Guide to the Papers of Irv Koons (1922- )
1935-2004

Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia

Yeshiva University Museum

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011

Phone: (212) 294-8330

Fax: (212) 294-8335

Email: YUMinquiries@cjh.org

http://www.yumuseum.org

© 2006 Yeshiva University Museum. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in January 2006. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Koons, Irv
Title: Papers of Irv Koons
Dates:1934-2004
Dates:bulk: 1949-1988
Abstract: This collection documents the work of artist Irv Koons. It is mainly comprised of his professional papers, including sketches and drawings as well as many examples of his completed works. Documents found here include posters, advertisements, brochures, flyers, reports, book illustrations, clippings, photographs of the artist and his work, and a small amount of correspondence. Some biographical information on the artist is also available.
Languages: The collection is mainly in English and Hebrew, with small amounts of Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese.
Quantity: 6.54 linear feet
Repository: Yeshiva University. Museum
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Biographical Note

Irvin Louis Koons was born on March 14, 1922 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the son of Frank and Rose Koons. His father owned a printing shop. Interested in art from an early age, Irv Koons was designing posters for the holidays and other occasions in grade school. The family moved to Reading, Pennsylvania when Koons was eleven years old. When he was a teenager, Koons assisted his father in designing items for his clients. In high school he became the art editor of the school newspaper, as well as being involved in several other art-related projects. He graduated high school early at the age of sixteen and left Reading for New York City, where he attended Pratt Institute. During his time at Pratt, Irv Koons paid for his tuition by teaching art classes at settlement houses and doing illustrations for publications.

In 1942, when Irv Koons was twenty he entered military service with the U.S. Army. After training in camouflage as well as infantry and amphibious combat, Koons was originally assigned to Fort Meade, Maryland where he designed sets for Broadway performances heading overseas to entertain troops. After this position, Koons worked as a designer and illustrator for the Army Information and Education Program. Eventually he was sent abroad to New Delhi, India, where Koons became the Art Director for the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations; here his main responsibility was the production of weekly newsmaps as well as brochures and other materials to keep the American troops informed. During this time he also worked as an art critic for the newspaper The Statesman.

After the conclusion of the Second World War, Irv Koons began working as an illustrator for Simon and Schuster, where he illustrated the David Dodge book How Green Was My Father. He took classes at the New School in New York City before spending the next several years studying art abroad in France, Italy and Switzerland. Koons continued in his illustration work for Simon and Schuster as well as for Random House. As recognition of his work became more widespread, he began receiving requests for design work from firms. His work turned more often to design projects than illustration and Koons realized he would need more staff to work on his projects. In 1949 he founded his own design firm, Irv Koons Associates.

Among Irv Koons's design work over nearly four decades are included the design of such items as advertisements and trademark logos, packaging, annual reports, and publication materials such as leaflets, brochures, and booklets. Irv Koons worked on projects for numerous companies as well as non-profit organizations. Among his most well-known clients were the American Cancer Society, Barton's Candy, Bristol Laboratories, Bloomingdale's, Metropolitan Life, Mobil, and Seagram's. His illustrations could be found not only in Simon and Schuster and Random House books, but were also featured in periodicals like Fortune, Family Circle, Seventeen, the Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Sports Illustrated. In 1956 Koons designed the first daily offset newspaper in the world, the Middletown Daily Record. He also designed items for various Jewish organizations, including advertising and publications for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in New York, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the American Jewish Tercentenary, the American Jewish Heritage Commission, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and several synagogues and community centers. Irv Koons also created some Jewish art pieces, including Torah ornaments for the Temple Emanu-El in Closter, New Jersey in 1986 and stained glass windows for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York in 1975.

In 1981 Irv Koons Associates was bought by the advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi. Koons resigned his position as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Head in 1988 and accepted a voluntary appointment as the Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. He also helped to found the International Design Assistance Commission in 1984, which is a volunteer organization that concerns itself with performing design work for developing countries.

Over the years, Irv Koons has written many articles on topics such as package design and marketing, as well as occasionally serving in an editorial position for several publications. He has also lectured both nationally and internationally at places such as New York University, Columbia University, Wharton University, the University of Pennsylvania, the World Trade Organzation, the American Management Association, and the China-United States Scientific Exchange, and at institutions abroad in England, Holland, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Israel. Koons's work has won numerous awards for marketing, packaging, and advertising. In 1982 he was named the Packaging Person of the Year by the Packaging Designers Council International. His products have won Clio awards several times, including three gold Clios, and his work is included in collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Hagley Museum, and Yeshiva University Museum.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection holds documents that describe the work of the artist Irv Koons. Although the majority of papers are professional in nature, there is also a small amount of personal papers.

The major focus of this collection is on the artist's production of commercial and graphic art for various organizations and companies. The collection holds many sketches and drawings used to produce the artwork, as well as the published copies of finished pieces. Included in this collection are advertisements, posters, periodical and book illustrations, some package designs, report covers, and logos. These types of documents are located in Series II: Professional Papers.

This collection is also comprised of papers detailing Koons's creation of Jewish art. Found among the papers here are sketches, photographs, and a model of the Torah ornaments Koons designed for the Temple Emanu-El in Closter, New Jersey, as well as photographs and sketches of the stained glass windows he created for the Temple and for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Material on Koons's Jewish art is also in Series II.

Some personal documents are also among the papers of this collection. These papers include biographical articles, photographs of Irv Koons, certificates noting awards or honors received by the artist, and a few sketches created for family use. All of these items have been placed in Series I: Personal Papers.

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Arrangement

The collection consists of the following two series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
email: YUMinquiries@cjh.org

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Related Material

The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Deleware also has a collection of Irv Koons Papers.

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Separated Material

Original artwork donated with the archives has been removed and placed in the art collection of the Yeshiva University Museum.

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Custodial History

The Irv Koons papers were donated by Irv Koons in 2006.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Irv Koons; box number; Yeshiva University Museum.

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Processing Information

During processing papers were placed in acid-free folders and boxes according to the size of the documents and arranged alphabetically within each of the box types. When necessary, acid-free paper was added between items and metal paperclips were removed. Cardboard mats made of acidic material were removed from the collection and some preservation photocopying occured.

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Access Points

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Container List

 

Series I: Personal, undated, 1955, 1989-2004

This series is in English.
0.25 linear foot.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

Series I is comprised of the small amount of personal papers of Irv Koons available in this collection. It includes some biographical articles about Irv Koons, a few family documents, and some photographs.

Among the biographical articles are entries from publications such as Who's Who in the World and Outstanding People of the 21st Century, as well as newspaper clippings on him and a copy of Irv Koons's résumé. One folder of photographs holds photos of Irv Koon at work. A few documents pertaining to Koons's family will also be found here including announcements of the birth of family members and a copy of a sketch of his commemorating his fiftieth wedding anniversary. Included among the awards present in this series is an award specifying the choice of Koons as Packaging Person of the Year for 1982, the Pratt Institute's alumni award, a Hadassah gift acknowledgement, and his designation as a judge of Western art for the All-India arts and crafts society in 1946.

Box TitleDate
5 Awardsundated, 1946-1998
Box TitleDate
1 Biographical Articles1989-2004
1 Birth Announcements1955, 1998
1 Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary - Pencil Sketch - Photocopy1999?
Box TitleDate
2 Photographsundated
2 Photographs of Irv Koonsundated
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Series II: Professional Papers, undated, 1935-2004

This series is in English and Hebrew, with a few documents in Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese.
6.29 linear feet
Arrangement:

Alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

Series II contains the bulk of the collection. Documents found here include many publications for companies or organizations, which were designed or illustrated by Irv Koons. In addition, this series holds the sketches and paintings used to produce the publications. Material on various unique items created by Irv Koons will be found among the documents in this series. These include Army newsmaps, religious items, and commercial art for Jewish and other organizations.

During World War II, Koons served in India as the art director for the Information and Education Division of the U.S. Army in the East. This work resulted in the creation of newsmaps used by the Army; copies of many such newsmaps will be found in this series. Newsmaps are generally propagandistic in nature and depict important battles as well as provide information on various countries and events at home. This series also holds an article Koons wrote for Moment Magazine during this time concerning India's art. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Koons worked as an advisor for the United Nations; this series holds samples of the many different logos he created for the United Nations Development Programme in addition to copies of articles on the Programme's work in developing countries.

Irv Koons also worked on several religious artworks, and Series II holds much information on the creation of these items. Most prominent among the papers in this series is material on the Torah ornaments he designed for the Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.). Documents pertaining to these ornaments include many sketches of Torah crowns and breastplates. There are also models of these items made of foil. In addition, Series II also contains photographs and official publications depicting the Torah ornaments and articles written about them. Other religious items that Koons worked on were the stained glass windows for the Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) and those for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Sketches and articles on the Federation's windows will be found in this series, as will photographs of Temple Emanu-El's windows.

Another area well-represented in this series is the commercial art produced by Irv Koons for various Jewish and non-profit organizations. Most prominent among these types of organizations are the Federation for Jewish Philanthropies of New York, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the American Jewish Tercentenary, as well as the American Cancer Society and United Cerebral Palsy. Material Koons produced for these types of organizations include posters, brochures, flyers, report covers, advertisements, and publications describing the work of the institutions. For the American Jewish Tercentenary, Koons created material used in museum exhibits on the events.

Finally, Series II also holds commercial art used mainly in advertisements for many businesses and organizations. This type of art consists largely of advertisements, but also of product covers, publications of the companies, posters, brochures, mastheads for newspapers, and book illustrations and covers. Sketches and drawings used to produce these items will also be found in this series. Of note to researchers may also be the drawings Koons produced while in school; several of these appear to have been created for the school newspaper.

Box TitleDate
1 Agarolundated
1 Ambassador Deluxe Scotchundated
1 American-Israel Cultural Foundation1974
Box TitleDate
5 American Cancer Society - Brochuresundated, 1961-1962
5 American Cancer Society - Flyersundated
5 American Cancer Society - Magazine Advertisementsundated
Box TitleDate
10 American Cancer Society - Postersundated, 1962
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer American Cancer Society - Posters - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
5 American Cancer Society - Reports1960-1976
5 American Cancer Society - Sketchundated
Box TitleDate
10 The American Girlundated, 1951-1953
Box TitleDate
1 American Jewish Committee1957
Box TitleDate
7 American Jewish Heritage Commissionundated
Box TitleDate
10 American Jewish Heritage Commission - Advertisement1985
Box TitleDate
5 American Jewish Tercentary1955
5 American Jewish Tercentenary - Community Manual1954
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer American Jewish Tercentenary - Jewish Theological Seminary of America Certificates1954
Box TitleDate
10 American Jewish Tercentenary - Museum Exhibits1954
10 American Jewish Tercentenary - Posters1954
Box TitleDate
1 American Jewish Tercentenary - Historic Photographsundated
1 Annual Checkupundated
Box TitleDate
10 Annual Checkup - Paintingsundated
Box TitleDate
5 Ark Conceptsundated
Box TitleDate
1 Atroplex Pediátricoundated
1 Azo Gantrisinundated
Box TitleDate
7 Barton’sundated, 1957
Box TitleDate
1 Bloch Booksundated
Box TitleDate
5 Bloomingdale’sundated
Box TitleDate
1 Bristol Laboratoriesundated
Box TitleDate
10 Burlington Millsundated
10 Burlington Mills - Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
1 Center for Technological Education Holon - Correspondence1997
Box TitleDate
5 China-United States Scientific Exchange - Lecture - The Relation of Packaging and Advertisingundated
5 Con Edisonundated
Box TitleDate
1 Consolidated Cigar - Annual reports1957-1966
1 Consolidated Cigar - Dutch Mastersundated
1 Consolidated Cigar - El Productoundated
1 Cooper Union School of Art - Printing Press Donation1999-2001
Box TitleDate
10 Curtis Publishing Companyundated
Box TitleDate
1 Dimensions1972
Box TitleDate
10 Directory of Professional Social Workundated
Box TitleDate
7 Dodge, David - Book Jackets - Publishedundated
7 Dodge, David - Book Illustrations - Book Jacketsundated
7 Dodge, David - Book Illustrations - Final Drawingsundated, 1953
Box TitleDate
11 Dodge, David - Book Illustrations - Final Drawings - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
7 Dodge, David - Book Illustrations - Sketches - Smallundated
Box TitleDate
11 Dodge, David - Book Illustrations - Sketches - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
7 Doubledayundated, 1954
Box TitleDate
5 Du Pontundated
Box TitleDate
1 Family Circle1950-1957
Box TitleDate
12 Family Circle - Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
1 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York1957-1965
Box TitleDate
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Coated Paperundated
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Plain Paperundated
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Moses Seriesundated
Box TitleDate
7 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Moses Series - Photographsundated
Box TitleDate
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Advertisements - Newspaper Clippings1955-1981
Box TitleDate
7 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York- Building Driveundated
Box TitleDate
8 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - City of Life1961
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Poster - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Postersundated
Box TitleDate
1 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Publicationsundated, 1957-1966
Box TitleDate
8 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Windows1975?
Box TitleDate
6 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Windows - Articles1961, 2004
Box TitleDate
12 Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York - Windows - Sketches1975?
Box TitleDate
8 First National Bank of New York1956
Box TitleDate
2 Flushing Fresh Meadows Jewish Centerundated
2 Food Policy Centerundated
2 Food Policy Center - Designsundated
2 Fortuneundated
Box TitleDate
8 Fortune - Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
12 Foundation for Future Generations1987-1990
Box TitleDate
2 Girl Scoutsundated
2 Good Housekeepingundated
Box TitleDate
8 High School Drawingsundated, 1937-1938
Box TitleDate
2 Industrial Design Magazine - Article - The Future of Packaging1966
Box TitleDate
12 Industrial Rayon Corporationundated
Box TitleDate
8 Inferentialundated
Box TitleDate
2 International Business Machinesundated
2 Irv Koons Associatesundated, 1979
2 Irv Koons Associates - Correspondence - Variations on a theme: Yearly seasons’ greetings from a Jewish artistundated
2 Jewish Center of the Hamptonsundated
Box TitleDate
7 Jewish Theological Seminary of Americaundated
Box TitleDate
2 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Bookletsundated
2 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Brochuresundated
Box TitleDate
8 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Designsundated
8 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Reproduction of Painting2004
Box TitleDate
12 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
6 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Universal Brotherhood Programsundated
6 Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Wisdom of Chelmundated
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer Jewish Theological Seminary of America - Wisdom of Chelm - Large Drawings and Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
2 Keeping Posted1963-1968
Box TitleDate
9 Kohnstamm and Companyundated
Box TitleDate
2 Legal Aid Societyundated
2 Mark Crossundated
2 Medical College Campaignundated
Box TitleDate
12 Medico-Economic Frontiers: Population Movementsundated
Box TitleDate
2 Metropolitan Lifeundated
Box TitleDate
3 Middletown Daily Recordundated, 1996
3 Mobilundated
Box TitleDate
6 Moment Magazine - Article - India's Art Through Foreign Eyes1945
Box TitleDate
3 National Association of Social Workersundated
Box TitleDate
8 National Federation of Temple Sisterhoodsundated
Box TitleDate
6 New York Central Systemundated
Box TitleDate
12 New York State Travel Bureauundated, 1954
Box TitleDate
2 Newspapers - Design1956
2 Pentresamideundated
2 Picturial - Offsetundated
Box TitleDate
13 RCA Victorundated
Box TitleDate
3 Reform Judaism1974
Box TitleDate
9 Rockville Center Synagogue - Photographsundated
Box TitleDate
7 Sabra1970
Box TitleDate
3 Sapphireundated
Box TitleDate
7 School Artwork1935-1938
Box TitleDate
9 Seagram'sundated
Box TitleDate
7 Seventeen Magazineundated
Box TitleDate
3 Sharp and Dohmeundated
3 Sloan Kettering Instituteundated
Box TitleDate
9 Stained Glass Concept Sketchesundated
9 Stained Glass Windows - Gifts and Personal Designsundated, 2004
9 Statewide Savingsundated
Box TitleDate
3 Synagogue Council of Americaundated
Box TitleDate
13 Synagogue Logo/ Identity Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
3 Tel Aviv University - Keynote Speechundated
Box TitleDate
13 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Stained Glass Windows - Prints and Representationsundated
Box TitleDate
9 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Articles1988-2003
9 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Articles - Newspaper clippings1985-1998
Box TitleDate
7 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Correspondence and Notesundated, 1987-2003
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornamanets - Drawings and Sketches - Large1986?
Box TitleDate
13 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Models1986?
Box TitleDate
9 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Photographsundated
Box TitleDate
13 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Photographs - Largeundated
13 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Sketches - Breastplatesundated
13 Temple Emanu-El (Closter, N.J.) - Torah Ornaments - Sketches - Crownsundated
Box TitleDate
3 Theatre Arts - The Drum Beaters of Broadway1953
3 Theraganundated
3 Unidentified Publicationsundated
Box TitleDate
14 Unidentified Sketches and Drawingsundated
Box TitleDate
9 Unidentified Sketches and Drawings - Animalsundated
Box TitleDate
14 Unidentified Sketches and Drawings - Peopleundated
Box TitleDate
9 Unidentified Sketches and Drawings - People - Childrenundated
Box TitleDate
14 Unidentified Sketches - Religious Themesundated
Box TitleDate
3 Union of American Hebrew Congregationsundated
3 United Jewish Appeal1958
3 United Cerebral Palsyundated, 1957
Box TitleDate
 United Cerebral Palsy - Posterundated
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer United Cerebral Palsy - Poster - Largeundated
Box TitleDate
4 United Home for Aged Hebrewsundated
4 United Nationsundated, 1988-1995
Box TitleDate
9 United Nations - Clean Water Decade International Conference Logo Sketchesundated
Box TitleDate
4 United Nations Development Programme - International Design Assistance Commission1895-1991
4 United Nations Development Programme - Logosundated
4 United States Army - Correspondence1945
Box TitleDate
OS Drawer United States Army - Newsmapsundated
Box TitleDate
14 United States Army - Sketches and Drawingsundated, 1943-1946
Box TitleDate
7 Utica Bodygardsundated
Box TitleDate
14 Vanguard Stereolabundated
Box TitleDate
4 Vi-Magna Multivitamins Lederleundated
Box TitleDate
7 Waltham Watchesundated
Box TitleDate
4 Washington Evening Starundated, 1968
4 Welch's Grape Juiceundated
4 World Over1952
4 Worlddesign Foundation1996
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