A Finding Aid to the American Abstract Artists records, 1936-1983, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.amerabst
Creators:
American Abstract Artists
Dates:
1936-1983
Languages:
Multiple languages
Most of the collection is in English. Some materials are in Danish, French, and German.
Danish; English; French; German
Physical Description:
1.6 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The records of the American Abstract Artists measure 1.6 linear feet and date from 1936 through 1983. The records document the founding of the organization in 1936, membership activities, general administration, and exhibitions via correspondence, member writings, financial and legal records, printed materials, and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The records of the American Abstract Artists measure 1.6 linear feet and date from 1936 through 1983. The records document the founding of the organization in 1936, membership activities, general administration, and exhibitions via correspondence, member writings, financial and legal records, printed materials, and photographs.
Correspondence mainly relates to the exhibitions and member activities of the American Abstract Artists. There are letters from Josef Albers, Alexander Archipenko, Alexander Calder, Lyonel Feininger, Harry Holtzman, Piet Mondrian, and Irene Rousseau, President Emeritus of the American Abstract Artists. Official bulletins sent to members are also found among the correspondence.
Administrative records include founding prospectus, meeting minutes, lists of members, and drafts and amendments to the American Abstract Artists constitution.
Member writings are by Saburo Hasegawa, Henry Billings, Leo Rabkin, and Ruth Gurin. Financial and legal records include ledger books, insurance documents, and other financial material. Printed materials include announcements for the American Abstract Artists' annual exhibitions, as well as exhibition posters. Finally, there are two photographs of collage paintings by members.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The arrangement and description in this finding aid refer to unmicrofilmed portions of the collection. Legacy microfilm arrangement is not reflected.
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1937-1982 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Administrative Records, 1937-1982 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Member Writings, 1938-1954 (Box 1; 4 folders)
Series 4: Financial and Legal Records, 1942-1983 (Box 1-2; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Materials, 1936-1982 (Box 2-3, OV 4; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1963 (Box 3; 1 folder)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The American Abstract Artists group was established in 1936 in New York, New York by a group of painters and sculptors. The American Abstract Artists contributed to the introduction of abstract art to the American public through exhibitions, publications, and lectures.
During the era of the formation of the American Abstract Artists, abstraction was not critically accepted. In 1937, the American Abstract Artists held their first exhibition at the Squibb Galleries in New York City. It received negative reactions from both the press and the public - the exhibition had a high attendance but poor reviews. The American Abstract Artists addressed the role of the critic through their publications, specifically the 1940 pamphlet "The Art Critics! How Do They Serve the Public? What Do They Say? How Much Do They Know?—Let's Look at the Record!"
The group was most active from 1937 to 1942, and supported the critical success of Abstract Expressionism in later decades.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was preliminarily processed by Carly Dorca in 2012, and more fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Megan Bean in June 2016.
Existence and Location of Copies
Legacy microfilm portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels D539, N69-72, N69-96 through N69-97, and N69-137 at the Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Materials available on Reels N70/48 and N59/11 were originally loaned for microfilming but included in later gifts, some of which may have been microfilmed again.
The legacy microfilm does not represent the entirety of the collection. Researchers should note that the filmed order does not match the order of the collection as described in this finding aid.
Author
Megan Bean
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Leo Rabkin donated records in 1969. Alice Trumball Mason loaned records for microfilming in 1959 and in 1969 donated most of those same materials. Irene Rousseau donated additional records in 1983. All three donors are Presidents Emeriti of the American Abstract Artists.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
The American Abstract Artists records, 1936-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing 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.

Related Materials
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are the Ruth Bowman Interviews of American Abstract Art members, 1963-1965, and Susan C. Larsen's Interviews of American Abstract Art members, 1973-1978.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Painters Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Abstract -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Holtzman, Harry Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rabkin, Leo Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hasegawa, Saburō, 1906-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albers, Josef Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Billings, Henry, 1901- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gurin, Ruth Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mason, Alice Trumbull, 1904-1971 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rousseau, Irene Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Feininger, Lyonel, 1871-1956 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions