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George Kubler Records of the Arensberg Collection Catalog


Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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In his teachings and writings on pre-Columbian and Ibero-American art, George Kubler has been credited with incorporating non-European arts and anthropology into the study of art history. Born in 1912, Kubler moved with his mother to Europe after his father's death. Kubler's father, Frederick William Kubler, was an industrialist and had studied art history in Munich. Kubler returned to the United States in 1933 and attended Yale, where he received a BA, MA and, after some initial doctoral work at New York University, his Ph.D. in 1940. During his doctoral studies at Yale, Kubler studied with Henri Focillon, and in 1943 published the English translation of Focillon's "Life of Forms in Art." One of Kubler's most important writings was "Art and architecture of Ancient America," (1962) his second work for the Pelican History of Art series. In addition to art historical studies, Kubler also wrote "Indian Caste of Peru: 1795-1940." Published in 1952, this population study was part of a government project of the Interdepartmental Committee on Scientific and Cultural Cooperation. Kubler taught at University of Chicago, Harvard University and Yale, where he chaired the department of art from 1953-1956 and served as Sterling Professor of the History of Art from 1975 until his retirement in 1983. He was also the 1985-1986 Kress Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Kubler married Elizabeth Bushnell in 1937. He died in 1996.

Befriending some of the most important artists of the 20th century, art collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg played an integral role in the development and promotion of avant-garde artistic ideas and activities in the United States. Through the 1930's and 1940's, the Arensbergs acquired primarily modern art and non-Western artifacts as well as some Oriental rugs, Byzantine and Renaissance paintings, and American folk art. They also collected pre-Columbian stone and ceramic sculptures. After nearly a decade of discussions and many visits from Director Fiske Kimball and his wife Marie, the Arensbergs presented their collection of over 1,000 objects to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on December 27, 1950. The Museum also holds certain of their papers and book collection as well as several related collections pertaining to Marcel Duchamp, John Raphael Covert and the Francis Bacon Foundation.

    Works Consulted
  1. Dictionary of art historians, s.v. Kubler, George [Alexander].

In preparing a catalog of the pre-Columbian sculpture in the Louise and Walter Arensberg collection, the Philadelphia Museum of Art called upon the expertise of Yale art historian George Kubler to classify and annotate each object. This collection consists of the annotated photographs of each of the 197 objects illustrated in the catalog, which was published in 1954. Each object was identified by origin and arranged geographically and then chronologically in the book. The photographs are numbered and arranged according to that scheme. Annotations identify the object, its size, the Arensberg' inventory number for the object as well as that of the Museum's. Printer's measurements are also indicated. A second "Miscellaneous" series of photographs, some with annotations, primarily document other objects in the Arensberg collection that did not appear in the catalog. Some are unidentified.

Catalog pagination.

This body of material originally was included in the Arensberg Archives, which was formally given to the Museum in 2001. During the processing of those records in 2002, the Kubler catalog material was separated.

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The George Kubler Records of the Arensberg Collection Catalog are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

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