A Finding Aid to the George Tooker Papers, circa 1851-2010, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.tookgeor
Creators:
Tooker, George, 1920-2011
Dates:
circa 1851-2010
Languages:
English
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
5.1 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of painter George Tooker measure 5.1 linear feet and date from circa 1851 to 2010. The papers document Tooker's personal and professional life through biographical material, correspondence, project files, gallery files, exhibition files, printed material, artwork and one sketchbook, and numerous photographs, including some taken by noted photographer George Platt Lynes.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter George Tooker measure 5.1 linear feet and date from circa 1851 to 2010. The papers document Tooker's personal and professional life through biographical material, correspondence, project files, gallery files, exhibition files, printed material, artwork and one sketchbook, and numerous photographs, including some taken by noted photographer George Platt Lynes.
Biographical material consists of membership and travel documents, writings on and by Tooker on his circle, an address book, resume, and papers regarding Tooker's education. Also included are biographical material related to Tooker's partner William Christopher who passed in 1973. A 1978 interview with Vermont Public radio on two sound reels is also featured.
Correspondence is with friends, colleagues, and organizations. Correspondents include Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Walter Bachinski, William Christopher, Otto Dix, Jared and Margaret French, Ralph Ginzburg, Xavier Gonzalez, Robert Isaacson, Edward Laning, Lincoln Kirstein, Lee Nordness, Bernard Perlin, Joan Peterson, Theodore Stamos, Bridget Tichenor, and others. Also included are family correspondence and correspondence regarding the Estate of William Christopher.
Project files document Tooker's commissions including the set and costume design for Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera The Saint of Bleecker Street and Tooker's participation in the selection of candidates for the Vestris Prize for Choreography. Files contain correspondence, business documents, printed ephemera, sketches, photographs, three volumes of vocal scores, and textile samples.
Gallery records include business correspondence and consignments with various key galleries in Tooker's career spanning the 1960s to the end of his career including D.C. Moore Gallery, Marisa Del Re Gallery, and Durlacher Bros..
Exhibition records include documents regarding the organization of several select exhibitions in Tooker's career incuding an early retrospective at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (1974) and a later traveling retrospective from 2008-2009.
Printed material consists of invitations, press releases, news clippings and exhibition catalogs documenting the careers of both George Tooker and William Christopher.
Artwork includes numerous sketchbooks, loose drawings, and sketches from Tooker's studies at the Art Students' League in the mid 1940s, in addition to an early ex-libris print created by Tooker in his youth. Also included is a sketchbook by William Christopher, as well as a study for the work The Subway, in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Photographic materials depict Tooker's family life as well as his early artistic collaborations depicted in a number of black and white photographs taken by George Platt Lynes and PaJaMa in the mid to late 1940s. A majority of the photographs depict artists and friends, among them: George Tooker and his companion William Christopher, Paul Cadmus, Jared and Margaret French, Lincoln and Fidelma Kirstein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, and Bridget Tichenor. Other photographs are of Tooker building his home, gardening, and working in his studio in Hartland, Vermont. Also included are installation views from the exhibition Painting in the United States (1949) at the Carnegie Institute in Pennsylvania. There are also a fair amount of photographs, transparencies, slides and negatives documenting artwork from both the studios of George Tooker and his late partner William Christopher.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1920-2005 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 1, 5)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1932-2010 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, Oversize 7)
  • Series 3: Project Files, circa 1935-1968 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 2-3, 6)
  • Series 4: Gallery Records, circa 1960-2009 (0.3 linear feet; Box 3)
  • Series 5: Exhibition Files, circa 1967-2009 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 1, 3)
  • Series 6: Printed Material, circa 1851-2010 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 3, 5)
  • Series 7: Artwork and Sketchbook, circa 1932-2009 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 3, 5, 8)
  • Series 8: Photographs, circa 1900-2010 (1.1 linear feet; Boxes 4-5, 8)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
George Tooker (1920-2011) was a painter based in Hartland, Vermont and New York, New York. Tooker was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 5, 1920 to George Clair Tooker and Angela Montejo Roura. He graduated from preparatory school at Phillips Academy, Andover in 1938 and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University in 1942. Tooker studied drawing and painting under Reginald Marsh, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Harry Sternberg at the Art Students' League from circa 1944 to 1945.
Tooker became acquainted with American painter Paul Cadmus while studying at the Art Students' League. Cadmus introduced Tooker to a circle of artists and writers living and working in New York and Europe in the mid to late 1940s that included George Platt Lynes, Jared and Margaret French, Monroe Wheeler, Glenway Westcott, and Lincoln and Fidelma Kirstein. He lived and worked with his partner and fellow artist William Christopher in New York City and later Hartland, VT.
In 1953, Tooker was commissioned by writer and philanthropist Lincoln Kirstein to design the sets and costumes for The Saint of Bleecker Street, an opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti. In 1966, the Wasemquia Charitable Trust sponsored the Vestris Prize for Choreography in cooperation with the Boston Ballet Company and Tooker was invited by trustee Henry H. Crapo to participate on the Committee of Judges for the Vestris Prize. In 1968, NASA commissioned Tooker to produce drawings and one painting documenting the development of spacecraft at the Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Tooker's paintings are found in numerous art museums and galleries including the Whitney Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, DC Moore Gallery, Robert Isaacson Gallery, and the Venice Biennale. In 1968, Tooker's paintings were featured in the art magazine, Avant-Garde.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Elissa L. Jerome in 2016. A 2018 addition was processed by Ryan Evans in 2019.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 678-679 and 692 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Author
Elissa L. Jerome
Immediate Source of Acquisition
George Tooker donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1973. A subsequent addition was donated in 2018 by Aaron Watkins, the executor to George Tooker's estate.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The George Tooker 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 Tooker papers, circa 1851-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Available in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with George Tooker conducted in 1966 by Grace G. Alexander for radio station WNYC, New York City.
Materials related to the George Tooker papers can be found the William Christopher papers at the Archives of American Art.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Painters -- Vermont Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Printmakers -- Vermont Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bachinski, Walter Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bishop, Isabel, 1902-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cadmus, Paul, 1904-1999 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Christopher, William R, 1924-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dix, Otto, 1891-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peterson, Joan, 1933- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gonzalez, Xavier, 1898-1993 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kirstein, Fidelma Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lynes, George Platt, 1907-1955 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Laning, Edward, 1906- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Isaacson, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ginzburg, Ralph Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stamos, Theodoros, 1922-1997 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
French, Margaret Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nordness, Lee Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
French, Jared, 1905-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wheeler, Monroe, 1899- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wescott, Glenway, 1901- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Perlin, Bernard, 1918- 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/