Sidney Geist correspondence
Brancusi, Constantin, 1876-1957.
Derain, Andre, 1880-1954.
Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri, 1891-1915.
Sidney Geist (SG) was born on April 11, 1914 in Paterson, N.J. After attending college, SG served as an apprentice to the painter Paul Fiene from 1931 to 1937. He then spent a year at the Art Students League. From 1938 to 1940 SG was employed as a sculptor on the New Jersey Federal Arts Project by the Works Progress Administration. During the later years of World War II, SG was a private in the United States Army. While traveling across Europe, he spent his down time drawing on any sort of paper he could find, including candy boxes and ration cartons. After the war, SG spent another year at the Art Students League. SG also attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, where he and his group of contemporaries formed the Galerie Huit, a co-operative where they could show their artwork.
After completing his studies in Paris, SG returned to New York and he had his first solo show at the Hacker Gallery in 1951. During his lifetime, SG taught at Vassar College, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn College, the University of California at Berkeley and the New York Studio School, a teaching workshop he helped found in the West Village. He also served as one of its early directors. SG also published articles in many journals during his life. The subject of many of these articles was Constantin Brancusi (CB).
Besides being a sculptor, teacher and art writer, SG was a leading authority on CB and made him his life's work. SG taught himself Romanian so he could visit the artist's native country, speak with officials and read untranslated documents. SG published multiple books about CB including a catalogue raisonné. In 1969, SG was invited to be guest curator of the exhibition "Constantin Brancusi, 1876 – 1957: A Retrospective Exhibition" organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (SRGM), the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. SG had recently published a major monograph "Constantin Brancusi, 1876 – 1957." This book was the catalogue for the exhibition. It was the largest exhibition of CB's works to date. SG was assisted by Louise Averill Svendsen (LAS), curator at the SRGM. LAS had curated the last major CB retrospective at SRGM. SG later was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for 1975-76. SG's last solo show as a sculptor was in 2005 and paid homage to CB by the inclusion of a tall, slender sculpture made from raw wood.
SG died October 18, 2005.
Scope and Content Note
The Sidney Geist correspondence consists of Sidney Geist's (SG) correspondence related to his research on Constantin Brancusi (CB), Guillaume Apollinaire, Andre Derain, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and others spanning from 1963 - 1968. The majority of the correspondence is incoming consisting of replies to SG's requests to owners of CB works. Topics covered include measurements, signature, foundry stamps, provenance and other historical information. All correspondence regarding CB is arranged alphabetically by author. In some instances, letters written by SG were returned with the reply correspondence. SG contacted museums, galleries and private collectors in multiple countries, including Romania, CB's home country. A few of the responses enclose rubbings of the signature or foundry marks from the artwork in question.
SG also attempted to contact the subjects of CB works, such as Mlle. Pogany (MP), or their surviving family members. MP died prior to receiving the letter, and her great-nephew Andrew Forgas responded on the family's behalf. Katharine Graham's (KG) mother knew CB, and KG relates to SG how the portrait of her mother came to be along with other interesting reminisces.
Additionally, SG communicated with those who had known or met CB such as Marcel Duchamp (MD), Jeanne Robert Foster (JRF), Barnet Hodes (BH) and Elizabeth Olds (EO). Along with giving his own account of the provenance of some CB works, MD assisted SG in contacting other people who had information. JRF met CB while assisting an art collector, and muses over the meaning of "Bird in Flight" in one of her letters to SG. She also includes a poem she wrote upon hearing of CB's death. BH was an attorney from Chicago, and purported to have discussed with CB the creation of a gigantic version of "Endless Column" as a monument that would become a recognizable symbol of Chicago. EO was an American artist who was encouraged by Ezra Pound to meet CB during her tour of Europe in the late 1920s. She did, and in her letter she discusses her experience.
SG also wrote to other scholars including Meyer Schapiro, Mircea Eliade, Lincoln Kirstein and Werner Schmalenbach (WS). In his letter, WS opines on the meeting between CB and German painter Julius Bissier.
An interesting tidbit in the general folder of this collection is a letter from an image duplication company in Florence, Italy written immediately after the flood of 1966. It describes how they cannot process SG's order at that time because the flood "annihilated" their shop. A letter less than a month later informs SG that they have been able to resume their business.
|000575||Apollinaire, Guillaume: General||1966|
|000575||Albright-Knox Art Gallery||1966|
|000575||Art Dealers Association of America, Inc.||1967|
|000575||The Art Institute of Chicago||1966-1967|
|000575||The Arts Club of Chicago||1965-1966|
|000575||Association Internationale pour l'Etude de Dada et du Surrealisme||1967|
|000575||Atkins Museum of Fine Arts||1965|
|000575||Barr, Alfred H., Jr.||1966-1967|
|000575||Bronfman, Mrs. Samuel||undated|
|000575||Cincinnati Art Museum||1965|
|000575||The Cleveland Museum of Art||1965|
|000575||Comitetul de Stat Pentru Cultura si Arta||1967|
|000575||Courtauld Institute of Art||1967|
|000575||de Rothschild, Philippe||undated, 1966|
|000575||Dum Umeni Mesta Brna||1966|
|000575||Farquhar, Mrs. George||1965|
|000575||Foster, Jeanne Robert||1966-1967|
|000575||The Francis Bacon Foundation||1967|
|000575||French Reproduction Rights||1966|
|000575||Galerie Claude Bernard||1967|
|000575||George Rainbird Limited||1967|
|000575||Ingersoll, R. Sturgis||1966-1967|
|000575||Isaac Delgado Museum of Art||1966-1967|
|000575||The J. B. Speed Art Museum||1966-1967|
|000575||Kornfeld & Klipstein||1967|
|000575||Longworth, Alice Roosevelt||1966|
|000575||Marlborough Fine Art Ltd.||undated|
|000575||The Minneapolis Institute of Arts||1965-1966|
|000575||Musée de Louvre||1967|
|000575||Musée National d'Art Moderne||1967|
|000575||Museu de Arte (Sao Paulo, Brazil)||1968|
|000575||Museum of Fine Arts, Boston||1965-1967|
|000575||National Gallery of Victoria||1966|
|000575||The Newark Museum||1965-1966|
|000575||Norton Gallery and School of Art||1966|
|000575||O'Keefe, Georgia (restricted)||1965-1966|
|000575||Philadelphia Museum of Art||1965-1967|
|000575||Pulitzer, Joseph, Jr.||1967|
|000575||Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art||1965-1966|
|000575||Richard Feigen Gallery||1965|
|000575||Rockefeller, Nelson (restricted)||1966|
|000575||Schoenborn, Florene May||1966|
|000575||The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum||1966|
|000575||The Tate Gallery||1967|
|000575||Thompson, G. David||1966|
|000575||University of California, Irvine||1965|
|000575||The University of Nebraska||1963-1966|
|000575||The University of Texas||1966|
|000575||Yale University Library||1965-1966|
|000575||Derain, Andre: General||1963|
|000575||Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri: General||1965-1967|