Oral Histories

Interview of James Byrnes

First curator of modern and contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art.
Los Angeles Art Community: Group Portrait, James Byrnes
Los Angeles Art Community - Group Portrait
Goodwin, George M.
Byrnes, James
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
18 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with prominent Los Angeles-based visual artists and other members of the art establishment whose careers span the period from the 1920s through the 1970s. It documents the art community of the pre-World War II period and the rise of Los Angeles as a nationally recognized art center in the postwar period. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Childhood in New York; early interest in art; economic problems during Depression; joining Works Progress Administration education program; night school at National Academy of Design; work at American Museum of Natural History; involvement in trade unionism and American Federation of Teachers; sharing studios with Zero Mostel, Alex Dobkin, and Frank Kleinholtz; move to California, 1946; employment at Los Angeles County Museum; contact with William R. Valentiner; curatorship of American, modern, and contemporary art, Los Angeles County Museum; wife, Barbara Byrnes, and American Contemporary Gallery; exhibitions: Rico Lebrun, Rembrandt and Hals, Rubens and Van Dyck, and Edward G. Robinson collection; Bay Area painting; Southern California politics and art; appointment at North Carolina Museum of Art, 1956; directorship of Isaac Delgado Museum, New Orleans, 1962-73; purchase of Degas portrait for museum and Degas exhibition at Delgado Museum; construction of Wisner Education Wing; return to Southern California; work at Newport Harbor Art Museum Rothko show; changes in Southern California art scene.