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Thor Rinden Papers

Identifier: MsC1197

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Scope and Contents

The Thor Rinden Papers contains the uniquely beautiful and quirky notebooks that document Thor's journey as an artist, poetry, and the process of restorating his and his partners Brownstone in New York. The notebooks are filled with his sketches, thoughts, poems, and more.


  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1976-2008

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa in 1937, Thor Rinden worked for four decades in the privacy of his Brooklyn, NY studio, producing luminous and profound paintings on canvas, wood and paper. Many of Rinden’s most original works are “wovens,” that is, works in which the artist wove colorful, interlocking strips of canvas into patterned designs, anchoring them to stretcher frames; and “slab paintings,” in which smaller, meticulously constructed canvas frames are embedded into larger ones. Prolific in his solitude, Rinden created a body of extraordinarily beautiful work which brilliantly combines his Iowa roots (with its plotted farmland and geometric quilts) with the traditions of New York abstraction of the 1970’s and 1980’s

While Rinden never pursued representation by a commercial dealer, his work appeared in a number of group shows, and is part of the permanent collection of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and The Brooklyn Public Library, as well as museums at Smith College, University of Southern California, Randolph College, Drexel University, the University of Iowa, Southern Connecticut State College, and Oxford University in Oxford, UK. It is also held in many private collections, including that of the New York developer John Zuccotti, an early and ongoing admirer of the artist’s work.

With his wife, Jane, an English teacher, Rinden thoroughly renovated their home in Brooklyn, a project which attracted significant media attention. The Rindens combined their creativity and resourcefulness with years of hands-on labor, and documented each step in a charming set of visual journals.

Thor Rinden, Geometric Abstract Artist (1937-2009), A Brief Biography.


3.5 Linear Feet

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)