Archives of American Art

Oral history interview with Thomas Tibbs

Collection ID:
Tibbs, Thomas S., 1917-2002
Karlstrom, Paul J.
1996 March 19-May 9
Physical Description:
2 Sound cassettes
Sound recording (120 min.)
49 Pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Thomas Tibbs conducted 1996 March 19-May 9, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, at the artist's home, in Fallbrook, California.
Scope and Contents
Tibbs discusses his family background and early interest in the arts that led him to the University of Rochester (N.Y.), where he had his first museum experience and studied music and literature before doing post-graduate work as curator of prints and of education; the museum field in the late 1940s and the professionals he knew, among them his mentor Phillip Adams of the Cincinnati Art Museum and Grace McCann Morley; the changing ideas of contemporary art, regionalism, and New York's emergence as the center in the 1950s; his experiences with the New York school artists in the 1950s and his observations of their interests and individuality, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibition at the Crafts Museum in 1958, an event which he credits the Tiffiany fashion "rage" of the 1960s. Tibbs recalls artists Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Betty Parsons, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Peggy Guggenheim, David Campbell, Earl Parten, Wharten Escherick, Margret Craver Withers, and Arlene Fisch.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Thomas Tibbs (1917-2002) was a museum director and educator from San Diego, California. Tibbs was founding director (1956-1960) of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (1968), now Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, where he promoted an interest in crafts, their collection and exhibition as art. He was director of the new museum in Huntington, W.V., where he initated a crafts competition as a means to "fill the museum." His long-time interest in modern and contemporary art led him to hire I.M. Pei to design the new museum wing in Des Moines when he was director. Tibbs is professor emeritus of San Diego State University where he taught contemporary art.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for the transcription of this interview provided by Pasadena Art Alliance.

Digital Content

More Information
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 5 min.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Handicraft Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum directors -- California -- San Diego -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- California -- San Diego -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decorative arts Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Crafts Council. Museum of Contemporary Crafts Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001