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Judith and Jan Zach papers

Identifier: WUA084

Scope and Contents

The Judith and Jan Zach papers consist of correspondence, photographs, biographical information, and publications related to sculpture artist Jan Zach. Correspondence focuses on Zach's artwork including commissions for his work, the establishment of the Jan Zach trust, and personal letters from family and friends to Jan and Judith Zach. The collection also includes sketchbooks and original art by Zach as well as art publications collected by Jan and Judith for their personal library. The bulk of the photographic material are photographs of Zach's sculptures. Also included are photographs taken during Jan and Judith's time in Brazil, Czechoslovakia, and Canada. Documentation of Zach's involvement with the National Sculpture Center and the National Sculpture Conference can also be found in correspondence and subject files.


  • 1860-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1936-2003


Language of Materials

Includes correspondence and articles written in Czech, English, and Portuguese.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical Note

Jan Zach, the youngest of sixteen children, was born July 27, 1914 in Staný, Czechoslovakia. He attended the Superior School of Industrial Arts from 1932 to 1934 and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1934 to 1938. Zach studied painting and sculpture, his greatest inspiration being the illuminated kinetic sculptures of Zdeněk Pešánek.

In December 1938, Zach travelled to New York to decorate the Czechoslovakian pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York. A few weeks before the Fair opened, the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and Zach was one of many unable to return home. Zach remained in the United States until April 1940 when he moved to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week free lance assignment. His charge was to create a report on the industrial development of Brazil and the Bat'a Shoe Company. Zach completed his assignment and remained in Brazil for eleven years.

During his time in Brazil, Zach continued to study sculpture. He also exhibited paintings at the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1943 and the Institute of Brazilian Architects in 1948. He also met Judith Ella Monk, a Canadian working for the United Nations. Jan and Judith married in 1947. In 1951, they left Brazil for Victoria B.C. where Zach opened a school of painting and sculpture.

In 1958, Zach joined the faculty at the University of Oregon. He taught there until his retirement in 1979. While in Oregon, Zach's sculpture commissions included Drapery of Memory in the Oregon state capitol, Prometheus at the University of Oregon Museum of Art, Flower of Freedom #1 near New Orleans, Louisiana, and Galaxy at the Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington. Zach used a wide range of media to create his sculptures including sand, cement, cast iron, stainless steel, and wood.

In addition to his sculpture, Zach designed stage sets and costumes for the Original Ballet Russe in Sao Paulo, Brazil and wrote articles for the art magazine Leonardo. Awards he received include a Fulbright Travel Grant, the Eugene Arts and Letters Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for a Sculpture Symposium, and a 1964 award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Zach continued to sculpt until his death in 1986. His final, uncompleted work, Lady, was completed in 1996 by former student, Jerry Harpster.


35 Linear Feet (72 boxes)


The Judith and Jan Zach papers document the art and teaching careers of sculpture artist Jan Zach and contain personal and family records for Zach's wife, Judith Ella Monk-Zach.


This collection is arranged into eight series: I. Correspondence, II. Photographs and multimedia, III. Artwork, IV. Subject Files, V. National Sculpture Center, VI. Publications, VII. Sketchbooks, and VIII. Family records. Series VI includes three subseries: A. Articles, B. Publications by and about Zach, and C. Personal library. Files are arranged in original order and in chronological order.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were initially given to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, then transferred to the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections. These papers are part of the Pacific Northwest Artists Archive.

Related Materials


Hull, Roger. Intersections: The Life and Art of Jan Zach. Willamette University. Distributed by the University of Washington Press. 2003.
Hull, Roger. "Jan Zach (1914-1986) The Oregon Encyclopedia.
Zach, Jan. "Imagery, Light and Motion in My Sculptures." Leonardo 3 (1970): 265-287.
Zach, Jan. "My Sculpture 'Galaxy'." Leonardo 13 (1980): 315-316.

Processing Information

This collection was processed at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art by Karly Schubothe under the direction of Faculty Curator and Art History professor, Roger Hull.
Guide to the Judith and Jan Zach papers, 1936-2003
Finding aid processed by Ashley Toutain. Addition to the finding aid processed by Jennifer L. Gehringer.
© 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Processed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission's (NHPRC) Access to Historical Records grant.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States