The Witkin Gallery collection
Scope and Contents
The Witkin Gallery collection consists of papers, photographic material, financial records, and artifacts documenting the work of Lee D. Witkin and the Witkin Gallery. The collection spans from 1879 to 2005 with the majority of the material ranging in date from 1969 to 1999. There is very little material in the collection documenting Lee Witkin’s personal life beyond the gallery.
Correspondence (undated, 1954, 1964-1965, 1968-2000, 2003) is arranged as three subseries: General Correspondence, Cards and Postcards, and Scrapbook. General Correspondence includes letters written to Lee Witkin and the Witkin Gallery in relation to gallery activities. Cards and Postcards includes holiday cards, birthday cards, and congratulatory cards given to Lee Witkin. The third subseries includes a scrapbook of correspondence, 1974-1975, put together by Lee D. Witkin that includes letters from photographers and friends as well as clippings about Lee Witkin and the Witkin Gallery.
Artists’ Files (bulk 1965-1998) includes correspondence with and about the artist as well as related Witkin Gallery material. Also included within Artists’ Files is biographical material, photographs by the artist, and exhibition announcements for non-Witkin shows. Artists’ Files includes large files for artists with whom Lee Witkin had a long relationship as well as smaller files.
Publications (bulk 1966-1984) is arranged in seven subseries: The Photograph Collector’s Guide, A Ten Year Solute, Witkin Gallery Catalogues, Exhibition Announcements, Posters, Clippings, and Miscellaneous Publication Material. The first two subseries contain correspondence, research, mock ups, drafts, and other files related to the writing and publishing of the two books. Witkin Gallery Catalogues includes catalogues of material for sale by the Witkin Gallery as well as a few exhibition catalogues. Exhibition Announcements consists entirely of non-Witkin Gallery exhibition announcements collected by Lee Witkin and Evelyne Daitz. Clippings contains newspaper clippings about Lee Witkin, the Witkin Gallery, photography, photographers, and other topics of interest to Lee Witkin. Miscellaneous Publication Material includes mock ups, mechanicals, and other material related to the publishing and printing of exhibition catalogues, posters, and Witkin Gallery exhibition announcements
Witkin Gallery Records (undated, 1964, 1969-1999) is arranged as six subseries: Financial Records, Auction Purchase Records, Book Trade Records, Legal Files, Witkin-Berley Files, and Miscellaneous Gallery Records. The majority of Financial Records range in date from 1974 to 1999 and the gallery’s early financial status is not well documented. Auction Purchase Records and Book Trade Records document purchases and sales made by the Witkin Gallery. Legal Files includes Lee Witkin and Witkin Gallery tax information, correspondence between Lee Witkin and his lawyer, and other related material. Witkin-Berley Files consists of materials related to the publishing of limited edition portfolios and prints by artists whose work was exhibited by the gallery. Miscellaneous Gallery Records includes related material as well as gallery stationary, gallery space leases, appraisals, and donations.
Lee D. Witkin Biographical Material and Activity Files (1954, 1956-1957, 1959, 1968-1985, 1987) is arranged as two subseries: Biographical Material and NYU Teaching Files. Biographical Material includes ephemera related to horseracing, Lee D. Witkin’s horoscopes, and interviews with Lee Witkin. This subseries also includes copies of earlier theater reviews written by Lee Witkin. NYU Teaching files documents Lee Witkin’s time as a professor at NYU teaching the history of photography.
Artifacts and Awards (undated, 1887, 1955, 1958, 1969-1973, 1975, 1977, 1979-1993) is arranged as two subseries: Awards and Miscellaneous Artifacts and Guest Books. Awards and Miscellaneous Artifacts includes awards won by Lee Witkin as well as other artifacts such as gifts given to Lee Witkin and Evelyne Daitz, Lee Witkin’s address books and planners, a Naomi Siegmann sculpture exhibited in the third gallery space, two sets of original leather covers from Animal Locomotion, and the marquee from the second gallery space. Guest books includes exhibition guest books as well as the guest book from Lee D. Witkin’s memorial service. The bulk of the exhibition guest books are from 1984-1993, though a few guest books from earlier exhibits are present within the collection.
Photographic Material (undated, 1879, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1915, 1966-1985) is arranged as 4 subseries: 35mm Color Slides, Images of Lee Witkin and Gallery Events, Miscellaneous Photographic Material, and Photographic Equipment. The bulk of the series is made up of Lee Witkin’s 35mm color slide collection which includes installation views, images of gallery events, Witkin’s visits to photographers’ homes, and other gallery related happenings. The slides are arranged chronologically and range in date from 1966-1984. Images of Lee Witkin and Gallery Events includes Polaroids and snapshots of similar subjects as well as more professional portraits of Lee Witkin and the gallery. This subseries also includes photographs taken by Lee Witkin. Miscellaneous Photographic Material includes press prints, copy prints, and reproduction prints related to gallery activities as well as late 19th century/early 20th century material collected by Lee Witkin or sold by the Witkin Gallery. Photographic Equipment consists of Lee Witkin’s Polaroid and 35mm cameras as well as a tripod and a delineascope.
- Majority of material found within 1969-1999
Language of Materials
Material in English
Conditions Governing Access
To access materials from this collection, please contact CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu
Access to personal correspondence within the Witkin Gallery, Inc. collection is restricted under a privacy rule. Personal letters written within the past twenty-five years may not be viewed without the written permission of the correspondents.
Access to material from the 2001 purchase is currently restricted. These restrictions are noted throughout the finding aid.
Conditions Governing Use
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.
Copyright to Lee Witkin's writings and photographs is held by the Estate of Lee Witkin. Permissions should be sought from the Executors of the Estate. For further information, consult the Archivist.
The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement
Lee D. Witkin (1935-1984) was born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1935 to Nanette and Alexander Witkin. After graduating from NYU in 1958 as an English major, Lee Witkin began working as a writer and editor for an engineering magazine in South Orange, New Jersey. During this time, Lee and his sister, Carol, cared for their mother who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lee would often spend weekends visiting art galleries and rare book stores and was an avid collector. Inspired by this passion for collecting and a 1969 horoscope which encouraged him to “experiment in new areas” that would “propel [him] into making money by bizarre means,” Lee Witkin, using his $6,000 savings, opened the Witkin Gallery in March of 1969. Though his background was not in photography, the gallery came to be the first successful commercial photography gallery in New York City and Lee Witkin was soon respected as an expert in the field. During his life, Lee worked as an advisor and an appraiser for many museums and private collections such as MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, and the LIFE photographic archive. Lee also regularly lectured on photography and collecting, co-authored The Photograph Collector’s Guide in 1979, wrote A Ten Year Salute in celebration of the Witkin Gallery’s ten year anniversary in 1979, and went on to teach the history of photography at NYU in 1984. Lee D. Witkin served as the director of the Witkin Gallery until his death October 5th, 1984 at the age of 49.
The Witkin Gallery was founded by Lee D. Witkin (1935-1984). Originally located at 237 East 60th Street, the Witkin Gallery was the first commercially successful photographic gallery in New York City. The first show included photographers Scott Hyde, George Krause, Duane Michals, George A. Tice, and Burk Uzzle. The same year the work of photographers Eugène Atget, Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, and Les Krims also showed at the gallery. In 1971, Lee Witkin and Daniel Berley began printing limited edition portfolios of prints by photographers whose work showed at the Witkin Gallery. Later, in September of 1971, the gallery moved to 243 East 60th Street where it stayed until moving to 41 East 57th Street in December, 1975. As the gallery became more successful and moved to larger spaces, Lee Witkin maintained a welcoming, informal atmosphere modeled after the rare book shops he loved. Throughout his time as the gallery’s director he maintained a generalist’s approach and exhibited a very diverse, wide range of work. After Lee Witkin’s passing in October of 1984, Evelyne Daitz became the gallery’s director and the gallery once again moved spaces to 415 West Broadway. Evelyne Daitz maintained Lee Witkin’s generalist approach until the gallery ultimately closed in August 1999.
151 Linear Feet
85 Cubic Feet
Metadata Rights Declarations
- License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.
Papers, photographic materials, and artifacts (bulk 1969-1999) documenting the work of Lee D. Witkin (1935 1984) and the Witkin Gallery. Includes extensive files of correspondence from photographers, collectors, and other galleries; artists’ files; photographic material documenting events at the gallery; exhibition announcements; gallery publications; posters; catalogs; and other materials pertaining to the activities of Lee D. Witkin and the operation of the gallery and bookstore until its closure in 1999.
The Collection is arranged into the following series:
Series 1:Series 1: Correspondence, undated, 1954, 1964-1965, 1968-2000, 2003 (Boxes 1-25; 13.2 linear feet; 9.29 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: General Correspondence, undated, 1965, 1968-2000, 2003
- Subseries 2: Cards and Postcards, undated, 1954, 1964, 1969-1984, 1986-1988
- Subseries 3: Scrapbook, 1974-1975
Series 2: Artists’ Files, undated, 1924, 1933-1937, 1953, 1955-1956, 1962, 1965-1998, 2005 (Boxes 26-55; 16.5 linear feet; 14.25 cubic feet)
- Series 2: Artists’ Files, undated, 1924, 1933-1937, 1953, 1955-1956, 1962, 1965-1998, 2005
Series 3: Publications, undated, 1911, 1914, 1931, 1937, 1940, 1946-1948, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1966-1967, 1969-1984 (Boxes 56-97; 45.75 linear feet; 22.57 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: The Photograph Collector’s Guide, undated, 1969-1984
- Subseries 2: A Ten Year Solute, 1977-1980
- Subseries 3: Witkin Gallery Catalogues, 1973-1981, 1984
- Subseries 4: Exhibition Announcements, undated, 1911, 1966-1967, 1969-1984, 1999-2000
- Subseries 5: Posters, undated, 1914, 1976-1978, 1980-1981, 1983, 2002
- Subseries 6: Clippings, undated, 1931, 1937, 1946-1947, 1959, 1970-1972, 1975-1987, 1993
- Subseries 7: Misc. Publication Materials, undated, 1940, 1948, 1954, 1964, 1969-1971, 1973-1984
Series 4: Witkin Gallery Records, undated, 1964, 1969-1999 (Boxes 98-126; 13.25 linear feet; 11.89 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: Financial Records, 1974-1999
- Subseries 2: Auction Purchase Records, 1976-1989, 1991
- Subseries 3: Book Trade Records, undated, 1964, 1971-1984
- Subseries 4: Legal Files, undated, 1976-1979, 1981, 1983-1986
- Subseries 5: Witkin-Berley Files, undated, 1971-1977, 1980, 1983
- Subseries 6: Miscellaneous Witkin Gallery Records, undated, 1969-1986, 1988-1993, 1997
Series 5: Lee Witkin Biographical Material and Activity Files, undated, 1954, 1956-1957, 1959, 1968-1985, 1987 (Boxes 127-130; 2.75 linear feet; 2.05 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: Biographical Material, undated, 1954, 1956-1957, 1959, 1968-1985, 1987
- Subseries 2: New York University Teaching Files, 1954, 1975-1978, 1981-1984
Series 6: Artifacts and Awards, undated, 1887, 1955, 1958, 1969-1973, 1975, 1977, 1979-1993 (Boxes 131-144; 15.75 linear feet; 8.24 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: Awards and Miscellaneous Artifacts, 1955, 1958, 1969-1973, 1975, 1977, 1979-1985, 1987, 1991
- Subseries 2: Guest Books, 1969-1970, 1980, 1984-1993
Series 7: Photographic Material, undated, 1879, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1915, 1966-1985 (Boxes 145-198; 42.5 linear feet; 16.17 cubic feet)
- Subseries 1: 35mm Color Slides, undated, 1966-1984
- Subseries 2: Images of Lee Witkin and Gallery Events, undated, 1966, 1968, 1970-1985
- Subseries 3: Miscellaneous Photographic Material, undated, 1879, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1915, 1971-1973, 1975, 1977-1983, 1985, 1994
- Subseries 4: Photographic Equipment, undated (Boxes 196-198; 2.75 linear feet; 2.28 cubic feet)
This collection consists of a gift of the Witkin Estate in 1985, material purchased in 2001, and a gift of Evelyne Daitz in 2007.
1999 Loan (unprocessed)
Some material from the Witkin Gallery collection was integrated into the Center for Creative Photography’s library holdings. For a list of these items, please see an archivist.
Material from the 2007 gift was integrated into the collection and the finding aid was updated by Ann Richwine May-June, 2015.
Processing of the collection and the finding aid were updated by Lenox Wiese January-June, 2018.
- The Witkin Gallery collection bulk 1969-1999
- Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
- © 2018
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid encoded in English .