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Lettrism papers, 1946-1965

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Title: Lettrism papers
Dates: 1946-1965
Number: 980036
Creator/Collector: Queneau, Raymond, 1903-1976
Extent: 28.0 items
Abstract: A collection of letters and ephemera belonging to editor Raymond Queneau, one of the founders of "Ouilipo." The materials concern the avant-garde movement Lettrism, and comprise correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, and ephemera.
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Language: Collection material is in 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 Lynda Bunting.

Biographical/Historical Note

Raymond Queneau (1903-1973) worked with the surrealists as a young man before becoming known as one of the founders of "Oulipo" (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or the Workshop of Potential Literature). Two of his most famous works are Les exercices de style and Zazie dans le métro, which Louis Malle filmed in 1960. As an editor at Gallimard, Queneau was extremely influential in the publication and support of avant-garde movements and their proponents. Queneau began publishing Isidore Isou in the late 1940s and was supportive of him and his efforts to establish Lettrism.

Scope and Content of Collection

Letters and ephemera sent to editor Raymond Queneau concerning the avant-garde movement Lettrism, founded by Isidore Isou. A letter, a clipping and the tract "Defense d'Isidore Isou" illustrate Isou's problems with obscenity charges brought against him in 1962. Three letters to Queneau and a copy of a 7 p. letter from Isou to Gaston Gallimard, dated 1962 and 1964, plead for continued support for the movement. Other materials by Isou are a handwritten card (1946), a handwritten cover design for a proposed book "Oeuvres complètes de Isidore Isou" (n.d.), a typescript titled "Domaine artistique integral" (n.d.), and the tract "Vive la retrospective surrealiste!" (1964), which denounces André Breton.

The collection also includes three handwritten letters from Gabriel Pomerand concerning books Queneau sent him during his imprisonment (1949) and his hospitalization (1954), three typed letters from Jacques Spacagna regarding the issue of Bizarre that he and Maurice Lemaître are preparing, and two letters from Lemaître (1962, 1965). Ephemera consist of two announcements "Première manifestation lettriste" (n.d.) and "Le lettrisme" (n.d.), an invitation to a Lemaître event with ink drawings and stapled film strips (n.d.), the program "La poesie et la musique lettristes et aphonistes" (n.d.), and a 4 p. advertisement, with text by Noël Arnaud, for three recordings (1964).

Arrangement note

Arranged in one series, in rough chronological order.



Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Rights and Reproductions.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Queneau, Raymond, 1903-1976

Subjects - Topics


Genres and Forms of Material

Drawings (visual works)


Arnaud, Noël
Gallimard, Gaston, 1881-1975
Isou, Isidore
Lemaître, Maurice, 1926-
Pomerand, Gabriel, 1926-1972
Spacagna, Jacques

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Lettrism papers, 1946-1965, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 980036.

Acquisition Information

Collection was acquired in 1998.

Processing History

Lynda Bunting processed the collection in October 1998

Container List

Box Folder
1 1 "Première manifestation Lettriste" n.d.
1 1 Handwritten card [1946]
from Isou to Queneau which invites Queneau to assist in the conference "Interdiction de Peter dans la salle," even though he is an ass.
1 1 "Le Lettrisme" n.d.
1 1 Cover design n.d.
handwritten for the proposed book "Oeuvres complètes de Isidore Isou" (published?)
1 1 Letter 1947
typed from R. Veillé to Queneau forwarding two handwritten letters from listeners who heard Lettrisme programs on the radio.
1 2 Letters Avril 1949, 12 Avril 1949, March 1954
3 handwritten letters from Gabriel Pomerand to Queneau sending thanks for a package of books he received while imprisoned in Luasanne (1949) and requesting books be sent to him while he recuperates in the hospital (1954).
1 3 Clipping n.d.
about the judgement against Isou and also lists those who support him.
1 3 Letter 23 Oct 62
handwritten from Isou to Queneau requesting Queneau to read the enclosed letter to members of l'Acadèmie Goncourt.
1 3 Letter [1962]
4 p. typed from Isou to Queneau seeking support for the first Lettriste festival.
1 3 Letter 26 Oct 1962
typed from Isou to Queneau about the judgement against him and requesting Queneau to appeal to the public for support.
1 3 "Defense d'Isidore Isou" n.d.
tract with handwritten note from Isou to Queneau written in the top and bottom margins.
1 4 "Domaine artistique integral" n.d.
1 4 Letter 25 mai 1964
typed from Isou to Queneau asking Queneau to participate in a cultural committee.
1 4 "Vive la retrospective surrealiste!" [1964]
tract which denounces André Breton.
1 4 "La poesie et la musique Lettristes et Aphonistes" n.d.
1 4 Letters 1964
3 typed from Jacques Spacagna to Queneau concerning the issue of Bizarre that he and Lemaître are preparing,
1 5 Letter [1964]
copy of a 7 p. typed letter from Isou to Gaston Gallimard sent to Queneau with a note handwritten in the margin asking him to comment on Isou's proposals for Gallimard to have readers at Editions Gallimard capable of understanding and defending Lettrisme and changes to the journal N.N.R.F. which grows worse each year.
1 6 Advertisement [1964]
3 p. ts. By Noël Arnaud describing the contents of 3 recordings for sale listed on a 4th page.
1 6 Invitation [1956 or 1962]
to a Lemaître event with ink drawings and film strips.
1 6 Letters , 10 août 1965 19 Septembre 1962
2 typed, short letters from Lemaître to Queneau.
1 7 Envelope [1962]
from Isou to Queneau,