A Finding Aid to the William Chapin Seitz Papers,
circa 1930-1995
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.seitwill

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.seitwill
Creators:
Seitz, William Chapin
Dates:
circa 1930-1995
Languages:
Multiple languages
Some records are in French.
English; French
Physical Description:
32.5 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The papers of educator, painter, and art historian William Chapin Seitz measure 32.5 linear feet and date from circa 1930-1995. The collection includes biographical information, correspondence, notebooks, subject and people files, thesis research files, interviews and lecture recordings, teaching files, personal business records, scattered printed materials, photographs, and artwork. The bulk of the papers focus on Seitz's research and teaching career.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The papers of educator, painter, and art historian William Chapin Seitz measure 32.5 linear feet and date from circa 1930-1995. The collection includes biographical information, correspondence, notebooks, subject and people files, thesis research files, interviews and lecture recordings, teaching files, personal business records, scattered printed materials, photographs, and artwork. The bulk of the papers focus on Seitz's research and teaching career.
Biographical materials consist of resumes and CV's, identification cards including one from the WPA, documents from the memorial held at the University of Virginia for Seitz, poetry written by Irma for William on their wedding anniversaries, and x-rays.
The majority of Seitz's correspondence is professional and concerns job offers and opportunities, lectures requests, recommendation letters for Seitz and for others by Seitz, the Kress Fellowship, exhibitions, awards, and organizations. Also found are posthumus materials to Irma Seitz concerning book royalites. Personal correspondence is scattered and includes condolence letters sent to Irma.
Personal business records focus on Seitz's personal art collection, copyright information, publishing records including royalty statements, reports, scholarship and fellowship information, and professional organization membership records.
The bulk of the collection consists of research and writing files which include notebooks, subject and people files, thesis research files and drafts, general research which include writings by Seitz, card files, and recordings of lectures and interviews. Subject and people files may include correspondence, printed materials, research notes, photographs, works of art, and writings concerning and by artists, art historians, curators, subjects, and art movements. Research files are found for Dore Ashton, Alfred H. Barr Jr., William Baziotes, Bruce Conner, Rene D'Harnoncourt, Marcel Duchamp, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Rockne Krebs, George Segal, James Rosati, and Frank Stella among many others. Also found are research materials on Claude Monet, some of which are written in French.
Teaching files contains extensive reference material likely used by Seitz during his career as well as correspondence, exams, and lecture materials used in specific classes.
Printed material is scattered and includes clippings, exhibition announcements, and articles. Exhibition announcements and catalogs are for Seitz's personal works and for exhibitions he curated.
The bulk of the photographs are of works of art by William Seitz, Irma Seitz, and others which were likely owned by Seitz. Also found are phtographs of exhibition installations at the Univeristy of Virginia and scattered photographs of Seitz with others.
Artwork include several pencil sketches by Seitz, two works by Ellen Banks-Woodson, and a sketch by Phil Elliott.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1930s-1974 (Box 1; 7 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1945-1995 (Boxes 1-2; 1.6 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, circa 1947-1990 (Boxes 2-3; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Research and Writing Files, 1940s-1970s (Boxes 4-26; 23.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Teaching Files, 1945-1970s (Boxes 27-31, OV 34-35; 5 linear feet)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1937-1984 (Boxes 31-2; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1940s-1981 (Box 32, 33; 11 folders)
Series 8: Artwork, circa 1950s-1972 (Box 32, 33; 6 folders)

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
William Chapin Seitz (1914-1974) was an art historian and scholar, painter, educator, and museum curator who worked primarily in New York and Virginia. He completed the first dissertation on Abstract Expressionism while a student at Princeton University in 1955.
Born in 1914 in Buffalo, New York, William Chapin Seitz studied at the Albright Art School at the University of Buffalo and the Art Institute of Buffalo. Seitz met artist Irma J. Siegelman, whom he married in 1938. Due to the Depression, he left school and worked with the Federal Arts Project in New York City in the 1930s and worked as an aircraft fuel cell deigner for the Hewitt Rubber Company during World War II. Returning to the University of Buffalo after the war, Seitz completed his undergraduate degree and remained by accepting a teaching job.
Although he saw success as a painter and exhibited in one-man shows, Seitz focused his career in academia and enrolled at Princeton University for a graduate degree in Art History. Princeton faculty held divided views on Seitz's desire to write a dissertation on the Abstract Expressionist movement and debated the subject for over a year. Seitz's dissertation topic was eventually approved and in addition to writing the first dissertation on Abstract Expressionism, Seitz received the first PhD in Modern Art from Princeton. Seitz remained at Princeton as an assistant professor and advised students such as Frank Stella.
In 1960, he accepted a job as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. At MOMA, Seitz curated The Art of Assemblage (1961), The Responsive Eye (1965), and an exhibition on Monet (1960). Other MOMA exhibitions focused on artists Mark Tobey, Arshile Gorky, and Hans Hofmann. Additionally, he served as director of the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University from 1965-1970. During that time, Seitz organized the United States exhibition at the Ninth Biennial in Sao Paulo (1967) and the Seventh Biennial of Canadian Painting (1968). In 1971, Seitz returned to teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia and was the Visiting Kress Professor at the National Gallery of Art from 1972-1973.
In addition to his successes in painting, education, and the curatorial field, Seitz was an accomplished writer. He published many articles, essays, and books on art and artists including
Art in the Age of Aquarius
, on which he worked until his death.
William Seitz died of cancer in 1974.

Administration
Processing Information note
The collection was processed by Jayna Hanson in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna Hanson
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The William Chapin Seitz papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Seitz's widow, Irma Seitz, in 1975 and 2003. A transcript of an interview with Mark Tobey by Seitz was donated by Rebecca Massie Lane in 1988. Seitz gave these transcripts to Lane for her graduate work and they remined in her possession after his death.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
William Chapin Seitz papers, circa 1930-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use note
The William Chapin Seitz papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Related Archival Materials note
The Museum of Modern Art Archives in New York City holds the William C. Seitz papers which contain exhibition files and records relating to an interview with Marcel Duchamp. Correspondence relating to the debate concerning the viability of Seitz's dissertation are found in the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. papers also at the Museum of Modern Art Archives.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ashton, Dore Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Banks-Woodson, Ellen Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Baziotes, William, 1912-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conner, Bruce Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elliott, Philip Clarkson, 1903-1985 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gottlieb, Adolph, 1903-1974 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Krebs, Rockne, 1938-2011 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Monet, Claude, 1840-1926 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rosati, James, 1912-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Segal, George, 1924-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seitz, Irma Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stella, Frank Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of Virginia. -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians--Virginia--Charlottesville Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drafts (documents) Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators--Virginia Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lectures Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notebooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters--Virginia--Charlottesville Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Poems Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Resumes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C., 20001
Phone: 202-633-7950
http://www.aaa.si.edu/askus