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|Named Person:||Calvin Tomkins; Dodie Kazanjian; Robert Rauschenberg; Marcel Duchamp|
|Document Type:||Archival Material|
|All Authors / Contributors:||
|In:||Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)|
|Description:||32 linear ft. (110 boxes)|
The Calvin Tomkins Papers document multiple aspects of the author's life and work including his social and personal life and his long professional writing career. The records begin in 1962 after Tomkins was hired as a full-time staff writer for The New Yorker. No records of his prior work are extant, nor does this collection contain any record of Tomkins' youth or college years. And while the documentation of Tomkins' major articles is comprehensive, there are no files for any of the shorter articles or fiction and humor pieces he wrote for The New Yorker until 1980 when the records present begin to document his entire output, including the unattributed captions for images and other squibs.
Otherwise, Tomkins' life and activity are well captured here. Series I, Tomkins' correspondence, begins in 1964. Professional correspondence includes regular material received from The New Yorker. There is correspondence here from Tomkins' long-time agent, Robert Lescher, and his later agent, Andrew Wylie. Tomkins' most frequent publisher was Doubleday and there is material present from his editor, Kate Medina. There are some contracts present as well.
Beginning in 1969 the files contain an increasing amount of personal correspondence. Tomkins received letters from his children and his ex-spouses as well as an extended network of aunts and uncles and other family members. The series contains large quantities of correspondence from friends and acquaintances. Numerous friends seemed to have carried on decades-long epistolary relationships with Tomkins. Many of these were people he first met through his writing and work.
Series II represents materials produced and acquired for the writing of major articles for The New Yorker between 1962 and 2007. While the majority of these articles were published under the rubric "Profiles," articles were also published under other departmental names. The materials in each folder are consistent and Tomkins grouped these folders separately from those of his other writings.
Tomkins organized these materials into two groups. In Subseries II. A, the materials include news clippings, magazine articles, gallery and exhibition catalogs and ephemera, correspondence with the article subject(s) and correspondence from readers. Handwritten research notes are scattered throughout, mostly consisting of lists of interview contacts and biographical and interview notes. Additionally, most files include tear sheets of the published article and a typescript draft of the article with hand edits and amendments.
Subseries II. B comprises the research and interview binders that Tomkins prepared for nearly every major article. The binders are composed of tabbed and paginated sections including contact lists of interviewees and additional resources, occasional topical indexes, chronologies and other biographical summaries, and interviews with the subject followed by interviews with other people. Complete or partial transcripts of interviews are rare and occur more frequently in later binders. Most often, Tomkins would summarize the content of interviews interspersed with extended direct quotes from the subjects. Tomkins also occasionally recorded thoughts and observations on his journey or visit to the interviewees; these notes are referred to as the "log." Final materials in the binders include bibliographies, extracts from published material such as reviews and news clippings, and miscellaneous items.
Series III is composed of reviews and smaller pieces of writing Tomkins wrote for The New Yorker between 1980 and 2004. These pieces were published under various rubrics; the most common department represented here is "The Art World," used for reviews and commentary about the arts. Other departments include "The Talk of the Town," "Portfolio," "At the Galleries," "Artist's Easel," "Books," and others. Frequently, these pieces were not whole articles but sidebars or captions to full-page photographs or double-page picture spreads. Tomkins also wrote occasional pieces for other publications including essays for books (such as exhibition and auction catalogs and artist monographs) and contributions to seminars and conferences, some of those materials are represented here. The materials present in this series are generally of the same composition and character as those in Series II. A, including news clippings, exhibition material, handwritten and typescript notes, interview summaries and quotes, contact lists, chronologies, and some received correspondence. Many folders include a typescript draft of the article and almost every article has a tear sheet of the published article or a photocopy of a galley proof.
Series IV addresses Tomkins' book publishing and contains material primarily from 1968 to 1996. The book, Eric Hoffer: an American Odyssey (New York: Dutton, 1968), is represented by only one file, as it was largely an expansion of the original article. Material on the other three books is much more comprehensive. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Dutton, 1970) required extensive access to the archives of the museum as well as historical research. Consequently, there are some century-old materials here (mainly news clippings and small publications) and copies of internal museum documents. The files also contain copious photocopies of external museum documents including bulletin articles, book chapters and other material, handwritten and typewritten notes, and research materials and resources gathered after original publication, in many cases used for additions included in the 1989 reprint of the book.
The files for Off the Wall: Robert Rauschenberg and the Art World of Our Time (New York: Doubleday, 1980) contain extensive interview notes and quotations, most culled from research conducted by Tomkins when writing articles for The New Yorker during the preceding two decades. There are scattered news clippings, magazine articles, press releases, ephemera, and other published material. No portions of the manuscript in draft or galley form are present. Material also exists here, dispersed throughout these folders, that was gathered for Tomkins' original Profile on Rauschenberg, "Moving Out," published in 1964.
The research files for Duchamp: A Biography (New York: Henry Holt, 1996) are more extensive than for any of Tomkins' other books. There are large quantities of photocopies or hand transcriptions and translations of significant original documents pertaining to Duchamp and his social circle. The files also contain extensive correspondence with other Duchamp scholars and Duchamp's surviving family, including his widow, Alexina "Teeny" Duchamp and Jacqueline Matisse Monnier. As with the other book files, there is also an extensive presence of published materials and ephemera.
The collection contains no files for The Lewis and Clark Trail (New York: Harper & Row, 1965) or The World of Marcel Duchamp (Time, Inc.: New York, 1966), although files for the latter book may have been integrated into the records of the later biography. Neither are any files present for any of the reprint collections. Research and record files for Living Well is the Best Revenge (New York: Viking Press, 1971) do exist but were withheld by Tomkins and remain in the author's possession. Finally, any extant files for the contributions to books by other authors are filed in Series III, in their original order, as Tomkins organized them.
Subseries IV. E contains a large quantity of photographs collected and used in the books on Rauschenberg, Duchamp, and Gerald and Sara Murphy, though many additional photographs can be found in the preceding series. Most photographs are duplicate prints received from photographers or owners of the images and the book files contain numerous folders of the correspondence and negotiations for rights and permissions necessary to publish the images.
Finally, Series V is composed of 494 audio cassettes and four open reel tapes, all the extant audio recordings made by Tomkins during the course of his research and writing. Tomkins did not start regularly taping his interviews until well into the 1980s but was prescient in preserving the spoken words of Jean Tinguely (1962), Marcel Duchamp (1964) and R. Buckminster Fuller (1965). The next recordings in the collection date from 1988 and by 1990 Tomkins was recording most, if not all, of his interviews up until the present. Regardless of whether Tomkins recorded his interviews or not, there is no change in the nature or composition of materials in the research files. The audio recordings are perhaps the most important primary source material to be found in the Tomkins Papers and will remain key original testaments to the activities and careers of many of the most important art world luminaries of the last five decades.
- Tomkins, Calvin, -- 1925- -- Archives.
- Kazanjian, Dodie, -- 1952- -- Archives.
- Rauschenberg, Robert, -- 1925-2008 -- Archives.
- Duchamp, Marcel, -- 1887-1968 -- Archives.
- Art critics -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archives.
- Biographers -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archives.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- Archives.
- Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- Archives.
- New Yorker -- History -- Sources.
- Art, American -- 20th century -- Sources.
- Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Sources.