The Fontaine Archive includes approximately 314 photographs, 350 artworks, 13.5 linear feet of books and manuscripts, 10 linear feet of miscellany, and 6 linear feet of letters and documents related to the Fontaines’ life as art students and their residency in postwar Germany and Mexico. The bulk of the documentation covers the years from 1935 to 1965, during the height of Modernism. The collection is essential research for art historians interested in American artists living abroad, as well as the role that the arts played in postwar Europe’s rebuilding.
In addition to photographs, letters and ephemera, the Fontaine Archives are also a repository for a significant number of art history monographs, theory texts and rare catalogs from the 1930s onward, some of which have only scant documentation in OCLC. Included in the book collection are the homemade art survey texts of Paul and Virginia Fontaine from their Yale studies, comprised of notes, drawings, photographs and reproductions that serve as both a chronicle of their studies and a window into mid-century art historical practice. Also included are two guestbooks that document frequent visitors to the Fontaines’ Frankfurt apartment in the years 1949-1955, including drawings, sketches and notes from their many creative associates.
Finally, the Archive also houses a large portion of Paul Fontaine’s oeuvre, dating from the 1940s to the large-scale canvases he completed shortly before his death. As the provenance of other works is still an ongoing process, the most cumulative known collection of his paintings is housed in the Fontaine Archives, adding a definitive creative stamp to a massive amount of context.