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Leon Kelly Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: 2001-01-01

Biographical History

Leon Kelly (1901-1982) was an American surrealist painter. In his manuscript of the history of the Kelly family, Leon Kelly states that he was born in Perignan, France. His father, however, persuaded the family physician in Philadelphia to have the birth recorded as having taken place there. As a child, Kelly studied art privately then at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art (1921-1924), and maintained a studio in France for several years until 1930. He taught art at the Brooklyn Museum and the University of Wyoming, and his work was exhibited at, and is in the permanent collections of, many of the great galleries both in the United States and abroad. He is remembered as a significant artist of the American surrealist movement.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Leon Kelly Papers contains correspondence, subject files, manuscripts, photographs, and published material. Correspondence includes galleries, museums and academic institutions as well as other artists. Notable correspondents include Isabel Bishop, Lucien Cailliet, Massimo Campigli, Minna Citron, Félix Fénéon, Dorothy Hood, Benjamin Kopman, Julien Levy, Adrian and Sophie Siegel, Marcel Tabuteau, Yves Tanguy, Alice B. Toklas, Glenway Wescott, and Carl Zigrosser. Subject files includes passports, tax returns, and lists of exhibits, mailings, paintings and prices. Manuscripts consists of writings about Kelly, by himself and by others, and a Kelly family history. Photographs contains photographs of Kelly's work as well as some personal photos. Published material consist of articles about Kelly, exhibit notices, clippings about Kelly, and clippings about others.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is divided into incoming (arranged alphabetically by sender) and outgoing (arranged chronologically). Subject files, manuscripts, photographs, and published material are arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bishop, Isabel, 1902-1988.
Cailliet, Lucien, 1891-1985.
Campigli, Massimo, 1895-1971.
Citron, Minna, 1896-1991.
Fénéon, Félix, 1861-1944.
Hood, Dorothy, 1919-
Kelly, Leon, 1901-1982.
Kopman, Benjamin, 1887-
Siegel, Adrian.
Siegel, Sophie.
Tabuteau, Marcel, 1887-1966.
Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955.
Toklas, Alice B.
Wescott, Glenway, 1901-1987.
Zigrosser, Carl, 1891-1975.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Mural painting and decoration -- United States -- 20th century.
Mural painting and decoration, American.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Leon Kelly Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Biographical Material


Subject files



Published material