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Oral history interview with André and Bobbie Harvey
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Oral history interview with André and Bobbie Harvey

Accession 2017.235

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
askhagley@hagley.org

Finding aid prepared by Amrys O. Williams, 2017.,

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2017-10-20T08:02-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Oral history interview with André and Bobbie Harvey (Accession 2017.235), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Oral history interview with André and Bobbie Harvey
Dates: 2017
Accession Number: 2017.235
Creator: Hagley Museum and Library. Library. Oral History Project Office.; Williams, Amrys O., (staff)
Extent: 5.45 gigabytes
Physical Description: 4 WAV files. TRT 06:08:48.
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: William "André" Harvey (1941-) is an American sculptor and artist primarily known for finely detailed realistic bronze casting, in particular, animals. He also works in stone, casts sculptural jewelry in gold, watercolors, photography, and creates collages. He is a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. His wife and business partner, Roberta Rush "Bobbie" Harvey (1941-), manages the Harveys’ sculpture gallery and art business, maintaining client lists and provenance records, managing sales and exhibition loans, and promoting André’s work. In this interview, André and Bobbie Harvey discuss the training, experiences, and travels that led them to the art world, the sculpture business they built together beginning in the 1970s, and the process of bringing a piece of art into the world, from conception to execution to exhibition to sale. They also reflect on the cultural and historical conditions that influenced their decision to pursue careers in art, and the personal and mutual satisfactions of following artistic passion and cultivating community connections.
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Administrative Information


Existence and Location of Originals

Interview Session 1 and Session 2 are available in Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Biographical Note

William "André" Harvey (1941-) is an American sculptor and artist primarily known for his finely detailed realistic bronze sculpture, in particular, animals. He also works in stone, casts sculptural jewelry in gold, watercolors, photography and creates collages. His wife and business partner, Roberta Rush "Bobbie" Harvey (1941-), manages the Harveys’ sculpture gallery and art business, maintaining client lists and provenance records, managing sales and exhibition loans, and promoting André’s work.

André Harvey was born in Hollywood, Florida, and raised in Pocopson, Pennsylvania. He attended Tower Hill School (Wilmington, Delaware), the Sanford School (Hockessin, Delaware) and graduated from the University of Virginia with an English degree in 1963. He taught English at the Sanford and Tatnall Schools in Delaware before traveling and entering the art world.

Bobbie Harvey was born in New York City and raised in Red Bank, New Jersey. The daughter of a pathologist and a nurse, she attended the Sanford School (Hockessin, Delaware) and graduated from Centenary College for Women (now Centenary University) in 1961. Prior to her involvement in the business of André’s art, she worked in research for the University of Pennsylvania at New Bolton Center.

The Harveys met at the Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware where they both were students. They were married in 1964 and moved to New York City, where André began a job at Scholastic magazine and Bobbie worked in the Strang Cancer Clinic. Wishing to pursue a different lifestyle, the couple left for Europe in 1969 and traveled through Scotland, England, France, Spain, and Morocco. In France, André discovered his passion for sculpture and decided to devote his life to art. Upon their return to the United States in 1970, they set to work establishing what would become a lifelong artistic partnership.

André apprenticed to Charles Parks (1922-2012), and Bobbie managed the business of art—photography, advertising, display and client sales. After a few early successes, André’s work began to garner recognition locally and nationally. The couple have maintained a studio gallery at Breck’s Mill in Greenville, Delaware, for many decades. Today, Harvey’s work is in numerous public and private collections, and has been a part of exhibitions around the world.

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Scope and Content

In this interview, André and Bobbie Harvey discuss the training, experiences, and travels that led them to the art world, the sculpture business they built together beginning in the 1970s, and the process of bringing a piece of art into the world, from conception to execution to exhibition to sale. They also reflect on the cultural and historical conditions that influenced their decision to pursue careers in art, and the personal and mutual satisfactions of following artistic passion and cultivating community connections.

At the outset of session 1, André discusses his background and upbringing in rural Pocopson, Pennsylvania; the influence of his father, an ardent conservationist; his education at the University of Virginia; and and his “heart-attack job” at Scholastic magazine in New York followed by time teaching middle and high school students at the Sanford and Tatnall Schools, which convinced him to step away from his workaday routine and contemplate another path. Bobbie then discusses her childhood in Red Bank, New Jersey, her education and training, her family background in medicine, her marriage to André, her work as a research technician, and their departure for Europe in 1969 to explore another way of making a life together.

The Harveys then reflect on their time in Scotland, England, France, Spain, and Morocco, explain how they found jobs to make some money while they traveled, discuss Bobbie’s photography ambitions and the pictures they took on their travels, and the places they lived while they were abroad. They discuss their arrival in Vallauris, France, where André was transfixed by the work of sculptor Michel Anasse, and where they settled into a mini-apprenticeship with Anasse and his wife, a weaver and pottery glazer, while André learned welding and metalworking and Bobbie learned weaving and pottery.

They then speak of their return to the United States in 1970, and how they began the work of making a go of it in the art world. They started looking for a professional sculptor from which André could learn, and found Charles Parks, who was in the Brandywine Valley to which they had returned. Parks taught André techniques, mold making, and working in fiberglass. André set to work making his first sculpture, a jumping frog. Bobbie returned to her work at the New Bolton Center Hospital for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and the couple lived in Kennett Square, where Bobbie also began to manage the business side of André’s sculpting. André’s first studio was in a milk shed along Red Clay Creek, and he would work on sculpture at night after finishing his work with Parks. He displayed and sold his first pieces at the Gallery at Centerville, Delaware. The first sculpture they sold was “Pond Dancer,” the jumping frog. By 1972, André’s bronze castings were also on view at the George B. Scarlett Gallery outside Kennett Square. It was here that Betsy Wyeth purchased “Samuel,” the box turtle, and word spread about André’s sculpture. The News-Journal began to cover his work. André’s visibility increased further, when he was invited to do display his work in five windows at the Tiffany & Co. store in Manhattan. The increased demand for André’s sculpture and the work Bobbie was doing to promote it meant that she began working fewer and fewer hours at New Bolton. She eventually became more interested in managing the business and left to devote herself full-time to the business of art. By the mid-1970s, the Harveys had built a following and fully immersed themselves in the work. They discuss the role that Frank Fowler, the Wyeths, and other people played in helping them get their business off the ground.

The Harveys then go into greater depth about the life cycle of a sculpture. André discusses his sources of inspiration in nature, and how an idea becomes a work of bronze, explaining the lost-wax process of casting, discussing the importance of the fine art foundries with which he has worked in creating the finished pieces, and going over the challenges and problems that are inherent in the process, such as designing large pieces so they can be assembled on-site. He explains how Bobbie offers encouragement and guidance and critical feedback on his sculptures during the process. Bobbie explains how she helps to bring each piece of art out into the world, discusses how she maintains client lists and provenance records, serves as a broker when needed for resales, how they built a market and following, their advertising and publication strategy, the process of photographing the work and displaying it in a gallery, the move away from selling through galleries to starting their own studio and managing their own sales, and explains why direct selling was ultimately much better for them than working through galleries.

In session 2, the Harveys reflect more on their educational and parental influences, tell the story of how they met, and discuss the cultural context of the 1960s and the Vietnam War as important influences on their decision to travel to Europe and attempt to create a less conventional life for themselves. They also talk about how they have secured access to the animals and other natural forms that have been the focus of much of André’s work. Bobbie’s work at New Bolton Center was crucial in getting André access to some of the large farm animals he sculpted. The pair also pursued connections to biologists around the country and remote places around the world in order to witness the hatching of sea turtles or see a monk seal close up. They also discuss how computing and the internet have changed the craft and business of sculpture, from new processes like rapid prototyping to the move toward putting photographs of the work on the web, which was not without problems—the pair discuss the difficulties they have had with knockoffs coming out of foundries in Asia. André discusses his collaboration with goldsmith Donald Pywell starting in 1989–1990 to create jewelry based on his designs, and the differences between working with large forms in bronze and much smaller forms in gold.

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Access Points

Andre Harvey Studio.
Harvey, Roberta Rush, 1941-
Harvey, William André, 1941-
Sculpture.
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