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Raoul Hausmann correspondence, 1909-1971 (bulk 1960-1970)

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Title: Raoul Hausmann correspondence
Dates: 1909-1971 (bulk 1960-1970)
Number: 850994
Creator/Collector: Hausmann, Raoul, 1886-1971
Extent: 0.5 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract: Austrian artist, one of the founders of the Dada movement; active in Berlin 1912-1933. Collection details Hausmann's life in exile and chronicles his professional activities from 1945 to 1971. Letters to and from artists, writers, dealers, critics, and publishers contain detailed accounts of the original artists of Berlin Dada.
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 German and French.
Repository: The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Author: Finding aid prepared by Scott Wolf.

Biographical/Historical Note

1886: Born on June 12th in Wein; trains with his father Viktor Hausmann, an academic painter.

1900: Moves with his parents to Berlin where he dedicates himself to the study of painting and assists his father with the Hamburg City Hall murals.

1912: Takes part in the first German Herbstsalon des Sturm and begins working for the Expressionist newspaper Der Sturm.

1917-1918: Is employed by the leftist-pacifist newspapers Die Freie Straßs and Die Aktion. Co-founds Club Dada, Berlin; invents the optophonetic poem and photomontage; publishes his first Dada Manifesto; organizes the first Dada Soireen in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Prague, with Huelsenbeck, Heartfield, Grosz, Jung, Höch.

1919-1920: Edits volume No.3 of the journal Dada (Malik-Verlag) with Grosz and Heartfield and organizes the Große Internationale Dada-Messe at the Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin. Breaks with Grosz and Heartfield after they join the Communist Party, effectively ending Club Dada.

1921: Holds an Anti-Dada Abend in Prague with Kurt Schwitters; formulates his article "Presentismus gegen den Puffkeismus der teuschen Seele," and signs the Aufruf zur Elementaren Kunst with Arp, Maholy-Nagy and Istvan.

1922: Establishes close contact with the Constructivists and circle of the Hungarian exile newspaper MA (Lajos Kassak). Takes part in activities of Progressive Artists in Düsselsdorf and Köln. Relinquishes painting and dedicates himself to the technical investigation of electro-acoustical optics; invents the "optophone," a device that synchronizes sound and light waves (this invention was rejected in Berlin but patented in London, 1935).

1923-1930: Publishes articles investigating the organic conception of art and social science; works for the satirical newspaper Die Pleite; begins his novel Hyle and undertakes systematic work in photography.

1931-1932: Delivers the opening lecture at the photographic exhibition in the Kunstbibliothek, Berlin; publishes several articles on the subject of photographic theory, most notably "Wie sieht der Fotograf? -Gespräch zwischen Raoul Hausmann und Werner Gräff," Das Deutsche Lichtbild (Berlin, 1932).

1933-1936: Flees Germany on March 1st to the island of Ibiza, where he undertakes intensive photographic analysis of ethnological themes, archeology and indigenous architecture. Completes Hyle and begins publishing photographs in the Swiss journal Camera and in Man Ray's album Nus.

1936: Flees Spain for Zürich and later immigrates to Prague, establishing contact with the Czech avantgarde and exiled Germans; experiments with infrared photography.

1938: Returns to Paris; continues publishing his photographs, and establishes contact with Moholy-Nagy to arrange a publication of his photos in the US.

1939: Upon outbreak of war, flees to Peyrat-le-Château (Haute-Vienne) where he teaches languages and eventually finds refuge in the French town of Limoges (1944).

1945: Re-establishes contact and correspondence with his close friends (Moholy-Nagy, Schwitters, Hans Richter, Richard Huelsenbeck); plans with Schwitters to establish an avantgarde journal called PIN; returns to painting and the production of abstract photograms and photo-pictograms.

1948: Begins the publication of numerous articles on the subject of modern poetry in French literary journals.

1953: Exhibits his abstract photo-experiments in the Kunstschule Saarbrücken with the assistance of Otto Steinert.

1958: Takes part in the famous Dada exhibition in Frankfurt-Düsseldorf which instigated the Fluxus movement.

1967: First large retrospective of his artwork, in the Modern Museum, Stockholm.

1969: Publishes MELANOgraphie, a collection of photographic light experiments from 1931; publishes Hyle.

1970: Publishes a series of articles from 1920-1970 under the title Sensorialité excentrique in cooperation with Henri Chopin.

1971: Publishes his final book Sagemorim. Dies on February 1st in Limoges, France.

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains Raoul Hausmann correspondence (ca. 420 letters), and a few manuscripts and clippings, acquired in several separate acquisitions. Groups of letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Letters and the occasional manuscript in each correspondent group are arranged chronologically. These materials date from the immediate post-war period to 1971, the bulk of material being from the 1960s.

Most of the letters are from Hausmann and record the exiled author's successful attempts first to secure his material existence in post-war France and then to re-establish contact with avantgarde artists, publishers and art dealers. They tacitly document the recognition Hausmann received during the latter half of his life, and that which was accorded Dada through Hausmann's vigilance. Some letters contain detailed historical accounts of the original artists of Berlin Dada as well as precise definitions of their artistic inventions and techniques. There is a great deal of information about optophoneticism and the optophone, Hausmann's invention. The letters also comment critically on a broad array of political events, including the Cold War, the Indochina conflict, 1968 student demonstrations, labor strikes, and deaths of leading political figures, though Hausmann was apparently reticent to commit to any ideological position or direct engagement with political groups. Moreover, he repeatedly denies Berlin Dada's political content, revising events in terms of his own apolitical perspective and distancing himself from his early association with George Grosz, John Heartfield and Wieland Herzfelde.

Arrangement note

The material is arranged in one series, with the bulk of the letters being to and from Henri Chopin, Pierre Garnier, Jasia Reichardt, Kurt Schwitters and Renée Sulzbach.



Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Rights and Reproductions.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Chopin, Henri
Garnier, Pierre
Hausmann, Raoul, 1886-1971
Heartfield, John, 1891-1968
Höch, Hannah, 1889-1978
Reichardt, Jasia
Schwitters, Kurt, 1887-1948
Sulzbach, Renée

Subjects - Topics

Art, Modern--20th century
Assemblage (Art)
Avant-garde (Aesthetics)
Concrete poetry--England--Exhibitions
Expatriate artists
Fluxus (Group of artists)
Sound poetry

Genres and Forms of Material



Chopin, Henri
Garnier, Pierre
Hausmann, Elfriede
Hausmann, Vera
Karpel, Bernard, 1911-
Maciunas, George, 1931-1978
Reichardt, Jasia
Schwitters, Kurt, 1887-1948
Sulzbach, Renée
Themerson, Stefan

Related Material

The following items were removed from the Hausmann papers and placed in the Getty Research Library's general collection.

Raoul Hausmann, Traité de questions sans solutions importantes (Bale, 1957). "Examplar No.22" of 350 printed copies with autograph signature by the author and dedication from Hausmann to Jasia Reichardt dated Nov 4, 1965. 90-B29558-3 Raoul Hausmann, Courrier Dada suivi d'une Bio-Bibliographie de l'Auteur par Poupard-Lieussou (Paris, 1958). Exemplar No.2 of 50 printed copies with an extensive (poetic) autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou signed 11/7/1959. Accompanying the text is 1 phonographic recording of Hausmann's Sound Poetry; 1 audio cassette tape of the same; and 1 autographed water color sketch. 88-B24319-4 Raoul Hausmann, Poèmes et Bois. Cinq poèmes précèdes d'un hommage par Iliazd (Paris, 1961). Exemplar No.4 of 50 printed copies, signed by Hausmann and Iliazd. Special Oversized 93-B10345 (N 7433.4 H376 A1 1961) Raoul Hausmann, Siebensachen (Stuttgart, 1961). Exemplar No. 33 of 90 signed copies with autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou dated 2/18/62. Special 93-B11187 Affiche für Raoul Hausmann in Limonges anlässlich seines 75. Geburtstages. (Stuttgart, 1961). 1 poster (1 of 250 exemplars) with printed poems by Hausmann and autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Liessou dated 5/25/61. Special 93-B11484 Raoul Hausmann, Sprechspäne (Flensburg, 1962). Exemplar No.376 of 700 printed copies with an autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou dated ( ). Special 89-B14587-2 Raoul Hausmann, Mélanographie (Paris, 1968). Exemplar No.23 of 61 signed copies, with 6 original photographs (initialed and numbered "RH 31"), an original photomontaged cover, and autograph dedication by Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou dated 3/12/69. Special 93-B10331 Raoul Hausmann, La sensorialité excentrique 1968/69 précédé de: optophonétique 1922, French and English texts (Cambridge, 1970). Exemplar No. 197 of 440 printed copies with autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou dated 1/20/71. Also included are 2 photocopies of advertisements for the book. Special 90-B5161-2 Raoul Hausmann, Sagemorcim (Bruxelles, 1971). Exemplar No. XXVI of 340 printed copies. Special 90-B11214-2 Raoul Hausmann, Am Anfang war Dada (Steinbach/Giessen, 1972). Special 89-B7888-2 Mostra personale di Raoul Hausmann (Milano: Galleria Pagani, 1963). Special 93-B10265 Raoul Hausmann (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1967). With autograph dedication from Hausmann to Poupard-Lieussou dated 11/15/67. Special 85-B15350-4 Raoul Hausmann disegni e collages 1960-1970, text by Jean-François Bory and Claude Viallat (Brescia, 1972). Special 90-B29779 Raoul Hausmann autour de L'Espirt de notre temps. assemblages, collages, photomontages (Paris: Musée National d'Art Moderne, 1974/75). Special 89-B7738 Hans Arp, Muscheln und Schirme (Meudon-Val-Fleury, 1939). This item is signed "Hausmann Paris 1939" and contains and autograph dedication to Poupard dated (7/18/56). Special 89-B 23430-2

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Raoul Hausmann correspondence, 1909-1971, bulk 1960-1970, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 850994.

Acquisition Information

Acquired in 1985, 1990-1991, and 1993-1994

Processing History

This integrated finding aid was first written by Scott C. Wolf in 1995. The collection combines 9 separate acquisitions: 850994 (Hausmann Correspondence); 900199 (Pierre Garnier Correspondence); 910155 (Reichardt and Themerson Correspondence); 930001 (Fritz Picard Correspondence); 930020 (Henri Chopin Correspondence); 930041 (Georges Hugnet Correspondence); 940045 (Renée Sulzbach Correspondence); 930048 (Elfriede Hausmann Correspondence); and 940066 (Paul Citroen Correspondence). The finding aid was extensively edited by Annette Leddy with Scott Wolf in January 1996.

Container List

Series I. Correspondence, 1901-1971 0.5 linear feet 1 box
The single box of correspondence that constitutes the Hausmann correspondence is organized alphabetically by correspondent. Letters and the occasional manuscript in each correspondent group are organized chronologically.
Box Folder
1 1 Letters to Herr Buchner, 1909
2 handwritten, concerning Raoul Hausmann's disagreement with Johannes Baader.
1 2 Letters to Henri Chopin, , 1963-1964
39 typewritten, concerning optophonic and phonetic poetry, criticisms of Neodada, Raoul Hausmann's radio, television and LP recordings.
1 3 Letters to Henri Chopin, 1964-1966
32 typewritten, concerning the sale and exhibition of Raoul Hausmann's artwork, for which he requested Chopin's assistance.
1 4 Letters to Henri Chopin, 1966-1967
34 typewritten, concerning Raoul Hausmann's broadcast recordings, artwork, views on Dada and other cultural topics, and the history of phonetic poetry.
1 5 Letters to Henri Chopin, 1968-1971
37 typewritten, 1 handwritten, concerning the 1968 French student uprising, Chopin's plan for a new journal in response to it, and the life and work of Jefim Golyscheff.
1 5 Manuscripts, and 1970 n.d.
2 typewritten: Raoul Hausmann's essays "La Sensorialité excentrinque," and "On the Optophone."
1 6 Letter to Citroen, 1957
1 typewritten, criticizing Citroen's research on Dada and offering assistance.
1 7 Letters to Pierre Garnier, 1963-1967
27 typewritten, concerning Garnier's journal Les Lettres and articles Raoul Hausmann submitted to it, Hausmann's invention of "cinétique poésie semántique" and its derivation from his study of folk speech in Béarn and Gomero, and phonetic poetry.
1 8 Letters to Elfriede Hausmann, , 1922 1934-1937
4 handwritten, from Spain and Czechoslovakia, concerning the exile existence, photographs for Studio Jahrbuch, and writing and research projects; 1 postcard, 1922.
1 9 Letters to Vera Hausmann, 1960-1961
4 typewritten, discussing the sale of Raoul Hausmann's artworks to the Austrian Ministry of Education, financial difficulties, and publications.
1 10 Letters to Dom Sylvester Houédard, 1964-1966
11 typewritten, about contemporary poetry, including his own.
1 11 Letters to Georges Hugnet, 1947-1969
2 typewritten, in which Raoul Hausmann explains his perspective on photomontage in relation to Hugnet's essay "L'esprit dada à Berlin," (1932).
1 11 Manuscript, "The History of Photomontage"
4 typewritten pp., excerpt from Courier Dada.
1 12 Letters to Bernard Karpel, 1964
3 typewritten, criticizing the bibliography Karpel wrote for Huelsenbeck book.
1 13 Letters to George Maciunas, 1962-1963
6 typewritten, concerning Fluxus publications, Raoul Hausmann's publications, and Neodada.
1 14 Letters to Fritz Picard, 1961-1970
7 typewritten and 3 handwritten, concerning Raoul Hausmann's Berlin citizenship and the publication of his books.
1 15 Correspondence with Reichardt and Themerson, 1959-1968
34 letters from Raoul Hausmann, 10 from Reichardt, concerning the publication of Reichardt's book PIN: Raoul Hausmann and Kurt Schwitters (London, 1962), about which Hausmann offers advice and criticism. Reichardt discusses the possibility of a retrospective of Hausmann's work at the Grabowski Gallery, London.
1 15 Personal items
Raoul Hausmann's obituary, 6 New Year's cards, 4 photographs, 1 exhibition announcement.
1 16 Correspondence with Kurt Schwitters, 1946-1947
10 typewritten letters from Schwitters, 5 from Raoul Hausmann (copies Hausmann transcribed and perhaps altered), recounting their respective wartime experiences, the state of the arts after the war, and their idea for a journal (PIN). Includes several short poems within letters.
1 17 Correspondence with Kurt Schwitters, 1946-1947
12 typewritten letters from Schwitters (originals?), 4 from Raoul Hausmann, concerning Hausmann's publication of "Courier Dada" in the journal Arts-Lettres, the possibility of inviting Hans Arp and Mesens to co-edit a journal, Schwitter's illness, and recollections of early Dada performances and pieces.
1 18 Correspondence with Renée Sulzbach, 1966-1967
21 typewritten letters from Raoul Hausmann, 7 from Sulzbach, concerning exhibitions of Hausmann's work at museums in Suttgart and Stockholm, a Dada retrospective in Paris, and the English publication of Hausmann's correspondence with Schwitters.
1 18 1 clipping of an article on Raoul Hausmann by Erich Burger
1 19 Correspondence with Renée Sulzbach, 1967-1968
22 typewritten letters (some carbon copies) from Raoul Hausmann, 14 from Sulzbach.
1 19 Manuscripts
2 chapters from Raoul Hausmann's book on Hans Arp; 1 press release for Hausmann retrospective in Stockholm; 1 printed copy of Hausmann's article "Aussichten oder Ende des Neodadismus;" 1 p. biography of Raoul Hausmann.
1 19 1 clipping, "En Dadist I Berlin," by Stig Johansson, . 1967
1 20 Correspondence with Renée Sulzbach, 1968-1970
38 typewritten letters from Raoul Hausmann, 25 from Sulzbach, concerning recent cultural and political events, exhibitions, journals, and the publication of Hausmann's Im Anfang was Dada.
1 20 Manuscript, 1 typewritten outline of Raoul Hausmann's book Sensorialité excentrique, 1969
1 21 Correspondence with Renée Sulzbach, 1970-1971
8 typewritten letters from Raoul Hausmann, 5 from Sulzbach, concerning publishers, Indian and Chinese philosophy, recent publications about Dada, and popular science.
1 21 Manuscript
1 typewritten carbon copy of Raoul Hausmann's review of Werner Schalenbach's book on Schwitters.
1 22 Letter to anonymous, 1920
1 typewritten, concerning the purchase of an artwork through Professor Oskar Moll and informing the buyer of the Dada Exhibition in Berlin planned for Jun 20, 1920.
1 23 Ephemera separated from Sulzbach correspondence, 1967-1971
10 items, including note, exhibition and book announcements, reviews, publishers' brochures, poster.