Collection ID:

Collection context


Hirsch, Stefan, 1899-1964 and Rogo, Elsa, 1901-1996
This collection consists of material from Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo detailing their journeys to Latin America, their professional work as artists and educators, and personal business and correspondence.
10.58 linear feet


Scope and Content:

This collection consists of material from Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo detailing their journeys to Latin America, their professional work as artists and educators, and personal business and correspondence. It includes letters, personal writings, biographical material, speeches, press clippings, and rare publications which document both Rogo and Hirsch’s artistic careers. A significant amount of photographs, negatives, and pictorial memorabilia depict their travels in Latin America. The collection also includes a significant gift of artwork, comprised of sketches, prints, watercolors, and mixed media work by Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo, as well as work by other artists. The collection was processed in conjunction with an exhibition titled "Precisely Not: Works from the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo Collection". The curatorial files are included as an addition to this collection.

Biographical / Historical:

Stefan Hirsch (1899-1964) was a professor of painting at Bard College beginning in 1942 until his retirement in 1960. He was born in 1899 in Germany, where he began studying art. In 1917, he immigrated to the United States. After studying with Hamilton Easter Field, he became associated with the Precisionist movement in American art, which included artists such as Charles Sheeler, George Ault, Joseph Stella, and Charles Demuth, among others. Like many of this group from the 1920s and 1930s, Hirsch received acclaim for his clean, geometric, and mechanistic style then in vogue as a result of rise of modernist art in the United States. In 1930 in New York City, he married Elsa Rogo, an artist and noted photojournalist. Together, they spent an extended honeymoon in Mexico, visiting pre-Columbian sites and befriending artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco. Hirsch and Rogo travelled between the United States and Latin America for the remainder of Hirsch’s life. Hirsch continued painting and printmaking, while Rogo worked as a photojournalist and teacher.

In the 1930s, he was involved in the New Deal Arts programs, and taught mural painting and art criticism at Bennington College in Vermont, and the Art Students League in New York City. In 1942, Stefan Hirsch accepted a teaching appointment in painting at Bard College, where he led the Division of the Arts. He taught at Bard until his retirement in 1960. In 1961 he was granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Bard College. He passed away in 1964. After his death, Elsa Rogo stayed in contact with the College, and donated much of their material and artwork to its collections. Hirsch’s first retrospective exhibition occurred in 1964 at Bard College, and another was organized at the Phillips Collection in 1977.


The donation of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo Papers accompanied the gift of several of Hirsch’s paintings to Bard College in 2004. The collecting practices of the original owners are unknown; however the structure of the collection indicated that Hirsch and Rogo kept a large volume of material which was organized in different ways over a long period of time.

Series I: Papers was contained in a large cardboard box that likely accompanied the original donation. Most of the papers were housed in labelled file folders. There was no discernible original order for this donation – standards for naming folders seem to change over time and previous order was not maintained in the gift. However, the original names of the folders have been preserved and any changes for the sake of clarity have been noted at the end of this finding aid. Series II: Photographs was re-arranged and rehoused earlier for preservation purposes. The original collection seems to have been split between the Bard College Archives and the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. Series III: Artwork is housed in a flat-file cabinet according to size, however the objects' original order may be re-determined by their accession number – 1.001 indicates the first object in Portfolio 1, 2.001 is the first object in Portfolio 2, etc.



Access will be determined by the College Archivist according to the nature of the request and the availability of materials. 'Series I: Papers' is likely available to be viewed in their original format. 'Series II: Photographs' has been completely digitized and researchers should consult digital files before viewing originals. Requests to view from 'Series III: Artwork' will be determined according to the state of materials and the availability to make viewing arrangements. Some of the artwork is not available for consultation because of damage and mold growth explained above. A small part of the collection that has been exhibited has also been digitized and is available on the Bard College Archives ARTStor Shared Shelf Collection as well as the Archives & Special Collections website.


See Archivist for information.

Stevenson Library
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