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Ed Paschke (1939-2004) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/4/7

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  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Ed Paschke Papers fill 129 boxes and span the years from 1950-2004, comprising materials that cover his artistic career of over 40 years, as well as family life and trips. Contained within the collection are photographs, correspondence, cards, exhibit cards and catalogs, books, periodicals, records, audiocassettes, videocassettes, CDs, film in various formats, posters, artifacts from his studio, and personal items.

The collection is organized into thirteen series: Biographical Materials; Correspondence; Subject Files; Teaching Career; Slides, Transparencies, Photographs; Visual Reference Materials; Publications; Audio Visual Materials; Financial Documents; Medical Records; Miscellaneous Restricted Files; Artifacts; and Oversize materials.

Biographical Materials, found in box 1, includes Curricula Vitae, obituaries for both Ed and Nancy Paschke, exhibits, invitations, news articles and press releases, and clippings for both Ed and Nancy Paschke.

Correspondence, found in boxes 1-9, is arranged according to the first letter of the senders' last name, except where indicated otherwise (as in First Name Only). This includes an array of letters, postcards and notes from family, friends, business and artist colleagues, etc. Box 9 includes outgoing letters from Ed Paschke as well as correspondence from Marc Paschke and condolence letters.

The Subject Files series, found in boxes 9-11, inc'ludes a variety of materials that all have a direct connection to Pashckes artistic career, or involve people he worked with and met through his work and other civic activities.

Teaching Career materials, found in boxes 12-16, includes items related to Paschke's early teaching positions, but mostly cover his career at Northwestern University. Included are administrative documents from Northwestern, materials on the Mary Jane Crowe Chair in Art and Art History and John Evans Professor of Art, and tenure materials. Also included are course materials, articles on technique, general materials on teaching art, Paschke's teaching philosophy and student grades, and papers (some of which are restricted).

Slides, Transparencies, Photographs, found in boxes 17-37, primarily include slides and some transparencies of all of Paschke's artwork, and span the years 1950-2004. Travel and family slides from 1966-1977 make up the rest of the slides. Also included in boxes 17-34 are miscellaneous photographs of exhibit openings, slides and photographs of the work of various artists, and photographs Paschke had on the walls of his studio. The materials in boxes 34-37 consist of items used as visual references in Paschke's paintings, or images and objects that he found interesting. Records in boxes 35 and 36 may contain sensitive materials; consultation with University Archivist required prior to use.

Publications, found in boxes 37-72, include exhibit cards, publicity, news clippings, exhibit catalogs, books and periodicals.

Audiovisual Materials, found in boxes 71-86, include family films and artistic projects, and videocassettes that cover interviews, lectures, and artists and film makers. The audiocassettes, CDs, and records are primarily music, some having a Paschke painting on the cover.

Financial Documents, found in boxes 87-97, contain general banking documents, receipts and tax information for both Ed and Nancy Paschke.

Medical Records, found in boxes 98-99, contain medical, dental, and prescription records for both Ed and Nancy Paschke.

Miscellaneous Restricted Files, found in box 100, are restricted, and contain various lists of people, employer tax returns, expenses and income and personal papers and notes.

Artifacts are found in boxes 101-107, and contain various art supplies and realia, as well as notecards, postcards, posters, and museum and novelty items.

Oversize Materials, found in boxes 108-129, contain exhibits catalogs, books, periodicals, newspapers, film reels, and some additional larger artifacts.


  • 1950-2005


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Some personal and student files are restricted, as well as the series for Financial Documents, Medical Records, and Miscellaneous Restricted Files. These items are found in Boxes 35-36 and 87-100; consultation with University Archivist required prior to use of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Francis Paschke (1939-2004) was an American painter and educator. He was one of Chicago’s most famous 20th century artists and was internationally known. The child of Polish immigrants, he lived most of his life in Chicago, Illinois, and showed an interest in cartoons and animation from a very young age. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1961, and also a Master of Fine Arts in 1970. He married Nancy Cohen in 1968 and the couple had two children: Marc and Sharon. Paschke taught at Northwestern University in the Art Theory and Practice department for over 26 years starting in 1978, serving many times as the department chair. Throughout his academic career he consistently chose to teach introductory-level classes, which was abnormal for a professor/artist of his stature, as he enjoyed the energy and ideas of non-art majors. He was an involved and accessible professor, well-loved by students and colleagues, and was very active in Chicago-area philanthropy, cultural events, and young artist mentorship.

Paschke first started showing his work at the Hyde Park Art Center on the South Side of Chicago in the late 1960s, with a collective known as the “Hairy Who.” He later became affiliated with a group of artists termed the Chicago Imagists, but retained a unique and instantly recognizable style. Paschke’s work is often described as confrontational and utilizes bright, neon colors and multiple figurative elements. He borrows imagery from pop culture, such as celebrity portraits and commercial graphic art, and uses it to create surreal, emotional landscapes that evoke the violent, sinister, and sexually charged undercurrents of the human experience.

His paintings function as an interactive exploration of the human condition, and require a viewer to react to the imagery, tie in their own emotions and associations, and “complete the circuit,” as Paschke said many times. He was always interested in the relationship between personal identities and public personae, and in the ways that the lens of mass media amplifies and distorts that relationship. His stylistic motifs and source material influences kept pace with technological and cultural advances, moving from print, to television, to video, and finally to digital media. His subject matter was often the people on the fringes of society; outsiders such as circus “freaks,” street hustlers, strippers, and criminals. He was a quintessentially urban artist who was intrigued by the rhythmic pulse and diversity of cityscapes.

His work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe and his paintings are held in many major museum collections around the world. In 1989 a major retrospective of his work was sponsored by the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) and was shown at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Dallas Museum of Art before returning to AIC. He also created illustrations and graphic design for many publications over decades, most notably for Playboy. Paschke died in his home of suspected heart failure on November 25, 2004.


130 Boxes

Language of Materials



Edward Francis Paschke (1939-2004) was an American painter and educator. He lived most of his life in Chicago, Illinois, and was affiliated with a group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists. Paschke’s work is often confrontational and utilizes bright, neon colors and central figurative elements. He borrows imagery from pop culture to create surreal, emotional landscapes that evoke the violent, sinister, and sexually charged undercurrents of the human experience. The Ed Paschke Papers span the years 1950-2005 and consist of his teaching files, correspondence, visual source materials, exhibition cards and catalogues, personal and professional photographs, clippings, books and magazines, artifacts, financial and medical records, audio-visual materials, and more.


The Ed Paschke Papers are organized into: biographical materials; correspondence (1970s, 1980s, 1990-1994, 1995-1999, 2000s, and undated, each group arranged by date; plus miscellaneous and topical corrrespondence); subject files (arranged alphabetically by person, topic or organization); teaching career (general Northwestern University materials, and teaching files in 3 alphabetically-arranged groups); slides, transparencies, photographs; publications (sorted into groups by genre, each arranged alphabetically or chronologically); audiovisual materials (sorted into groups by format, arranged alphabetically except for film); financial documents (several groups by genre, each arranged by date); medical records (in approximate chronological order); miscellaneous restricted files (in alphabetical order); artifacts; and oversize materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive was donated by Marc Paschke to the Northwestern University Archives in 2012 and 2013 (#12-25 and #13-65).

Separated Materials

Boxes 124, 125, 126, and 128 are oversize and are stored separately. Oversize folder 127 is stored in flat files.

Guide to the Ed Paschke Papers
In Progress
Jason Nargis, Emily Head (2017)
October 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US