Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Hilton Kramer Papers

Hilton Kramer Papers 1950-2012, n.d.

28 linear ft.

Catalog Number: M252

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
Hilton Kramer was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on March 25, 1928. He was graduated from Syracuse University in 1950 and did post-graduate work at the New School for Social Research (1950), Columbia University (1951), Harvard University (1951), and the Indiana University (1952).

In 1953 the Partisan Review published his first piece of art criticism. His first appointment was as editor for Arts Magazine, where he worked from 1955-1961. He then served as art critic for the Nation (1962-1963) and as art critic and associate editor for the New Leader (1964-1965).

In 1965, Kramer began a nearly twenty-year association with the New York Times, initially as art news editor, then, beginning in 1973, as art critic. In 1982 Kramer left the Times to co-found and edit his own magazine, the New Criterion, with Samuel Lipman. Subsequently, he served as editor and publisher at the New Criterion and also as art critic for the New York Observer.

Throughout his professional career, Kramer lectured frequently at academic institutions and museums. He also served on the faculty at the Indiana University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Bennington College, and Yale University's School of Drama. Additionally he sat on the board of trustees for the New York Studio School.

Kramer was a contributor to many publications, including Commentary, the New Republic, the New York Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Partisan Review, Modern Painters, the London Times Literary Supplement, the New York Post ("Times Watch" and "Media Watch" series) and Arts and Antiques.

In 1970, Kramer received the Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang Prize for Critics of the Fine Arts. In 1973 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humanities from Syracuse University and in 2004 was a National Endowment for the Humanities medalist. Hilton Kramer died on March 26, 2012; he is survived by his wife, Esta Kramer (nee Teich).

Scope and Content:
Chiefly professional papers (bulk 1960-2002) documenting Kramer's career as art critic for a number of newspapers and periodicals, including the New York Times (1965-1982), as author of several monographs on art history and as contributor to numerous other publications. Included are correspondence, subject files, newspaper and other clippings, published works, art exhibition files, and typescript drafts. Both subject files and "writings" files often include background information, such as articles written by others, museum and gallery catalogs, photoprints, and manuscript notes. Notable correspondents include Ansel Adams (August 14, 1977); Robert Altman (January 18, 1977); Josephine Herbst (for whose estate Kramer served as executor); Gregory Masurovsky; and Robert Motherwell (June 11, 1969; October 3, 1976; July 5, 1977; October 14, 1982; December 22, 1982; May 8, 1985). Frequent correspondents include Stanley Burnshaw, Daniel Curley, Joseph (Mike) Epstein, Elinor Langer, James Lord, Aleksis Rannit, Howard Rogovin, Roger W. Straus, Jr., Jerry L. Thompson, and Eliot Wagner.

Absent from the collection are files documenting Kramer's involvement with the New Criterion.

Cite as: Hilton Kramer Papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

Access Restrictions: None.

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