Critic and scholar Annette Michelsen donates her papers to the Getty Research Institute

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Critic and scholar Annette Michelsen donates her papers to the Getty Research Institute
Annette Michelson, ca. 1966 Peter Hujar Photographer. Annette Michelson Papers, ca.1950-2014. Gift of Annette Michelson. © The Peter Hujar Archive, LLC.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Getty Research Institute announced today the donation of the archives of renowned critic and scholar Annette Michelson (American, b. 1922). The GRI has also purchased the drawing Blind Time, 1982, and Earth Projects, 1969, a suite of ten lithographs, both by artist Robert Morris (American, b. 1931) from Michelson’s collection. The Getty Research Institute has also purchased Michelson’s extensive film library numbering over fifteen hundred volumes.

“Annette Michelson has played a hugely significant role in the advancement of scholarship in avant-garde visual culture, especially film, around the world and she continues to do so by donating her unparalleled archive to the GRI,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “The GRI’s holdings related to the New York art world of the 1960s and 70s are especially rich. Her archive helps make it possible for scholars to trace complex connections through the work of many artists and writers of the period. Connections like these grow exponentially with every such acquisition.”

The archive of the critic and scholar documents her decades of prolific and influential engagement with avant-garde production in both contemporary art and experimental cinema. Michelson’s papers, which date back to 1950, include her personal writings and research, as well as correspondence with artistic and intellectual luminaries such as Morris, Susan Sontag, Ad Reinhardt, Yvonne Rainer, Martha Rosler, and her co-editors at Artforum and October.

At the same time, the GRI purchased works of art by Robert Morris (American, b. 1931) from Michelson’s personal collection. Blind Time, 1973, is a drawing dedicated to Michelson by Morris. Michelson was one the Conceptual artist’s earliest champions and the drawing is evidence of their strong relationship. Earth Projects, 1969, is a portfolio of ten color lithographs of proposals by Morris that, if realized, would engaged the landscape on a monumental scale, and documents his involvement with the Land Art movement.

“Michelson’s influence—as thinker and writer—is pervasive. Her work, especially through October, has had a sustained influence on the theoretical inflection of art historical scholarship. Michelson helped introduce many French intellectuals, including Jacques Derrida and Georges Bataille, to an American audience,” said John Tain, assistant curator for modern and contemporary collections at the GRI. “And she is one of the most important living scholars of film in the world, having been a key voice for the establishment of cinema studies as an academic field. She has also been a tireless champion of avant-garde cinema, especially from the Soviet Union and the U.S.”

Annette Michelson was born in 1922, and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1948. She enrolled at Columbia University to study with Meyer Schapiro, but instead moved to Paris in 1951. Between 1956 and 1966, she was art editor and critic for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune, and also wrote for Arts Magazine and Art International. Upon her return to the United States she became a writer and editor for Artforum, and joined New York University as one of the film department’s earliest faculty members. In 1976, she founded the journal October with fellow ex-Artforum editors Rosalind Krauss and Max Kozlofff. In addition to her numerous essays and articles, Michelson edited Kino-Eye: the Writings of Dziga Vertov (1984), and Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings of Nagisa Oshima (1992). In recognition of her significant contributions, Michelson received the Frank Jewett Mather award for distinction in art criticism (1974), and fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts (1974, 1976, 1978), the Center for the Advanced Study of the Visual Arts in Washington D.C. (1986-87), and the Getty Research Institute (1988-89).

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