Jules Langsner was born on May 5, 1911, in New York, New York and died in Los Angeles, California, on September 29, 1967.
Langsner was surrounded by intellectuals and artists from a young age, and became a celebrated art writer, critic and curator.
The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, ephemera, and photographs related to Langsner's writing, research
and curatorial work.
Jules Langsner was born Julius Harold Langsner in New York, N.Y. on May 5, 1911 to Austrian immigrant parents. His family
moved to a commune in Bogota, New Jersey, and later relocated to Ontario, Calif. around 1922 to start a small farm. The farm
soon transformed into the Paradise Health Resort and became a place frequented by intellectuals and their families. In Ontario,
he was introduced to the Pollock family, and became friends with three of their sons: Jackson, Frank, and Sanford. Langsner
attended Belmont High School in Los Angeles, Calif., while many of his friends attended Manual Arts High School (also in Los
Angeles). In his late teens, he became an advocate for modernist painting styles, including abstraction and surrealism. Langsner,
then a budding poet, spent much of his time in Los Angeles as part of a young intellectuals group that included Phillip Goldstein
(later known as Philip Guston), Jackson Pollock, Reuben Kadish, Frank Pollock, Sanford Pollock (later known as Sande McCoy),
Leonard Stark, and Don Brown. When they weren't working odd jobs, Langsner and his leftist circle debated politics, philosophy
and art. He was greatly affected by racism and anti-immigration and became interested in education and justice from a young
age. He became interested in avant-garde painting while Kadish, Pollock and Guston were being mentored by Los Angeles artist
Lorser Feitelson. Feitelson introduced the young men to post-surrealism, pastiche and film noir influences through his work.
Langsner enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles as a psychology major, then enlisted in the Army in 1944 as
a social worker revising Rorschach psychodiagnostic charts. He remained in the United States for the duration of World War
II. After WWII, Langsner continued to develop his professional and personal relationships in Los Angeles. He befriended a
variety of artists and intellectuals, including artist and printmaker June Wayne, who would remain a dear friend until his
death. His curiosity and appreciation for art and artists in Los Angeles led him to pursue art writing and criticism. In 1948,
Langsner published his first article in Art & Architecture, contributing periodically until 1963. He published articles for
Art News (later known as ArtNews) from 1949-1967, followed by the Los Angeles Times from 1955-1958, Zodiac from 1959-1960, Craft horizons from 1959-1963, Art in America in 1963 and 1967, and Canadian Art in 1964. He taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and San Fernando State College from 1959-1967. Langsner's writing brought
national attention to local artists, institutions, and topics. He promoted the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and other
local art museums in multiple publications. In the April 1963 issue of Art in America, Langsner coined the phrase "second city" to describe Los Angeles in comparison to New York's art scene. In 1951, he published
one of the first articles to embrace Simon Rodia's towers in Watts as a work of art. He promoted many artists, including Rico
Lebrun, William Turnbull, Sam Francis, and Matsumi Kanemitsu. His ability to communicate with and befriend artists, as well
as his ability to understand the subtleties of multiple styles, led him to pursue art curatorship. In 1957, Langsner was sponsored
by the Ray Cardillo Travel Agency to visit art centers throughout Europe, and curated a Marc Chagall exhibit at the Pasadena
Art Museum. Perhaps he is best known for curating the landmark exhibition "Four Abstract Classicists" in 1959, which included
work by John McLaughlin, Frederick Hammersley, Karl Benjamin and Lorser Feitelson. It was in 1959 that Langsner and art historian
Peter Selz originated the phrase "hard-edge painting" to describe the colors, shapes and style of abstract expressionist painting
on the West Coast. His catalog for the exhibit became the criterion for the hard-edge school of painting. In 1961, Langsner
was awarded a fellowship grant for advanced study in the fine arts from the Graham Foundation, and in 1964 was the recipient
of a Ford Foundation grant for visual arts research. While traveling for his Ford grant, Langsner was in close correspondence
with June Harwood, a hard-edge painter and in 1965, they were married. In 1966, Langsner organized and curated the first full-scale
retrospective of Man Ray in the United States for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, establishing him as the pre-eminent
art critic of the West Coast. Langsner died suddenly of a heart attack on September 29, 1967.