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Exhibition Highlights Archives of Prominent American Art Collectors

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Frontispiece American Abstract Artists Portfolio, 1937. Printed in "Pioneers of Abstract Art American Abstract Artists, 1936 - 1996" published by Baruch College, NYC, 1996.

Martin and Harriet Diamond were important dealers of twentieth century American abstract art, specializing in the period 1909 to 1949. In 1998, the Rutgers University Libraries, Department of Art History, and Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum joined forces to acquire the Martin and Harriet Diamond Collection of American Art. The collection includes original works of art, important monographs on artists, notable exhibition catalogues, and rare periodicals, as well as materials such as photographs and personal correspondence.

Martin Diamond took a circuitous path to gallery ownership. After returning from service in the Pacific theatre during World War II, Martin and Harriet Diamond were married. While working as a salesman, Martin Diamond began a long self-education in the field of art. Initially, in order to decorate their home, the couple cut pictures out of calendars. Gradually, Mr. Diamond began to purchase books on American art. Eventually, he became an associate of the art gallery owner Bernard Danenberg, and, when Mr. Danenberg returned to Europe, the Diamonds opened Martin Diamond Fine Arts on their own.

Noted specialist in American art, retired Rutgers professor of art history Matthew Baigell, remarked in an article in the Zimmerli Art Museum's newsletter that the archives have "both extraordinary breadth and depth." He remarked further: "I have never seen or experienced a collection such as this one ... It is uniquely rich in materials on early 20th century painters, on the Social Realist movement of the 1930's, and on the abstract art movement of the interwar period. ... There are entire runs of extremely important but small-circulation magazines and art newspapers which would be impossible to duplicate today on the open market."

This exhibition will feature select holdings of this unique collection, and will showcase materials relating to individual artists, such Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as artists’ organizations, such as the American Abstract Artists. The exhibition will also explore the social engagement and interrelationships of artists during the period.

The exhibition will be available for viewing from September 26th through December 24th, during regular gallery hours, in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery, on the lower level, and in Gallery '50 on the first floor of Alexander Library. Library gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Saturday, 1:00 - 5:00 pm.

Posted September 11, 2002