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Betty Asher papers, 1860-1999

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Asher (Betty) Papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The Betty Asher papers consist of a rich range of material, including letters, photographs, posters, press clippings, records of Asher's collections, and tea cup postcards. Together these give a vivid sense of the Michael and Asher families, Betty Asher as collector, and the Los Angeles art world of the postwar years.

Series I contains over 700 photographs, including formal studio portraits, color snapshots, baby albums, and twenty photographs of the Asher family residence taken by Julius Shulman. Documenting Asher's collecting interests are approximately 200 photographs of her art collection, part of which has now been donated to local museums, and part of which was sold at auction. Her ceramics and cup collection is also documented in photographs. Many of these photographs depict pieces as they were originally installed in different areas of the various Asher homes.

Several black-and-white and color photographs document the exhibition Limited Works by Important Artists (known as the "Multiples show") held at the Egg and the Eye Gallery in 1966. The exhibition featured Pop art prints, books, sculpture, ceramics and games by Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Watts, among others. More than 200 photographs of Los Angeles gallery openings and art parties at Asher's home in Los Angeles from the 1960s to the 1990s highlight her presence in the Southern California art scene, along with other pivotal figures such as Irving Blum, Stephanie Barron, Stanley and Elise Grinstein, and Patricia Faure.

Series II includes family letters and professional correspondence not contained in individual artist files, as well as official documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, and business contracts. Asher's favorite recipes are also preserved in this series.

Business files in Series III include loan forms and invoices chronicling the amassing of Asher's collections of art and teacups. Asher's collection of more than 1200 cup postcards comprises Series IV. Series V pertains to exhibitions of Asher's cup collection. The artist files in Series VI include a wealth of material that traces Asher's strong relationships with artists, which developed in tandem with her collecting activities. Asher's artist files contain letters, postcards and gifts from artists such as George Herms, Dan Flavin, Joe Goode, Emerson Woelffer, William Copley, and Bruce Conner. A significant portion of the archive is comprised of gallery announcements and over 300 posters, many of them signed by artists such as Billy Al Bengston and Edward Kienholz. Eighty of these posters are original announcements from Ferus Gallery and Irving Blum Gallery.

Printed matter, such as clippings and announcements, when not included in the above series, may be found in Series VII.


Arranged in seven series:
Series I. Family photographs, 1860-1998;
Series II. Personal materials, 1900-1999;
Series III. Business files, 1950-1992;
Series IV. Collections, 1865-1994;
Series V. Cup exhibitions, 1972-1995;
Series VI. Artist files, 1938-1996;
Series VII. Printed matter, 1914-1996.

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