The Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman House

Zimmerman House Jeff Nintzel Photographer 2015

copyright Jeff Nintzel, 2015.

The Isadore J. and Lucille Zimmerman House (1950) was designed by one of the world’s greatest modern architects, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). Wright designed the house, the interiors, all the furniture, the gardens, and even the mailbox. In 1979 the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. and Mrs. Zimmerman left the property to the Currier in 1988. In 1990 the house and grounds were opened so that visitors could enjoy glimpses of a private world from the 1950s and 1960s, including the Zimmermans’ personal collection of modern art, pottery, and sculpture.

The Currier Museum of Art Archives contains personal papers from Lucille and Isadore Zimmerman which include photographs, correspondence, personal belongings and their private library.  The Zimmerman House Collection contains the records of the museum as related to the management, interpretation and preservation of the Zimmerman House as a historic house museum. The collections are open to the public for research.

To learn more about the Zimmermans and their house check out these resources.

The archive collections are described in these two documents. Before scheduling a visit take some time to review them and determine what boxes in particular might be of zhousearchiveshelvesinterest. The finding aid gives a brief description of the collection and its contents and provides a general overview of the material contained within it. For a more detailed item list of all the material housed in the collection review the material list.

Finding Aid

Material List

Lucille Zimmerman maintained a regular correspondence with Frank Lloyd Wright’s office. She wrote to Wright himself, Wright’s wife Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and Eugene Masselink assistant to Wright. Letters between the Zimmerman family and Frank Lloyd Wright’s office are indexed here Z_correspondence_index. These letters, some reproductions from Taliesin, are available for review.

In 1989 shortly after the Currier assumed ownership of the house, the architectural firm of Tilton + Lewis completed a Historic Structure Report for the dwelling. You can read the entire report online through our digital library.

Zimmerman House Jeff Nintzel Photographer back 2015

copyright Jeff Nintzel, 2015.

In 1991 Currier Museum curator Michael Komanecky published a 141 page book about the house entitled, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House its History and its Restoration. You can read it online via our digital library.  The Zimmerman House is considered a Usonian house. Learn more about the style in this article published in the Currier Museum of Art Bulletin.  For more information on the process of acquiring the house and the archive this article published in the journal Art Documentation, from 2009 provides an overview. dickeyarticleArtDoc Zhouse.

For a quick and visual introduction to the Zimmerman House watch the introductory video which begins most of our Zimmerman house guided tours. You can find it on the Currier’s youtube channel. You can also see some images of the house on our flickr page.

Search the library catalog for books on Frank Lloyd Wright and for books owned by the zimmermanlibraryshelveswrightZimmermans. In the advanced search field, select notes and enter “zimmerman” without the quotations to retrieve a list of titles owned by the Zimmermans.

The library and archives mounted a small focus exhibit about the Zimmermans and their home. You can learn more about it here and for just a bit about their dog Checkers read this blog post.

To schedule a visit or ask a question email us at library or give us a call (603) 518-4927.  The house is open for tours, learn more here.



Lucille, Isadore and Checkers Zimmerman

Lucille and Isadore Zimmerman lived together with their dog, a     dalmatian named Checkers, in their Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. The Zimmermans had several formal portraits done of Checkers. Checkers became the focus of a celebration at the Zimmerman House in 1994. Dalmatian Day: Checkers’ Birthday Celebration held at the house included a checkers tournament, a human checkers game and a dalmatian dog show.

Lucille with Checkers as a puppy.

Lucille with Checkers as a puppy.

Checkers became the center of a great debate regarding the floor at the Zimmerman House. According to correspondence between Lucille and Frank Lloyd Wright’s offices at Taliesin, the red colorant used on the concrete was dusting off everywhere. We learn from a letter dated October 1, 1952:

“The condition of the floors is intolerable. Our beautiful home where happiness could be can be ruined because our living room has to be centered around escape from the red loose pigment…..Any article that drops on the floor is red. Red lint and dust collects on the furniture and upholstery. My Dalmatian dog lays on the floor and he is no longer white.”

Checkers and family in Zimmerman House

Lucille goes on to mention that the prized polar bear skin rug she had acquired for the home under FLW’s direction “is red.”

Wright took quick action to remedy the situation and before long Lucille noted that “my dog is white again.”

We don’t have an image of Checkers in red, black and white, but here is a gallery of some photographs of the beloved dog and the Birthday Bash held in 1994 at the Zimmerman House (all images courtesy Currier Museum of Art Reference Library and Archives, Zimmerman Family Papers and Zimmerman House Collection).

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Friday Finds – “The Machine”

We are immersed in Photorealism these days with the opening of our next exhibition Still Life: 1970’s Photorealism upon us (the show opens tomorrow 1/24) but this recent find in themachine-cover-MOMAthe rare book’s stacks reminded us of a complimentary conversation of the 1960’s and 70’s. The Museum of Modern Art’s “The Machine: As Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age” opened on November 27, 1968. You can see a scan of the original press release from the archives at MOMA. The exhibit was billed as “a collection of comments on technology” which explored the age of the “mechanical machine – which can most easily be defined as an imitation of our muscles.” Much like the catalog Billy produced in the same year, this exhibition catalog fits in the category of artist book. The book is bound in metal with an intensely modern image on the cover. Similar to the photorealist model of developing a painting from source photographs, the cover design by Anders Österlin was based on a photograph, in this case by Alicia Legg a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit concerned itself with two machines in particular, the car and the camera and the human relationship to each. What do you make of the flyleaf below?

Flyleaf from "The Machine" 1968 exhibition catalog.

Flyleaf from “The Machine” 1968 exhibition catalog.


Photorealism (Hyper-realism)

This guide represents resources located in the library and archives collections both in print and online. For basic definitions and dates see Oxford Art Online (see librarian for access). And don’t forget JSTOR for online access to journal articles. Free on the Currier campus.

Photorealism (or hyperrealism) originated as a style in the 1960’s. It was predominately a movement in the United States and was championed by artists such as Tom Blackwell, Chuck Close, Richard Estes, John Salt, Audrey Flack, Robert Cottingham and  Duane Hanson.   These loosely connected artists drew on the tradition of realism in art to inform their work.

Artists working in the photorealist style typically used photographs as the basis for large format works which were typically reminiscent of but not exact replicas of the photograph. Some artists, like Richard Estes, combined features from disparate photographs into one painting. Depictions of mass produced objects and suburban life dominate the movement which was intensely popular in the 1970’s.

The Basics

Guggenheim Collection Online: Movements: Photorealism:
A concise definition of the movement. Includes high resolution images from the Guggenheim collection.

Realism, photorealism: October 5-November 23, 1980, Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma : essays, catalogue, and selections.
Arthur, John. 1980.
Tulsa, Okla: The Center.
N6512.5.R4 R37

Photorealism: 50 years of hyperrealistic painting.photorealism_50years_cover
Letze, Otto, Simon Cane, Nathaniel McBride, and Otto Letze.
ND196 .P42 P58 2013
Exhibition catalog which provides a retrospective look at the movement.  Delves into the controversial reception of the photorealists who were simultaneously embraced by the public and rejected by many critics.  Discusses the implications of technology within the movement including improvements to camera’s and shutter speeds.

Photorealism at the millenium.
Meisel, Louis K., and Linda Chase. 2002.
New York: Abrams.
ND196.P42 M45 2002 OV
This large scale volume includes most, if not all, of the artists in Still Life: 1970’s photorealism including David Cone and John Baeder.  Dozens of reproductions for each artist lend a comprehensive tone to this volume.  Useful for beginners to experts.

 Photorealism in the digital age.
Meisel, Louis K., and Elizabeth K. Harris. 2013. 
New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc.
N6498.P48 M45 2013 OV

Exactitude: hyperrealist art today.
Taylor, John Russell, Maggie Bollaert, and Clive Head. 2009.  London: Thames & Hudson.
N6494.P42 T39 2009 FOLIO

Contemporary artist Pedro Campos goes meta.

Contemporary artist Pedro Campos goes meta.

Dig a bit deeper and explore the complex relationship of realism, hyper-realism and exactitude in this folio size volume. Taylor considers generally the relationship of photograph to painting including a discussion of Victorian attempts to make photographs appear more like paintings.

Where does it fit?

Photorealism stems from both realism and pop art. Here are a few resources to help you understand the context of the movement.

Contemporary American realism since 1960
Goodyear, Frank Henry. 1981. . Boston: New York Graphic Society in association with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
N6512.5.P45 G6
Published in 1981 this work covers just two decades of work. Includes Audrey Flack, Robert Cottingham, Chuck Close, Hilo Chen, Robert Bechtle and Martha Mayer Erlebacher.

American realism
Lucie-Smith, Edward. 1994.
New York: Abrams.
ND205.5.R42 L83 1994
Follow Realism from the 19th century through the 1980’s. Chapter on photorealism helps to explain the motivating forces of the movement including dependency on photographic imagery and incorporation of figurative images.

The American century: art & culture, 1950-2000
Phillips, Lisa, and Barbara Haskell. 1999.
New York: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with W.W. Norton.
N6512 .H355 1999
Orient yourself to the cultural climate of the latter half of the decade with Phillip’s second volume of her work, The American Century. Her chapter, “The Mediated World: Art and Photography” is particularly helpful.

Realism in 20th century painting
Prendeville, Brendan. 2000.
New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson.
ND196.R4 P74 2000
Learn about the predecessors to photorealism in Prendeville’s chronologically arranged overview. Chapter 2 explains the link between mid century artists such as Charles Sheeler  and Edward Hopper and the photorealist generation.

A brush with the real: figurative painting today
Valli, Marc, and Margherita Dessanay. 2014.
ND196.4 .F54 V35 2014
For a look at the contemporary realist and figurative landscape this title with high quality reproductions provides a nice overview.

Friday Find: Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha

Progress on our rare book cataloging project is slow but steady. Tucked in among some 19th century American

The catalog is bound in sand paper and screws. Title is pink flocking.

The catalog is bound in sand paper and screws. Title is pink flocking.

bill title pagelandscape titles was this exhibition catalog of Billy Al Bengston’s exhibition at LACMA in 1968. The catalog itself is a work of art. Designed by Ed Ruscha it is what we call today an artist’s book. The exhibition itself was designed by Frank Gehry. This was a powerhouse! Produced in a run of 2500 the catalogs are bound in sandpaper (100 grit on the front board and 50 for the back) and button head screws bind the work. It begs to be touched!

For a first hand account of the landmark exhibition check out this interview with Bengston and Gehry.

New Focus Exhibit Now on View

Though it was hard to say goodbye the the gorgeous photography of the travel albums DotyArchive_Portait004_forwebexhibit we are happy to announce the next library and archives focus exhibit. Through a Director’s Eyes: The collection of Robert “Mac” Doty is on view now through March 20,
2015 in the lower level library corridor.  The exhibit presents a small selection of the material presented to the Museum by the Doty family. Doty’s papers are open to researchers and include correspondence, original works of art including three serigraphs by Richard Anuskiewicz, a print by Neil Welliver, photographs and research files.

Doty committed himself to developing the photography collection at the Currier. He was instrumental in facilitating acquisitions from notable artists such as Lotte Jacobi and Paul Strand and along with his papers the library received over 1500 books from his personal library.  Two early volumes by the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn are on view along with two snapshots of Doty taken by Coburn._MG_7708

The personal papers of Mr. Doty complement the Director’s Records produced during his tenure. All material is open for research. To learn  more about Doty’s Director’s Records check out the finding aid.

The exhibit is open even when the _MG_7679library is closed so make your way downstairs and check it out!

Last Chance for travel photography exhibit

By this time next week the beautiful albums in our exhibit A Naval Officer’s Albums: Travel Photogrophay in the 19th-Century will be back in storage.  Be sure to check them out before Monday and of course come back to see our next installation; highlights from the collection of former Currier Museum of Art Director Robert “Mac” Doty.  The exhibit will focus on his insightful and visionary work in developing the fine art photography collection here at the Currier. The installation will include a few objects from the permanent collection with connections to Doty, either acquired under his leadership or donated to the colleciton by the artist in his honor.