A Finding Aid to the David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.bourdavi
Creators:
Bourdon, David
Dates:
1941-1998
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
38 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of New York art critic and writer David Bourdon measure 38 linear feet and date from 1941-1998. The papers include scattered biographical materials, manuscript and published writings, extensive art and artists' research files, and printed materials.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York art critic and writer David Bourdon measure 38 linear feet and date from 1941-1998. The papers include scattered biographical materials, manuscript and published writings, extensive art and artists' research files, and printed materials.
Biographical materials consist of school writings; 2 folders of correspondence, including correspondence with Ray Johnson; Bourdon's mother's family reminiscences, and other personal scattered materials. Writings include essays, stories, articles, and manuscript material for the books Calder: Mobilist, Ringmaster, Innovator (1980) and Designing the Earth: the Human Impulse to Shape Nature (1995). The bulk of Bourdon papers consist of his compiled research files on art, artists, sculpture, architecture and design, earth art, and for his book Designing the Earth. Individual research files may include printed materials, correspondence, writings, interview transcripts, notes, photographs, and press releases. Printed material covers many of the same subjects as those found in the research files as well Bourdon's published writings.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 4 series. The found order has been maintained and is assumed to be that of David Bourdon.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1949-1997 (0.6 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Writings, 1941-1997 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
  • Series 3: Research files, 1945-1998 (25.8 linear feet; Boxes 2-28)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1962-1997 (linear feet; Boxes 28-39)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
David Bourdon (1934-1998) was an art critic, editor, and author who worked primarily in New York City.
David Bourdon was born in 1934 in California but moved to New York City to attend Columbia University and continued to live there for most of his life. He wrote for numerous art publications and was known for his sharp insight and wit. From 1964 to 1966 and 1974 to 1977 he served as art critic for the Village Voice, was assistant editor of Life magazine from 1966 to 1971, associate editor of the Smithsonian Magazine from 1972 to 1974, and art critic for Vogue magazine from 1978 to 1983 when he became senior features editor. Bourdon was also a senior editor for GEO magazine in the early 1980s and New York correspondent for du magazine for about three years in the 1970s. He was a frequent contributor to Art in America, and, in the summer of 1977 produced a show-by-show review of the entire New York art season. Bourdon also served as president of the U.S. section of the International Association of Art Critics.
Bourdon was friends with many artists, including Andy Warhol, whom he met in the 1950s while Warhol was working as a commercial artist. Bourdon wrote a book on Warhol (1989) and was involved in the some of Warhol's Factory projects, including the 1963 series of Elvis Presley silk screens. Bourdon wrote about the Manhattan art world of the early 1960s and was one of the early writers on the Minimalist moement. He also wrote about the Earth Art movement in the 1960s-1970s and was friends with Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer. He wrote Designing the Earth: the Human Impulse to Shape Nature which was published in 1995. He also wrote books on Christo (1972) and Alexander Calder (1980).
David Bourdon died in 1998 at the age of 63.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was re-boxed by Joy Weiner. The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid created by Valerie Vanden Bossche in 2014 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.
Author
Valerie Vanden Bossche
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The David Bourdon papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Les Levine, executor of the David Bourdon estate.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
The David Bourdon papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. They may be used for research, study and scholarship. 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.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Preferred Citation
David Bourdon papers, 1941-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Additional David Bourdon papers are located at the Museum of Modern Art Archives in New York.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Design Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Architecture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transcripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Earthworks (Art) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, Ray, 1927- 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/