Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
2.5 linear feet (8 boxes)
The correspondence series is primarily letters to Blaine from friends, much of it dating from 1959 when she was stricken with polio in Greece. Some printed material is included as well as a few letters between others.
Biographical / Historical
Blaine married Robert Bass, a musician, in 1943; they divorced in 1949. She contracted polio on Mykonos Island (Greece) in the fall of 1959, spending months in a hospital in New York and in an iron lung, but proving the medical opinion wrong that she would not paint again, laboriously retraining her hands. She used a wheelchair the rest of her life and suffered from post-polio syndrome from which she ultimately died November 14, 1996. She was survived by her companion of 30 years, Carolyn Harris, also a painter.
Blaine's painting began in realism, but at age 21 she was the youngest member of the group American Abstract Artists. She was a founding member of the Jane Street Gallery, an early artists' cooperative, and had her first solo show there in 1945. During a trip to Paris with Larry Rivers in 1950, she immersed herself in 19th-century European painting and from that point developed a vivid and colorful representational style for which she is best known. Her New York circle of artist and writer friends in the 1950's included John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Larry Rivers, Jane Freilicher, Leland Bell, Robert De Niro Sr. and Rudy Burckhardt. She exhibited solo at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1953 and was represented by the Poindexter Gallery and the Fischbach Gallery.
- I. Diaries
- II. Correspondence
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Blaine, Nell, 1922-1996. Nell Blaine diaries and correspondence, circa 1947-2002: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Description rules
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
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