A Finding Aid to the Peter Howard Selz papers, 1929-2014, bulk 1950-2005, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.selzpete

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.selzpete
Creators:
Selz, Peter Howard, 1919-
Dates:
1929-2014
bulk 1950-2005
Languages:
English
Collection is in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish.
English; French; German; Italian; Spanish
Physical Description:
30.1 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz (1919-present) measure 30.1 linear feet and date from 1929 to 2014, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz’s long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists’ research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed materials, and nine scrapbooks.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The papers of art historian and writer Peter Howard Selz (1919-present) measure 30.1 linear feet and date from 1929 to 2014, with the bulk of the materials from 1950 to 2005. The papers document Selz’s long career via correspondence, writings, professional files, project files, membership and association records, artists’ research files, exhibition files, personal business records, printed materials, and nine scrapbooks.
Correspondence is with colleagues, artists, museums, and galleries concerning a wide variety of topics, including exhibitions and publications. The bulk of the correspondence consists of alphabetical files (two linear feet) that includes correspondence with artists. Notable correspondents include Pol Bury, Alexander Calder, Gordon Onslow Ford, Alberto Giacometti, Morris Graves, Philip Guston, Dimitri Hadzi, Jacques Lipchitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and others. Eight additional files of chronological correspondence is with curators, arts organizations, and publishers. Additional correspondence is found in the professional files, project files, membership files, artists’ research files, and exhibition files.
The bulk of the writings series is comprised of files related to Selz's books and includes typescript drafts and galleys, printed material, correspondence, and publishing contracts. Files are found for
Art in Our Times
,
Art of Engagement
,
Beyond the Mainstream
, and
Theories of Modern Art
. Other writings consist of drafts of articles, essays, notes, and lectures by Selz, along with a few writings by others. There is 1 sound disc and 1 floppy disc.
Professional files document curatorial and teaching positions at the Chicago Institute of Design, Pomona College, University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of Modern Art. The series includes contracts, recommendations, syllabi, and correspondence.
Project files document Selz’s professional work on specific art projects, panels, and symposiums. There is extensive documentation of Selz’s work as project director of Christo’s
Running Fence
, as well as other environmental art work projects by Christo, the Berkeley Art Project, Disney Art Project, “Funk Art” symposium, and the “Art and Politics in the 20th Century” symposium. Project files contain a wide variety of materials, such as correspondence, printed material, financial records, reports, photographs, and other documents. There are 2 tape reels, 1 VHS, and 1 sound cassette.
Membership and association records document Selz’s involvement with or membership in various art councils, trustee boards, such as the College Art Association, Art in Chicago Advisory Committee, Bay Area Rapid Transit (B.A.R.T.) Art Council, and the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum Advisory Board, among others. Materials include meeting minutes, bulletins, correspondence, and memoranda.
Artists’ Research Files consist of a wide variety of research materials Selz compiled about artists for lectures, writings, projects, exhibitions, etc. Files vary and may include original and photocopied correspondence, photographic material, resumes, printed material, and writings. There are also 11 CDs and 1 sound cassette. Files are found for Bedri Baykam, Max Beckmann, Fletcher Benton, Ciel Bergman, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Bruce Conner, Jean Dubuffet, Lyonel Feininger, Leon Golub, Dimitri Hadzi, Rico Lebrun, Harold Paris, Irving Petlin, among many others.
Exhibition files include catalogs, reviews, clippings, writings, correspondence, and other material documenting exhibitions organized by Selz. Limited materials are found for the MOMA
Art Nouveau
exhibition. More extensive documentation is found for
Seven Decades of Modern Art, 1895-1965
,
The Joint Show
(1967),
The American Presidency in Political Cartoons
(1976),
American Modern Art Between the Two World Wars
(1979),
German Realism in the Twenties: Artist As Social Critic
(1980),
Twelve Artists from the German Democratic Republic
(1989), a Richard Lindner Retrospective (1996),
Spaces of Nature
(1999),
Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000
(2000), and a Nathan Oliviera Retrospective (2002), among others. There are 4 CDs.
Personal business records are related to the Mark Rothko estate and Kate Rothko’s legal case against Marlborough Gallery, Inc. Also included in this series are Peter Selz’s school transcripts, bequests, royalty statements, house designs, and other material.
Printed materials include clippings, prints of articles written by Peter Selz, and photocopies of artwork images.
There are nine disbound scrapbooks dating from the 1940s up through 2012 containing clippings, exhibition announcements, and photographs of art events, Selz, and artists.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 10 series. When possible the original order of Peter Selz was maintained. However, multiple accessions were merged and integrated.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-2013 (2.3 linear feet; Box 1-3)
Series 2: Writings, 1942-2011 (7.8 linear feet; Box 3-10, OV 32)
Series 3: Professional Files, 1949-2012 (1 linear feet; Box 11)
Series 4: Project Files, 1962-2008 (2.6 linear feet; Box 12-14, OV 33)
Series 5: Membership and Association Records, 1958-2013 (0.8 linear feet; Box 14-15)
Series 6: Artists' Research Files, 1955-2014 (7.9 linear feet; Box 15-22, OV 34-35)
Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1960-2012 (5 linear feet; Box 23-27)
Series 8: Personal Business Records, 1929-2011 (1.1 linear feet; Box 28-29, OV 36)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1957-2004 (0.3 linear feet; Box 29)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1947-2012 (1.3 linear feet, Box 29-31)

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Peter Howard Selz (1919-) is a pioneering historian of modern art, professor, and writer who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-1988 and founded and directed the Berleley Art Museum from 1965-1973.
Selz was born in 1919 in Munich, Germany to Eugene Selz and Edith Drey Selz. In 1936, the family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to the United States. Selz attended Columbia University from 1937 to 1938 and became a naturalized citizen in 1942. During World War II, Selz served in the U.S. Army in the Office of Strategic Services. He married writer Thalia Cheronis in 1948 but they later divorced in 1965; he married several times afterwards.
After the war, Selz attended and taught at the University of Chicago where he received a Ph. D. in German Expressionism. He spent a year in Paris, 1949-1950, at the Sorbonne and École du Louvre on a Fulbright grant. He received a second Fulbright grant in 1953 to study at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Belgium. From 1953-1955, Selz also taught at the Chicago Institute of Design.
In 1955 Peter Selz accepted a position to chair the art history department at Pomona College in Claremont and relocated to California for a few years. He also became director of the college’s art gallery.
In 1958 Selz moved to New York City to become curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art and was there through the transformative mid-1960s. While at MOMA, he organized several significant exhibitions of modern art, including the 1960 Jean Tinguely "Homage to New York," a sculpture that destroyed itself (and started a fire) in the sculpture garden of the museum;
New Images of Man
(1959), the
Art Nouveau
show (1960), and the
Art of Assemblage
(1961). He also launched important retrospectives, including the first Rodin retrospective in the United States and a comprehensive exhibition of Alberto Giacometti’s work in 1965.
In 1965, Peter Selz returned to California to become the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California, Berkeley, a position he held until 1973. He organized exhibitions of Funk, film, and ceramicists like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. Peter Selz later became project director for Christo’s “Running Fence”, the 24.5-mile long fabric fence over the Marin County hills in 1976. He also served concurrently as a professor of art history at UC until retiring in 1988.
Peter Selz was a member of the College Art Association's board of directors for two terms, 1958-1964 and 1966-1971. Selz is a prolific writer, and the author or co-author of numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and articles. Notable books include
German Expressionist Painting
(1957),
Art in a Turbulent Era
(1965),
Art in Our Times
(1981), and
Sam Francis
(1975).
In 1988 Peter Selz was named emeritus professor at University of California, Berkeley. In 1993 he was on the acquisitions committee of the Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco. In 2012, Selz curated
The Painted Word
exhibition. He lives in California and continues to be active in the art world.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies note
Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 2343-2345 and 4383-4385 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the microfilm is incomplete and does not represent the entire collection. The filmed order does not match the current arrangement of the papers as outlined in this finding aid.
Processing Information note
Multiple accessions were merged and integrated and processed by Rihoko Ueno in 2014, with funding from the Frederick Hammersley Foundation.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Frederick Hammersley Foundation
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The Peter Howard Selz papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Peter Selz in multiple installments from 1976 through 2014.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use note
The Peter Howard Selz 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.
Preferred Citation note
Peter Howard Selz papers, 1929-2014, bulk 1950-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art also holds oral history interviews of Peter Selz conducted by Paul J. Karlstrom on July 28, 1982, October 12, 1982, and November 3, 1999.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Baykam, Bedri, 1957- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beckmann, Max, 1884-1950 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Benton, Fletcher, 1931- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bergman, Ciel, 1938- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bury, Pol, 1922-2005 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chase-Riboud, Barbara Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Christo, 1935-, Running fence Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Christo, 1935- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
College Art Association of America. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conner, Bruce Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Feininger, Lyonel, 1871-1956 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Golub, Leon, 1922-2004 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Graves, Morris, 1910- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guston, Philip, 1913-1980 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hadzi, Dimitri, 1921-2006 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Institute of Design (Chicago, Ill.). (Faculty) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lindner, Richard, 1901- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lipchitz, Jacques, 1891-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Marlborough Gallery. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
O'Keeffe, Georgia, 1887-1986 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Onslow-Ford, Gordon Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paris, Harold, 1925- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Petlin, Irving, 1934- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pomona College. (Claremont, Calif.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (Calif.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tinguely, Jean, 1925- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of California, Berkeley. University Art Museum. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians--California--Berkeley Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern--20th century--Exhibitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art--Germany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art--Political aspects Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art--Study and teaching--California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Authors--California--Berkeley Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ceramics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Environmental art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Abstract Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Political cartoons Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pop art--Exhibitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Realism in art--Germany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video 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