A Finding Aid to the Jimmy Ernst Papers, 1802-2010, bulk 1930-2005, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.ernsjimm
Creators:
Ernst, Jimmy, 1920-1984
Dates:
1802-2010
bulk 1930-2005
Languages:
Multiple languages
Physical Description:
16.3 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of painter Jimmy Ernst measure 16.3 linear feet and date from 1802 to 2010, with the bulk of the records dating from the 1930s to 2005. The collection documents Ernst's work as a professional artist, educator and lecturer, and his involvement with the abstract expressionist art movement in the United States through biographical material, correspondence, writings, some personal business papers, teaching materials and lecture notes, printed material, photographs as well as sound and video recordings. Also found is a series of research material, drafts, notes, publicity, correspondence, and interviews pertaining to the writing of Ernst's memoir, A Not So Still-Life (1984).

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter Jimmy Ernst measure 16.3 linear feet and date from 1802 to 2010, with the bulk of the records dating from the 1930s to 2005. The collection documents Ernst's work as a professional artist, educator and lecturer, and his involvement with the abstract expressionist art movement in the United States through biographical material, correspondence, writings, some personal business papers, teaching materials and lecture notes, printed material, photographs as well as sound and video recordings. Also found is a series of research material, drafts, notes, publicity, correspondence, and interviews pertaining to the writing of Ernst's memoir, A Not So Still-Life (1984).
Biographical material is comprised of resumes and other summaries of Ernst's career; documents such as passports, will and estate records, contact lists, and school papers from his childhood in Germany; records of the awards Ernst received; and sound and video recordings, including interviews.
Correspondence includes Ernst's letters to and from family, friends, colleagues, and organizations. Topics concern artwork, some political and philosophical issues, services, and personal matters. Also included are a few files of Dallas Ernst's correspondence.
Writings include essays and short writings by Ernst concerning politics, art, poetry, and his own life experiences. Also found are drafts of writings that would later go on to be published, such as his "Freedom of Expression in the Arts" (1964) and "A Letter to the Artists of the Soviet Union" (1961). Additionally, there are a few files that contain writings by Dallas Ernst as well as drafts, essays, M.A. theses, and reviews by other artists, students, and critics in regards to Ernst's art, exhibitions, and career. Papers pertaining to the writing of Ernst's memoir, A Not So Still-Life (1984) include research material, drafts, notes, photographs, publicity material, correspondence, and interviews.
Teaching and lecture material consists of correspondence, drafts of speeches, notes, and videos of talks given by Ernst. Documentation covers the periods that Ernst taught at Brooklyn College's Department of Design from 1951 to 1977, lectured at museums and universities in the United States and Europe, and gave commencement speeches to the graduates of Silvermine College of Art in 1969 and Long Island University in 1982.
Exhibition papers include one video, correspondence, ephemera, and lists of artworks shown in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe from 1951 to 1999. After Ernst's death in 1984, his wife Dallas Ernst handled the exhibiting of his art.
Personal business papers document the handling, sale, and consignments of Ernst's artwork. The material is predominantly correspondence with galleries that represented Ernst, although there are files containing receipts, tax documents, and acknowledgements for services and donated artwork. There is also one file concerning Dallas' involvement in the reproduction of sculptures done by Max Ernst.
Printed material includes clippings, newsletters, bulletins, periodicals, and books concerning Ernst's life and career; exhibitions catalogs and announcements; miscellaneous clippings and printed material, some of which were collected by Ernst and annotated; and some reproductions of Ernst's artwork.
Photographs and slides document Ernst's personal and professional life. They include images of the Ernst family both in the United States and Europe, snapshots taken at events and during trips, images of Max and Jimmy Ernst's artwork.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 9 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1802-2005, bulk 1931-2005 (2.0 linear feet; Boxes 1-2)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1941-1998 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 2-4)
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1954-2005 (0.8 linear feet; Box 4)
  • Series 4: A Not So Still-Life (1984), circa 1920-1995 (2 linear feet; boxes 5-6)
  • Series 5: Exhibitions, circa 1954-2000 (1 linear foot; Box 7)
  • Series 6: Teaching and Lectures, 1948-1983 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)
  • Series 7: Personal Business Records, 1953-1993 (13 folders; Boxes 8-9)
  • Series 8: Printed Material, circa 1940-2010 ( 7.5 linear feet; Boxes 9-17)
  • Series 9: Photographs, circa 1890-2010 (0.5 linear feet; Box 16)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Jimmy Ernst (1920-1984) was a painter and educator in East Hampton, New York.
Ernst was born Hans-Ulrich Ernst in Cologne, Germany. After Ernst's parents divorced in 1922, Ernst spent the next 11 years living in Cologne with his mother, art historian and journalist Louise Straus-Ernst. Ernst ultimately left Germany to live with family elsewhere in Europe, including his father Max Ernst, surrealist and founder of the Dada movement in Paris. Ernst moved to New York in 1938 and held positions at Warner Brothers, the film library at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and eventually as director of Peggy Guggenheim's gallery-museum Art of This Century.
It was not until after Ernst moved to the United States that he began focusing on his own art. In 1944 Ernst had his first one-man exhibition at the Norlyst Gallery, and since has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1956), Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (1963), Tampa Museum of Art (1994), Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Petersburg, Florida (1998), and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1999); and has been featured in many group exhibitions including shows at MoMA (1951); Art Institute of Chicago (1960); and the Guggenheim Museum (1954, 1961).
In addition to his career as an artist, Ernst was also a professor in the design department at Brooklyn College from 1951 to 1977, and in 1963 Ernst and a fellow artist, Rudy Pozzatti, participated in an art lecture tour in the U.S.S.R and Germany. Ernst's accolades include the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an honorary doctorate from Long Island University, and was awarded numerous prizes and fellowships from museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum.
Jimmy Ernst married Edith Dallas Bauman (known as Dallas, 1923-2011) in 1947. Dallas served as an assistant to Jimmy by managing the transfer and handling of art work to and from exhibitions, galleries, and buyers; Dallas even presented one of Jimmy's lectures in his place in 1964 due to a health emergency. After Jimmy's death, Dallas continued the business of dealing and exhibiting his artwork. Jimmy and Dallas had two children, Eric and Amy, also artists.

Administration
Processing Information
This collection was processed and a finding aid was written by Christopher DeMairo in 2019.
Author
Christopher DeMairo
Sponsor
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated in 2012 by Amy Ernst, Jimmy Ernst's daughter.

Using the Collection
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.
Preferred Citation
Jimmy Ernst papers, 1802-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is access restricted; written permission is required. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Access, with permission, to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.

Related Materials
Also found in the Archives are the Max and Dorothea Ernst letters concerning Max Ernst's American citizenship status (photocopies) microfilmed on reel 3829

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Painters -- New York (State) -- East Hampton Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- New York (State) -- East Hampton Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ernst, Dallas Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brooklyn College Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pozzatti, Rudy, 1925- 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/