Harry Jacobus Collection
Scope and Content Note
The Harry Jacobus collection includes 400 prints of digital art by Jacobus, some of which are manipulations of his paintings and drawings; an original oil pastel painting; photographs from San Francisco and travels in Europe and Mexico; a file on the King Ubu Gallery, including photocopied exhibition fliers; correspondence from Jess and other friends, as well as with a number of galleries and museums; and a digital recording of Robert Duncan's "Foust Foutu" performed at The Six Gallery.
- Jacobus, Harry (Person)
- Duncan, Robert, 1919-1988 (Person)
- Jess (1923-2004) (Person)
- Cole, Norma, 1945- (Person)
- Kael, Pauline (Person)
- Piaskowski, Nata (Person)
Language of Materials
Terms of Access and Use
The Harry Jacobus Collection is open for research.
Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Poetry Collection before requesting photocopies and/or publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Once permission is obtained, most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.
Harry Jacobus was deeply involved in the San Francisco Abstract Expressionism movement of the early 1950s. After serving in World War II, he moved to California, enrolling first at the Oakland School of Arts and Crafts and later The California School of Fine Arts, where he studied with Clyfford Still and David Park. He also met fellow student Jess, and in turn Robert Duncan. Together, they opened the King Ubu Gallery in December 1952, which quickly—though briefly—became the center of the avant garde art, music, and poetry scene in San Francisco. The King Ubu Gallery hosted exhibitions by artists such as Elmer Bischoff, David Park, Hassel Smith, Jess, Lyn Brockway, Roy De Forest, and Deborah Remington, as well as poetry readings and performances. During the 50s and 60s, Jacobus traveled through Europe, particularly Hydra, Greece, as well as Mexico. Back in California, he lived at the "Ghost House" on Franklin Street and later in Stinson Beach, always remaining close to Duncan and Jess, physically as well as artistically. Jacobus was profoundly influenced by Duncan and Jess's ideas about imagination, as well as by French Modern painters, particularly les Fauves. Artists and critics often focus on the romanticism, color, and light of Jacobus's paintings. Duncan called him "a painter in a mixed light," noting that his work "is an intimation of the beauty around us as it is within us."
9.5 Linear Feet (11 clamshell manuscript boxes and one framed painting)
The Harry Jacobus collection includes 400 prints of digital art by Jacobus, some of which are manipulations of his paintings and drawings; photographs from San Francisco and travels in Europe and Mexico; a file on the King Ubu Gallery, including photocopied exhibition fliers; correspondence from Jess and other friends and associates; and a digital recording of Robert Duncan's "Foust Foutu" performed at The Six Gallery.
This collection is arranged in six series.
- I. Artwork
- II. King Ubu Gallery
- III. Correspondence
- IV. Personal Records
- V. Publications
- VI. Other Professional Work
The Harry Jacobus Collection is stored in the Poetry Collection.
Donated to the Poetry Collection by Harry Jacobus. Painting "Untitled" in Artwork series donated by David Bary in 2022.
Accruals and Additions
No further accruals are expected to this collection.
Collection processed by Marie Elia.
- Abstract expressionism -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Art, American -- 21st century Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Artists -- Correspondence Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Cunliffe, Patricia
- Embry, Norris
- Irby, Kenneth
- King Ubu Gallery
- Painting, Abstract -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Finding Aid for the Harry Jacobus Collection
- Finding aid prepared by Marie Elia.
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Local Best Practices
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- 2022 March 25: Finding aid revised by Marie Elia; accession 2022-PCMS-001 added.