A Finding Aid to the John Opper Papers, 1908-2013, bulk 1930-1994, in the Archives of American Art
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.oppejohn
Creators:
Opper, John
Dates:
1908-2013
bulk 1930-1994
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
1.6 Linear feet
0.057 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of New York-based abstract painter and teacher John Opper measure 1.6 linear feet and 0.057 GB and are dated 1908-2013, bulk 1930-1994. The papers contain both professional and personal correspondence. Biographical materials include passports, sketches, certificates, and curriculum vitae, as well as some genealogical documents in digital format. Personal business records relate to the artist's Bowery Street and Amagansett studios, art sales through the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, and a few art inventories. A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings. Additional clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and galley sheets of a children's book illustrated by Opper are included among the printed material. Photographs are of Opper, his family, friends, and paintings. Digital photographs depict the artist and relatives.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York-based abstract painter and teacher John Opper measure 1.6 linear feet and 0.057 GB and are dated 1908-2013, bulk 1930-1994. The papers contain both professional and personal correspondence. Biographical materials include passports, sketches, certificates, and curriculum vitae, as well as genealogical documents in digital format. Personal business records relate to the artist's Bowery Street and Amagansett studios, art sales through the Grace Borgenicht Gallery, and a few art inventories. A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings. Additional clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and galley sheets of a children's book illustrated by Opper are included among the printed material. Photographs are of Opper, his family, friends, and paintings. Digital photographs depict the artist and relatives.
Biographical material contains a faculty identification card, family tree, passports, curriculum vitae, sketches, certificates, notes, and other material. Some Opper family genealogical documents are in digital format.
Correspondence includes letters from immediate family, galleries, universities, foundations, and friends and colleagues, such as Lee Hall and George McNeil.
Personal business records consist of financial and legal material as well as art inventories. Opper's Bowery and Amagansett studio files contain maintenance fees as well as records related to a legal settlement. Also included are sales records from Grace Borgenicht Gallery, a painting inventory and a list of slides.
Printed materials include a disbound scrapbook, newspaper and magazine clippings, exhibition catalogs, announcements, and the galley sheets for a children's book illustrated by Opper.
Photographs depict John Opper, Opper with friends and family, and Opper's artwork. Most of the photographic material consists of prints but there are a few slides, transparencies, and digital formats.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 5 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1908-2012 (Box 1; 6 folders, ER01)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1946-1995 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1969-1994 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Materials, 1930-2011 (Box 1-2; 0.9 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Photographs, 1926-circa 2013 (Box 3; 0.2 linear feet, ER02)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Chicago born abstract painter and teacher John Opper (1908-1994) moved to New York in the 1930s where he lived and worked for most of his career.
John Opper was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1908. He studied at Cleveland School of Art, Case Western Reserve University, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Opper moved to New York City in 1933 and became a founding member of the American Abstract Artist group in 1936. He married Estelle Rita Hausman in 1934 and they had two children, Jane and Joseph. He studied with Hans Hofmann from 1935-1936 at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. Opper received a Master of Arts degree (1942) and a doctorate (1952) from Columbia University.
Opper taught at many different places such as Columbia University and Pratt Institute, but his longest tenure was at New York Univerity where he he was a member of the art department faculty from 1957 until he retired in 1974. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1969. He was represented by Grace Borgenicht Gallery. He became known for his abstract style that was influenced by both abstract expressionism and color field painting. He passed away in Amagansett, New York in 1994.

Administration
Author
Rachel Salzmann and Rihoko Ueno
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Jane and Joseph Opper.
Existence and Location of Copies
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2021 and is available on the Archives of American Art website.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The John Opper papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by the artist's children, Jane and Joseph Opper, in 2013.
Processing Information
This collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared in 2014 by Rachel Salzmann. The collection was fully processed, prepared for digitization, and the finding aid was updated by Rihoko Ueno in 2021.
Born-digital records were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Terms of 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
John Opper papers, 1908-2013, bulk 1930-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with John Opper, conducted by Irving Sandler, 1968 September 9-1969 January 3.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Abstract Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Grace Borgenicht Gallery 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/