Nathaniel Pousette-Dart Papers

About Nathaniel Pousette-Dart

Nathaniel Jermund Pousette-Dart (September 7, 1886 – October, 17 1965) was a painter, commercial art director, art writer and educator. Born and raised in Saint Paul, MN, the son of Swedish immigrant painter and silversmith Algot Pousette, Nathaniel studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City under the painter Robert Henri and then at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

From 1912-1916, Pousette-Dart was an art instructor at St. Catherine's College and the Saint Paul Institute, both in Minnesota, and in 1918 relocated to Valhalla, NY at which time he became art director at the J. Walter Thompson Co.. During this period he edited the Distinguished American Artists publication series on Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, John Singer-Sargent, Abbott H. Thayer, and J.A.M. Whistler, and edited a monagraph on Ernest Haskell.

During the 1930s, Pousette-Dart expanded his own painting practice, and published the magazines Art of Today and Art and Artists of Today, concurrently founding the Art Adventure League, a correspondence course in art instruction. He additionally experimented with early television as a medium for art instruction, and in 1956 published American Painting Today: A Cross-Section of our Contemporary Art.

Throughout his career, Pousette-Dart advocated for the importance of American art within evolving dialogues on Modernism, and for the role of the fine artist within the context of commercial art.

Archival collection overview

The Nathaniel Pousette-Dart papers measure approximately 21 linear feet, and are dated ca. 1885-1965.   The collection is unprocessed.

Biographical materials, including obituaries, CVs, biographical sketches, notebooks, address books, scrapbooks and diaries.  Family letters and correspondence are with his mother; spouse Flora; siblings Carl Pousette and Olga Pousette; children Richard, Dora and Helen. Notable personal and professional correspondents includes: Julius Bloch, Alexander Brook, Charles Burchfield, Lillian Cinberg, Arthur G. Dove, John D. Graham and Primitive Arts, Robert Henri, William I. Homer, Walter H. Knapp, Harry Lees, Paul Manship, Rueben Nakian, Dorothy Norman, William Oberhardt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Henry R. Poore, Henry Varnum Poor, Samuel Reyburn (Lord & Taylor), Donovan G. Rowse, Alfred Stieglitz, D’Alton Valentine, N.C. Wyeth and Carl Zigrosser.

The collection contains extensive materials pertaining to publishing and educational projects: Art Adventure League lesson materials; portfolio and binders of Art Adventure League lessons; Art Adventure League material source folders; brochures, business files and correspondence including with Berenice Abbott, Ruth Reeves and Edward Weston. Materials for 1956 book American Painting Today including artist questionnaires, photographs of artists and mockup. Materials for journals Art of Today and Art and Artists of Today, including business files research materials. Chapter files and graphic mock-ups for unpublished book Art: It’s Creation and Appreciation.

Subject files include: Artists for Victory, including correspondence, resolutions and proceedings of committee members; Art Directors Club, graphology, gestalt art history trees and doodle drawings.  Commercial art portfolios of J. Floyd Yewell, A. Petruccelli; Howard Hardy; Clara Klinghoffer. Commercial designs for the Trommer Beer company.

The collection contains extensive documentation of Nathanial Pousette-Dart’s own career as a fine artist, including photographs of works of art, loose drawing and sketches, exhibition checklists, correspondence and printed materials. Also included are drafts and offprints of published art criticism.

Nathaniel Pousette-Dart – The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation

Nathaniel Pousette-Dart