Richard Pousette-Dart Papers

About the collection

The papers of Richard Pousette-Dart measure 17.1 linear feet and are dated 1918-2015, bulk 1930s-1992. Biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, writings, business records, subject files, printed material, and artwork document Pousette-Dart’s personal life and career as a painter, sculptor, photographer, printmaker, teacher, and poet.

The collection was processed to the item level in 2018 by Catherine S. Gaines who also prepared the finding aid with a biographical note contributed by Charles H. Duncan, Executive Director of the Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.  The Richard Pousette-Dart papers are owned by The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation and subject to all copyright laws. Use of the Richard Pousette-Dart papers requires an appointment. Please contact for details.

Archival collection overview

Biographical materials document Richard Pousette-Dart’s personal and professional achievements and major life events. Included are awards, biographical notes, educational records from grammar school through his single semester at Bard College, fellowships and grants, awards for photography and painting, and an honorary degree from Bard College. Also found are birth and death certificates, obituaries, and texts of the eulogies prepared for his memorial service at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature and consists largely of incoming letters. Drafts and/or copies of letters by Pousette-Dart are scattered throughout; however, there is rarely evidence that they were mailed. Correspondents include relatives, friends and acquaintances, other artists, former students, admirers, scholars, artists’ organizations, private and corporate art collectors, and groups seeking art donations for fundraising purposes.

The papers include transcripts of six interviews, five with Richard Pousette-Dart and one with gallery owner Betty Parsons. Four of the Richard Pousette-Dart interviews were conducted in December 1985 by Judith Higgins as research for a catalogue essay. An undated interview by George Albert Perret was catalogue research, as well. The interview with Betty Parsons was conducted by an unidentified interviewer and broadcast by WNYC radio on a program about an art festival.

Writings are by Pousette-Dart and other authors. Among those by Pousette-Dart are artist’s statements, essays, journal transcripts selected from a small sampling of his journals, poems, and speeches. Forty-five notebooks contain a variety of notes, miscellaneous writings, sketches and drawings. Writings by others are about, or were inspired by, Pousette-Dart and his work. They include articles, catalogue essays, lectures, poems, reviews, and 2 symphony scores. Among the writings by various authors on miscellaneous topics are abstracts of papers presented at a symposium on Abstract Expressionism, a paper on creativity in several disciplines, and “Poems by Flora Louise Pousette-Dart for Dick.”

Subject files are composed of correspondence, printed material, writings, photographs, architectural plans, copyright applications and registration certificates in varying combinations. They document brasses designed by Pousette-Dart, several attempts to compile and publish a book of selected writings from his journals, two commissions, miscellaneous topics, and personal interests including anti-war organizations and activities, whales, radios and mechanical devices.

Business records relate to activities through which Pousette-Dart earned a living and advanced his career. Gallery and museum records document exhibitions, consignments, loans, sales, acquisitions by gift or purchase, publication and reproduction permissions. Personal business records include art supply catalogues and orders, private sales and consignments. Also found are receipts for services from a frame maker, bronze foundry, photographer, studio assistant, and movers. His work as photographer is documented by an undated inventory of photographs, information and notes about cameras, records of equipment purchases, and expenses for film and developing. Income from his endeavors is recorded by work orders and check stubs. A long teaching career is documented by correspondence, contracts, and printed material including school catalogues. He saved notes for student evaluations and students’ writings about what art meant to them. Pousette-Dart’s years at Sarah Lawrence College and The Art Students League of New York are especially well-documented. Of note is an album containing photographs of 42 students with their work, and 9 views of The Art Students League of New York open studio.

Printed material focuses on Pousette-Dart’s career as a painter. Included are clippings and articles, reviews, exhibition announcements, catalogues and price lists. Also found are invitations, lecture and symposium announcements, miscellaneous publications, and press releases. Many items feature reproductions of his work and include photographs of the artist. There are a small number of items concerning family members, other artists, and personal interests. In addition, some articles on miscellaneous topics are illustrated with Pousette-Dart’s photography.

Scrapbook Volume 1 consists of loose pages from an early scrapbook with drawings, a few paintings, and some monotone block prints made by Richard Pousette-Dart between 1922 and 1929. Also found are a few school-related items. Volume 2, compiled by his father, is inscribed “To Dick on his birthday June 5th 1960 with great love”. Included are 2 magazine articles about Pousette-Dart’s photography published in Photography and Modern Photography, drawings by Richard Pousette-Dart from childhood through circa 1940s, and a portrait, “Dick in 1927” by Nathaniel Pousette-Dart. Also found are many small, black and white snapshots of Pousette-Dart in various outdoor locations and of his early sculpture.

Artwork is by Richard Pousette-Dart, his sister Dora Louise (“Dovey”), and unidentified artists (mostly children). Four small pocket notebooks that he used as sketchbooks contain undated pencil and ink drawings.

The Beechwood Tree, 1935 – The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation

The Beechwood Tree, 1935

Download the finding aid