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 Collection
Identifier: GB 8

Winifred Milius Lubell Collection

Dates

  • Majority of material found in 1933-2014

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of over 830 collages, drawings, prints, sketchbooks, watercolors, and other works of art representing many significant phases of Winifred Milius Lubell’s artistic career, spanning the years 1933-2011. Also included are 118 woodblocks, linocut blocks and plates for many of the prints. Archival material, dating from the mid-1930s through 2014, includes draft illustrations for her book Metamorphosis of Baubo, research studies for a project on marginalia in medieval books and materials related to exhibitions of her works, as well as videos of the artist discussing her works and an autobiographical sketch. Subjects of recurring interest in both her art and papers include social issues, particularly of the depression era, landscapes and nature studies, the role of women over time, with a focus on goddesses and the mythic regard for fertility, as well as numerous portraits. The following listing, while not comprehensive, offers guidelines to where concentrations of these subjects are to be found. Works focusing on the Depression, protest and poverty can be found in Lubell 160-197. Landscapes and nature, including places she visited or lived, such as the area around the Truro River and a series on California, and studies of lichen, flowers, grass or other plant forms, are represented in the works Lubell 1-80, 118-134 and 311-314. Lubell 81-117, 148-159 and 277-307 have a concentration of works on Goddesses, Fertility and Mythology. Portraits and Figural Drawings are found in Lubell 223-267. Lubell 270-275 is a series on puppets. Please note that works on these topics are found throughout the collection and not just in these indicated areas. The collection includes many duplicate prints.

The collection includes a small number of works by other artists, and some for which the artist has not been determined. Among these are Lubell 261, which is possibly by Richard Stein, Lubell 268, possibly a woodcut by B. Woodworth and Lubell 269 by George Maas. Lubell 134 and 336 have no identified artist. Lubell 121 is signed Barbara Stoughton.

The Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections has other material by Winifred Milius Lubell, including her Metamorphosis of Baubo, call number: GN799.W66L3 1994 and a small number of her illustrated children's books.

References

Brown, David. “Winifred Milius Lubell, political graphic artist and book illustrator, dies.” Washington Post. Jan 5 2012. Accessed 4/14/2015.

“Milius (Lubell), Winifred.” Paramour Fine Arts. Accessed 4/14/2015.

“Winnie Lubell.” Kendall Art Gallery. Accessed 4/14/2015.

Winifred Lubell papers. Children's Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis. Accessed 4/14/2015.

Winifred Lubell papers, 1933-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Accessed 4/15/2015.

Extent

26 cubic feet (24 books and 49 boxes: 6 legal size manuscript boxes, 2 letter size manuscript boxes, 10 large flat boxes (21 x 25 x 3”), 1 large flat box (21 x 25 x 1.5”), 1 oversized flat box (23.5 x 31.5 x 3”), 28 medium flat boxes (18 x 13 x 3” and 19 ½ x 14 5/8 x 3”) and one custom clam shell box (19 ¼ x 6 x 3 ¼”))

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection primarily consists of examples of the artistic output, prints, drawings and watercolors, of artist and book illustrator Winifred Milius Lubell. Also included are sketchbooks, woodblocks for many of the prints, draft illustrations for her book Metamorphosis of Baubo and research studies for her project on marginalia in medieval books.

Biographical Sketch

Winifred Milius Lubell was an artist and book illustrator whose artistic work in watercolors and drawings, woodblocks and etchings is represented both in individual works and in illustrations for numerous books. She was active in social causes throughout her life. Born in New York City in 1914, she learned first from her artist mother. She studied at the Art Students League in New York in the early 1930s with George Grosz and printmaker Harry Sternberg, where she focused on the human impact of the Depression in the city and became active in the left leaning Artists Union, exhibiting at its shows. Moving to Chicago in 1936, she involved herself in social causes, worked with the Communist Party, and participated in rallies and strikes, including an artist’s sit-down strike. Her art in this period documented downtrodden people and the power and inhumanity of industrialization. She returned to New York in 1938, creating costume designs for theater productions to raise money for the Communist Party. In 1939, she married Cecil Lubell and moved to Croton-on-the Hudson. While she continued to explore themes of poverty and social injustice, many works from this period illustrate rural scenes and young families. She also began a series of works depicting abolitionists, including a print entitled Sojourner Truth. Her artistic focus also turned to landscape and detailed nature studies, which formed the core of a number of books that she illustrated in collaboration with her husband and other authors. Moving to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1975, she continued working as an illustrator and artist, creating sketched portraits, drawings, prints and watercolors. Her work in this period reflects her interest in the role of women throughout history, religion, and prehistoric societies. In 1994, she wrote and illustrated The Metamorphosis of Baubo, a work studying the mythology of women’s sexuality. Before her death in 2012, she was exploring themes of the artistic marginalia of medieval manuscripts.

Arrangement Note

The material is arranged in eight series: Collages, Drawings, Prints, Watercolors, Oversized Artwork, Archival Material, Blocks & Plates, and Sketchbooks. Watercolors and Drawings were categorized by the primary technique used in the work. Works primarily in ink, pastel or graphite pencil are categorized as drawings and those primarily in watercolors or water-based gouache are categorized as watercolor. Following accepted museum practice, where several techniques were intensively used, the categorization of the work was based on which technique was primary. Archival Material consists of written, printed or photocopied records and small drawings or prints that were part of projects undertaken by the artist, such as illustrations for her book Metamorphosis of Baubo and various children's books, as well as her studies in Medieval Marginalia. It also includes photocopies and slides of her artwork, videos of the artist discussing her art, material on exhibitions of her work and talks she gave, in addition to other papers. Blocks & Plates include wood blocks, linoleum blocks and metal engraving plates. Oversized Artwork is described both in the Oversized Artwork series and in the relevant technique series, i.e., Collages, Drawings, Prints or Watercolors.

Additional material, received after the collection was processed, has been added at the end of each relevant series, and includes Archival Material, Drawings, a small Watercolor and the Sketchbooks.

An attempt has been made to group duplicate copies of prints together, or to cross-reference their locations. Many works very closely-related in subject matter also have cross-references. Further, some of the woodblocks associated with prints in the collection have also been identified and cross-referenced.

An overview of series and the boxes in which they are to be found follows:

Collages (Box 1)

Drawings (Boxes 2-5, 48-49)

Prints (Boxes 6-9)

Watercolors (Box 10)

Oversized Artwork (Box 11)

Archival Materials (Boxes 12-17, 46-47, 49)

Blocks and Plates (Boxes 18-45)

Sketchbooks (Open shelf)

Processing Note

Winifred Milius Lubell’s family organized the works after her death. Drawings, collages, watercolors and prints were received from the family in oversized artist’s portfolios, grouped broadly by subject, many with identifying number or title. An accompanying spreadsheet, provided by the family, included summary information describing the works: identifying number (which could refer to an individual piece or to groups of pieces), titles and notes on media, date and number of pieces. Not every work on the list was found in the portfolio folders and not every work in the portfolio folders was identified in the spreadsheet listing. Woodblocks were received in boxes with no clear organizing principle, and were not included in the spreadsheet inventory. Drafts and artwork for the book Metamorphosis of Baubo were also received, boxed and mostly in folders, though folder descriptions did not always fully represent the folder contents. It is possible that the folders represented the author’s organization scheme for these papers. Similarly, the library received two boxes of papers sent by the Wellfleet Public Library in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, primarily focused on a project studying medieval manuscripts, particularly on marginalia in these manuscripts, as well as people on the margins of society at the time. As it is not known if this was the original filing scheme, the material has been organized into broad subject categories, retaining Winifred Lubell’s original folder titles and contents unless otherwise noted. The Wellfleet Public Library also sent three DVD videos of the artist discussing her life and works. Two of the DVDs were removed to preservation quality boxes. Steven Lubell, the artist’s son, also sent a DVD video in which the artist discusses some of her work relative to her marginalia project.

Additional material, received after the collection was processed, included archival material (papers, notes, sketches, slides), drawings, a small watercolor and sketchbooks. Some of this material was in topic folders, though most was loose. A series of drawings on women and the labor movement (Box 49) was drawn on and matted with acidic paper. The mats, with their identifying information, are an integral part of the image and have been retained. Where possible, a neutral sheet of polyester has been inserted between the mat and the drawing to limit further damage. Most sketchbooks had removable adhesive lables with an identifying "SK" number. These have been removed to avoid adhesive damage, and the number has been noted in the sketchbook description. Included in this additional material were a folder of clippings and several issues of workers' newspapers New Masses and Yard News, as well as ART Forum were among these papers. These have been removed and included in the Rutgers University Art Library collection. A selection of the newspaper clippings was photocopied and retained. The originals were discarded.

Each drawing, print or painting has been given an individual Rutgers identification number. These do not always correspond to the original identifying numbers that are on the spreadsheet provided by the family and on some of the prints and drawings. A list has been created to reconcile the two numbering systems. See ARCHIVAL MATERIAL series, Box 17, Folder 14, WM Lubell Rutgers Supplemental Information.

Rutgers identification numbers also include box, folder and item number. Woodblocks carry only an item number. Examples and explanations of these identifying numbers follows:

Lubell 2/1 - 4

This work is in Box 2, Folder 1, with the unique item number 4.

Lubell 406

This is a woodblock. Woodblock and plate numbers are listed on the label of each box.

Numbers were written in pencil on the upper right hand corner of the verso, or the nearest clear surface that would not interfere with the artwork, carving or any notations. Exceptions were Masonite and burlap backed linoleum blocks, which have labels attached with Methyl Cellulose, and the metal plates, which have the number written on a film made of Paraloid B72 using an acetone solvent.

The collection includes a small number of works by other artists, and some for which the artist has not been determined. Among these are Lubell 261, which is possibly by Richard Stein, Lubell 268, possibly a woodcut by B. Woodworth and Lubell 269 by George Maas. Lubell 134 and 336 have no identified artist. Lubell 121 is signed Barbara Stoughton.

Pieces that were matted on acidic paper were removed from the mat to stop further deterioration of the paper. Where possible without damaging the paper, the corrosive tape used to attach the piece to the mat was also removed. Where necessary, repairs were made to torn sheets. Many of the works have pin holes in the corners, tape or tape damage from earlier mountings and evidence of foxing. Some tape or glue has been replaced with Filmoplast for the illustrations to Metamorphosis of Baubo. Many prints and much of the archival material had a smell of mold or mildew, though none was visible. Much of the affected material has been vacuumed to remove mold spores. Mildew retardant folders and mildew retardant sheets have been used for a portion of the works, in order to limit damage to the material. All collages, drawings and prints through Lubell 186 are interleaved with acid free, buffered tissue. Prints from Lubell 189 on are interleaved with acid-free, buffered or unbuffered tissue. Woodblocks have been placed in boxes with Volera polyethylene foam and acidic cardboard to protect the faces from rubbing together. Acidic cardboard was used, as it more closely corresponds to the chemistry of the wood.

The artworks used a variety of papers and boards, some of which have been noted in the item descriptions. Generally, the woodcuts are printed on rice paper, often quite thin, the collages on heavy paper or thin board, and the watercolors, as well as many of the ink drawings on heavy paper, illustration board or construction paper.

Measurements are of the paper size, unless otherwise noted, and are height x width in centimeters. Sketchbook measurements are height x width x thickness in centimeters.

Title
Guide to the Winifred Milius Lubell Collection
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Elizabeth M. Phillips, Michael Simon and Michael Joseph
Date
July 2015
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • March 2009: Items listed as n.d. changed to undated, per DACS
  • September 2009: revised coding to add encoding analogs to some elements per the EAD report card