A Finding Aid to the Harry Sternberg Papers,
1927-2000
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.sterharr
Creators:
Sternberg, Harry, 1904-2001
Dates:
1927-2000
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of New York City and California painter, printmaker, and teacher Harry Sternberg date from 1927 to 2000 and measure 3.4 linear feet. The collection documents Sternberg's career as an artist and art instructor through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, artists, collectors, curators, art organizations, universities, and galleries, writings by Sternberg and others, exhibition catalogs and announcements, news clippings, and other printed material. Also found are photographs of Sternberg and his artwork, two sketchbooks and three loose drawings by Sternberg, audio visual recordings, and one scrapbook.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of New York City and California painter, printmaker, and teacher Harry Sternberg date from 1927 to 2000 and measure 3.4 linear feet. The collection documents Sternberg's career as an artist and art instructor through scattered biographical material, correspondence with friends, artists, collectors, curators, art organizations, universities, and galleries, writings by Sternberg and others, exhibition catalogs and announcements, news clippings, and other printed material. Also found are photographs of Sternberg and his artwork, two sketchbooks and three loose drawings by Sternberg, audio visual recordings, and one scrapbook.
Biographical material includes an interview of Sternberg conducted by art curator Malcolm Warner, two ledgers documenting business activities, scattered financial and legal documents, and files regarding a few of his projects, including the film "Many Worlds of Art". Sternberg's personal and professional correspondence is with friends, artists, including Harry Wickey, Rockwell Kent, Philip Evergood, and Peter Blume, collectors and curators such as Hudson Walker and Carl Zigrosser, and art organizations, universities, and galleries.
The small number of writings by Sternberg in this collection includes drafts of articles and lectures, a manuscript for a book on etching, and notes. Writings by others consists of draft writings about Sternberg, draft exhibition catalogs, and writings by the artists Arthur Secunda and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Over one-third of this collection is printed material, including exhibition catalogs and announcements, news clippings, books written by Sternberg, school publications, and material regarding art events.
Also found are photographs of Sternberg in his studio, with students, with his wife Mary, and at the Idyllwild School. Other photographs include group photographs of Art Students League faculty as well as photographs of exhibitions, murals, and artwork. The collection also contains original artwork including two sketchbooks and three loose drawings by Sternberg and one scrapbook of news clippings and exhibition materials. Audio and video materials include several interviews of Sternberg and a video copy of his film "Many Worlds of Art".

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 8 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1927-2000 (Box 1, OV 5; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1928-2000 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1940s-2000 (Box 1, 4; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1933-2000 (Box 1-3; 1.2 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Photographs, circa 1930s-1998 (Box 3, 4; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Artwork, circa 1928-1980s (Box 3, OV 5; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Audio Visual Material, circa 1980s-2000 (Box 3; 0.5 linear feet)
  • Series 8: Scrapbook, 1929-1958 (Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Harry Sternberg (1904-2001) was a New York painter, muralist, printmaker, etcher, teacher, and political activist who relocated to California in 1957.
Harry Sternberg was born in 1904 in the Lower East Side of New York City and grew up in Brooklyn. As a child he attended his school art club where he met and became lifelong friends with artists Peter Blume and Philip Reisman. He took free Saturday art classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for two years and attended the Art Students League part time from 1922 to 1927 where he studied with George Bridgman. In 1926 he shared a studio with Philip Reisman where they received private instruction in etching from Harry Wickey. Sternberg began exhibiting his etchings and intermittently had drawings published in New Masses, a prominent American Marxist publication. In the late 1920s he became friends with Hudson Walker who also became a major collector of his work. In 1933 Sternberg was hired as instructor of etching, lithography, and composition at the Art Students League and continued teaching there for the next 33 years. Also around this time he became politically active in artist rights organizations, serving on the planning committee to create the American Artists' Congress and later serving as an active member of the Artists Equity Association. In 1935 he became the technical advisor of the Graphic Art Division of the Federal Art Project. From 1937 to 1939 he completed three federal mural commissions. His first mural Carrying the Mail was created for the Sellersville, Pennsylvania post office in 1937. His most famous mural Chicago: Epoch of a Great City was painted for the Lakeview post office in Chicago. It depicts the history of the city and its workers, particularly life for the workers in Chicago's stockyards and steel mills.
During the 1940s Sternberg remained very active in arts organizations, as one of the founders of the National Serigraph Society and a member of the Committee on Art and Education in Society. In 1942 he published the first of five books on printing. Sternberg had his first retrospective in 1953 at ACA Galleries, and in 1957 he taught summer painting courses at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts in California. He continued teaching in the summers there from 1960 to 1967 and 1981 to 1989. Suffering from lung disease, Sternberg moved with his wife, Mary, to Escondido, California in 1966 in hopes that the climate would improve his health. In 1972 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. During the 1970s and 1980s Sternberg traveled extensively throughout the US and Mexico where he found new inspiration for his artwork. He continued teaching, exhibiting, and creating new work until his death in 2001.

Administration
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. Portions of the papers were microfilmed on reels D339, 138, and 146; later donations were not microfilmed. The microfilm reels are no longer in circulation as they do not represent the entire collection. All accretions were integrated and fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Erin Corley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Provenance
The Harry Sternberg papers were donated by Sternberg in several installments from 1967 to 2001.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Harry Sternberg papers, 1927-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Harry Sternberg 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
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the May Konheim papers concerning Harry Sternberg, 1934-1981, and an oral history interview of Harry Sternberg, conducted March 19, 1999, October 8, 1999, and January 7, 2000, by Sally Yard for the Archives of American Art

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Printmakers -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Printmakers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Notes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists' studios -- Photographs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drafts (documents) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Warner, Malcolm, 1953- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Walker, Hudson D. (Hudson Dean), 1907-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Zigrosser, Carl, 1891- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wickey, Harry Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Secunda, Arthur Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siqueiros, David Alfaro Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Idyllwild School and Museum for the Arts -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blume, Peter, 1906-1992 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973 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/