The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art
is announced the award of a three-year grant of $213,315 from the Leon Levy Foundation for the archival processing of the André Emmerich Gallery business records and Emmerich’s personal papers. Donated by renowned art dealer Emmerich before his death in September 2007, the collection provides extensive documentation of the almost 50-year operation of one of New York City’s most influential galleries of contemporary art—a focal point for Color Field painting and a leading venue for color abstraction and monumental sculpture. At approximately 300 linear feet with materials dating from 1954 to 1999, it is the second-largest acquisition in the Archives’ history. The Leon Levy Foundation grant will ensure that the Emmerich collection will be preserved, cataloged and made available to curators, scholars, students and the public in perpetuity.
“The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art is deeply grateful for this generous support from the Leon Levy Foundation. The Emmerich papers are one of our most crucial collections documenting the art and artists of the latter half of the 20th century. The preservation and enhanced access provided by this funding will significantly increase our understanding and appreciation of André Emmerich and the many artists he championed and nurtured,” said John W. Smith, the Archives’ director.
Proper and thorough archival processing of this collection will enable the Archives to provide researchers with firsthand access to this unique material. Online subject and name finding aids will enhance search options. Based on the already high demand for access to the Emmerich archive, the Archives anticipates tremendous excitement among researchers worldwide and an increase in important scholarship on the history of the visual arts in America.
Shelby White, Levy’s wife and founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said, “André Emmerich was a leader both in the development of the New York City contemporary art scene and as a dealer in ancient art. Leon Levy’s interest in history has led our Foundation to focus on helping leading cultural institutions organize and catalog their important archival material in order to enhance availability for scholars and the general public. In that context, the Leon Levy Foundation is pleased to support the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art in making this important collection more available to the public.”
The collection consists chiefly of artist files; publicity files; inventory records; photos of works of art and the artists Emmerich represented, their studios and exhibition installations at the gallery and elsewhere; video- and audiotapes; and personal correspondence with artists, galleries, museums, universities, customs and many others. Among the artists represented in the collection are Pierre Alechinsky, Arman, William Bailey, Anthony Caro, Chuck Close, Chyrssa, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis, Adolph Gottlieb, Nancy Graves, Al Held, David Hockney, Hans Hofmann, Jasper Johns, Frederick Kiesler, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Ben Nicholson, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Beverly Pepper, Larry Poons, Katherine Porter, Miriam Schapiro, George Segal and Esteban Vicente. The records also contain substantial documentation of Emmerich’s scholarly interest in pre-Columbian art, including several important exhibitions his gallery organized of pre-Columbian art and classical antiquities.