A Finding Aid to the Boris Mirski Gallery Records, 1936-2000, bulk 1945-1972, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.mirsbori
Creators:
Boris Mirski Gallery (Boston, Mass.)
Dates:
circa 1936-2000
bulk 1945-1972
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
6.2 Linear feet
Repository:
The Boris Mirski Gallery records measure 6.2 linear feet and date from 1936-2000, bulk 1945-1972. They include gallery administrative files; artist files including correspondence, exhibition and loan paperwork as well as photographic documentation of artwork; gallery correspondence; financial materials including outgoing and incoming invoices and sales records; printed materials promoting the gallery and its artists; press materials; and a number of photographs of Boris Mirski at events and with others, as well as photographs of artwork. Artists particularly well represented in the collection include David Aronson, Leonard Baskin, Hyman Bloom, Esther Geller, Rico Lebrun, Michael Mazur, Arthur Polonsky, Ben Shahn, Mitchell Siporin, Barbara Swan, and Karl Zerbe.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The records of the Boris Mirski Gallery, which showed the avant-garde art of the Boston Expressionist school, as well as New York and international modern art styles and non-western art, measure 6.2 linear feet and date from 1936-2000, bulk 1945-1972. They include gallery administrative files; artist files including correspondence, exhibition and loan paperwork as well as photographic documentation of artwork; gallery correspondence; financial materials including outgoing and incoming invoices and sales records; printed materials promoting the gallery and its artists; press materials; and a number of photographs of Boris Mirski at events and with others, as well as photographs of artwork. Artists particularly well represented in the collection include David Aronson, Leonard Baskin, Hyman Bloom, Esther Geller, Rico Lebrun, Michael Mazur, Arthur Polonsky, Ben Shahn, Mitchell Siporin, Barbara Swan, and Karl Zerbe.
The administrative files cover a number of topics including documents related to various properties, mortgages, and insurance, copyrights, legal cases, administrative events, and select group exhibitions at the gallery.
The artist files document each gallery artist's exhibition history in the gallery and include correspondence with the artist as well as files documenting significant outside exhibitions, projects and the placement of artworks. While exhibiting artists showed a range of sculpture, painting, and drawing at the gallery, there was a tendency towards highly expressive figurative artwork sometimes referred to as Boston Expressionism, often associated with the first generation Jewish American experience.
The gallery correspondence, primarily with patrons and institutions, is arranged alphabetically with select regular correspondents of the gallery having their own file, in addition to a folder of holiday cards.
The financial files include both outgoing and incoming transactions as invoices and sales records, organized by patron or vendor.
The printed materials are a records of the printing activities of the gallery as well as a press archive, with select printed materials from outside the gallery reflecting the activities of the gallery and gallery artists.
The photographic materials include both images that include the gallerist as well as images that document artworks.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
  • Series 1: Administrative Files, circa 1948-1995 (0.5 Linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Artist Files, circa 1945-2000 (2.7 Linear feet; Boxes 1-4, OV 7)
  • Series 3: Gallery Correspondence, circa 1936-1976 (1 Linear feet; Boxes 4-5)
  • Series 4: Financial Files, circa 1958-1974 (1.2 Linear feet; Boxes 5-6)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1944-1981 (0.7 Linear feet; Box 6, OV 8)
  • Series 6: Photographic Material, circa 1945-1976 (0.1 Linear feet; Box 6)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Boris Mirski Gallery (est.1944; closed 1979) was a gallery in Boston, Massachusetts owned and operated by Boris Mirski (1898-1974). The gallery evolved out of various businesses owned by Mirski from the late 1910s, including his first formal gallery established alongside a framing shop on Charles Street in Beacon Hill in 1927. The gallery moved to its final incarnation on the lower level of 166 Newbury in 1972, and closed in 1979 following the gallerist's death in 1974.
Boris Chaim Mirski, born 1898, immigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen, leaving behind his troubled youth as a Lithuanian Jew in a harsh political climate that included frequent pogroms. At the advice of his mother, an activist in the resistance, Boris acquired a number of marketable skills including metalwork and framing, which allowed him to establish a lucrative business while he developed opportunities to show art that interested him. Early in his career this included a home for non-western and "primitive" art styles from around the globe, as well as the work of emerging local artists. Mirski's gallery created opportunities for artists working against the generally conservative tradition of the Boston School, and helped establish an identity for the local avant-garde. The gallery program had strong ties with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston alumni and faculty, and frequently hosted exchange shows with New York City's Downtown Gallery, whose director Edith Halpert acted as a mentor. While exhibiting artists showed a range of sculpture, painting, and drawing at the gallery, there was a tendency towards highly expressive figurative artwork sometimes referred to as Boston Expressionism, often associated with the first generation Jewish American experience. Gallery artists included David Aronson, Leonard Baskin, Hyman Bloom, Esther Geller, Rico Lebrun, Michael Mazur, Arthur Polonsky, Ben Shahn, Mitchell Siporin, Barbara Swan, and Karl Zerbe.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Ryan Evans in 2018.
Author
Ryan Evans
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Boris Mirski Gallery records were donated by Deborah Mirski Brown, Boris Mirski's daughter from 1989-1996, with additions in 2007 and 2017.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Boris Mirski Gallery records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 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.
Preferred Citation
Boris Mirski Gallery records, 1936-2000, bulk 1945-1972. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Related materials include Archives of American Art's Oral history interview with Boris Mirski, 1973 June 19.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art dealers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art galleries, Commercial -- Massachusetts -- Boston Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Expressionism (Art) -- Massachusetts -- Boston Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jewish artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Modernism (Art) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York school of art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mirski, Boris, 1898-1974 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aronson, David, 1923- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Baskin, Leonard, 1922-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bloom, Hyman, 1913- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Geller, Esther Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mazur, Michael, 1935-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Polonsky, Arthur Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siporin, Mitchell, 1910-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Swan, Barbara, 1922- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zerbe, Karl, 1903-1972 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/