In 1996 Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr., a prominent art collector and gallerist in Washington, bequeathed his art collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art. His contribution included works by important African American artists such as Romare Bearden, Aaron Douglas, Elizabeth Catlett, and Betye Saar, and now represents a valuable addition to the paintings collection at the National Gallery of Art. In addition to works of art, Tibbs donated reference materials including posters, monographs, clippings, announcements, and other ephemera. Artists themselves contributed to the archive, which Tibbs made available in his gallery on Vermont Avenue. These ephemeral documents record the biographies and exhibition histories of black artists otherwise underrepresented in books and exhibition catalogs. Known as the “Tibbs Archive,” this collection comprises primary and secondary source materials that offer insight into Thurlow Tibbs himself, the history of Washington, DC, and African American art.
Published documents of fewer than fifty pages—small catalogs, pamphlets, invitations, and other ephemera—are housed in the vertical files. Documenting exhibitions primarily from the mid-twentieth century onward, the collection offers exhibition histories and material valuable for provenance research. The vertical files acquire material from curatorial staff and from private collections, including those of Chester Dale, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, and Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. Portions of this collection are uncataloged; contact the reference desk for assistance or to browse the collection.
Collections of Note
The vertical files house a large number of guidebooks to cities and buildings around the world, many dating to before World War II. City maps and small pamphlets illustrate cathedrals, urban spaces, and historic homes across Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. A portion of these were acquired with the collection of architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock.
With his donation of books relating to Jasper Johns, Ronald N. May included this collection of ephemera documenting the artist’s career. It includes invitations, small catalogs, and clippings from 1960 to the present. Much of the collection is cataloged and can be found in Mercury.
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