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In the American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz exhibition records

Identifier: IR-CUR-023

Scope and Contents

The 1995 exhibition In The American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, and Stieglitz was organized by Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Senior Curator at The Phillips Collection. The exhibition brought together examples of the work of four major American modernists who were championed by Stieglitz and collected by Duncan Phillips. According to Director Charlie Moffett the exhibition provided, “a special view of a critical phase in the development of American Modernism.”

These curatorial records were collected and created in the course of research, planning, and executing the exhibition and its catalogue. Some records in the series refer to the exhibition by different names, suggesting a variety of proposed titles beginning with: Duncan Phillips and Painters of the American Scene in 1991; Duncan Phillips Collects: The Stieglitz Circle in 1992; and finally In The American Grain by 1993. In The American Grain was exhibited at The Phillips Collection from September 23, 1995 through December 31, 1995. The exhibition traveled to the Seattle Art Museum from February 8, 1996 through May 5, 1996; The Museum of Modern Art in Saitama, Japan from June 8, 1996 through July 14, 1996; The Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan from July 20, 1996 through August 8, 1996; The Chiba Municipal Museum of Art, Japan from August 24, 1996 through September 23, 1996; and the Portland Art Museum from October 1996 through January 1997.

The primary creators of the catalogue and exhibition planning records in this collection were Beth Turner, Senior Curator, and Leigh Weisblat, Assistant Curator for Research. Some records were also created by Charlie Moffett, Director of the Phillips Collection.

This collection consists of the research, catalogue, and exhibition planning files of the curators interfiled. These records consist of research materials, catalogue, and exhibition planning and execution documents such as financial records, lender files, schedules and checklists.

A significant portion of research for this exhibition involved examining and photocopying a large body of correspondence at Yale University's Beinecke Library. The correspondence ranges from 1911 to 1964, the bulk of which dates from the 1920s and the 1930s. Significant and frequent correspondents include Alfred Stieglitz, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Duncan Phillips. Secondary source research materials include of photocopies of newspaper articles, essays, reviews, and portions of books written about artists, locations, and themes in American painting. Object research files include images of works in the exhibition and descriptions. The catalogue series contains correspondence with the publisher, internal correspondence, requests for permission to reproduce research, and the contract with Counterpoint, publisher of the exhibition catalogue. Exhibition records include preliminary exhibition proposals, venue correspondence, lender files, grant applications, budget information as well as installation records.


  • 1907 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1993 - 1995
  • Usage: The material in this collection were used in preparation for the 1995 exhibition.


Biographical / Historical

In addition to his role as artist, Alfred Stieglitz also served as a catalyst in the development of American modernism. Stieglitz found in four artists—Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O'Keeffe—uniquely American qualities and encouraged them to work, as poet William Carlos Williams put it, “In the American Grain.”


5 Linear Feet (11 full legal boxes)

Language of Materials



In The American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O’Keeffe, and Stieglitz exhibition records contain materials created and collected by the Curatorial Department of The Phillips Collection during the course of organizing the exhibition. Included are research, catalogue, and exhibition planning files.


The collection is organized in three series: Series 1: Research Series 2: Catalogue Series 3: Exhibition Planning The Research Series is arranged alphabetically by subject and author and includes chronological secondary research files. The Catalogue Series is arranged alphabetically by subject. The Exhibition Planning series is arranged alphabetically by subject with lender files made into a subseries and arranged alphabetically by lender.

Custodial History

This collection is owned by The Phillips Collection and was accessioned from the curators' offices.

Processing Information

The collection contains exhibition-related records from two curators' offices, resulting in a significant amount of duplicate documents. After an initial survey of the collection, many duplicate materials were identified and a number of documents were identified as of no future reference value for the collection, such as general housekeeping documents, drafts of materials, and duplicates. In a meeting with the librarian, associate curator, and the processor, approval was given to weed these items from the final collection. It was agreed that since the final version of the catalogue is published there was no need to save the drafts of the text. This applied to preliminary versions of the checklist and versions of preliminary contracts with the publishing company. Duplicate documents were weeded and the remaining documents interfiled, the original arrangement of the secondary research materials was kept as well as the object research files. Folder headings were maintained, but were re-written in some cases for greater clarity and accuracy. Metal clips were removed and replaced with plastic clips. Adhesive Post-it® notes were removed. All documents were re-housed in acid-free folders.

The Research Series has been arranged in three sub-series. The copied correspondence had originally been organized in individual folders for each letter and arranged chronologically, resulting in numerous folders. Correspondence is now arranged by correspondent and chronologically within each folder. Copies of primary source correspondence were interfiled with correspondence from secondary sources to preserve context and add to the dialogue between the subjects while making the series more accessible. Secondary source materials were kept in their original order according to subject and location and chronological files were created for additional materials. The Object Research subseries, containing information about works of art, are individually housed and arranged alphabetically by artist and by title of work. The Catalogue Series was kept in its original order and arranged by subject and date. Duplicates were weeded and preliminary drafts of the catalogue discarded. The Exhibition Series was kept in original order and arranged by subject and date. Duplicates were weeded and preliminary drafts of grant proposals discarded.

In the American Grain: Dove, Hartley, Marin, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz exhibition records, 1907-1999
The Phillips Collection Library and Archives 1600 21st Street NW Washington D.C. 20009
Katie Delacenserie, Library and Archives Assistant, supervised by Karen Schneider, Librarian
June-August of 2009
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Phillips Collection Archives Repository

1600 21st St. NW
Washington DC 20009 United States