A Finding Aid to the Claire Zeisler Papers, 1941-1992, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.zeisclai
Creators:
Zeisler, Claire, 1903-1991
Dates:
1941-1992
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.5 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of fiber artist Claire Zeisler measure 3.5 linear feet and date from 1941 to 1992. Zeisler's career is documented through project files, printed materials, and scrapbooks. The bulk of the collection consists of twenty-two scrapbooks containing resumes and chronologies; an honorary degree; business correspondence with libraries, museums, and other institutions concerning exhibitions of Zeisler's work and the loan of her personal art collection; exhibition lists and condition reports; loan records; printed materials for exhibitons; and scattered sketches and hanging instructions. Project files contain documents relating to titled weavings and general works, and may include fabric samples, hanging instructions, plans, and material costs. Also found are three exhibition catalogs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of fiber artist Claire Zeisler measure 3.5 linear feet and date from 1941 to 1992. Zeisler's career is documented through project files, printed materials, and scrapbooks. The bulk of the collection consists of twenty-two scrapbooks containing resumes and chronologies; an honorary degree; business correspondence with libraries, museums, and other institutions concerning exhibitions of Zeisler's work and the loan of her personal art collection; exhibition lists and condition reports; loan records; printed materials for exhibitons; and scattered sketches and hanging instructions. Project files contain documents relating to titled weavings and general works, and may include fabric samples, hanging instructions, plans, and material costs. Also found are three exhibition catalogs.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as three series
  • Series 1: Project Files, circa 1941-1991 (0.8 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Printed Material, 1977-1987 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1941-1992 (2.5 linear feet; Boxes 2-5)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Claire Zeisler (1903-1991) was a fiber artist and art collector active in Chicago, Illinois.
Zeisler was born Claire Block in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1903. She studied at Columbia College Chicago but left to marry Harold Florsheim in 1921. The couple divorced in 1943 and she married Ernest Zeisler in 1946.
For much of her early life, Claire concentrated her interest in art on collecting. Throughout the 1930s, she acquired paintings by European modern artists such as Paul Klee, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso. Later, she collected paintings by American artists such as Franz Kline and Robert Rauschenberg. She expanded her collection to include textile works and baskets by Native Americans, and African sculpture among others.
After her divorce, she returned to the study of art at the Chicago Institute of Design and the Illinois Institute of Technology. She studied under Bea Swartchild who inspired a love for weaving. Zeisler's first works used traditional loom techniques but later she focused on knotting and braiding. She innovated free-falling fiber sculpture and her works helped push fiber art from craft to a fine art.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Josefson in 2018.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 3109) inluding scrapbooks lent by Ziesler in 1983. Some, but not all, of this material was included in later donations. This material remains with the lender and is not described in the collection container inventory.
Existence and Location of Copies
Material lent for microfilming are available on 35mm microfilm reel 3109 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Author
Jayna M. Josefson
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Scrapbooks on reel 3019 were lent to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in August 1983 by Claire Zeisler. In 1992 her son and executor, Thomas Florsheim, donated additional scrapbooks, and project and weaving files. He interfiled new material in the previously microfilmed scrapbooks, 1941-1983, expanding them from eight notebooks to thirteen.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Claire Zeisler papers, 1941-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview of Claire Zeisler conducted by Dennis Barrie in June 1981.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Collectors and collecting Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Textile crafts -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fiberwork Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weavers -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists -- Illinois -- Chicago Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fiber artists -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Textile designers -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Collectors -- Illinois -- Chicago Occupation 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/