Arkus, Leon Anthony
Interview Date
December 11, 1978
Arkus, Leon, an early supporter of abstract expressionism, served 26 years with the Carnegie Museum, and was its director from 1968 to 1980.
[T1S1] Indicates parents' origins in Europe and dates of sibling's births in U.S. Father's business in U.S. is noted; Respondent's limited religious education is detailed. Respondent discusses involvement as promoter of modern dance recitals in New York City in 1939 and explains changes in his studies at CCNY. Respondent's recreational and vocational pursuits during college are enumerated. Respondent notes health and activities as a youth and relates siblings' career pursuits and families. Respondent's first jobs selling art in New York are specified.
[T1S2] Respondent characterizes employers in New York and his mentorship by Stephen Bourgeois. Work of Spenser, White and Prentiss, a construction company, during WWII is indicated. Respondent recounts the ship's conditions in passage to India during WWII. Political situation in wartime Iran is outlined; military nature of Respondent's work in Iran is explained. Respondent's impressions of Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin and ceremonies of the Tehran Conference are related and contrasted with the bitterness of post-War life. Respondent indicates first post-War work with art in New York.
[T2S3] Respondent's acceptance of position at Carnegie Institute in 1954 is related. Respondent assesses the Jewish community's role in Pittsburgh's arts and illustrates the anti-Semitism at the Carnegie prior to the 1960s. Politics regarding the directorship and buying policy of the Carnegie during the 1950s-1960s are recounted. Respondent's achievements at the Carnegie are evaluated. Respondent indicates recreational and extent of social activities. Respondent's affection for, and honors received from, Denmark are related.
Artists; Arts; Carnegie Institute; Museums; Carnegie Museum of Art; Frick Art Museum (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Mattress Factory; Rosenberg, Charles J., 1898-1973; Scaife, Richard; Scaife, Sarah; World War, 1939-1945
Birth Date
Carnegie Museum of Art
Length (hours)
Kruman, Estelle
Berkman, Deborah
Falk, Abraham
Collateral Materials
Box 100 FF 11
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh