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Robert Watts papers, 1883-1989 (bulk 1940-1988)

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Watts (Robert) papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection documents Robert Watts' development as an artist and art professor, with ample evidence of his relationship with Fluxus colleagues, dealers and friends. Watts' Iowa family background is presented in photographs, correspondence, family genealogies, health histories, legal and financial papers, and clippings dating back to the 1880s; together with report cards and yearbooks, these offer a relatively clear picture of the artist's midwestern roots. Photographs portray his subsequent years in the service and in New York while a student at Columbia, with summers on Monhegan Island, while graduate school term papers and his Master's thesis on Alaskan masks reveal his early interest in artifacts.

Academic files convey Watts' career with nearly annual grant applications and project proposals. Professional correspondence is mainly between Watts and his dealers, including Francesco Conz and Rolfe Ricke, along with certain curators and collectors, such as Gilbert Silverman and Jean Brown. Personal correspondence, though containing photocopies of cards and letters from George Brecht and George Maciunas and originals from Dick Higgins, is relatively scant.

Series IV, Work files is the core of the archive, containing hundreds of drawings for completed and unrealized projects, scripts or scores, and certain completed objects such as the stamps, letterheads, and laminations. FluxMed (1987), Watts' medical graphics based on 19th century French engravings, is present in various stages of its creation. The greater portion of this series consists of source material, including postcards, clippings, and brochures for various electronic or mechanical devices that inspired Watts and that are accompanied in some cases by drawings or calculations regarding their adaptation to Watts' projects.

Series V, Photographs and slides contains fourteen photograph albums that Watts assembled. A unique record of the artist's intermingled life and art, they are arranged more thematically than chronologically. Some of these images also appear in the photograph files, including numerous images of Pamela Kraft, Watts' longtime partner and model.

Series VII, Printed matter contains nine flat files, mostly of Fluxus posters with striking graphics and abundant information on events, artists, and ideas. Also included is a comprehensive collection of clippings containing reviews or articles about Watts or his associates.

Series X, Audio visual contains all the films Watts made along with the sound tracks or music that accompanied them.

Three art objects are included in the collection.

Boxes 2, 3, 4, and 7 are sealed, pending the Estate's further consideration.

Numbers in brackets within folder entries were assigned by the Estate.

Arrangement note

Arranged in eleven series:
Series I. Personal, 1889-1989
Series II. Academic files, 1949-1988
Series III. Correspondence, 1960-1988
Series IV. Work files, 1939-1988
Series V. Photographs and slides, 1937-1988
Series VI. Other artists' files, 1957-1989
Series VII. Printed matter, 1883-1988
Series VIII. Books, 1940-1975
Series IX. Serials, 1961-1979
Series X. Audiovisual, 1957-1987
Series XI. Additions, 1962-1987

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