A Finding Aid to the Walter Rosenblum photographs, ca. 1945-1976

Collection ID:
Rosenblum, Walter, 1919-2006
ca. 1945-1976
No linguistic content; Not applicable
Physical Description:
38.7 Linear feet
(7,396 negatives, with black-and-white study prints)
The Walter Rosenblum Collection is comprised of 7,396 silver gelatin negatives taken by noted photographer Walter Rosenblum (1919-2006) for New York art galleries, collectors and artists between 1945 and 1976. The collection reflects the art of his time and is particularly strong in American and European avant-garde, surreal and abstract works.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
It was while pursuing his career as a photographer and teacher that Walter Rosenblum supplemented his income by doing freelance work for major artists and galleries, and collectors in the New York City area between 1945 and 1970. In 1976, Rosenblum gave these photographic negatives documenting art works to the Smithsonian.
The collection measures 38.7 linear feet. It is comprised of 7,396 silver gelatin 4x5 negatives. Duplicate 8 x 10 archival study prints were made from the negatives for preservation purposes.
The photographs document American and European art, primarily from the late 19th and 20th centuries. Galleries, dealers and collectors represented include: ACA Galleries, Armand G. Erpf, Contemporaries, Davis Gallery, E. V. Thaw & Co., Grace Borgenicht Gallery, Inc., Graham Gallery, Dorsky Galleries, New Gallery, Norbert Schimmel, Nordness Gallery, Osborne Gallery, Peter Deitsch Gallery, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Robert Elkon Gallery, Roko Gallery, Rose Fried Gallery, Schaeffer Gallery, and Samuel Josefowitz.
Among the American artists whose works are represented are: Samuel M. Adler, Milton Avery, Ernest Barlach, Leonard Baskin, Dorothy Block, Zevi Blum, Elaine and William De Kooning, Burgoyne Diller, Camilo Egas, Philip Evergood, Lyonel Feininger, Arshile Gorky, Harry Gottlieb, William Gropper, Chaim Gross, Marsden Hartley, Milton Hebald, Carl Holty, Doris Klein, David Levine, Alfred Maurer, C. Robert Perrin, Jackson Pollock, Herman Rose, Mark Rothko, Alfred Russell, JoAnne Schneider, Sarai Sherman, Aaron Shikler, Burton Silverman, Joseph Solmon, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Peter Takal, and Charles Albert White. There is one box of photographic portraits of artists.
The Collection also documents many European artists whose works were being shown in New York. Among them: Balthus, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Eugene Delacroix, Jean Dubuffet, Albert Giacometti, George Groz, Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Fernand Leger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Jules Pascin, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissaro, Odilon Redon, Yves Tanguy, Jacques Villon and Edouard Vuillard.

The collection has been arrranged into three series:
Series 1: Photographs of artist's works (25.75 linear feet.) (53 binders)
Series 2: Photographic portraits (.9 linear feet) (2 binders)
Series 3: Gallery installation views (.4 linear feet) (1 binder)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Walter A. Rosenblum (1919-2006) was a documentary and art photographer whose works are represented in more than forty collections worldwide, including the Center for Creative Photography, International Center for Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.
His involvement with photography began in his teenage years, when he joined the newly founded Photo League in New York City, where he met Lewis Hine and studied with Sid Grossman, Eliot Elisofon and Paul Strand. He remained active in the Photo League as chair of the exhibition committee, as editor of its journal Photo Notes, and served as president of the League from 1941 to 1948.
In the 1940s, as a professional photographer, he worked on staff for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and during World War II, served as a highly decorated combat photographer. After the war, he was appointed by the Unitarian Service Committee to cover the extensive relief work in Europe, and later, the Mexican migrant workers in Texas.
Upon return to the United States, he also began a forty year career in teaching at Brooklyn College (1947 through 1986), where he was instrumental in developing a Master of Fine Arts program in photography, one of the first to be offered in this country. He also taught at Yale Summer School of Music and Art in New Haven, Connecticut (between 1952 and 1978) and was an adjunct instructor at the Cooper Union school in New York City (from 1956-1965).
Rosenblum was a member of the board of directors of the Photographers' Forum and a founding member of the Society for Photographical Education. In 1998, Walter and his wife Naomi were awarded the Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement at the International Center for Photography. "In Search of Pitt Street," an award-winning film about Rosenblum's life and work was produced by Daedalus Productions, Inc. in 2000.

Christine Hennessey
Funding for the re-housing, preservation, and digitization of the collection was provided by Smithsonian Research Resource funds, the Smithsonian Womens' Committee and the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was originally created by Walter Rosenblum. In June 1976, he gave the collection to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Later that year, with the permission of the photographer, the collection was transferred to the Photograph Archives of the National Collection of Fine Arts (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum).
Alternate Forms Available
Black and white duplicate prints of each negative have been made and are available on-site for study purposes.
Processing Information
When received in four Paige boxes, the negatives appeared to be randomly grouped by client or gallery name within each binder. No inventory of the collection was provided and no single alphabetic or chronological order could be ascertained. The same artist or gallery could be found in multiple boxes. Information found on the negative sleeves was transcribed and an initial contents listing by box was compiled. It appears that many of the negative envelopes were reused and the contents found within did not always match the names as recorded on the outside.
As part of the collection's processing, negatives were rearranged into a single alphabetic grouping by artist or name of gallery. With funding from the Smithsonian Research Resources Program, diacetate negatives in advanced stages of deterioration were treated (when possible) or duplicated. Black-and-white study prints were made for reference use. All negatives and prints have been re-sleeved and rehoused.
Work is underway to further identify Rosenblum's clients and to identify the individual art works depicted in the photographs. Preliminary records and digitized images are online via the Smithsonian Institution Research Information Systems database (SIRIS.si.edu).

Brown, Milton. Walter Rosenblum. Cambridge, MA: The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1975.
Lemoigne, Josie. "Walter Rosenblum," Le Messager, March-April 1970.
Liebling, Jerome. "Introducing Walter Rosenblum," American Photography, May 1951, 173-181.
Rosenblum, Walter. Walter Rosenblum. Dresden: Verlag der Kunst, 1990.
Rosenblum, Walter. Walter Rosenblum Retrospective. Flushing, NY: Queens Museum, 1976.
Strand, Paul. Forty Photgraphs, Walter Rosenblum. Brooklyn, NY: The Brooklyn Museum, 1949.
White, Minor. "Walter Rosenblum. Photographer in the Classic Tradition." Image, Dec. 1955, 70.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Walter Rosenblum Collection, Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Conditions Governing Access
Researcher may use study prints on file in the Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Advance appointments are required. Original negatives are stored off-site in cold storage and are not accessible to the public.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright to photographs from the Walter Rosenblum Collection is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Requests for permission to reproduce photographs from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Photograph Archives. Certain works of art, as well as photographs of those works of art, may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy or publicity rights, or other interests not owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is the applicant's responsibility to ascertain whether any such rights exist, and to obtain any other permission necessary to reproduce and publish the image.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Artists -- United States -- Portraits -- Photographs Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture, American Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, European -- Photographs Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, American Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, American -- Photographs Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Research and Scholars Center
PO Box 37012, MRC970
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012