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E. L. T. Mesens papers, 1917-1976 (bulk 1920-1971)

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Mesens (E. L. T.) papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of E. L. T. Mesens (ca. 12 linear ft.) document his career as a gallery director and curator, editor and publisher, and musician, poet and artist during the period 1917-1971. (A few printed materials date to 1976.) The archive provides a unique view of the Surrealist movement, especially in Belgium and London. Included in the archive are more than 3,000 items of correspondence with artists, writers, dealers and other culturally prominent figures. Ca. 900 photographs of art works illustrate the work carried by Mesens' galleries and shown in exhibits he organized. A dossier documents the International Surrealist Exhibit he and Roland Penrose organized in 1936. A few files contain notes and meeting minutes from the Living Art Gallery and the beginnings of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), both in London. A few small sales books and lists document some of the work carried by his galleries, 1931-1936, as well as works he collected. Unpublished manuscripts sent to him at the London Bulletin (1938-1940) reveal the audience and appeal of the publication among established and relatively unknown surrealist writers and artists. Mesens's own work is presented in musical scores, poetry and prose manuscripts, some printed articles and reviews, and photographs of his collages and paintings. In addition printed ephemera and some single issues of magazines document his, and other artists' exhibitions. Most of the printed journals and catalogues received with the collection have been separated to the Getty Research Library.

Arrangement note

The papers are organized in seven series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1918-1971
Series II. International Surrealist Exhibition 1936
Series III. Living Art Gallery and Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), 1938-1960
Series IV. Exhibitions and other art activities, 1931-1964
Series V. Mesens's manuscripts, 1917-1967
Series VI. Photographs, ca. 1917-1976
Series VII. Printed matter, ca. 1925-1976

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