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John Button nude male drawings

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Coll2013-015

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 45 drawings of nude men made by John Button from 1966-1976. The subjects are identified as studio models from the School of Visual Arts as well as personal acquaintances.


  • 1966-1976


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


John Button was born in San Francisco in 1929. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and later taught in Pennsylvania, Maine, Maryland and New York. Button and his partner Alvin Novak were involved in the early years of the Mattachine Society and contributed to the formation of ONE Incorporated. However, Button is best known as a Neo-Romantic Realist, "urban intimist," prize-winning painter. He is associated with the New York School of painters and poets, known for his treatment of light in paintings, with urban architectural elements contrasting with large areas of clouded skies. In addition to his works belonging to many museum collections, he also created a large political mural, since destroyed by fire, with Mario Dubsky for the Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse in Manhattan.

Lesser known for his drawings of male nudes, Button proposed a "frankly homosexual" show in 1972 as well as an exhibition titled The Male Nude at Hofstra University in 1973. Posthumous exhibitions include The Body as Landscape exhibition at ONE Archives circa 2002 and John Button/ Paintings and Drawings from the Estate at ClampArt in New York City, 2007-2008.

John Button died in New York City in 1982.


John Button Drawings, Coll2013-015, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

Button, John. John Button: An American Painter. Kean College; Union, NJ, 1984.

www.artnet.com (accessed May 2013) (accessed May 2013) (accessed May 2013)


1.5 Linear Feet (1 flat archive box)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of drawings of nude men made by John Button in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Button's nude drawings are documents of his connections with gay culture which included his presence in the initial stages of the Mattachine Society and the formation of ONE Incorporated.


The date and method of acquisition are not documented.

Related Materials

Additional biographical and exhibition information can be found in the "Button (John)" file in the ONE Subject File collection, Coll2012-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

Additional archival materials relating to John Button can be found at the New York Public Library, the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian, and the University of California, San Diego.

Processing Information

Formerly housed in box A134. Collection processed by Jeff Snapp, 2013.

Finding aid to the John Button Nude Male Drawings, 1966-1976
Jeff Snapp
(c) 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771