A Finding Aid to the Rudi Blesh Papers, circa 1900-1983, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.blesrudi
Creators:
Blesh, Rudi, 1899-1985
Dates:
circa 1900-1983
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
2.1 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of writer, critic, and architectural designer Rudi Blesh measure 2.1 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to 1983. The collection includes correspondence, documentation on writing projects and notes, printed materials, and photograpic materials. Much of the material concerns his collaboration with Harriet Janis on the book Collage: Personalities, Concepts, Techniques.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of writer, critic, and architectural designer Rudi Blesh measure 2.1 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to 1983. The collection includes correspondence, documentation on writing projects and notes, printed materials, and photograpic materials. Much of the material concerns his collaboration with Harriet Janis on the book Collage: Personalities, Concepts, Techniques. Of note is correspondence with Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Sonia Delaunay, and Aaron Siskind; notes on Robert Motherwell, Stuart Davis, Man Ray, Hans Richter, and others; and photographs of Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jackson Pollock.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as four series.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1909-1979 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Writing Projects and Notes, circa 1945-1967 (0.8 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Printed Materials, 1939-1983 (0.3 linear feet; Box 2)
  • Series 4: Photographic Materials, circa 1900-circa 1969 (0.8 linear feet; Box 2, OV 3)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Rudi Blesh (1899-1985) was a writer, critic, and architectural designer in New York, N.Y.
Blesh was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He was known as a jazz critic but had a career as an interior designer before he began writing about jazz and art. Blesh attended Dartmouth College where he first encountered jazz music. He became a jazz critic for The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Herald Tribune after relocating to New York in 1944.
Blesh partnered with Harriet "Hansi" Janis to co-author They All Played Ragtime and Collage: Personalities, Concepts, Techniques, a book about the development of collage and its use by artists such as Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Burri, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, and other notable artists.
Later in life, Blesh taught at New York University and Queens College while continuing to write about jazz. He died in 1985 in New Hampshire.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2019.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35mm microfilm reels 3991-3994 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Author
Sarah Mundy
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were donated by Rudi Blesh in 1981 and in 1993 by longtime friend Ethel Baziotes, who received the papers from Blesh before his death.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Rudi Blesh papers, circa 1900-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Collage Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Abstract expressionism Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Janis, Harriet Grossman Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motherwell, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Schwitters, Kurt, 1887-1948 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
https://www.aaa.si.edu/