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Exhibitions, News: Yaddo: Making American Culture

October 24, 2008

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An exhibition at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, from October 24, 2008 through February 15, 2009, explored how the artists' retreat Yaddo fostered 20th-century American arts and letters.

Founded in 1900 by financier and philanthropist Spencer Trask and his wife, Katrina Trask, Yaddo began receiving guests in 1926 and was immediately hailed by The New York Times as a "new and unique experiment, which has no exact parallel in the world of fine arts." Since that inaugural season, Yaddo has navigated the roiled cultural and political life of 20th-century America while hosting thousands of artists and writers, including such luminaries as James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Flannery O'Connor, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Jacob Lawrence, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philip Guston and Sylvia Plath.

The exhibition was drawn from the intimate letters, papers, photographs, art objects, and ephemera that constitute the Yaddo Records, now in The New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division; from collections throughout the Library; and from Yaddo's own holdings of rare books and artworks. This short video includes highlights from the exhibit with remarks from curator Micki McGee.