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Young-Mallin Archive

Identifier: MAL

Scope and Contents

The Young-Mallin Archive contains a variety of materials that relate to artists of the Surrealist movement and those who have been influenced by their work. Young-Mallin collected and assembled her research files, third-party correspondence, photographs, and ephemera to document the artistic milieu in New York from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, especially among expatriates fleeing Europe during wartime. She was personally acquainted with some of these individuals -- such as Carol Janeway, Leonora Carrington, and Dorothea Tanning -- and Young-Mallin's interactions with them are highlighted in interviews and direct correspondence. The Young-Mallin Archive has been consulted by scholars conducting archival research into this artistic circle; their social lives are particularly well illuminated. Friendships, marriages, and love affairs are frequently highlighted in Judith's interviews.


  • Majority of material found within 1940-2005


Language of Materials

English with some French.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Young-Mallin Archives are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Biographical / Historical

Judith Young-Mallin was an accomplished art collector, cultural historian, archivist, interviewer, author, and cook. First and foremost, however, she was an expert on Surrealism in New York. Noting that she too had a “slanted perspective on things,” Young-Mallin felt a kinship with these artists and the way they “kept their eyes open and looked at things differently.” Over the years, she made a point of meeting many of them, including luminaries such as Carol Janeway, Leonora Carrington, Noma Copley, Juliet Man Ray, and Dorothea Tanning. Along the way there were innumerable conversations, interviews, exhibition openings, art acquisitions, parties, and memorable meals at her West Village apartment—a work of art in itself.

Judith Young-Mallin was born on August 10, 1937, in Mount Vernon, New York, the daughter of Milton and Marion Ethel (Peterfreund) Young. She was exposed to Surrealism at an early age through children’s art classes at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She later attended Syracuse University and New York University. Young-Mallin began collecting art while still a student, but it wasn’t until 1985, after a long marriage and raising a family, that she embarked on her Surrealist adventure in earnest. The following year, she helped create the Surreal Eye television series for WNET-TV in New York, which traced the history of the movement through documentaries and iconic films. She has also served as an independent lecturer and consultant, lending her expertise to many institutions and projects, including the American Craft Museum, New York (1986); PBS’s American Masters series (1991); the Courtauld Institute of Art, London (1991); the Art Institute of Chicago (1992); the School of Visual Arts, New York (1992); the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (1997); the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (1998); the Isamu Noguchi Museum, Queens, New York (2005–6); and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut (2005–6). She has also written about Eileen Agar, Edward James, Juliet Man Ray, M. F. K. Fisher, Virgil Thomson, Surrealism and women, and the avant-garde journal View.

As a gourmet cook, Young-Mallin was a professional member of the James Beard Society and a close personal friend of M. F. K. Fisher. As a designer of unique spaces, she worked with the architect Stephen Alton to create her wild and wonderful apartment in the West Village, home to legendary gatherings of her ever-growing circle of friends. She also curated a fanciful artists’ dollhouse, which became a microcosm of this world. Modeled after a traditional Nantucket clapboard house, the three-story structure contains original works of art and contributions by many leading Surrealist figures, including Man Ray, Janeway, Thomson, Carrington, Noma Copley, William Copley, Elsa Schiaparelli, Florine Stettheimer, and Julien Levy. Young-Mallin collaborated with artist friends to populate it with dolls modeled after Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Man Ray, and other artists, all posed in a Surrealistic tableau. Their outrageous escapades are chronicled in Judith’s limited-edition book, The Night the Lobster Telephone Rang (2011). The dollhouse itself is now a centerpiece of the Young-Mallin materials at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Young-Mallin passed away on September 4, 2020 in New York City.


30 linear feet


The Young-Mallin Archive contains corrspondence, photographs, interviews, research, and ephemera that relate to artists of the Surrealist movement and those who have been influenced by their work. Judith Young-Mallin collected and assembled these materials to document the artistic milieu in New York from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.


Much of the collection's arrangement reflects the original order of Judith Young-Mallin's materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was acquired from Judith Young-Mallin, who assembled the collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Rose Chiango and Margaret Huang with funds contributed by the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2016. Additional funding was contributed by the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2017 for digitizing the Cassette Tapes in the Audiovisual Material series. Please contact the Archives for the link password to access the files.

Guide to the Young-Mallin Archive
Rose Chiango and Margaret Huang
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Processed with funds contributed by the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States