Oral history interview with Ralph Coburn

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.coburn95
Creators:
Coburn, Ralph, 1923-
Brown, Robert F.
Dates:
1995 May 25-June 23
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
48 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Ralph Coburn conducted 1995 May 25 and 1995 June 23, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Coburn's home, Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Scope and Contents
Coburn talks about his parents and his childhood in Miami Beach, Florida; his early schooling; and entering Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1941, in its 5-year architecture program. He recalls Walter Netsch, a classmate at MIT, who later became a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who introduced Coburn to modern design and to avant-garde music. He also recalls the painter and head of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts School, Karl Zerbe, his teacher in the course of his work for advanced MIT architecture students. He talks about his return to Florida as a draftsman for an aircraft equipment company in Miami, outfitting planes for the African campaign, and his foreman, a son of Al Capone; then returning to Massachusetts to work with an electrical company making secret military components.
Scope and Contents
Coburn discusses returning to and dropping out of MIT; working at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston through Hyman Swetzoff; following Swetzoff to the Boris Mirski Gallery; studying at Mirski's art school with Esther Geller and John Wilson and friends made at the school, including Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Polonsky, and Reed Kaye. He recalls Carl Nelson, one of his teachers. He talks about the change in atmosphere at the Institute with the replacement of Thomas Metcalf by James Plaut and Nathaniel Saltonstall who changed the Institute's name to Institute of Contemporary Art and the protest surrounding the name change.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Ralph Coburn (1923- ) is an architect, painter, and designer currently living in Gloucester, Massahusetts.

Administration
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is 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 administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 36 min.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Architecture -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Designers -- Massachusetts -- Gloucester -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Massachusetts -- Gloucester -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Architects -- Massachusetts Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kelly, Ellsworth, 1923- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nelson, Carl Gustaf, 1898-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Netsch, Walter Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Plaut, James S. (James Sachs), 1912-1996 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Polonsky, Arthur Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saltonstall, Nathaniel, 1903-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Swetzoff, Hyman Wulf, 1920-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wilson, John, 1922-2015 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zerbe, Karl, 1903-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Boris Mirski Gallery (Boston, Mass.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- Students Corporate 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/