A Finding Aid to the Abram Lerner Papers, circa 1930-2006, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.lernabra
Creators:
Lerner, Abram
Dates:
circa 1930-2006
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
2.3 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of art historian, curator and painter, Abram Lerner measure 2.3 linear feet and date from circa 1930 to 2006. The collection is comprised primarily of documents related to Lerner's tenure at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including the years leading up to the museum's opening in 1974. Also included are professional files and correspondence following Abram Lerner's departure from the museum in 1984, as well as exhibition files, photographic materials and watercolor and sketchbooks reflecting his career as an artist.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of art historian, curator and painter, Abram Lerner measure 2.3 linear feet and date from circa 1930 to 2006. The collection is comprised primarily of documents related to Lerner's tenure at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including the years leading up to the museum's opening in 1974. Also included are professional files and correspondence following Abram Lerner's departure from the museum in 1984, as well as exhibition files, photographic materials and watercolor and sketchbooks reflecting his career as an artist.
Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and includes correspondents James T. Demetrion and Joseph and Olga Hirshhorn, as well as artists Philip Evergood, Walter Rosenblum and Raphael Soyer. Also included are notebooks with outgoing hand-written drafts from after his tenure with the museum, from 1991 to 2003. Writings include primarily lectures and tours related to the Hirshhorn collection and modern sculpture and painting, in addition to some early student and creative work, an interview with Lerner, and writings by others including an artist statement for Lerner written by Milton W. Brown. Some lectures are represented by audio recordings on sound cassette.
The professional files series includes an 1958 exhibition file related to Lerner's painting career, files related to the Hirshhorn bequest exhibition and a Henry Moore exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum, records regarding an unpublished manuscript tentatively titled 50 Sculptors, as well as advisory roles and other professional materials including a planner from 1983. Printed material includes materials reserved for a scrapbook, especially regarding the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, various memorabilia and published audio recordings including an Acoustiguide and a Channel 13 program regarding David Smith. Photographic material includes photographs of Abram Lerner, Joseph Hirshhorn and the Hirshhorn Museum building, staff, artwork, and events during his tenure. Also included are numerous photographs of Raphael Soyer portrait paintings. Artwork includes two watercolor and sketchbooks from circa 1940 and 1954.

Arrangement
Arrangement
This collection is arranged as six series:
  • Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1935-2004 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Writings, circa 1930-1984 (0.6 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Professional Files, circa 1958-2006 (0.5 linear feet; Box 2)
  • Series 4: Printed Material , circa 1933-1999 (0.2 linear feet; Box 2)
  • Series 5: Photographic Material, circa 1950-1999 (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 2, 3)
  • Series 6: Artwork, circa 1940-1959 (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 2, 3)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Abram Lerner (1913-2007) was an art historian, curator, and painter in Washington, DC. Born to Russian immigrants in New York City, Lerner received a bachelor's degree in art history from New York University in 1934. Lerner worked as an apprentice muralist in the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and after pursued a career as an exhibiting artist through the 1950s. In 1955 while working as a director at an art gallery he met Joseph Hirshhorn, who he came to work for on his art collection. Eventually this relationship led to Lerner becoming the founding director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Park, Smithsonian Institution, in 1974. After ten years as director Lerner retired to his seasonal home in Southampton, NY in 1984. He lived there with his wife Pauline, who he was married to from 1943, until she passed away in 2003. Lerner passed away from heart failure in his home in Canaan, CT in 2007.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Ryan Evans in 2020.
Author
Ryan Evans
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 2018 by Aline Libassi, Abram Lerner's daughter.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of audio visual recordings with no duplicate copy requires advance notice.
Preferred Citation
Abram Lerner Papers, circa 1930-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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.

Related Materials
Also found at the Archives of American art is an oral history interview with Abram Lerner, 1975 Dec. 9-1976 Jan. 27, conducted by Paul Cummings. The Smithsonian Institution Archives maintains the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Papers, circa 1926-1982, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection Archive is maintained by the curatorial department of the museum.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Museum curators -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum directors -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Radio programs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lectures Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hirshhorn, Joseph H. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 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/