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Finding aid for the Arthur Petronio papers, 1919-1971
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Arthur Petronio papers
    Date (inclusive): 1919-1971
    Number: 980053
    Creator/Collector: Petronio, Arthur
    Physical Description: 5.7 linear feet (2 boxes, 2 flatfile folders)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Small archive of Arthur Petronio, composer of verbophonic works, or works at the intersection of poetry and music.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in French.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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 Cosmosmose (1968).

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Arthur Petronio Papers, 1919-1971, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession number 980053.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1998.

    Processing History

    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.

    Separated Materials

    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 Poetry.
    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 material.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Avant-garde (Aesthetics)
    Literature, Experimental
    Sound poetry

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Printed ephemera


    Floquet, Pierre Louis
    Hellens, Franz
    Le Fauconnier, Henri, 1881-1945
    Mesens, E. L. T., (Edouard Léon Théodore), 1903-1971