The papers of Southern California painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1907 to 1973. The collection contains correspondence with family, friends, and artists, including Morgan Russell, and his wife Suzanne Binon, Michel and Suzanne Seuplor, Ann and John Summerfield, and Bethany Wilson. Also found are writings, six diaries, travel journals, printed materials, and artwork.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Southern California painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1907 to 1973. The collection contains correspondence with family, friends, and artists, including Morgan Russell, and his wife Suzanne Binon, Michel and Suzanne Seuphor, Ann and John Summerfield, and Bethany Wilson. Also found are writings, six diaries, travel diaries, printed materials, and artwork.
Writings consist of drafts of essays, plays, and book manuscripts. There are drafts of A Treatise on Color with palettes and color wheels, The Basis of Culture, and Macdonald-Wright's autobiography Bittersweet: An Artist's Life.
There are six diaries and numerous travel journals. One diary was written in Paris in 1909 in which Macdonald-Wright muses over the aesthetics of art and his color theories. Five additional disbound diaries cover his life from 1939-1973. Travel diaries date from 1959-1972 and cover trips to Italy, Japan, and Hawaii.
Printed material includes a copy of Les Synchromistes exhibition catalog, a newspaper clipping, and The Future of Painting by Willard Wright. Artwork consists of blueprints for Macdonald-Wright's Synchrome Kineidoscope, a color and light projecting machine first envisioned by Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell as early as 1913 and finally completed in the late 1950s.
The collection is arranged as 5 series.
Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1907-circa 1972 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Writings, 1920-circa 1970 (0.9 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Series 3: Diaries, 1909-1973 (1.3 linear feet; Box 2-3)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1913-1967 (0.3 linear feet; Box 3, OV 4)
Series 5: Artwork, 1969 (0.1 linear feet; Box 3, OV 4)
Biographical / Historical:
Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) was the creator of a modernist style of painting based on pure spectral color known as chromatic abstraction or "Synchromism." He worked in New York and later primarily in Los Angeles.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright was born in 1890 in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1900 the family moved to Santa Monica, California where they ran a seaside hotel. A few years later he took courses at the Art Students League in Los Angeles, studying under Warren T. Huges. His older brother was Willard Huntington Wright, a respected art critic who wrote Modern Painting: Its Tendency and Meaning (1915), upon which he collaborated with his younger brother Stanton, and The Future of Painting (1923), and later became a detective novelist under the name S. S. Van Dine.
At the age of seventeen, Stanton Macdonald-Wright married his first wife and moved to Paris where he immersed himself in European art and studied at the Sorbonne, the Académie Julian, the École des Beaux-Arts, and the Académie Colarossi. While in Europe he also befriended fellow American painter Morgan Russell and the two artists began working closely together. They studied with Canadian painter Percyval Tudor-Hart between 1911 and 1913 and were deeply influenced by their teacher's color theory, which connected the qualities of color to those of music. Together Macdonald-Wright and Russell developed a style of painting based on color and named it "Synchromism." They introduced their work in 1913 at the Der Neue Kuntsalon in Munich and in Paris at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. These exhibitions helped to establish Synchromism as an major influence in modern art well into the 1920s.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell returned to the United States eager to promote their work and theory. It was not long before the two separated, but both continued to work in the Synchromist style. Together, they held one more Synchromist exhibition in New York in 1916 which received significant critical support. Macdonald-Wright also participated in the prestigious 1916 "Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters" in New York and exhibited his work at Alfred Stieglitz's famed 291 gallery in New York in 1917. Yet, financial success evaded him.
Macdonald-Wright moved to Santa Monica in 1918, where he taught and served as director of the Los Angeles Art Students League. In 1924 he published his instructive Treatise on Color. In 1927 he organized another joint exhibition with Morgan Russell at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he also exhibited five years later. He exhibited at the Oakland Art Gallery, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, Alfred Stieglitz's An American Place gallery in New York, and the Stendahl Galleries in Los Angeles. From 1935 to 1942 Macdonald-Wright served as director of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project for Southern California, followed by a faculty position at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles where he taught for sixteen years.
In the late 1950s, Macdonald-Wright completed the Synchome Kineidoscope, a color and light projecting machine first envisioned by Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell as early as 1913.
Macdonald-Wright traveled extensively throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, spending time in Hawaii, Italy, and Japan. Macdonald-Wright married three times and died in California in 1973, at the age of 83.
This biographical note draws heavily on the Archives of American Art's West Coast Regional Collector Paul Karlstrom's collection description written upon acquisition of the papers.
The Archives of American Art holds several collections related to the Stanton Macdonald-Wright papers. There is an oral interview of Stanton Macdonald-Wright conducted 1964 Apr. 13-Sept. 16, by Betty Hoag. There are also Stanton Macdonald-Wright Letters to Alan and Fanny Leslie, the Stanton Macdonald-Wright Collection of photographs, Stanton Macdonald-Wright Letters to Morgan Russell, Walter Houk Letters from Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and an Oral History of Stanton Macdonald-Wright by Jeanne M. Marshall for the Voice of America Conducted in 1967.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reels LA 1 and LA 5) including a brochure on the Santa Monica Library murals and six photographs of the panels while in Macdonald-Wright's studio. There is also a 1939 exhibition catalog for "Southern California Art Project" a master's thesis on Macdonald-Wright by Dori Jean Watson (1957), and one scrapbook of photographs, clippings, and other printed materials dating from circa 1910-1964. Lent materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright first loaned materials to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1964. David Nellis, a gallery owner, gave the Archives the artist's unpublished autobiography in 1978. His widow, Jean Macdonald-Wright, donated additional papers in 1995 in two seperate installments.
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The Stanton Macdonald-Wright papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The scattered papers of French Dada painter Jean Crotti measure 1.7 linear feet and date from 1913-1973, with the bulk of the material dated 1913-1961. Found within the papers are autobiographical notes and essays; correspondence with family and colleagues, among them Jean Cocteau, Andre Crotti, Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, Christian a.k.a. Georges Herbiet, Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia, and Jacques Villon; notes and writings by Crotti and others; art work by Crotti and Paul Guillaume; a scrapbook; and additional printed material. Photographs are of Crotti, Suzanne Duchamp, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, and other family and friends; and of Crotti's art work. There are audio recordings on phonograph records of three interviews with Crotti and one with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of French Dada painter Jean Crotti measure 1.7 linear feet and date from 1913 to 1973, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1913-1961. Among the papers are autobiographical essays, correspondence with friends and family, including many letters from Marcel Duchamp, notes and writings by and about Crotti, printed materials, one scrapbook, drawings by Crotti and others, photographs of Crotti and his family and friends, photographs of artwork, and three audio recordings of interviews with Crotti.
Biographical material consists of autobiographical notes and an autobiographical manuscript Ma Vie.
Art work includes seven folders of drawings and an etching plate by Crotti, 83 drawings by Paul Guillaume, and portrait drawings of Crotti by Henri Coudour and Francis Picabia.
A scrapbook contains clippings, a letter from Paul Guillaume and a letter to Elizabeth Crotti from a friend describing a 1932 Jean Crotti exhibition in the Balzac Galleries in New York City, and a typescript "Una Collezione a Parigi" by Gino Severini.
Photographs are of Crotti, his family, friends, colleagues, and art work by Crotti and by Suzanne Duchamp. Of particular interest are photographs of composer Edgard Var?¨se and his wife Louise with Suzanne Duchamp, Jean Crotti, and art advocate Mary Reynolds in 1924, photographs of Crotti and Georges Braque examining a gemmail art work, and photographs of Crotti and Suzanne Duchamp talking with Pablo Picasso at Cannes and at the home of Bertrande Blancpain in 1957.
Sound recordings include two phonograph records of interviews with Jean Crotti, including topics "Assignment Switzerland" and "Assignment World." A third phonograph record contains an instantatneous disk recording of correspondence between Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain as well as an additional interview with Crotti.
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1954-1955 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1916-1961 (Box 1; 43 folders)
Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1924-1958 (Box 1; 27 folders)
Series 4: Art Work, 1913-1925 (Box 1, 3; 12 folders)
Series 5: Scrapbook, 1931-1935 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1921-1973 (Box 1, 2, 3; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1920-1957 (Box 2; 25 folders)
Series 8: Sound Recordings, 1955 (Box 3; 1 folder)
Jean Crotti (1870-1958) was a Dadist painter who worked primarily in Paris, France and New York. He was married to Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp's sister, and friends with notable avant-garde and Dada European and American painters of the period. He is also known for creating the "Gemmail" technique of layering colored glass that produced unique color combinations when illuminated.
Jean Crotti was born April 24, 1878 in Bulle, near Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a painting contractor. The family moved to Fribourg in 1887.
To escape from wartime Paris in 1914, Crotti and his first wife, Yvonne Chastel, moved to New York City where Crotti had his first solo exhibition at the Bourgeois Gallery. In 1915, Crotti met Francis Picabia and also shared a studio with Marcel Duchamp who was a major influence. Crotti began his Dada period and was included in an exhibition of French paintings at the Montross Gallery in New York, with Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger.
Crotti separated from his first wife, Yvonne Chastel, in 1916 and returned to Paris alone. By 1917, Crotti's marriage had dissolved and he married Suzanne Duchamp in 1919. Crotti met Suzanne Duchamp, also a painter, through his friendship with her brother Marcel Duchamp. During this time, Crotti completed and exhibited paintings associated with the Dada movement. One of his more notable works was entitled Explacatif, bearing the word "Tabu" that expressed Crotti's concepts of mystery and infinity with spiritual overtones.
In 1935 Crotti began to research a new technique using layers of colored glass, referred to as "gemmail." The term is a contraction of "gem" referring to the colored glass and "enamel" referring to the method of affixing the pieces of glass to each other. After much experimentation, an "enamel" fixative was found that would permanently hold the glass pieces in place while still allowing light to shine through all the layers. Several prominent artists including Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso became interested in using this medium. Crotti had the process patented, but in 1955 ceded the rights to Roger Malherbe who adapted it to commercial uses.
Jean Crotti died on January 30, 1958 in Paris, France.
The Jean Crotti papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.