A Finding Aid to the George Sugarman Papers,
1912-2001
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.sugageor
Creators:
Sugarman, George, 1912-1999
Dates:
1912-2001
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
12.22 Linear feet
21.83 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of painter and sculptor George Sugarman measure 12.22 linear feet and 21.83 GB and date from 1912 to 2001, with the bulk of the material dating from 1959 to 1999. The collection documents Sugarman's career as a sculptor primarily through correspondence, project files, exhibition files, writings, and photographs. The collection also includes address and appointment books, business and financial records, and printed material. A partially processed addition consisting of audio (3 sound cassettes) and video recordings (1 video reel, 1/2", 11 videocassettes, 7 U-matic and 4 VHS), and one Super 8 mm motion picture film, as well as digital copies of the film and video recordings, includes lectures by Sugarman, documentaries about Sugarman and his sculptures, and radio and television appearances by Sugarman.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter and sculptor George Sugarman measure 12.22 linear feet and 21.83 GB and date from 1912 to 2001, with the bulk of the material dating from 1959 to 1999. The collection documents Sugarman's career as a sculptor primarily through correspondence, project files, exhibition files, writings, and photographs. The collection also includes address and appointment books, business and financial records, and printed material. A partially processed addition consisting of audio (3 sound cassettes) and video recordings (1 video reel, 1/2", 11 videocassettes, 7 U-matic and 4 VHS), and one Super 8 mm motion picture film, as well as digital copies of the film and video recordings, includes lectures by Sugarman, documentaries about Sugarman and his sculptures, and radio and television appearances by Sugarman.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence with family members, friends, artists, and scholars, reflecting Sugarman's diverse influences and interests. The project files and exhibition files illustrate Sugarman's prolific career as an artist and document Sugarman's numerous projects and exhibitions abroad, particularly in Japan.
The writings by Sugarman are noteworthy as they reveal the integral relationship between Sugarman's philosophical theories about art and his actual works of art. The business and financial records mainly document expenses incurred while working on various projects and exhibitions and while traveling. Maps, clippings, and brochures from Sugarman's many travels are included as well as exhibition catalogs and announcements for Sugarman and others. The collection also contains photographs of George Sugarman and his artwork, dating mostly from the 1970s.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into ten series. Series are arranged by type of material; materials within series are arranged alphabetically by name or by type of material and then chronologically. Series 10 is unprocessed.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1912-2000, n.d. (Box 1; 9 folders)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-2001, n.d. (Boxes 1-3, OV 8; 2.9 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Project Files, 1968-1997, n.d. (Boxes 3-4; 1 linear foot)
  • Series 4: : Exhibition Files, 1965-1993, n.d. (Boxes 4-5, OV 8; 0.6 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Writings, 1951-1992, n.d. (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Address and Appointment Books, 1972-1997, n.d. (Boxes 5-6; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Business and Financial Records, 1962-1998, n.d. (Box 6; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 8: Printed Material, 1954-1999, n.d. (Boxes 6-7, OV 8; 1.2 linear feet)
  • Series 9: Photographs, 1966-1981, n.d. (Box 7; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 10: Sound and Moving Image Material, 1972-1990 (Box 9, FC 10; 1.2 linear feet, ER01-ER13; 21.83 GB)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
George Sugarman was a painter and sculptor who disliked labels because he believed they oversimplified the complexity of art, and Sugarman's artwork, like the artist himself, resists classification and oversimplification. Although he was influenced by Surrealist imagery, Cubist ideas of space, Baroque sculpture, and Abstract Expressionism, Sugarman's sculptures also display a musical quality, reflecting his interest in jazz music and improvisation. Sugarman was a pioneer in the use of color in sculpture and is probably best known for his large, polychrome aluminum sculptures.
Sugarman made the decision to become an artist relatively late in life. Born in New York on May 11, 1912, he studied at City College in New York and graduated with a B.A. in 1934. After serving in the United States Navy from 1941 until 1945, he attended evening classes at Museum of Modern Art. At the age of 39, George Sugarman traveled to Paris to study painting under the GI Bill of Rights. While in Paris, he decided to study sculpture with Ossip Zadkine and began creating wood carvings and terra-cotta sculptures. Over the next few years, Sugarman traveled to Italy and Spain, studying Baroque sculpture and architecture. He was particularly attracted to the work of Bernini and to Bernini's use of space.
Sugarman returned to New York in 1955 and began working with laminated wood. In order to support himself, he accepted a job teaching carpentry at a private school. He joined the Brata Gallery in 1957 and helped found the New Sculpture Group. A few years later, Sugarman received major recognition of his work by winning second prize in sculpture at the Pittsburgh International Exhibition. Sugarman went on to win a Longview Foundation Grant, a Ford Foundation Grant for his work at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the 1960s, Sugarman began working on large painted-aluminum sculptures and completed his first outdoor sculpture at the Xerox Building in El Segundo, Calif. in 1969. Many of Sugarman's outdoor sculptures generated intense controversy, particularly his sculpture for the Edward A. Garmatz Federal Building and Courthouse in Baltimore, but he was devoted to his belief in the social as well as aesthetic importance of public art. Sugarman saw public sculpture as a "metaphor for the human condition" and as a way to transcend what he called the "indoor eye," the eye which views art in isolation from its physical and social environment.
Sugarman taught at the Graduate School of Hunter College in New York City from 1960 until 1970 and served as visiting Associate Professor at the Yale University Graduate School of Art from 1967 to 1968. Sugarman was a prolific artist, participating in numerous one-man shows, group exhibitions, and competitions all over the world, yet recognition of his talent came almost a decade later in the United States than in Europe. His works are in major collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. George Sugarman died on August 25, 1999.

Administration
Separated Material
The Archives of American Art also holds materials lent for microfilming. Reel N70-50 and N70-51 includes biographical material, an essay about George Sugarman, exhibition catalogs and announcements dating from 1954 to 1960, a certificate, writings by Sugarman, and correspondence dating 1953-1970. The originals of most of these materials were included in later donations. Reel N70-50 also contains a substantial number of photographs of Sugarman's natural wood sculptures from the late 1950s, his early works in wood, clay, and plaster dating from 1951 to 1958, his drawings and paintings from the late 1960s, installations and works in progress from 1960 to 1970, and photographs of Sugarman working in the studio in the 1960s. There are also twelve sketchbooks and loose pages dating from 1943 to 1958, which document Sugarman's travels to the South Pacific, New York City, France, Spain, and North Africa. Lent material not included in later gifts remain with the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Alternative Forms Available
Portions of the collection and material lent for microfilming are available on 35mm microfilm reels N70-50 and N70-51 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Rachel Edford with 2003 with funding provided by the Judith Rothschild Foundation. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.
Author
Rachel Edford
Provenance
In 1970, George Sugarman lent material to the Archives of American Art for microfilming. In 1980 and 1983, George Sugarman donated portions of the material previously lent, along with additional materials. Additional materials were donated by Sugarman's niece, Arden Sugarman Eilopolous, in 1999 and 2000. In 2006, the Sugarman Foundation via Arden Sugarman donated the audio and video recordings.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
The collection is open for research. Microfilmed portion must be consulted on microfilm. Use of unmicrofilmed portion requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The George Sugarman 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.
Preferred Citation
George Sugarman papers, 1912-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Material
The transcript and audiotapes of an interview with George Sugarman conducted by Paul Cummings in 1974 for the Archives of American Art's Oral History Program is available at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Honegger, Gottfried, 1917- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jaffe, Shirley, 1923- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kushner, Robert, 1949- 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/