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Yvonne Rainer papers, 1871-2013 (bulk 1959-2013)

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Rainer (Yvonne) Papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The Yvonne Rainer Papers document Rainer's work as a dancer, choreographer, performer, film maker and writer, from the late 1950s to 2013. Collection materials include Rainer's personal notebooks; correspondence; work files documenting her choreography, filmmaking and critical writing; materials documenting her touring, teaching activity, art exhibitions and film retrospectives; programs and posters; reviews of her work; research files; photographic and audiovisual documentation of her milieu, including posters and programs for works by contemporary artists and other ephemera. In Series I, Rainer's personal notebooks from 1949 to 2004 provide insight into her creative process. Her appointment books cover most years from 1970 to 2012. The correspondence in Series II is from dancers, choreographers, other artists, critics and avant-garde associates. Notable correspondents include Steve Paxton, Robert Morris, Trisha Brown, Joan Jonas, Simone Forti, Jasper Johns, Benjamin Buchloh, Paul Sharits, and Mark Rappaport. There is also personal correspondence, including letters from Robert Morris during the years that they lived together from 1964 to 1970, original letters written to her brother Ivan from 1952 through 1967, and letters from her neice, Ruth Rainer, that document the encouragement and support Rainer provided during the years that her niece studied music and voice in Europe.

Series III contains materials resulting from Rainer's creative process, including descriptions of dances, directions for dancers, dance scores, music scores, diagrams, drawings, programs (some annotated, some designed by Robert Morris, Steve Paxton and Robert Rauschenberg), reviews, scripts for dancers, lists of objects used in dances, biographies of dancers, texts for wall projections, small posters, film scripts (including drafts, some with annotation), shooting notes, production budgets, accounting sheets, production schedules and notes, character studies, and music rights information. Series III also contains Rainer's résumé and files of Rainer's published and unpublished writing, including annotated manuscripts and drafts. Additional documentation of Rainer's works, such as photographs, programs and posters, is in Series V and VII.

Documentation of Rainer's touring, in Series IV, covers her tours in Europe in 1964, 1965 and 1967, and in the United States from 1968 to 1997. Also in Series IV, conference documentation includes files on Rainer's work with Bérénice Reynaud on Sexism, Colonialism, Misrepresentation: A Corrective Film Series and Conference, 1988-1989. The same series also contains Rainer's teaching files from her work at the School of Visual Arts, New York, the Independent Study Program and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as files relating to her lectures, exhibitions, and retrospective screenings of her films.

In Series V, programs and posters are arranged in a chronological sequence, beginning with a list of dance performances from 1961 to 1965. Programs and posters for non-Rainer performances and events are included, especially in the material from the early 1960s, which include an announcement for Four Happenings (1963) by Allan Kaprow, Robot Opera (1964) by Nam June Paik, and Robert Rauschenberg's 1952 exhibition, White Paintings, at Leo Castelli gallery. Also in Series V, the files of reviews provide a history of the critical and popular reception of Rainer's work; Jill Johnston's reviews of dance performances in the 1960s are particularly well represented here and in the research files in Series VII. Rainer's research files on people, organizations and a range of topics show her political and social concerns and her exploration of the work of other artists.

The bulk of the photographic materials in Series VII documents Rainer's performances, including many photographs by Peter Moore. There is also documentation of her films in the form of production stills and frame enlargements, and some family and other personal photographs including (studio?) portraits of Rainer from the late 1950s, a photograph of Rainer with Andy Warhol at a reception in the 1960s, photographs of Al Held's studio, and of Robert Morris. Also included are photographs from the late 1950s and early 1960s of Rainer with Edith Stephan, in Louise Gilkes studio, in an off Broadway play, and at the Ann Halprin Workshop. The slides are mostly those used in Rainer's performances, but also include portraits of Rainer from 1957 and 1958.

In Series VIII, audiovisual materials include audio and video recordings, film reels, DVD's and a laser disc. Among the films are Rainer's short films from the 1960s and all of her feature films. Performances documented here include Three Seascapes, Room Service, Trio A, Trio A with Flags, Trio A Pressured, Continuous Project Altered Daily, In the College, Performance, Connecticut Rehearsal, Grand Union performances (copies from the Fales Library, NYU), We Shall Run, Chair/Pillow, Connecticut Rehearsal, Dance Fractions for the West Coast, White Oak Dance Project, and After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. The sound recordings include interviews and music for performances. This series also includes a film possibly by Michael Fajans and videos by others.

Oversize posters and fliers that cannot be thematically situated in other parts of the archive are described in Series IX. Finally, writings about Rainer, including published interviews, comprise the last series of the collection, Series X.

Arrangement note

Arranged in ten series:
Series I. Notebooks, appointment and address books, 1949-2012, undated;
Series II. Correspondence, 1953-2008, undated;
Series III. Works, 1960-2005, undated;
Series IV. Professional and exhibition files, 1964-2009;
Series V. Programs and reviews, 1959-2013, undated;
Series VI. Topical research files, circa 1951-2005, undated;
Series VII. Photography, 1933-2004, undated;
Series VIII. Audiovisual materials, circa 1963-2003;
Series IX. Oversize materials, 1871, 1967, 1980, circa 2000, undated;
Series X. Writings about Rainer, dance and film, 1934-2013, undated.

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