The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles Thursday announced it has acquired the archive of American performance artist Rachel Rosenthal, whose career spanned more than 50 years.
“One of the key figures in the development of theater, performance and feminist art in Los Angeles, Rachel Rosenthal has left an indelible mark on Southern California art and on the art of performance theater more broadly,” said Mary Miller, the director of the Getty Research Institute.
“Rosenthal’s archive amplifies the GRI’s collections in performance art, feminist art and the history of art in Southern California and is a significant addition to our resources,” Miller said.
The Rachel Rosenthal papers cover every phase of her career, including her early years in Paris and New York and her formative time in the artistic scene in the late 1940s and early 1950s, according to GRI.
The documents also cover her development of the experimental theater company “Instant Theatre” in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as her work during the feminist movement in the 1970s and her mature performance and theater pieces.
The collection includes diaries and sketchbooks, extensive correspondence and photographs and audiovisual documentation of Rosenthal’s major projects, GRI stated.
Rosenthal died in 2015 in West Los Angeles.
“Save for the notable exception of Moira Roth’s 1997 edited volume, `Rachel Rosenthal,’ the artist’s career has yet to be seriously studied. Her work is richly biographical and her archive is a goldmine for scholarship,” said Glenn Phillips, head of modern and contemporary art at the GRI. “The Rosenthal archive presents a compelling portrait of this complex and groundbreaking artist and her work on the vanguard of several important art movements.”
This archive will be made available for research after being processed and cataloged, GRI stated.
The archive also contains unpublished materials, including more than 60 diaries and journals that contain comprehensive writing about Rosenthal’s life and work.
Other notebooks contain membership records for Instant Theatre in the mid-1950s, as well as notes on performances, the GRI stated. Extensive unbound papers contain additional notes on performances, drafts of scripts and other writing.
Also included are about 30 scrapbooks that Rosenthal began in 1975, containing press, photographs and other documentation related to her performances and other career activities.
According to the GRI, Rosenthal was the daughter of a Russian Jewish family, born in Paris in 1926. As a young girl, she studied ballet with the well-known former Russian National Ballet prima ballerina Olga Preobrajenskaya.
The institute stated Rosenthal’s family’s upper-middle-class lifestyle was interrupted by the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, and in June of that year, they were forced to flee, first to Portugal and then to Brazil. They traveled to New York in 1941 and settled in the United States.
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