Jean Crotti papers, 1913-1973, bulk 1913-1961

A Finding Aid to the Jean Crotti Papers, 1913-1973, bulk 1913-1961, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Jean Crotti (1870-1958) was a Dadist painter who worked primarily in Paris, France and New York. He was married to Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp's sister, and friends with notable avant-garde and Dada European and American painters of the period. He is also known for creating the "Gemmail" technique of layering colored glass that produced unique color combinations when illuminated.

Jean Crotti was born April 24, 1878 in Bulle, near Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a painting contractor. The family moved to Fribourg in 1887.

Beginning in 1898, Crotti struggled with questions of a religious and spiritual nature while at the School of Decorative Arts in Munich. Dissatisfied there, he moved to Paris in 1901, where he spent a year studying at the Acad?©mie Julian under Tony-Robert Fleury and Jules Lefebvre. Still dissatisfied in 1902, he established a small independent studio in the Rue Fontaine.

Crotti exhibited a canvas at the Salon des Ind?©pendants in 1907, and was accepted as a member of the Salon d'Automne in 1909. From 1910 to 1912, he was influenced by Cubism and its offshoot, Orphism.

To escape from wartime Paris in 1914, Crotti and his first wife, Yvonne Chastel, moved to New York City where Crotti had his first solo exhibition at the Bourgeois Gallery. In 1915, Crotti met Francis Picabia and also shared a studio with Marcel Duchamp who was a major influence. Crotti began his Dada period and was included in an exhibition of French paintings at the Montross Gallery in New York, with Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger.

Crotti separated from his first wife, Yvonne Chastel, in 1916 and returned to Paris alone. By 1917, Crotti's marriage had dissolved and he married Suzanne Duchamp in 1919. Crotti met Suzanne Duchamp, also a painter, through his friendship with her brother Marcel Duchamp. During this time, Crotti completed and exhibited paintings associated with the Dada movement. One of his more notable works was entitled Explacatif, bearing the word "Tabu" that expressed Crotti's concepts of mystery and infinity with spiritual overtones.

In 1935 Crotti began to research a new technique using layers of colored glass, referred to as "gemmail." The term is a contraction of "gem" referring to the colored glass and "enamel" referring to the method of affixing the pieces of glass to each other. After much experimentation, an "enamel" fixative was found that would permanently hold the glass pieces in place while still allowing light to shine through all the layers. Several prominent artists including Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso became interested in using this medium. Crotti had the process patented, but in 1955 ceded the rights to Roger Malherbe who adapted it to commercial uses.

Jean Crotti died on January 30, 1958 in Paris, France.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of French Dada painter Jean Crotti measure 1.7 linear feet and date from 1913 to 1973, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1913-1961. Among the papers are autobiographical essays, correspondence with friends and family, including many letters from Marcel Duchamp, notes and writings by and about Crotti, printed materials, one scrapbook, drawings by Crotti and others, photographs of Crotti and his family and friends, photographs of artwork, and three audio recordings of interviews with Crotti.

Biographical material consists of autobiographical notes and an autobiographical manuscript Ma Vie.

Correspondence is with family members and colleagues. Correspondents include his brother Andr?©, wife Suzanne Duchamp, and other family members. There are eleven folders of correspondence between Suzanne's brother Marcel Duchamp and the Crotti family. A 1918 letter from Duchamp to Crotti is illustrated by Duchamp. Additional letters to Jean Crotti are from Jean Cocteau, Albert Gleizes, Georges Herbiet a.k.a. "Christian", Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia, and Jacques Villon. Three folders of letters from Georges Herbiet a.k.a. "Christian" include references to Francis Picabia and Germaine Everling and discussions of art criticism and Picabia's role in avant-garde art movements. Herbiet also describes a new painting procedure that he claims to have invented using a product that is impervious to acids, water, oil, or alcohol. There is a single letter from Jean Crotti to Pablo Picasso following their meeting in Cannes in which Crotti discusses a design with spheres and includes a sketch of his idea. There are also single letters to Crotti from Raoul Dufy, Walter Pach, and actor Pierre Renoir.

Notes and writings include poems, a script, and miscellaneous writings by Crotti concerning his art theories including "Tabu" and gemmail. Writings about Crotti are by miscellaneous authors including writers Waldemar George, Andr?© Salmon, and artists Armand Nakache, Am?©d?© Ozenfant, and Michel Seuphor.

Art work includes seven folders of drawings and an etching plate by Crotti, 83 drawings by Paul Guillaume, and portrait drawings of Crotti by Henri Coudour and Francis Picabia.

A scrapbook contains clippings, a letter from Paul Guillaume and a letter to Elizabeth Crotti from a friend describing a 1932 Jean Crotti exhibition in the Balzac Galleries in New York City, and a typescript "Una Collezione a Parigi" by Gino Severini.

Additional printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Crotti and others, reproductions of art work, and books Jean Crotti (1930) and Jean Crotti et la Primaut?© du Spirituel (1959) by Waldemar George.

Photographs are of Crotti, his family, friends, colleagues, and art work by Crotti and by Suzanne Duchamp. Of particular interest are photographs of composer Edgard Var?¨se and his wife Louise with Suzanne Duchamp, Jean Crotti, and art advocate Mary Reynolds in 1924, photographs of Crotti and Georges Braque examining a gemmail art work, and photographs of Crotti and Suzanne Duchamp talking with Pablo Picasso at Cannes and at the home of Bertrande Blancpain in 1957.

Audio recordings include two phonograph records of interviews with Jean Crotti, including topics "Assignment Switzerland" and "Assignment World." A third phonograph record contains an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain as well as an additional interview with Crotti.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 8 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:

Subjects:

  • Blancpain, Paul
  • Braque, Georges, 1882-1963
  • Everling, Germaine
  • Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973--Photographs
  • Reynolds, Mary, 1891-1950
  • Var?¨se, Edgard, 1883-1965
  • Varese, Louise

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art criticism
  • Avant-garde (Aesthetics)
  • Dadaism
  • Painters -- France -- Paris
  • Painters -- France -- Paris -- Interviews
  • Painting -- Technique

Types of Materials:

  • Drawings
  • Essays
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Poems
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sound recordings

Names:

  • Christian, 1895-1969
  • Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963
  • Coudour, Henri
  • Crotti, Andre
  • Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968
  • Duchamp, Suzanne, 1889-1963
  • Dufy, Raoul, 1877-1953
  • Gleizes, Albert, 1881-1953
  • Guillaume, Paul, 1891-1934
  • Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954
  • Nokache, Armand
  • Ozenfant, Am?©d?©e, 1886-1966
  • Pach, Walter, 1883-1958
  • Picabia, Francis, 1879-1953
  • Renoir, Pierre, 1885-1952
  • Salmon, Andr?©, 1881-
  • Seuphor, Michel, 1901-
  • Severini, Gino, 1883-1966
  • Villon, Jacques, 1875-1963
  • Waldemar George, 1893-

Provenance

The Jean Crotti papers were donated in two installments in 1981 by Andr?© Buckles and Alice Buckles Brown, Crotti's great-nephew and great-niece.

Separated and Related Materials

Two sketches and a print were also lent by Andr?© Buckles in 1981 for microfilming on reels 2394-2395 and returned. This material is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.

How the Collection was Processed

Portions of the collection were microfilmed on reels 2394-2395 shortly after donation. Previously microfilmed and unmicrofilmed portions were merged, arranged, and described by Jean Fitzgerald in April 2009, and the collection was digitized in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Jean Crotti papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Available Formats

The collection was digitized in 2010 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials not digitized include an etching plate by Crotti, photographs of artwork, and phonograph audio recordings of interviews with Crotti. Only the covers and title pages of most published books and exhibition catalogs were scanned.

How to Cite this Collection

Jean Crotti papers, 1913-1973, bulk 1913-1961. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1954-1955
(Box 1; 3 folders)

Biographical material consists of autobiographical notes and an autobiographical manuscript Ma Vie.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 1-2 Autobiographical Notes, 1954-1955
(2 folders)
1 3 Autobiographical Manuscript Ma Vie, undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1916-1961
(Box 1; 43 folders)

Correspondence is with family members and colleagues, including his brother Andr?©, wife Suzanne Duchamp, brother-in-law Marcel Duchamp, Jean Cocteau, Albert Gleizes, Georges Herbiet a.k.a. "Christian", Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia (includes a photograph of Picabia), and Jacques Villon.

There are eleven folders of correspondence with Marcel Duchamp, mostly letters written by Duchamp to Jean Crotti, Suzanne Duchamp, and other family members. A 1918 letter from Duchamp to Crotti is illustrated by Duchamp. Three folders of letters from Georges Herbiet a.k.a. "Christian" include references to Francis Picabia and Germaine Everling and discussions of art criticism and Picabia's role in avant-garde art movements. Herbiet also describes a new painting procedure that he claims to have invented using a product that is impervious to acids, water, oil, or alcohol.

Also among the correspondence is one letter to Pablo Picasso discussing a design with spheres and a sketch, and single letters from Raoul Dufy, Walter Pach, actor Pierre Renoir, and Henri Matisse. The letter from Matisse discusses the design of a palette.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 4-6 Letters from Georges Herbiet a.k.a. "Christian" to Jean Crotti, 1922-1929
(3 folders)
1 7 Letters from Jean Cocteau to Jean Crotti, 1953-1959
1 8-11 Letters from Jean Crotti to Andr?©, Marie, and Lysbeth Crotti, undated 1940-1957,
(4 folders)
1 12 Letter from Jean Crotti to Marcel Duchamp, 1953
1 13 Letters from Jean Crotti to Suzanne Duchamp, 1943
1 14 Letter from Jean Crotti to Pablo Picasso, 1957
1 15 Letters from Jean Crotti to Miscellaneous Colleagues, 1936-1957, undated
1 16 Letters from Pierre De Massot to Jean Crotti, 1922
1 17 Letters from Roland Dorgeles to Jean Crotti, undated
1 18-27 Letters from Marcel Duchamp to Jean Crotti, Yvonne Crotti, and Suzanne Duchamp, 1916-1961, undated (folder 21 includes an illustrated letter from Duchamp.)
(10 folders)
1 28 Letter from Raoul Dufy to Jean Crotti, 1938
1 29 Letters from Waldemar George to Jean Crotti, 1925-1958, undated
1 30 Letters from Albert Gleizes to Jean Crotti, 1938, undated
1 31 Letters from Henri Matisse to Jean Crotti, 1923-1936
1 32 Letter from Walter Pach to Jean Crotti, 1931
1 33 Letters from Cl?©ment Pansaers to Jean Crotti, 1921-1922
1 34-35 Letters from Francis Picabia to Jan Crotti, (2 folders) 1922-1928, undated
1 36 Letter from Pierre Renoir to Jean Crotti, 1923
1 37 Letters from Andr?© Salmon to Jean Crotti, 1922-1925, undated
1 38 Letters from Paul Signac to Jean Crotti, 1923, undated
1 39 Letters from L. Stoppela?©re Jean Crotti, 1922, undated
1 40 Letters from Jean Villern (?) to Jean Crotti, 1929
1 41-42 Letters from Jacques Villon to Jean Crotti and Suzanne Duchamp, 1918-1961, undated
(2 folders)
1 43-46 Letters from Miscellaneous Correspondents to Jean Crotti, 1917-1955, undated
(4 folders)

Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1924-1958
(Box 1; 27 folders)

Notes and writings include poems, a script, and miscellaneous writings by Crotti concerning his art theories. Miscellaneous writings by others are primarily about Crotti.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 47 Lists of Art Work, 1950, undated
1 48 Miscellaneous Notes, 1937-1950, undated
1 49 Poems by Jean Crotti, 1936, undated
1 50 Script Porte Sans Issue, undated
1 51-52 Notebook and Writings Concerning Tabu, undated
(2 folders)
1 53-60 Miscellaneous Writings by Jean Crotti, 1934-1957, undated
(8 folders)
1 61 Manuscript about Jean Crotti by Jean Bouret; Typescript about Jean Crotti by Jean Cassou, undated
1 62 Typescript about Jean Crotti by Raymond Cogniat, 1936
1 63 Writings about Jean Crotti by Waldemar George, undated
1 64 Writings about Jean Crotti by Georges-Armand Masson; Typescripts about Jean Crotti by Jean-Daniel Maublanc, 1936-1943, undated
1 65 Typescript "Rapport de la Commission des F?ªtes de la Soci?©t?© des Amateurs d'Art" by Ren?© Idzkowski, 1937
1 66 Manuscripts about Jean Crotti by Claude M?©ran, 1924, undated
1 67 Typescript about Jean Crotti by Armand Nakache, undated
1 68 Typescript about Jean Crotti by Am?©d?© Ozenfant, 1947
1 69 Writings about Jean Crotti by Andr?© Salmon, undated
1 70 Typescript about Jean Crotti by Michel Seuphor, undated
1 71-73 Writings about Jean Crotti by Miscellaneous Authors, 1928-1958, undated
(3 folders)

Series 4: Art Work, 1913-1925
(Box 1, 3; 12 folders)

Art work consists of drawings by Crotti and others including a portrait of Crotti by Francis Picabia, and drawings by paul Guillaume. Also included is an etching plate created by Crotti.

The bulk of this series has been scanned. Items not digitized include the etching plate and a folder of photographs of works of art loaned by Crotti to the Archives of American Art for microfilming.

Box Folder
1 74-80 Drawings by Jean Crotti, 1913, undated
(partially scanned; 7 folders; Oversized Material also housed in Box 3)
1 81 Etching Plate by Jean Crotti, undated
(not scanned)
1 82 Drawing of Jean Crotti by Henri Coudour, undated
1 83 Drawing by Paul Guillaume, 1923
1 84 Drawing of Jean Crotti by Francis Picabia, 1925
Box Folder
3 1 Three Oversized Drawings by Jean Crotti, undated,
(scanned with Box 1, Folder 77)

Series 5: Scrapbook, 1931-1935
(Box 1; 1 folder)

The scrapbook contains clippings, a letter from Paul Guillaume and a letter to Elizabeth Crotti from a friend describing a 1932 Jean Crotti exhibition in the Balzac Galleries in New York City, and a typescript by Gino Severini.

This series has been scanned in its entirety.

Box Folder
1 85 Scrapbook, 1931-1935

Series 6: Printed Material, 1921-1973
(Box 1-3; 0.5 linear feet)

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Crotti and others, reproductions of art work, and books about Crotti.

This series has been partially scanned. Items not scanned include a folder of reproductions of works of art by Crotti. Also, published books and catalogs of which only the covers and title pages are scanned.

Box Folder
1 86 Clippings, 1925
1 87-89 Clippings, 1928
(3 folders)
1 90 Clippings, 1929-1931
1 91 Clippings, 1936
1 92 Clippings, 1937
1 93 Clippings, 1938
1 94-95 Clippings, 1939
(2 folders)
1 96-98 Clippings, 1942
(3 folders)
1 99-100 Clippings, 1943
(2 folders)
1 101 Clippings, 1944
1 102-103 Clippings, 1945
(2 folders)
1 104-105 Clippings, 1946
(2 folders; Oversized Material also housed in Box 3)
1 106 Clippings, 1947
1 107 Clippings, 1948
1 108 Clippings, 1949
1 109-110 Clippings, 1950
(2 folders)
1 111 Clippings, 1954-1955
1 112 Clippings, 1956-1957
1 113 Clippings, 1958-1959
1 114 Clippings, 1961-1970
1 115-116 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated
(partially scanned; 2 folders)
1 117 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1921
(partially scanned)
1 118 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1930
(partially scanned)
1 119 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1936
(partially scanned)
1 120-121 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1937
(partially scanned; 2 folders)
1 122 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1938-1939
(partially scanned)
1 123 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1942-1943
(partially scanned)
1 124 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1945-1946
(partially scanned)
1 125 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1955
(partially scanned)
1 126 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1956
(partially scanned)
1 127 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1957-1959
(partially scanned)
Box Folder
2 1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1965
(partially scanned)
2 2 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1970
(partially scanned)
2 3 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1973
(partially scanned; Oversized Material also housed in Box 3)
2 4 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others, 1952-1962
(partially scanned)
2 5 Reproductions of Art Work, undated
(not scanned)
2 6 Book Jean Crotti by Waldemar George, 1930
(not scanned)
2 7 Book Jean Crotti et la Primaut?© du Spirituel by Waldemar George, 1959
(not scanned)
2 8-9 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1937-1956, undated
(2 folders; Oversized Material also housed in Box 3)
Box Folder
3 2 An Oversized Clipping, 1946
(scanned with Box 1, Folder 104)
3 2 An Oversized Exhibition Announcement Poster, 1973
(scanned with Box 2, Folder 3)
3 2 An Oversized Galley Proof Sheet of Illustrations about French Aviation, undated
(scanned with Box 2, Folder 8)

Series 7: Photographs, 1920-1957
(Box 2; 25 folders)

Photographs are of Crotti, his family, friends, and colleagues including Bertrande Blancpain, Georges Braque examining a gemmail art work, Suzanne Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Mary Reynolds, composer Edgard Var?¨se, and Jacques Villon. There are also photographs of art work by Crotti and by Suzanne Duchamp.

This bulk of this series has been scanned. Photographs of works of art have not been scanned.

Box Folder
2 10-13 Photographs of Jean Crotti, 1922-1957, undated
(4 folders)
2 14 Photographs of Suzanne Duchamp, 1933-1948, undated
2 15 Photographs of Jean Crotti with Friends and Colleagues, 1920-1955, undated
2 16 Photographs of Jean Crotti on Bateau Moineau, 1956
2 17 Photographs of Jean Crotti with Georges Braque, Examining a Gemmail Art Work, 1956
2 18 Photographs of Jean Crotti and Suzanne Duchamp with Pablo Picasso and Bertrande Blancpain, 1956
2 19 Photographs of Jean Crotti with Pablo Picasso at Palais du Festival in Cannes, 1957
2 20 Photographs of an Unidentified Exhibition Installation, undated
2 21 Photographs of Salon des Independants Exhibition Installation, 1953
2 22-30 Photographs of Art Work by Jean Crotti, undated
(not scanned; 9 folders)
2 31-32 Photographs of Art Work by Suzanne Duchamp, undated
(not scanned; 2 folders)
2 33 Photograph of Art Work by Camille Pisarro, undated
(not scanned)
2 34 Photograph of Lake Michigan, undated

Series 8: Audio Recordings, 1955
(Box 3; 1 folder)

Audio recordings include two phonograph records of interviews with Jean Crotti, including topics "Assignment Switzerland" and "Assignment World." A third phonograph record contains an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain as well as an additional interview with Crotti.

This series has not been digitized.

Box
3 Phonograph Recordings of Interviews with Jean Crotti and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain, 1955, undated
(not digitized)