Oral history interview with Ilya Bolotowsky

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.boloto68
Creators:
Bolotowsky, Ilya, 1907-1981
Cummings, Paul
Diller, Burgoyne, 1906-1965
Dates:
1968 March 24-April 7
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
197 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Interview of Ilya Bolotowsky conducted 1968 March 24-April 7, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art.
Scope and Contents
Bolotowsky, a lively raconteur, recalls a host of episodes from his personal and professional life. He speaks of his childhood in Russia and Azerbaijan; the effects of war and communism; the family's flight as refugees into Georgia and then to present-day Istanbul; and his early education with a private tutor and at a Jesuit school in Istanbul. Bolotowsky recalls his family's emigration to the United States by ship in 1923; his first impressions of New York City; and early visits to the city's museums. He relates numerous anecdotes about faculty and fellow students at the National Academy of Design, including Ivan Olinsky, Raymond Neilson, Charles Hawthorne, Amedee Ozenfant, and William Henry Johnson.
Scope and Contents
He speaks of various early exhibitions of his work, including those with the Art Students League, G.R.D. Studio, and the J.B. Neumann Gallery. He also describes a stay at Yaddo in 1934.
Scope and Contents
Bolotowsky recounts his participation in the Public Works of Art Project as a teacher of art to delinquent children; later work on the mural project of the Works Progress Administration; the picketing of WPA offices, providing anecdotes about Max Spivak and Joseph Vogel; military service during World War II, first working on a Russian dictionary of technical terms and then as a liason officer with the Soviet Air Force in Nome, Alaska.
Scope and Contents
Upon his return from the military, Bolotowsky immediately resumed his painting career, and describes his involvement with artists' organizations such as the American Abstract Artists, the American Artists' Congress, the Concretionists, the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, and the Ten; he mentions in these contexts such personalities as Byron Browne, Burgoyne Diller, Werner Drewes, Arshile Gorky, Clement Greenberg, Balcomb and Gertrude Greene, Harry Holtzman, Fernand Leger, Piet Mondrian, and Meyer Schapiro.
Scope and Contents
Bolotowsky gives an extensive description of his experiences filling in for Joseph Albers for a year at Black Mountain College, and goes on to discuss his subsequent teaching positions at the University of Wyoming (including a discussion of the impact of the Wyoming landscape on his painting), Brooklyn College, Southampton College, and SUNY New Paltz. He devotes great attention to the development of his painting, his understanding of neo-plasticism and abstraction, and his efforts in filmmaking and playwriting.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981) was a Russian-American abstract painter in New York, New York.

Administration
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others. Funding for the interview was provided by the New York State Council on the Arts.

General
General
Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 12 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 37 min.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
ACCESS RESTRICTED; written permission required.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art and state Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Concretionists (Group of artists) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Emigration and immigration Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Experimental films Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal aid to the arts -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Abstract -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Playwriting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Philadelphia Ten (Group of artists) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 -- Anecdotes Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wyoming Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Filmmakers Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Playwrights Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albers, Josef Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Browne, Byron, 1907-1961 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dlugoszewski, Lucia, 1931-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drewes, Werner, 1899-1985 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gorky, Arshile, 1904-1948 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greene, Balcomb, 1904-1990 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greene, Gertrude, 1904-1956 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hawthorne, Charles Webster, 1872-1930 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Holtzman, Harry Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, William H., 1901-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Léger, Fernand, 1881-1955 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Neilson, Raymond P. R. (Raymond Perry Rodgers), 1881-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Neumann, J. B. (Jsrael Ber) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Olinsky, Ivan G. (Ivan Gregorewitch), 1878-1962 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ozenfant, Amédée, 1886-1966 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Spivak, Max, 1906-1981 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vogel, Joseph, b. 1911 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Abstract Artists Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
G.R.D. Studio (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Academy of Design (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Public Works of Art Project Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Works Progress Administration Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yaddo (Artist's colony) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Artists' Congress Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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