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INVENTORY OF THE JAMES THRALL SOBY PAPERS, 1928-1975 (bulk 1935-1955)
910128  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separation List
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James Thrall Soby papers
    Date (inclusive): 1928-1975
    Date (bulk): 1935-1955
    Collection number: 910128
    Creator: Soby, James Thrall, 1906-1979
    Extent: 5 linear ft. (10 boxes, 1 flat file folder)
    Repository: Getty Research Institute
    Research Library
    Special Collections and Visual Resources
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
    Abstract: American art critic, curator, and collector. Papers document Soby's nearly 45-year career in 20th-century art scholarship and criticism. Materials date from about 1929, when Soby became a partner in Edwin Valentine Mitchell, Inc., booksellers and publishers, to his retirement from the board of trustees at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1975. The bulk of the collection comprises correspondence from 20th-century artists and photographers, MoMA personnel, curators, critics, friends and family members.
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    Language: Collection material in English

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    James Thrall Soby papers, 1928-1975, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 910128.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1991.

    Processing History

    Lynda Bunting began processing the collection October 1993, and finished writing the finding aid March 1994.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    1906 Born December 14 in Hartford, Conn. Son of Charles (in tobacco business) and Anna (Hazlewood) Soby
    1923 Educated at Kingswood School
    1924 Taft School
    1924-26 Attended Williams College
    1925 Buys a reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish print
    1929 Bought a third interest in Edwin Valentine Mitchell's bookshop in Hartford, Conn.
    1931 Worked at Wadsworth Athenaeum
    1942 Director of painting and sculpture and member of board of trustees, Museum of Modern Art, New York
    1943-45 Assistant director, MoMA
    1946-68 Chairman of department of painting, MoMA
    1946-57 Author of monthly column of art criticism in Saturday Review of Literature
    1950-51 Editor of Magazine of Art, chairman of editorial board, 1951-52.
    1952 Married third wife Melissa Wadley (Soby had two previous wives, Mimi and Mary Eleanor [aka Nelly]); children: Peter Allyn
    1962 Awarded honorary L.H.D. from Williams College
    1968 Vice-president of MoMA
    1979 Died January 29 in Norwalk, Conn.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The James Thrall Soby collection documents Soby's career as author, art critic, curator, editor, collector and Museum of Modern Art, New York, director and trustee. The papers date from about the time he became a third partner in Edwin Valentine Mitchell, Inc., Booksellers and Publishers, in 1929, to his retirement from the board of trustees at MoMA in 1975. The bulk of the material dates from 1935-1955 when Soby was most active. Most of Soby's papers can be found in MoMA's Library, which has a large collection of complimentary material.
    The archive consists primarily of letters sent to Soby from 20th century avant-garde artists and photographers, MoMA personnel, curators, critics, friends and family members. These letters received by Soby record his substantial involvement with the then contemporary art scene. The collection has very few copies of Soby's own letters, but it does contain some manuscripts and notes for his writings. The correspondence files also include many original drawings and photographs and handmade Christmas and postcards from artists. Filed in separate series are a substantial quantity of letters and drawings from the Russian-born American painter and set designer Eugene Berman; letters, manuscripts and other material from and about American painter Peter Blume; and miscellaneous papers, clippings and photographs.

    Arrangement

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects

    Berman, Eugene, 1899-
    Blume, Peter, 1906-
    Levy, Julien
    Soby, James Thrall, 1906-
    Art critics—United States
    Art historians as collectors—United States
    Art museum directors—United States
    Art patrons—United States
    Art—Collectors and collecting—United States
    Neoromanticism (Art movement)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Drawings—20th century
    Greeting cards—20th century
    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original

    Contributors

    Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-
    Blume, Peter, 1906-
    Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
    Hartigan, Grace
    Leonid, 1896-1976
    Magritte, René, 1989-1967
    Man Ray, 1890-1976
    Miró, Joan, 1893-
    Mitchell, Edwin Valentine, 1890-1960
    Rivers, Larry, 1925-
    Rouault, Georges, 1871-1958
    Sage, Kay
    Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969
    Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955
    Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957
    Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)

    Separation List

    Galleria Schwarz, Milan. Man Ray: dal 14 marzo al 3 aprile 1964 alla Galleria Schwarz, Milano. 〹 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Peter Blume: a retrospective exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, January 10 to February 29, 1976. Pierre Berés. Cubism, futurism, dadaism, expressionism and the surrealist movement in literature and art . Preface by Paul Eluard. New York: Pierre Berés, 1948. Sage, Kay. Demain, Monsieur Silber. Paris: Pierre Seghers, 1957. Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Conn. Tonny, Tchelitchew, Berard, Berman, Leonide. Hartford, Conn.: The Athenaeum, 1931. Art & Industry 35, no. 208 (Oct. 1943).

    Bibliography

    After Picasso. Hartford, Conn.: E.V. Mitchell; New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1935. Eugene Berman: Catalogue of the Retrospective Exhibition of His Paintings, Illustrations, and Designs . Boston, Mass.: Institute of Modern Art, 1941. The Early Chirico. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1941. Paintings, Drawings, Prints: Salvador Dali. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1941. Pavel Tchelitchew: Paintings, Drawings. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1942. Romantic Painting in America. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1943. Georges Rouault: Paintings and Prints. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1945. Ben Shahn. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1947. Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1947. The Prints of Paul Klee. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1947. Contemporary Painters. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1948. Twentieth-Century Italian Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949. Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Paul Klee: From the Klee Foundation, Berne, Switzerland, with Additions From American Collections. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949. Modigliani: Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1951. Giorgio de Chirico. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1955. Yves Tanguy. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1955. Balthus. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1956. Modern Art and the New Past. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957. Ben Shahn: His Graphic Art. New York: G. Braziller, 1957. Arp. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1958. Juan Gris. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1958. Joan Miró. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1959. Recent Sculpture U.S.A. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1959. The James Thrall Soby Collection of Works of Art Pledged or Given to the Museum of Modern Art . New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961. Rico Lebrun Drawings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961. Paintings of Ben Shahn. New York: G. Braziller, 1963. Bonnard and His Environment. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1964. The School of Paris: Paintings From the Florene May Schoenbrorn and Samuel A. Marx Collection . New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1965. Rene Magritte. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1965.