Art Models in the 1960s

Art models at The New School offer an insight to the changes, discrepancies, and happenings at the New School during the 1960s. The New School Archives provides us with records of letters, receipts, and work forms pertaining to the models during the period. Most telling is the raise in model wages that took place from 1965 to 1969. The rate before 1965 had remained at $2.50/hour until it was raised to $3/hour and then increased each subsequent year. In 1969, Dean Allen Austill authorized model wages to increase to a rate of $12/hour. In just 4 years the wages were raised by $9.50. How were such drastic financial changes made in such a short period of time?

Increase in enrollment, student initiatives, teacher requests, and organizations advocating for models all played a part in the changes. In Fall 1961, there were 632 students enrolled in art classes; by Spring 1964, the number of students enrolled had grown to 811. The expansion of class size also promoted an increase in the cost of classes, which provided a larger budget. More telling of the school during the period are the letters written by the students and teachers regarding the models. One letter in particular from the students voiced the needs for a “better model” who showed up on time and did not waste or interfere with their studio time.

This speaks to the ways in which students took the initiative during this time. Communication between professors and the administration revealed that professors were willing to pay models out of pocket in order to get models of their choosing, which reveal a sense of dedication by both the students and professors.

For more in the New School Archives, see the Parsons School of Design photograph collection.