Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, located in Avery Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, collects books and periodicals in archaeology, architecture, art history, city planning, decorative arts, design, historic preservation, landscape architecture, painting, photography, real estate development, and sculpture. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection contains approximately two million drawings, photographs, letters, and manuscripts relating to architecture and architects, focusing on American architecture with a strong emphasis on New York City. Art Properties oversees the art collection owned by Columbia University, which includes more than 12,000 works of art in all media and spanning many cultures and time periods, displayed in buildings at each campus and held in storage. The Avery collections include the drawings and papers of prominent gay architects (Philip Johnson and Roger Ferri), design plans for the renovated LGBT Center in New York (Françoise Bollack Architects collection), and photographs and paintings from important artists involved in queer circles (e.g., Andy Warhol and Florine Stettheimer).
Location: Avery Hall, Room 213
Research Hours: Currently by appointment only.
For more information: contact [email protected] or (212) 854-4110
Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005), described as “the best known openly gay architect in America,” designed prize-winning and influential buildings in a variety of styles. His personal Glass House (New Canaan, CT) and the Seagram Building (New York City) were highlights from his modernist period, while his Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove, CA) and 550 Madison Avenue (New York City) broke ground in what would become known as postmodern architecture. The collection (1943-1994, bulk 1943-1970) includes over 5,000 drawings representing over 100 projects, including preliminary design drawings and unbuilt studies, presentation drawings, and working drawings.
Note: the Oral History Archive includes an interview with Johnson as part of its New York Art World Project. Articles on Johnson from 1955-57 can also be found in the Avery Library Vertical Files (Box 8, Folder 11).
Portrait artist and modernist architect Roger C. Ferri attracted renown for his bold designs synthesizing nature and the built environment. In addition to his designs for the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (Loretto, PA), the Dai-Ichi Hotel (Tokyo, Japan), and a variety of other projects, he taught drawing, served as a design critic, and penned visionary designs imagining a post-petroleum urban landscape before his death from AIDS at 42. The collection (1971-2002) includes over 3600 drawings, over 800 slides, and 6 linear feet of papers and photographs documenting built and unbuilt projects spanning the length of Ferri’s career.
Françoise Bollack serves as a professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and heads a New York City architectural firm. She designed an award-winning renovation for the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center (today the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center) on West 13th Street in Manhattan. The collection (1984-2007) includes drawings and records related to the Center renovation as well as the New York State Capitol in Albany and other projects.
Documentary photographer Leon Levinstein (1910-1988) shot candid, naturalistic portraits of urban life in the United States. He focused on the streets of New York City, where his technique of close-range shots from the hip captured striking, sometimes unflattering vignettes and quietly intimate moments among a wide range of communities. Columbia’s holdings include 221 photographs from the 1950s to 1970s from his explorations of New York City as well as visits to Louisiana, California, Mexico, and Portugal; several depict sexual and gender non-conformity, including “Flamboyant Person” (pictured) and images from a New Orleans gay pride march.
Click here for full listing of the Levinstein photographs held by Art Properties.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) continues to influence new generations of artists and cultural theorists through his painting, photography, and film, as well as his approach to celebrity in the postmodern era. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts donated to Columbia a collection of 106 Polaroids, many of which served as templates for his portrait paintings, and 50 black-and-white silver gelatin prints shot in a more informal documentary style. Shot during the 1970s and 1980s, the pictures depict artists, musicians and performers, celebrities, models, royalty, and Warhol’s friends and acquaintances, offering a glimpse into the photographer’s daily life as well as his aesthetic vision.
Click here for a full listing of the Warhol photographs held by Art Properties.
The paintings, drawings, and designs of Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) reflect a distinctive colorful, feminine style that engaged themes of race, gender, and sexuality and challenged artistic conventions of the male gaze. The Upper West Side home she shared with her sisters hosted salons which attracted key figures in avant-garde art and literature as well as numerous openly gay, bisexual, and lesbian participants. Columbia University holds the largest extant collection of Stettheimer’s work, including over 65 paintings, drawings, and decorative objects from her set designs.
Click here for a full listing of Stettheimer’s works held by Art Properties.
Note: the Rare Book and Manuscript Library also holds a collection of Stettheimer’s papers and artwork.