A Finding Aid to the Judith Wechsler Papers, 1940-2003, bulk 1971-1994, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.wechjudi
Creators:
Wechsler, Judith
Dates:
circa 1940-2003
bulk 1971-1994
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
16.8 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of filmmaker and art historian Judith Wechsler measure 16.8 linear feet and consist of film production material from several of Wechsler's documentary films released between 1989 and 1994. Most of the collection consists of sound recordings and motion picture film. Notable content includes interviews with Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Philip Pearlstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Jo Spence, Yolanda Sonnabend, Dominique de Menil, Walter Hopps, Aaron Siskind, and Harry Callahan, as well as footage of artists working in their studios. Production elements found include original sound recordings, original camera negative outtakes, work print picture and soundtrack, trims, various pre-print master material, and video copies of completed works.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of filmmaker and art historian Judith Wechsler measure 16.8 linear feet and consist of film production material from several of Wechsler's documentary films released between 1989 and 1994. Most of the collection consists of sound recordings and motion picture film. Notable content includes interviews with Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Philip Pearlstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Jo Spence, Yolanda Sonnabend, Dominique de Menil, Walter Hopps, Aaron Siskind, and Harry Callahan, as well as footage of artists working in their studios. Production elements found include original sound recordings, original camera negative outtakes, work print picture and soundtrack, trims, various pre-print master material, and video copies of completed works.
Documentaries with production material in the collection include
Jasper Johns: Take An Object
, produced with Hans Namuth,
Harry Callahan
(1994),
Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
(1991), and five episodes of
The Painter's World: Changing Constants of Art from the Renaissance to the Present
(1989), a six-part television series produced by WGBH in Boston. Episodes of the series for which records are found include "The Training of Painters," "The Arrested Moment," "Portraits," "Abstraction," and "Painting and the Public". Also found are two reels of soundtrack labeled "Two Photographers," a title for which no other documentation is found.
The Painter's World episodes "Abstraction," "The Arrested Moment," and "Portraits" address the evolution of painting style and traditions, and the "Painting and the Public" episode addresses the role of patronage and the evolution of art museums. Footage found for "The Training of Painters" consists of footage of Josef Albers teaching at Yale University shot around 1955, likely shot by John Cohen.
Jasper Johns: Take An Object
was a collaborative project between Wechsler, Hans Namuth, and Paul Falkenberg, who worked together under the corporate name of Museum at Large. Footage consists of multiple interviews with Johns, a 1971 session of Johns working in his Houston Street studio, and a 1989 session of Johns working at Universal Limited Art Editions, as well as additional material of John Cage and others speaking about Johns' work.
In
Harry Callahan
, Callahan discusses the inspiration behind his work and recollects about his time with Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Aaron Siskind. For
Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
, Siskind covers the beginning of his career, and the inspiration and methods behind his work. The "Two Photographers" content and relationship to the collection is unknown.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 5 series.
  • Series 1:
    The Painters World: Changing Constants of Art from the Renaissance to the Present
    Production Records, 1985-1989 (5.5 linear feet; Boxes 1, 3-6, 15, 20)
  • Series 2:
    Jasper Johns: Take an Object
    Production Records, 1971-1972, 1989-1990 (5.3 linear feet, Boxes 2, 7-11, 20-21)
  • Series 3:
    Aaron Siskind: Making Pictures
    Production Records, 1990-2003 (2.5 linear feet; Boxes 2, 11-12, 16-18, 21)
  • Series 4:
    Harry Callahan
    Production Records, 1992-1994 (3.3 linear feet; Boxes 2, 12-14, 18-19, 21)
  • Series 5: Unidentified Program Material, circa 1940-1994 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 2, 14, FC 147)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Judith Wechsler is an art historian, professor, and filmmaker. Wechsler studied at Brandeis University, Columbia University, and earned her Ph.D. at Univeristy of California, Los Angeles in 1972. She published
On Aesthetics in Science
in 1978 and
A Human Comedy: Physiognomy and Human Caricature in 19th Century Paris
, focusing on the work of Honoré Daumier, in 1982. She edited the memoirs of her father, literary scholar Nahum N. Glatzer, published in 1998, and has published dozens of articles, reviews, and catalog essays for American and European institutions and publications.
She has taught at Brown University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hebrew University, and Rhode Island School of Design and joined the faculty at Tufts University in 1989, where she remained until her retirement in 2011.
Wechsler first worked on films with designer Charles Eames, co-directing films on her early scholarly subjects, Daumier and Cézanne. In the mid-1980s, she wrote and directed a series of art documentaries for television with the series title
The Painter's World: Changing Constants of Art from the Renaissance to the Present
. Since that time, Wechsler has directed dozens of films, primarily on artists and photographers, and in recent years has focused on the history of ideas in early twentieth century Europe, with films on Nahum Glatzer, Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, and Svetlana Boym.
Wechsler received a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in 2007, and became professor emerita at Tufts in 2011. She lives and works in Massachusetts.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Megan McShea in 2017. Motion picture film reels in the collection were also inspected and re-housed in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. An addition was processed and added to the collection in 2019. A partial copy of a 1977 oral history with Harry Callahan held by the Center for Creative Photography, included in the 2019 addition, was discarded during processing.
Existence and Location of Copies
Digital video copies of edited films are available on Judith Wechsler's website (http://www.judithwechsler.com/films, accessed 2017).
Author
Megan McShea
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 2008, 2017, and 2019 by Judith Wechsler.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Judith Wechsler papers, 1940-2003, bulk 1971-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
The Judith Wechsler papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. They may be used for research, study, and scholarship. Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission from Judith Wechsler, Tufts University Art History Department. The
Painter's World
Copyright retained by Judith Wechsler.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copy requires advance notice.

Related Materials
Release prints of each of the titles represented in the collection are held by the Harvard Film Archive.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art historians -- Massachusetts -- Boston Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art patronage Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museums Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artists -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Filmmakers--Massachusetts--Boston Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Motion pictures (visual works) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albers, Josef Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cage, John, 1912-1992 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Callahan, Harry M. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cohen, John, 1932- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Falkenberg, Paul Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hockney, David Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hopps, Walter Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johns, Jasper, 1930- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Menil, Dominique de Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Meyerowitz, Joel, 1938- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Namuth, Hans Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pearlstein, Philip, 1924- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Siskind, Aaron Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stella, Frank Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum at Large Ltd. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Universal Limited Art Editions (Firm) Corporate 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/