview with Jirayr Zorthian, 1997 January 28-July 9

Archives of American Art
Transcript 90 pages.

An interview of Jirayr Zorthian conducted 1997 January 28-July 9, by Paul J. Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, at Zorthian's home and studio, in Fair Oaks, California.

Zorthian describes his property, Art Ranch, and its meaning to him; his personal and educational background, including studying at Yale; early mural work and his inspiration to move west; settling in Altadena, California in 1945; his description of his property as "The Center for Research and Development of Industrial Discards with Emphasis on Aesthetics"; bohemianism and his desire to stay free of conventions of work; friendships with artists and socially prominent people.

He discusses a profile of him in L.A. Weekly, by Dave Gardetta; his antipathy towards galleries and his "outsider" relationship to the artworld; his recent nude drawings and paintings, the Jennifer Series, and his views the work illustrates social themes and celebration of the body; and his self-concept as an artist and perceptions of him and his work.

Oral history interview with Dorr Bothwell, 1965 February 27

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 16 pages

An interview of Dorr Bothwell conducted 1965 February 27, by Mary Fuller McChesney, for the Archives of American Art. Bothwell describes her education and art training in San Francisco; painting for the Public Works of Art Project; Federal Art Project murals in Los Angeles; effects of the federal projects on her artistic development; and friends and colleagues Grace Clements, Lorser Feitelson, and Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

Head (Mural Study, U.S. Department of Justice)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Oral history interview with Boris Gorelick, 1964 May 20

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 1 sound tape reel (45 min.) ; 5 in.

Transcript: 18 p.

An interview of Boris Gorelick conducted 1964 May 20, by Betty Hoag for the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project.

Gorelick speaks of his background in Russia and New York; attending the Art Students League; the formation of the Artists' Union; working on murals and stained glass for the WPA Federal Art Project; the influence of the Mexican muralists on FAP murals; Art Front magazine, and the American Artists' Congress. He recalls Ben Shahn and Arshile Gorky.

Oral history interview with David Avalos, 1988 June 16-July 5

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 100 pages

An interview of David Avalos conducted 1988 June 16-July 5, by Margarita Nieto, for the Archives of American Art. Avalos speaks of his childhood, education at the University of California at San Diego; his involvement with the Centro Cultural de la Raza; the socio-political environment that produced the San Diego Chicano Muralist movement (specifically Chicano Park); the formation of the Border art Workshop (BAW/TAF); the collaboration between the Centro and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (presently the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art); art activity in San Diego; Chicano activity distinct from Los Angeles; his philosophy on conceptual art; and his art career.

Oral history interview with José Moya del Pino, 1964 Sept. 10

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 13 p.

An interview of José Moya del Pino conducted 1964 Sept. 10, by Mary McChesney, for the New Deal and the Arts Oral History Project.

Moya del Pino speaks of his youth in Spain, and his education in Rome and in Paris; meeting Matisse; moving to San Francisco and taking up portraiture there; starting with the Federal Art Project (FAP) and working on a mural at Coit Tower; political problems with the murals and other work done under the FAP; painting a mural in a post office in Alpine, Tex., and other murals; how work was assigned; his mural for the Social Security Building in Washington, D.C.; and his feelings about government support for the arts and how it should be administered. He recalls Diego Rivera and Victor Arnautoff.

Oral history interview with Jacinto Quirarte, 1996 Aug. 15-16

Archives of American Art
Transcript 97 p.

An interview of Jacinto Quirarte conducted 1996 Aug. 15-16, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art.

Quirarte discusses his professional and personal experience both as a Mexican-American growing up in the Southwest and in California, and as an art historian who was among the first to identify and study the Chicano art movement. He describes his family background, his attraction to figurative art as a student at San Francisco State University, his interest in Mexican muralists, and his fascination with pre-Columbian art which became his speciality. He further discusses his career in Latin America, particularly from the standpoint of multiculturalism and regionalism in his native country; the problem of overlapping political/cultural entities and the connection between pre-Columbian and Chicano situation; the notions of group identity, and shift from universalism to individual identity as part of the Chicano art evolution.

Oral history interview with John Saccaro, 1964 June 18

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 37 pages.

An interview of John Saccaro conducted 1964 June 18, by Mary McChesney, for the Archives of American Art.

Saccaro discusses the primary influences on San Francisco art in the 1930s and how he started working for the WPA. He describes the working conditions on each of the projects are in detail. Robert McChesney sat in on the interview, and he at times helps Saccaro remember facts. (The two of them worked of the same mural project at Treasure Island.) McChesney and Saccaro mention 10 to 15 of their coworkers and reminisce about what became of them. None seems to have continued painting. Saccaro's first solo show (1939) is mentioned; he describes meeting Arshile Gorky near this time. The interview concludes with a consideration of the artist's place in society and how difficult it is to become established as a painter. Much attention is given to the fate of Saccaro's coworkers and the day-to-day experience of being a WPA artist. He discusses little of his own style, which remained by his own admission relatively unadventurous until after the war.

Oral history interview with John Saccaro and Terry St. John, 1974 April 30-November 18

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 113 pages.

An interview of John Saccaro and Terry St. John conducted 1974 April 30-1974 November 18, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, in San Francisco, Calif. The April interview is with Saccaro and the November interview is with both Saccaro and St. John.

Saccaro speaks of his background as an abstract expressionist; the California School of Fine Arts, 1951-1953; his experience as a student; abstract expressionism; and his work. Saccaro and St. John speak of the San Francisco art scene from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Oral history interview with Louis Bouché, 1963 March 13

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 53 pages

An interview of Louis Bouché conducted on 1963 March 13, by William E. Woolfenden, for the Archives of American Art.

Bouché speaks of the Penguin Club, including Walt Kuhn's leadership, artists' balls, banquets and sketch classes; European artists at the Penguin Club including Jules Pascin, Albert Gleizes, and others; his association with the Daniel Gallery; his "lace curtain period"; his art education; teaching; working at Wanamaker's and the Folsom Gallery; Walter Arensberg's parties; and his father, Henri's career as a designer. Bouché recalls Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Wood Gaylor, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, John Quinn, and others.

Oral history interview with Elsa Flores, 1997 Feb. 18-Apr. 30

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 11 sound cassettes (60 mins. each) : analog.

Transcript: 209 p.

An interview of Elsa Flores conducted 1997 Feb. 18-Apr. 30, by Jeffrey Rangel, for the Archives of American Art.

The interviews took place in Flores' studio, in South Pasadena, Calif., over four sessions. Flores discusses her parents' diverse backgrounds and her difficult childhood and adolescence; the development of her political consciousness; her involvement with Chicanismo; her interests in art, photography, and music, including being a member of California State University, Los Angeles mariachi band; her art, which she considers more biographical and mystical than ethnic; her use, initially, of a dark palette to distinguish her work from that of her husband, Carlos Almaraz, and changing to a brighter, more optimistic palette after Almaraz's was diagnosed with AIDS. She recalls Almaraz's energy and genius; his struggles with AIDS and his search for alternative healing methods; finding solace in Kauai; and his request to have his ashes strewn around Kauai at his favorite places. Flores comments on the difficult period after Almaraz's death; her devotion to their daughter; keeping Almaraz's work at the forefront of public awareness; and her own art career.

Oral history interview with Sol LeWitt, 1974 July 15

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 75 p.

An interview of Sol LeWitt conducted 1974 July 15, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.

LeWitt speaks of his studies at Syracuse University, the Tiffany Foundation award for his lithograph, odd jobs, his work for magazines and the graphics department of I. M. Pei's firm, travel in Europe, his army service, graphic design work, typography, and abstract expressionism.

He discusses his job at the Museum of Modern Art, influences upon his work, his interest in film and the photographs of Eadward Muybridge, and exhibitions at the Dwan, Daniels, and Kaymar Galleries. LeWitt comments on his change from metal to wood sculpture; conceptual, minimal and post-minimal art; series and systems; his wall drawings; torn paper and folded paper "drawings"; prints and etchings; music and books; and the exploitation of art and artists. He recalls Anthony Candido, Dan Flavin, Earl Kerkam, and others.

Oral history interview with Stuyvesant Van Veen, 1981 May 5-14

Archives of American Art
Transcript 51 pages.

An interview of Stuyvesant Van Veen conducted 1981 May 5-14, by Emily Nathan, for the Archives of American Art.

Van Veen speaks of his family background and parental influence; his early training, and studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; his army service; some of his experiences as a young artist; early exhibits of his work; his mural work; anthropological drawings he did under Franz Boas for Columbia University in the 1930s. He recalls Max Beckmann, Thomas Hart Benton, Leon Kroll, Daniel Catton Rich and Hudson Dean Walker.

Lee Simonson Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery
Lee Simonson, a major force in American scenic design, discovered in his youth what “painters’ and designers’ vision could do to revivify the theater.” After graduating from Harvard in 1909, he sought to become a muralist and went to Paris. There, over the course of three years, he honed his skills while attending some of the most experimental European theatrical productions. He also formed friendships with other American expatriates, notably the writer Gertrude Stein and the painter Stanton MacDonald-Wright. When he created this self-portrait, he may still have been living in Paris. The painting shows his mastery of pattern and composition, and the areas of pure, vibrant color reveal his interest in Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and the French contempo- rary painters known as the Fauves. Upon returning to New York City, in 1912, Simonson felt determined to launch his career as a set designer.

Lee Simonson, figura de gran influencia en el diseño escenográfico, descubrió en su juventud lo que “los pintores y escenógrafos, con su visión, podían hacer para revitalizar el teatro”. Luego de graduarse de la Universidad de Harvard en 1909, quiso hacerse muralista y se fue a París. En su estadía de tres años, perfeccionó sus destrezas y presenció algunas de las producciones de teatro más experimentales de Europa. También hizo amistad con otros expatriados estadounidenses, entre ellos Gertrude Stein y el pintor Stanton MacDonald-Wright. Cuando Simonson hizo este autorretrato es posible que estuviera viviendo aún en París. La pintura evidencia su dominio de los patrones y la composición, mientras las áreas de color puro y vibrante revelan su interés en Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin y los pintores contemporáneos franceses conocidos como fauvistas. Cuando regresó a Nueva York en 1912, estaba decidido a lanzar su carrera como escenógrafo.

Artwork by Muhammad Ali Is Going up For Auction

Smithsonian Magazine

During his life, Muhammad Ali was many things to many people: a legendary boxer, a civil rights activist, a skilled showman. But what many may not know is that he was also a visual artist who took joy in making brightly colored drawings inspired by the life experiences that made him an iconic figure of the 20th century. Now, several prints by Ali, who died on June 3, are being auctioned off in New York City’s RoGallery sale next Wednesday. 

Ali was not a trained artist, but he came from a family of artists, musicians, and craftspeople. His father, Cassius Clay, Sr., was a sign painter and muralist who lamented that he couldn’t be a recognized artist because of racial discrimination, Robert Lipsyte reports for the New York Times. In high school, Ali’s best subjects were art and gym; while the latter became the basis for his boxing career and subsequent celebrity, he also continued to draw throughout his life.

"He was not trained in poetry; he was not trained in drawing… he had a natural talent," Robert Rogal, RoGallery’s owner, tells Sarah Cascone for artnet News

Ali’s artwork may not be technically masterful, but there is an undeniable joy in his drawings. Whether depicting a boxing match, a fighter jet, or Muslim people dressed in white and headed for prayer at a mosque, Ali’s drawings show another side of the man whose brash, boisterous personality nabbed him headlines and fans around the world, Steven Thrasher writes for the Guardian.

“The racist world Ali inhabited requires black men to be tough and hard. Ali’s drawings allow him a way not to be hard, or loud – but to be soft, joyous, kidlike, tender,” Thrasher writes. “Tenderness is often denied to black men, and giving it up becomes a price of our survival. As with his smile, it is a beautiful thing to see Ali indulge his tender side.”

The pieces up for auction on June 15 were all created in 1979 and printed in limited runs of 500 each. The drawings reference many of Ali’s strongest political statements, like his outspokenness about his Muslim faith and the impact of slavery and discrimination on his life and the lives of his ancestors. They also point back to his career in the ring, depicting himself triumphantly standing over an opponent’s body, surrounded by a sea of black, brown, white, yellow, red and green faces.

“Ali was not just one of world’s greatest international athletes but a cultural phenomenon whose influence is impossible to quantify,” Thrasher writes. “He was, until 2016, one of America’s greatest living artists, whose body, visage and soul personified an African American artistry in everything he did.”

Instead of Tagging Real-Life Surfaces, Graffiti Artists Can Use a New Simulator

Smithsonian Magazine

Is graffiti a legitimate art form? Street artists like Blu think so—he was so enraged by a gallery that tried to put his work in a museum instead of on the streets that he removed his work from Bologna in a fit of pique. But many cities beg to differ, and places like New York have waged long wars against the taggers within. Now, writes CityLab’s John Metcalfe, a new graffiti simulator offers another option for street artists who don’t want to risk arrest or attack while honing their craft.

It’s called Kingspray Graffiti Simulator, and Metcalfe writes that it’s coming to the Steam digital distribution platform on June 13. Kingspray gives street artists a variety of urban locations to use as canvases and offers a virtual experience complete with dripping spray paint in a multitude of colors. 

As Tech Times’ Anu Passary notes, the game lets players choose everything from the time of day to weather conditions. Designed for the Vive virtual reality headset, the game adds another layer of realism to faux graffiti writers as they make their marks on an imaginary city.

They can even play streaming radio while painting to keep up their artistic spirits. After all, in this virtual reality world there’s no chance of being jailed for making art like the pair of international fugitive taggers who recently made waves when they hit Australia with plans to make the streets their canvas. 

Despite ongoing attempts by cities to curb graffiti—like the Los Angeles City Council’s recent plan to offer a $2,000 reward to anyone with tips on taggers—street art is slowly breaking free of its illegal cachet. There’s Banksy, of course, whose murals have become an art world phenomenon. And new documentaries expose the history of everything from “wall writers” in Philly to women who know their way around a can of spray paint. It remains to be seen, however, whether graffiti simulators like Kingspray will lessen physical street art or just help would-be muralists plan their next bombing raid.

Mexican Boy

National Museum of American History
This lithograph of a boy at work was designed in the late 1930s by the Mexican American artist Ramón Contreras (1919-1940). Mexican-born, he grew up in San Bernardino, a major agricultural town east of Los Angeles. His career was tragically short. Before he died of cancer at the age of 21, Contreras became the youngest artist ever invited to the Golden Gate International Exposition, and traveled to Mexico to meet the famed muralist Diego Rivera. Contreras came of age during the Great Depression (1930s), a period of economic crisis for all Americans and for people around the globe. Much of the art produced during these difficult years reflects a political and aesthetic vision–to document and ennoble the lives of ordinary working people. Here, Contreras presents us with an idealized image of a confident young man in motion. Identifiably Mexican with his serape draped over one shoulder, the boy drawn by Contreras triumphantly at the center of the frame is perhaps a fruit vendor. He is probably not a fruit picker–note the non-Californian bananas arrayed with other warm-weather fruits in his basket. This lithograph was printed in about 1950 by Lynton Kistler–it is one of the 2,700 prints by this prominent Los Angeles printer that are housed in the Graphic Arts Collection of the National Museum of American History.


National Museum of American History
Sentimental genre prints documented the social image of Victorian virtue through domestic scenes of courtship, family, home life, and images of the “genteel female.” Children are depicted studying nature or caring for their obedient pets as they learn their place in the greater world. Romantic scenes picture devoted husbands with their contented, dutiful wives. In these prints, young women educated in reading, music, needlework, the arts, the language of flowers, basic math and science are subjugated to their family’s needs.

These prints became popular as lithography was introduced to 19th Century Americans. As a new art form, it was affordable for the masses and provided a means to share visual information by crossing the barriers of race, class and language. Sentimental prints encouraged the artistic endeavors of schoolgirls and promoted the ambitions of amateur artists, while serving as both moral instruction and home or business decoration. They are a pictorial record of our romanticized past.

This three-quarter length colored portrait print is of a young woman standing at a railing. The girl is looking back over her right shoulder. She is wearing a large hat with feathers and dress with large billowing sleeves. To her left there is heavy drapery with a tassel.

This lithograph was done by Anthony Imbert, a lithographer and marine painter based in New York. He was active as an artist from 1825 until his death in around 1838. He was born in France and became a French naval officer. He learned to paint after he was imprisoned by the British. When he was released, he came to the United States and developed a career as a lithographer and marine painter. He pioneered many new forms of lithography including a folding lithograph by joining two stories to create a larger print. The artist Dominico Canova was born in Milan, Italy. He immigrated to New York City in 1825, where he began his work as a lithographer under Anthony Imbert. He was primarily known in Louisiana as a teacher of painting and drawing, a muralist and painter. After a few years working under Anthony Imbert he accepted a teaching position in Convent Louisiana, at the College of Jefferson. Throughout the rest of his career, he held various teaching positions at different colleges and schools throughout Louisiana. He died in New Orleans in 1868.

Oral history interview with Thomas Adrian Fransioli, 1981 April 21

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 2 sound files : digital, wav file

Transcript: 37 pages

Interview of Thomas Adrian Fransioli, conducted April 21, 1981, by Robert F. Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Wenham, Massachusetts.

Fransioli speaks of his upbringing in Seattle, Washington; training and friendships at architectural school at the University of Pennsylvania; working in North Carolina, Virginia, Philadelphia, and Cleveland as an architect, interior designer, and draftsman; his commission for a grand country house in Virginia, 1932-1934; his work for John Russell Pope on the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; work in photographic reconnaissance for the U.S. Army during World War II; visiting Hiroshima after the atomic bomb; his training at the Art Students League; his paintings of cityscapes and houses; the promotion of his career by Margaret Brown of Boston; and influences upon him. Fransioli also recalls Charles Klauder, Margaret Brown, Carl Feiss, Otto Eggers, John Walker, David Finley; and others.

Oral history interview with James Lechay, 1998 July 9-Aug. 26

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 70 pages.

Interview of James Lechay, conducted by Robert F. Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution at Lechay's home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on July 9-Aug. 26, 1998.

Lechay speaks of his early childhood in the Bronx, N.Y.; copying paintings at the Metropolitan Museum under the tutelage of his elder brother Myron; discontinuing his study of psychology at the University of Illinois in 1929 to return to NYC to paint; taking odd jobs to counter his extreme poverty in the early 1930s; his first exhibition at Another Place (1936), a gallery run by De Hirsh Margules; praise from David Siqueiros, the Mexican muralist; his first trip to Provincetown (1930); exhibiting several times at the Whitney Museum (and others) but not at MoMA; touring NYC galleries on Fridays; meeting Marsden Hartley and Alfred Stieglitz; his friendship with Arshile Gorky; serving as a juror for the 1940s Momentum exhibition with Jackson Pollock and Max Weber; teaching at the University of Iowa in 1945, succeeding Philip Guston; his luck in having, since 1935, a New York dealer; his work as self-referential; being repelled by art fashions and not compromising his work in order to sell; the appearance of simplicity in his work. Lechay also recalls Raphael and Moses Soyer, Abraham Walkowitz, and others.

Oral history interview with Juan Sánchez, 2018 October 1-2

Archives of American Art
Audio: 9 sound files (7 hr., 59 min.) digital, wav

Transcript: 90 pages.

An interview with Juan Sánchez conducted 2018 October 1-2, by Josh T. Franco, for the Archives of American Art, at Sánchez studio, in Brooklyn, New York.

Sanchez speaks of his childhood in Puerto Rican enclaves of Brooklyn; formative experiences with Nuyorican poets; early memories of Puerto Rico; his earliest interest in drawing from comic books; early art-making and art education experiences, including the Pratt Saturday program; encountering Taller Boricua during the time he studied at Cooper Union; drawing formative inspiration from En Foco's photography; flourishing after initial difficulties at Cooper Union; his graduate studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University; his early exhibition experiences; his negative experience of participating in Group Material's exhibition Americana; reflections on political art; his friendship with Ana Mendieta; his collaborations with MoCHA , INTAR gallery, and Exit Art; the development of his painting, photography, and collage aesthetics through graduate school; the personal and emotional dimension of his art-making process; his use of circles and photographs of heroic historical figures in his paintings; the development and execution of his public art commissions; the development of his teaching career; his experiences working at the Queens Museum education department and Cooper Union admissions department; specific controversies over the content of his work being shown at Princeton University and SUNY Stony Brook; the development and execution of his printmaking practice; and his reflections on the experience and importance of participating in an oral history interview. Sanchez also recalls Amiri Baraka, Sandra María Esteves, Louis Reyes Rivera, Pedro Pietri, Gilbert Hernandez, Jorge Soto, Hans Haacke, Reuben Kadish, Eugene Tulchin, Charles Biasiny, Leon Golub, Larry Fink, Robert Blackburn, Mel Edwards, Doug Ashford, Jimmie Durham, Nancy Spero, Lucy Lippard, Geno Rodriguez, Papo Colo, Jayne Cortez, Carl Andre, Ana Mendieta, Raquelín Mendieta, Noah Jemison, Inverna Lockpez, Nilda Peraza, James Luna, Julia Hirschberg, Susana Leval, Miguel Algarín, Jeanetter Ingberman, Jolie Guy, Susan Bloodworth, Zachary Fabri, Gilbert Cardenas, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Michael Brathwaite, Alfredo Jaar, Tomie Arai, Lorenzo Clayton, Joan Hall, Pepe Coronado, Maryanne Simmons, and Melquiades Rosario Sastre.
289-312 of 327 Resources