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Finding aid for the Carolee Schneemann papers, 1959-1994
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Material
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Carolee Schneemann papers
    Date (inclusive): 1959-1994
    Number: 950001
    Creator/Collector: Schneemann, Carolee, 1939-
    Physical Description: 60.0 linear feet (123 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The papers document the performances, happenings, film and book productions, and exhibitions of the American painter and performance artist Carolee Schneemann.
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    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical Note

    Carolee Schneemann actively engaged in performance art, experimental film-making, the Fluxus movement and feminist theory in the 1960s-1970s. The artist is best known for the provocative use of her nude body to explore personal expression, sexual taboos and feminism in both multi-media performances and solo improvisational work. Born in 1939, Schneemann studied painting at the University of Illinois and Bennington College in the late-1950s. Her performance work evolved out of a desire to express more than she could within the confines of her paintings, and retains some of the gestural qualities of abstract expressionism and the cluttered look of assemblage. In addition to choreographing her own scripts, Schneemann participated in some of the most influential events of the 1960s, including: Philip Corner's "An Environment for Sound and Motion" at the Living Theater (1962), Claes Oldenburg's "Store Days" (1962), Robert Rauschenberg's theater experiments, Robert Morris' "Site" (1964), and in Fluxus concerts.
    Schneemann has made many films, some of an experimental nature and others which document her performances. "Fuses" (1964-67), her most notorious film, presents a woman's perspective of intimacy and eroticism. The film was edited for two years, during which time Schneemann burned, scratched, painted, glued, and layered its images to create a fluid sense of sexuality. In the 1970s, Schneemann conducted research on earth goddesses and ancient mythology in search of female power structures. She realized that a certain component of her work had always explored these themes, such as the use of snakes in "Eye Body" (1963). Schneemann's studies permeate her writings, and she has taught classes on feminist art and theory. Since the mid-1970s, Schneemann has performed infrequently, preferring instead to concentrate on painting, exhibiting, lecturing and teaching.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Carolee Schneemann papers,1959-1994, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 950001.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1995.

    Processing History

    Lynda Bunting unpacked, processed and wrote the box list and catalog record from August 1995 to March 1996. Kelly Nipper assisted by processing Series IX. Writings about or by Schneemann and describing some albums in Series X. Performance Albums.

    Separated Material

    Fourteen titles were separated from the archive Aug 1995. These publications are now part of the Getty Research Library and can be searched in the Library catalog by doing a Provenance search under "Carolee Schneemann."
    Brakhage, Stan. Brakhage Scrapbook: Collected Writings, 1964-1980. New Paltz, New York: Documentext, 1982. 3 copies. Kelly, Robert. Cat Scratch Fever: Fictions. Kingston, New York: McPherson, 1990. Desani, G.V. Hali and Collected Stories. Kingston, New York: McPherson & Co., 1991. Baruchello, Gianfranco. How to Imagine: a Narrative on Art and Agriculture. New Paltz, New York: McPherson, 1983. Ascher/Straus... et al. Likely Stories: a Collection of Untraditional Fiction. New Paltz, New York: Treacle Press, 1981. The Music of James Tenney. Edited by Peter Garland. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Soundings Press, 1984. McEvilley, Thomas. North of Yesterday, or, Flowers of Waz: a Novel. New Paltz, New York: McPherson, 1987. Rose, Howard. Oak Street Beach: a Novel. Olive Bridge, New York: Raymond Saroff, 1990. Rose, Howard. The Pooles of Pismo Bay: a Novel. Olive Bridge, New York: R. Saroff, 1990. Rose, Howard. Twelve Ravens; a Novel. Olive Bridge, New York: Raymond Saroff, 1990. Baruchello, Gianfranco. Why Duchamp: an Essay on Aesthetic Impact. New Paltz, New York: McPherson, 1985.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The archive documents Schneemann's performances, happenings, film and book production, and exhibitions from 1959-1994. It includes original materials relating to performances and publication projects in the form of notes, drawings, performance scripts and mss.; correspondence with visual, literary and performing artists, art critics, and other individuals prominent in the international avant garde; printed ephemera, artists' books, and Fluxus objects by Schneemann and others; lecture notes and other materials pertaining to Schneemann as teacher and lecturer; research files on performance and feminist topics; mss. by others about Schneemann's work; and photograph albums which provide visual documentation of much of her performance work.

    Arrangement note

    The archive is arranged in ten series: Series I. Projects; Series II. Notes; Series III. Correspondence; Series IV. Ephemera and objects; Series V. Teaching and students' work; Series VI. Feminist research files; Series VII. Film and performance files; Series VIII. Other clippings; Series IX. Writings about or by Schneemann; Series X. Performance albums.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, Modern--20th century
    Body art
    Censorship in art--United States
    Dreams in art
    Experimental films--United States
    Feminism and art
    Fluxus (Group of artists)
    Happening (Art)
    Performance art--United States
    Sex in art

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original


    Andersen, Eric
    Ay-o, 1931-
    Bergé, Carol, 1928-
    Brakhage, Stan
    Burns, Gerald
    Constantinides, Kathy, 1936-
    Copp, Fletcher
    Corner, Philip
    Eshleman, Clayton
    Friedman, Ken, 1949-
    Giorno, John
    Hendricks, Bici
    Hendricks, Geoffrey
    Higgins, Dick, 1938-1998
    Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995
    Kaprow, Allan
    Kultermann, Udo
    Lebel, Jean Jacques
    Lerner & Turner
    Malloy, Judy
    McCall, Anthony
    McPherson, Bruce R. (Bruce Rice), 1951-
    Moore, Peter, 1932-1993
    Moorman, Charlotte
    Oldenburg, Claes, 1929-
    Rogala, Miroslaw
    Rothenberg, Jerome, 1931-
    Sayre, Henry M., 1948-
    Sondheim, Alan
    Tillman, Lynne
    Varèse, Edgard, 1883-1965
    Vostell, Wolf, 1932-1998
    Wikarska, Carol