Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Perls Galleries

titlePerls Galleries records, 1935-1997.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionThe records of the Perls Galleries measure 79.7 linear feet and date from 1937 to 1997. Founded by Klaus Perls in 1937 and operating until 1997, the gallery dealt primarily in modern French art and the artwork of Alexander Calder. Found within the records are extensive correspondence (circa 44 linear feet) with artists, dealers, galleries, museums, and collectors; photographs and negatives of inventory and other artwork; exhibition files, scattered financial records; and exhibition catalogs and clippings.

Correspondence primarily discusses sales (and includes invoices), loans, and exhibitions, as well as more routine activities such as gallery maintenance, the printing of exhibition catalogs and letterhead, and the shipment, framing, or restoration of artwork. Many letters enclose photographs, negatives, or slides of artwork, and clippings. A few letters contain oversize architectural or engineering drawings, and a small handful of letters are illustrated.

Correspondents include artists such as Darrell Austin, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Karl Priebe; galleries such as the Corcoran Gallery, Fujikawa Galleries, Galerie Maeght, and the Pierre Matisse Gallery; museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art; collectors such as Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz, Adelaide de Ménil, Valentine Dudensing, and Henry Ford, II; and celebrity clients such as Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Henry and Clare Booth Luce, and Barbra Streisand.

The records contain nearly thirty-two linear feet of photographs and negatives. Photographs are of artists and the inventory of the gallery's artwork. Additional photographs represent artwork either by artists not represented by the gallery or not included in the gallery's inventory. Most of the photographs are black and white. Over fifteen linear feet of negatives are of gallery stock. Photographs are also found in the exhibition files.

There is a relatively small amount of records relating to exhibitions, loans, and sales. Found are exhibition lists, schedules, invitations and announcements, photographs of exhibition installations, press releases, and records of loans to other institutions and galleries. Sales records include artist lists, inventory lists, invoices, pick up and delivery receipts, and price lists.

Printed materials include a large number of clippings and an incomplete run of catalogs from Perls Galleries exhibitions between 1939 and 1980.

The collection also includes ten original pencil drawings from John Canaday's series entitled My Beautiful Girls and a reproduction of eight drawings from the same series

Biographical/Historical Note:
The Perls Galleries (1937-1996) was a New York art gallery. The gallery dealt in contemporary French artists of the School of Paris, such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, but also acted as the primary representative of Alexander Calder beginning in 1954.

extent79.7 linear ft.
formatsCatalogs Photographs Clippings Works of Art Correspondence
accessThis collection was sealed until the death of Klaus Perls in 2008. The collection was processed by Julie Schweitzer in 2008.
record link
record source
acquisition informationDonated 1997 by Douglas Mayhew, long-time associate of the family.
updated03/16/2023 10:29:43

titleKlaus G. Perls interview, 1993 Jan. 19.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionAn interview of Klaus G. Perls conducted by Mona Hadler for the Archives of American Art.

Perls discusses his childhood in Germany; his early education and receiving a Phd. in Art History; writing a book on 15th century French artist Jean Fouquet; immigrating to New York in 1935; selling paintings that his mother sent to him from Paris to N.Y. art dealers; establishing Perls Galleries in 1937; representing European artists such as Maurice Utrillo, Marie Laurencin, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlaminck; the art world of the 1930s and 1940s; the founding of the Art Dealers Association; representing Alexander Calder from 1955-1976; and the "Calder Sidewalk."
extent1 sound cassette (45 min.) : analog.
accessUntranscribed; use requires an appointment.
record source
acquisition informationThis interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for this interview was provided by the Art Dealers Association of America.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:48

titleChet Harmon La More papers, 1933-1973.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionCorrespondence with Perls Galleries, the National Serigraph Society, Carlebach Gallery, Oscar Krasner Gallery, and the Carlin Gallery; correspondence with the WPA concerning the sale and showing of his work; 2 scrapbooks containing catalogs and brochures, lists of group shows, clippings and photos; a letter from Max Weber, who writes about his own lithographs and his intentions to give them to Frank Schapiro.

Bio / His Notes:
Painter, graphic artist, teacher; Born in Dane County, Wis. Studied at the Colt School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin, and Columbia. He taught at the Albright Art School, Buffalo, N.Y., the University of Buffalo and the University of Michigan.
extent188 items (on partial microfilm reel). roll 819
formatsMicrofilm Correspondence Ephemera Clippings Photographs
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record link
record source
acquisition informationLent for microfilming 1974 by Chet Harmon La More. Location of Original: Originals returned to Chet Harmon La More after microfilming.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:00

titleSubject file: Perls Galleries: miscellaneous uncataloged material.
repositoryThe Museum of Modern Art
descriptionThe folder may include announcements, clippings, press releases, brochures, reviews, invitations, and other ephemeral material.

MoMA Queens Subject Files

Call Number
extent1 folder
accessContact repository for restrictions and policies.
record source
updated11/29/2022 15:49:50

titleLetters and postcards from Alexander Calder, 1957-1970.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionCorrespondence; and postcards.

REEL 1321: Ten postcards to Jack [Charles T.] Kyle. Three of them picture Calder's studio in Sache, France, but carry no message. The other seven picture Calder's sculpture and studio and bear brief notes, invitations, thanks, arrangments to meet.

REEL 1038: 23 letters, mostly between Calder and Jack Kyle regarding the displaying of Calder's works. Also included are a memo from Peter J. Leslie to John J. Carlos discussing damage to a Calder moblie and a letter from Klaus Perls (of Perls Galleries, New York City) to Kyle relating to a mobile by Calder at Kennedy International Airport.
extent33 items (on 2 microfilm reels) reels 1038 and 1321
formatsCorrespondence Postcards
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
acquisition information Originals returned to Charles T. Kyle aftermicrofilming. Lent for microfilming 1975-1977 by Charles T. Kyle.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:00

titleFrederick Papsdorf papers, 1900-1975.
repositoryArchives of American Art
descriptionLetters; biographical sketch; artworks; sketchbooks; photographs; exhibition catalogs and announcements; clippings; articles; and printed material.

REEL 981: A biographical sketch; 160 letters, 1941-1975, mostly from Klaus Perls, Papsdorf's dealer at the Perls Galleries, N.Y.C., 1943-1950; 2 books of watercolors and 32 loose watercolors, 1900, 7 wash drawings, and 5 sketchbooks, 1933-1948; 10 photos of Papsdorf, his paintings, and exhibitions; catalogs, announcements, articles; and clipppings. Also included are letters from the American Red Cross concerning Papsdorf's activities as an instructor for their Arts & Skills Corps during the mid-1940's.

REEL 3813: Four letters, 1957-1958; 2 photographs of Papsdorf; 50 drawings and 2 intaglio prints; exhibition announcements and catalogs; clippings; and miscellaneous printed material.

Bio / His Notes:
Painter; Detroit, Michigan.
extent0.6 linear ft. (on 2 microfilm reels) reels 981 and 3813
formatsMicrofilm Correspondence Artwork Clippings Printed Materials
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
acquisition informationMaterial on reel 981 donated 1973 by Frederick Papsdorf; material on reel 3813 donated 1984 by Syracuse University.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:00

titlePapers of Hugo Perls (1886-1977), 1936-1976
repositoryLeo Baeck Institute
descriptionThis collection mainly documents the professional life of the art dealer and writer Hugo Perls. Prominent topics found among these papers include the philosophy of Plato and its application to aesthetics as well as the publication of the works of Hugo Perls and Eugénie Söderberg Perls.

Documents relating to Plato's philosophy will be found throughout the collection; much of Hugo Perls's writing concerns the Greek philosopher.

The area of the collection where this can be seen most easily is among Hugo Perls's manuscripts, found in Subseries 1 of Series III: Writings. While living in Paris in the 1930s, Perls undertook a close study of Plato's writings.

Some notes on these are among the notes in Subseries 2 of Series III. The results of this period led to his work, Platon, sa conception du kosmos, which was later published in translation in German. Many other works in this Subseries also deal with Plato's philosophy, including Das Geheimnis der Kunst, which examines the relationship between beauty, art, and aesthetics.

Other material concerning Perls's knowledge of Plato is seen in Series II, where his correspondence with scholars defends his writing, and where a letter sent to David Baumgardt mention the creation of a Platonic Academy. Finally, the correspondence also holds letters and some documents on lectures he gave on Plato's philosophy.

The most prominent type of documents in this collection are the manuscripts of Hugo Perls's writings. There are often several drafts of items that Perls published, written in German, French, or English. Drafts usually contain many handwritten notes and corrections, and some versions may have differing page numeration.

Correspondence with various publishers concerning the publication of his writing will be found in Series II, Subseries 3. Reviews of his published works are located in the last subseries of Series III, while informal opinions on his works may be found among the correspondence in Series II, Subseries 2.

Material pertaining to Perls's work as an art dealer will also be found in this collection. Most useful to researchers may be his manuscript Warum ist Kamilla schön?, which was published in 1962. This piece documents Perls's experiences as an art dealer, and includes descriptions of individuals he encountered in this profession, including Max Friedländer and Pablo Picasso.

Photographs of artworks he owned and of his gallery in New York will be found in Series I: Personal. Correspondence concerning his work as an art dealer, especially of the financial aspect of the work, is held in Subseries 1: Art of Series II.

This collection contains a small amount of documentation on Eugénie Söderberg, Hugo Perls second wife. There are a few manuscripts of the writing of the Swedish journalist and author, located in Subseries 3 of Series III. In addition, a few letters sent from her to her husband is in Series II, Subseries 2. Lastly, numerous obituaries in Swedish for her will be found in Series I.

Biographical Note
Hugo Perls was born in Rybnik in Upper Silesia (then Germany, now in Poland) on May 24, 1886. He studied law, philosophy, and art history at the Universities of Freiburg and Berlin. In 1910 Hugo and his wife Käthe Perls had their first child, Frank.

Two years later they had another son, Klaus. After Hugo Perls completed his studies, he joined the German civil service, where he worked for a time for the Ministry of the Interior before serving in the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) in World War I.

In 1914 Perls began collecting artwork, and by 1921 was working as an art dealer, establishing the Käte Perls Gallerie in Berlin and collecting and selling the works of many well-known artists, especially impressionists.

Among the works of artists included in his collection were pieces by Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Cézanne, among others. In 1913 Munch had painted a portrait of Hugo and Käte Perls.

Perls moved to Paris in 1931 because of the growing strength of the National Socialists in Germany, where he studied the works of Plato in their original language. At this time he also studied the works of Goethe and Kant.

This research eventually led him to compose several pieces concerning Plato, his philosophy, and aesthetics. These articles were published in journals such as the Revue Philosophique, Mercure de France, and the Revue de Morale et de Métaphysique. He also gave lectures at the Sorbonne on Plato. In 1938 his research resulted in the publication of his first book: L'Art et la Beauté vus par Platon.

In 1941 Hugo Perls immigrated to the United States, where he lived in Manhattan. In the same year he married his second wife, the Swedish writer Eugénie Söderberg (1903-1973). His eldest son Klaus had established the Perls Galleries in New York in 1937, and during this time Hugo Perls may have assisted his son in the acquisition of artwork.

In 1939 his son Frank opened the Frank Perls Gallery in southern California. For a short time after World War II Hugo Perls lived in Italy and traveled in Europe to further study collections of paintings. From this time until his death, Perls concentrated on writing and publishing his works, most of which concerned Plato and his philosophy and how his concepts could be used in judging and appreciating art. Perhaps most significant among his writing was his work Platon: sa conception du kosmos, originally published in 1946. This book, based on Perl's studies of Plato's original writings while in Paris, was republished in German twenty years later.

Other topics focused on in his published works included the discussion of aesthetics and the relationship between beauty and art. His work Die Komödie der Wahrheit (The Comedy of Truth) also featured other topics such as German intellectualism and the growth of anti-Semitism.

Hugo Perls's wife Eugénie died in New York in 1973. After her death he married the writer Monica Schall. Hugo Perls died in New York in 1977.

Related Material
Two collections at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. pertain to this collection. The first of these is the Perl Galleries records, which consist of 66.3 linear feet and concern the Perls Galleries in New York. This collection is restricted until 2007.

The second related collection at the Archives of American Art is the Frank Perls papers and Frank Perls Gallery records. Frank Perls was the eldest son of Hugo Perls, and this 37.5 linear feet collection holds papers of his as well as records of the Frank Perls Gallery he founded in Beverly Hills, California.

A collection of papers of Eugénie Söderberg, Hugo Perls's second wife, are located at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The LBI Library holds some of the published work of Hugo Perls, including his autobiography Warum ist Kamilla schön?, which describes his experiences as an art dealer and collector.

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Hugo Perls Collection; AR 6400; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.
extent6 linear feet
formatsCorrespondence Legal Papers Writings Photographs Clippings
accessThere may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, email:
record source
finding aidOn line and in the repository.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:16

titleEugénie Soderberg Papers, [ca.1930]-1973.
repositoryStony Brook University
descriptionThe collection includes personal and professional correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, and works of art.

Biographical Note:
Swedish-born journalist and author who came to the United States in 1940 as a reporter for Scandinavian newspapers, where she wrote about fine arts in America. She was the daughter-in-law of Swedish playwright Hjalmar Söderberg.

She was associated with a group of Swedish literary radicals in the 1930's, whose work was published in the avant-garde magazine 'Spektrum.' Her best-known novel is 'Student-Fabriken' (Student Factory). She was married the classical scholar Hugo Perls.

extent36.4 cubic ft.
formatsPersonal Papers Business Papers Correspondence Photographs Clippings
accessThis collection is unprocessed.
record link
record source
finding aidUnprocessed
acquisition informationThis collection was acquired in 1972 through Barbara Lipman-Wulf, who, with her husband, Peter Lipman-Wulf, were personal friends of Eugenia Söderberg.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:16