Athena Tacha papers 1942 - 2000
Athena Tacha (1936-) is a Greek American sculptor, photographer, and conceptual artist who received degrees from the National Academy of Fine Arts (Athens, Greece), Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio), and the University of Paris (Sorbonne). In the 1960s she settled in the United States and became a professor of sculpture at Oberlin College. Her commissioned pieces are installed as public art across the United States and in several other countries as well. This collection contains mostly early correspondence, education materials, publications, and artwork from 1950 through the 1980s, although it spans from 1950 to 2000.
This collection contains the early papers of Athena Tacha, which date from 1948 to 2000. This collection is divided into four series: I. Correspondence, II. Education, III. Miscellaneous, and IV. Photographs. It is mostly correspondence, but does include some of Tacha's early artwork (1957-1958) and her notes on art history and theory, which document her early influences and thoughts. Materials are in Greek, French, and English. Series I: Correspondence is arranged chronologically and dates from 1950 through 2000, although the bulk of the correspondence is from 1950 through the 1980s. Researchers should note that most letters from the 1950s are written to Tacha from friends and family, rather than by her. The letters are mostly in Greek, although a few are in French in English. The correspondence is mostly between Tacha and her mother, but there are some letters written to and from her adopted sister, Marianthe, as well as to and from friends both in and outside of the art world. Most of the correspondence was written during Tacha's education in Greece, Paris, and at Oberlin College in the United States, and includes many details about her life, covering both mundane and very personal events. She discusses her education, social life, travels, medical issues, art, the aging and care of her parents, and her take on American and Greek politics. Letters from the early 1950s include some from pen pals that Tacha obtained through a children's magazine, for which she wrote under the pseudonym, "the Red Arrow." Her correspondence from her time at Oberlin and afterwards frequently mentions her mentor and friend, Ellen H. Johnson (1910-1982), and describes the progression of Johnson's cancer and the challenges of dealing with parts of her estate after her death (including the Frank Lloyd Wright house that Johnson owned). Tacha's correspondence will be of interest to researchers looking for information on her works of art, as she discusses them at length, including details of commissions and their receptions. They also provide an intimate picture of Greek family structure and relationships, and document a turbulent period of modern Greek history, including the Greek Civil War and the junta of 1967-1974. Of particular note is the letter from a thirteen-year old Tacha to the queen of Greece asking her to pardon her father, who had been held as a political prisoner for five years as a suspected German collaborator (Box 1, Folder 1). Letters are written by or mention several friends and acquaintances influential in the fields of art, design, and politics: Robert Morris (1931-), sculptor; Jim Dine (1935-), painter, sculptor, and pop artist; Ionas Vorres, Greek art collector and curator; Chrysanthos Christou, Greek art historian; Pandelis Prevelakis (1909-1986), Greek writer; Alan Spear (1937-2008), United States senator and brother of Tacha's husband, Richard Spear; Gerasimos Sklavos, Greek sculptor; Georges Boskoff, French composer; Etienne Souriau (1892-1979), philosopher and Tacha's PhD advisor; and Panagiotis Michelis (1903-1969), architect. Materials originally sent with the correspondence have been left in their original order, so this series also includes some ephemera and other related materials, like the script of Tacha and Richard Spear's wedding service (Box 1, Folder 2) and her mother's autograph book, signed by her childhood friends (Box 3, Folder 7). Series II: Education contains notes, papers, research, and other documents related to Tacha's education in Greece, Paris, and at Oberlin College in the United States. This series is arranged chronologically. Most of the materials in this series are notes from classes on art or art history although there are a few items from unrelated classes, like computer programming and Latin. Notes are in Greek, French, and English. This series also includes information Tacha compiled about jobs, fellowships, and scholarships.Series III: Miscellaneous is a small series arranged alphabetically by subject. It contains some of Tacha's early drawings of human models and architecture, done for her classes at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Athens. Her artwork also contains her drawings of Constantin Brancusi's Bird sculptures, which would be the subject of her second book, published in 1969. Additionally, this series contains her lectures and publications, some in draft form.Series IV: Photographs contains only two folders of materials. Most of the photographs are pictures of architecture and art in Greece, although there are some unidentified images which may be pictures of her early work. This series also contains photographs of her father, Constantine Tacha.
This collection is currently undergoing conservation and some items will be unavailable for research. When conservation is completed the finding aid will be updated.
3.4 Linear feet 3.4 linear feet, 12 boxes, 2 volumes