A Finding Aid to the Theodoros Stamos papers,
circa 1922-2008
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.stamtheo
Creators:
Stamos, Theodoros, 1922-1997
Dates:
circa 1922-2008
Languages:
Multiple languages
Most of the collection is in English; some records are in Greek.
English; Greek
Physical Description:
3.1 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Theodoros Stamos measure 3.1 linear feet and date from circa 1922-2008. Stamos was a painter primarily associated with the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. Biographical materials, correspondence, writings, business and legal records, printed materials, and photographs document Stamos' career as a painter. Also included are materials relating to the Rothko estate controversy compiled by Stamos' sister, Georgianna Savas, as well as her papers concerning arrangements for Stamos' funeral and posthumous exhibition plans.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Theodoros Stamos measure 3.1 linear feet and date from circa 1922-2008. Stamos was a painter primarily associated with the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. Biographical materials, correspondence, writings, business and legal records, printed materials, and photographs document Stamos' career as a painter. Also included are materials relating to the Rothko estate controversy compiled by Stamos' sister, Georgianna Savas, as well as her papers concerning arrangements for Stamos' funeral and posthumous exhibition plans.
Biographical material includes birth and death certificates and interview transcripts. Personal correspondence is with friends and family; professional correspondence pertains to gallery transactions, including a falling out with gallery owner Louis K. Meisel. Among the printed materials are exhibition announcements and clippings of articles in English and Greek concerning his career and personal life. Photographs include views of family and friends, portraits of Stamos by Hans Namuth, Nina Leen and other photographers, as well as images of artwork by Stamos and other artists.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 9 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1922-2006 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Financial Records, 1979-circa 1990s (Box 1; 2 folders)
  • Series 3: Correspondence, circa 1940s-1997 (Boxes 1, 5; 0.5 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Business and Legal, 1974-2008 (Box 1; 2 folders)
  • Series 5: Writings, circa 1944-2002 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Artwork, circa 1940s-1980 (Box 1, OV 6-7; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Printed Materials, 1945-2007 (Box 2, OV 7; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 8: Photographs, 1943-1999 (Boxes 2-3, 5; 1.0 linear feet)
  • Series 9: Georgianna Savas Papers on Theodoros Stamos, 1985-2005 (Boxes 3-4; 0.3 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Painter Theodoros Stamos (1922-1997) worked in New York and spent considerable time in Lefkada, Greece. A first generation Abstract Expressionist, Stamos developed as a color field painter, and had a long teaching career. His later years were encumbered by his role in the Mark Rothko Estate controversy.
Born to Greek immigrant parents in New York City, Stamos attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, leaving just three months before graduation to pursue a career in art. From 1941 to 1948 he operated a frame shop where he framed hundreds of Paul Klee paintings for Nierendorf Gallery and encountered customers such as Arshile Gorky and Fernand Léger, experiences that influenced the young artist.
Stamos' first solo exhibition, presented by Betty Parsons in 1943, brought the 20 year old painter to the attention of museums and private collectors. Throughout the 1940s Stamos painted and traveled extensively. By the end of the decade he had had three solo exhibitions and participated in group shows such as the 1945 Whitney Museum Biennial and "The Ideographic Picture," an important early Abstract Expressionist exhibition curated by Barnett Newman.
Through connections made at the American Artists' School Stamos became a notable artist among the New York avant garde during the early years of Abstract Expressionism. He was the youngest of the "Irascibles," a group of American artists who broke from the School of Paris to create a new approach to abstract painting.
In 1951, Stamos built a house in East Marion, New York on Long Island where he lived and worked. Here, he began to develop his color field technique and, influenced by his Greek heritage, continued to express interest in spiritualism and ancient Greek myths and philosophy. In 1958, Stamos' work was shown in a retrospective exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and in "The New American Painting," the Museum of Modern Art's traveling exhibition that introduced European audiences to Abstract Expressionism.
Stamos began his career as an educator in 1950 at Black Mountain College. Later, he taught at Columbia University and Brandeis University, and for more than 20 years was on the faculty of the Art Students League.
Following the death of his friend Mark Rothko, Stamos was involved in a highly publicized lawsuit involving his role as an executor of the estate. The trial ended unsuccessfully for Stamos and its adverse consequences impacted the late part of his career. In 1966, the Rothko children obtained permission to disinter their father's remains from the Stamos burial plot in East Marion, New York; with the assistance of Stamos' sister, Georgianna Savas, arrangements were made to bury Rothko at a cemetery in Valhalla, New York.
Traveling between homes in New York and Lefkada, Greece, Stamos continued to paint and teach late into his life. He died in Greece in 1997.

Administration
Separated Material
The Archives of American Art also holds materials lent for microfilming (reels N70-66 and N70-67) including correspondence, poems, printed material and membership cards. Lent material was returned to the lender and is not described in the collection container inventory.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Cynthia S. Brenwall in 2009; in 2012, Catherine S. Gaines updated the finding aid to include the 2011 addition.
Existence and Location of Copies
Materials lent for microfilming are available on 35mm microfilm reels N70-66 and N70-67 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Author
Cynthia S. Brenwall
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Theodoros Stamos loaned the Archives of American Art material for microfilming in 1970. Stamos' sister, Georgianna Savas, donated papers in 2008 and 2011.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Theodoros Stamos papers, circa 1922-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Theodoros Stamos papers 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.

Related Material
Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are oral history interveiws conducted by John Jones and Bruce Hooten, February 19, 1965, and by Irving Sandler, April 23, 1968. Also found are Theodoros Stamos letters to Diran Deckmejian, 1977-1995, and Theodoros Stamos letters to James DiMartino, 1977-1988.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Transcripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Abstract expressionism Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting -- Technique Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Namuth, Hans Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Savas, Georgianna Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Meisel, Louis K. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Leen, Nina Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970 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/