Biographical / Historical Note
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Annette Michelson papers
Date (inclusive): 1861-2018 (bulk
82 Linear Feet
(183 boxes and 2 flatfile folders. Computer media: .001 GB [5
files]) 102 unprocessed disks and two unprocessed USB flash drives.
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
Business Number: (310) 440-7390
Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
The Annette Michelson papers represent
the dynamic career of the American art and film critic, translator, editor, and scholar. The
collection comprises correspondence, research material, writings by Michelson and others,
and papers related to various conferences. Michelson's papers span her broad range of
interests in avant-garde production in both contemporary art and experimental
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Language: Collection material is in
Biographical / Historical Note
Born in New York in 1922, Annette Michelson was an American art and film critic,
translator, editor, and scholar. She contributed significantly to the fields of cinema
studies and the international avant-garde in visual culture. She was a founding editor of
October and was a Professor Emerita in New York
University's (NYU) Department of Cinema Studies.
After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1945, Michelson pursued graduate studies in art
history and philosophy at Columbia University (1948-1949) where she studied with Meyer
Schapiro and at the University of Paris (1950-1953). She spent the next 15 years in Paris as
a critic and editor for several prominent publications, including
Éditions René Julliard (1954-1957) as advisory editor;
York Herald Tribune
(1957-1961) as art editor of the International edition;
Arts Magazine (1957-1963) as Paris correspondent; and
Art International (1962-1964) as Paris editor.
Michelson returned to the U.S. in 1966 and, a year later, joined the newly-formed
Department of Cinema Studies at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Michelson was an extremely
active faculty member. Her classes and seminar topics ranged from Dada, Pop and Surrealism
to science fiction. She regularly organized and chaired conferences and colloquia for the
school and had close working relationships with several doctoral students. Michelson was
awarded the Jay Leyda Prize for Excellence in Teaching (1993) and the Distinguished Teacher
Award (1994). She transitioned to her Emerita position in 2004 as the department's first
In addition to her post at NYU, Michelson has been a visiting professor and guest lecturer
at numerous institutions, including Yale University, the University of Vienna, the State
Film School in Moscow, Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the
Centre Georges Pompidou. Michelson was a member of the Board of Directors of Anthology Film
Archives. She was a consultant on film programming at the National Gallery of Art and a
senior fellow at the National Gallery's Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts
(1986-1987). She received an honorary degree from Concordia University in 1997. Her other
honors include the Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism and grants for research on
Soviet Cinema awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1966, Michelson had been appointed associate editor for Film and Performance of
Artforum Magazine, a position she would occupy for the next
decade. She founded
October, the journal of contemporary art
criticism and theory, with Rosalind Krauss in 1976. Over the years, Michelson was
responsible for several of
October's special issues, with
topics ranging from Soviet revolutionary culture to Georges Bataille. Michelson began her
relationship with the Getty Center in 1989, when she was selected as a senior scholar in
residence at the Getty Research Institute. During her tenure as a scholar she focused on
research related to the theory and practice of film. From 1990 to 1992, she was a consultant
at the Getty for the conference "Cine City: Perceptions of Urban Space: Film and
Architecture 1885-1995." In 1992, she became a member of the visiting committee of the Getty
Annette Michelson passed away in Manhattan on Spetember 17, 2018.
Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of unreformatted audio visual and
born digital materials, which are unavailable until reformatted. Evaluated student papers in
box 60 and 157 are sealed for students' lifetimes. Michelson's medical papers in box 52 and
155 are sealed for her lifetime plus fifty years.
Annette Michelson papers, 1861-2014 (bulk 1969-2002), The Getty Research Institute, Los
Angeles, Accession no. 2014.M.26
Gift of Annette Michelson. Acquired in 2014.
The collection was processed and cataloged by Laura Schroffel from 2015 to 2016. Kevin Cruz
assisted with processing during the summer of 2015. Lacey Minot assisted with processing and
completed the biographical note during the summer of 2016. Laura Schroffel processed an ADD
to the collection in 2019.
Digital materials processed by Laura Schroffel in 2016 and 2019. Files require further
processing before access copies can be made available. 19 disks without content were not
retained. 16 software discs were not retained.
Digitized and Digital Material
Selected audio materials from the collection were digitized in 2017 and are available
Selected digital files are also available online:
October records, 1976-2001, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no.
Books that were transferred to the library can be found by searching the Library
for the "Annette Michelson collection".
Some books from Michelson's library containing annotations, post-it notes, or inserts, are
available by request to use in the Plaza reading room. Please contact reference for more
Scope and Content of Collection
The Annette Michelson papers represent her dynamic career as an art historian and film
critic. Work in the collection comprises correspondence, research, writings by Michelson and
others, and papers related to various conferences that she attended and participated in.
Series I contains the bulk of Michelson's correspondence. This series contains letters
spanning Michelson's early career in Paris in the 1960s to her later career in New York,
including correspondence until 2014. Correspondents of note include Yvonne Rainer, Susan
Sontag, Maurice Tuchman, and Harald Szeemann.
Series II. contains Michelson's professional papers. It covers her broad range of
interests in avant-garde production in both contemporary art and experimental cinema. Her
professional papers contain writing, ranging from her early work in Paris and then for
Artforum to her later work for
October and her contributions to a variety of other publications over the years.
Also present are extensive writings by others either as submissions to
October, student papers, or research. Michelson's research files
on Maya Deren, Sergei Eisenstein, Hollis Frampton, Robert Morris, and Dziga Vertov are
especially rich. In addition to Michelson's writing for the journal, the
October files also represent her leadership and editorial work as
co-founder of the publication.
This collection is arranged in two series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1943-2014;
Professional papers, 1861-2014.
Subjects - Names
Krauss, Rosalind E.
Morris, Robert, 1931-2018
Vertov, Dziga, 1896-1954
Eisenstein, Sergei, 1898-1948
Frampton, Hollis, 1936-1984
Subjects - Corporate Bodies
New York University
Subjects - Topics
Artists -- United States -- Correspondence
Motion pictures -- History
Motion pictures -- Study and teaching
Editing -- Periodicals
Genres and Forms of Material
Floppy disks -- United States -- 20th century
Color slides -- 20th century
Audiocasettes -- United States -- 20th century