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James E. B. Breslin research archive on Mark Rothko, 1900-1994 (bulk 1940-1990)

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Breslin (James E. B.) Research Archive on Mark Rothko

Scope and Content of Collection

Assembled by James Breslin as he researched and wrote Mark Rothko: a biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), the collection addresses the same subjects as the book, but in greater depth and detail. With files relating to Rothko's early childhood in Dvinsk, Russia, his family's emigration to Portland, Oregon, his education, his troubled personal life, the development of his career, his artistic process, and his suicide, the collection comprises a rich compilation of materials on the life and work of a key figure in twentieth-century painting. Like Breslin's book, the collection situates Rothko and his work within broad historical and artistic contexts, emphasizing abstract expressionism and the New York art world from the 1920s through the 1960s. Among the individuals featured prominently in the collection are artists Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Adolph Gottlieb, Milton Avery, and Max Weber, and critics Dore Ashton and Katharine Kuh.

Included in the collection are audio recordings and many transcripts of Breslin's interviews with approximately 100 of Rothko's surviving family, friends, fellow artists, collectors, dealers, curators, and critics, including ten audiotapes of interviews with Motherwell. Much of the collection was photocopied from the personal papers of Rothko's friends, family and associates, and archives at museums, galleries and historical societies. Photocopied materials include correspondence with Mark Rothko, pages from his notebooks, vital, legal, financial, and medical records, documents regarding the commission, exhibition, and sale of artwork, and assorted documents related to the lawsuit brought by his daughter against Marlborough Galleries and the executors of Rothko's estate following his death. Photographic materials include slides, prints, negatives, and transparencies, predominantly reproductions of Rothko's paintings, but also personal photographs reproduced from other collections, photographs of the landscapes and landmarks of Rothko's childhood, and exterior views of his studios in New York City. Also included are critical and art historical articles and theses, Breslin's original correspondence and extensive handwritten notes documenting his research process, and materials related to the publication of his book. The dates provided for photocopied materials and other reproductions correspond to the original documents. Undated items produced by Breslin, including his notes, are dated within the years of his research, circa 1983 to 1992.

Arrangement note

The archive is arranged in six series: ; ; ; ; ; .
Series I. Research files on individuals, 1913-1994
Series II. Research files on institutions and organizations, 1922-1992
Series III. Topical research files, 1903-1991
Series IV. Photographs and reproductions, 1900-1994
Series V. Book publication files, 1989-1993
Series VI. Audio recordings of interviews, 1985-1990

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