Notes from the Archives

Filed in Notes from the Archives by on June 14, 2017

The WAAM Archives has gotten two fantastic gifts recently which have included photographs by Lee Sievan. In looking through both collections of photographs for a researcher it got me curious about the photographer herself. Lee, born in Brooklyn in 1907, graduated from Hunter Teachers College in 1929 with a degree in physics and a minor in mathematics. According to art historian and curator Tram Combs in his essay for the checklist for the WAA(M)’s 1998 exhibition A Marriage in Art: Paintings by Maurice Sievan, Photographs by Lee Sievan, “She and Maurice met at a party in 1932 where a friend suggested she go to meet an interesting artist just back from Paris; they were married the next year.” Tram points out that Lee’s photography started simply because Maurice needed some of his work photographed and she had a camera, but she got “engrossed” by it. She studied photography with Eliot Elisofon and Berenice Abbott, worked as the darkroom assistant for Weegee, worked as a photojournalist, and photographed her husband for 48 years. Soon before her death in 1990, Lee exhibited photographs of hers of New York City in the 1930s and 1940s at the International Center of Photography, where she had worked as a librarian and archivist for about 15 years.

This photograph, amongst the collection gifted by the Estate of Lee Sievan, documents puppeteer Bil Baird and his wife Cora walking to the 1952 Woodstock Art Conference, held on the grounds of the current Woodstock School of Art (then the summer school for the Art Students League of New York). The WAAM Permanent Collection has 3 pieces by Bil Baird.

Emily Jones, Archivist
June 2017

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