Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Arthur Petronio papers
Date (inclusive): 1919-1971
5.7 linear feet
(2 boxes, 2 flatfile folders)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
Small archive of Arthur Petronio, composer of verbophonic works, or works at the intersection of poetry and music.
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Language: Collection material is in French.
Arthur Petronio was born in Switzerland in 1897. His father was Leopoldo Fregoli, a music hall artist, and Arthur was trained
as a classical musician. He shared in the World War I era avant-garde fascination with sound poetry, visual poetry and the
music of ambient sounds, and under the influence of Wassily Kandinsky and Henri Le Fauconnier developed in 1919 a verbophonic
theory for incorporating vowel sounds as elements of a musical score. He also founded several magazines that investigated
connections among the arts, including
La Revue de Feu, and
Créer. Throughout the 1920s,
Créer served as an important forum for a diverse group that included Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, E.L.T. Mesens,
and others interested in the fusion of word, image, and sound into the creation of a total language. Among Petronio's most
admired verbophonic works are
Tellurgie (1964) and
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Arthur Petronio Papers, 1919-1971, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession number 980053.
Acquired in 1998.
In 2009 with grant funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Laura Schroffel processed the collection
and made an inventory under the supervision of Ann Harrison, while the descriptive notes were written by Annette Leddy or
derived from curatorial notes.
Twenty-eight publications were separated from the archive and cataloged by the library as the Arthur Petronio Collection.
The majority of these were fascicles of journals published by Petronio.
Scope and Content of Collection
Though not comprehensive, the Arthur Petronio papers offer a wide-ranging view of the issues and ideas that motivated the
artistic avant-garde of Belgium and France in the era between the two world wars. The archive captures the importance and
nature of Petronio's broader influence on contemporary artists and writers, as much as it documents his contributions to Sound
The working drafts found in this archive, as well as the posters and other printed ephemera documenting his projects, capture
Petronio's multi-media efforts to fuse music, the visual arts and poetry into one idiom. In addition to his direct role in
the development of Sound Poetry, Petronio's importance lay in providing forums for debate in his numerous arts publications,
and in influencing a wide array of artists. The various journals published by Petronio are represented here only through posters
and printed ephemera, but the enormous impact of these journals and of Petronio himself is demonstrated in the correspondence
preserved in his papers. The archive holds over 62 letters and postcards received from Petronio's associates and friends:
the poet, artist, musician and photographer E.L.T. Mesens, the writer Franz Hellens, the poet Pierre Louis Floquet and the
painter Henri Le Fauconnier. The contents of the letters between Petronio and Mesens, Hellens and Floquet are of particular
interest because they contain theoretical discussions of the meaning and nature of art, in addition to more prosaic discussions
of the contents of the journals that each was directing, the artists whose work was worthy of inclusion in these journals
and the artistic direction of the Créer group led by Petronio in which Floquet, Hellens and Mesens were participating.
Arranged topically: letters received; articles, lectures, performances and other works by Petronio; CREER and miscellaneous
Subjects - Topics
Genres and Forms of Material
Floquet, Pierre Louis
Le Fauconnier, Henri, 1881-1945
Mesens, E. L. T., (Edouard Léon Théodore), 1903-1971