Mark di Suvero and di Suvero family papers, 1934-2005

A Finding Aid to the Mark di Suvero and di Suvero Family Papers, 1934-2005, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Biographical Information

Mark di Suvero was born September 18, 1933, in Shanghai, China, the son of Matilde Millo di Suvero and Victor E. di Suvero, an Italian diplomat. He was one of four children: Victor M., the eldest, Marie Louise, Mark, and the youngest son Henry. With the outbreak of World War II, the family immigrated to San Francisco, California, in 1941.

Mark di Suvero studied fine arts and philosophy at the San Francisco City College from 1953 to 1954, and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 1954-1955, where he began creating sculpture. In 1956, he received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. The following year, di Suvero moved to New York City to establish a career as a sculptor.

Shortly before his first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in 1960, di Suvero suffered severe spinal injuries when he was pinned against an elevator shaft in a construction accident. Initially confined to a wheelchair for two years, di Suvero persevered in overcoming his injuries and continuing his work.

In protest of the Vietnam War, di Suvero left the United States in 1971, and exhibited his sculpture in Holland and Germany. A year later, he established a painting and drawing studio in Venice, where he also taught at the Università Internazionale dell'Arte, and, in 1973, he moved to France. Also during this time, di Suvero married Maria Teresa Capparotta, an architect, whom he later divorced.

The Whitney Museum of American Art honored Mark di Suvero in 1975 with the first retrospective and first American city-wide exhibition of his work, in New York City. At this time, di Suvero began working with a team in assembling his sculpture, first with Lowell McKegney, and later joined by his nephews Enrico and Matteo Martignoni.

In 1977, di Suvero founded the Athena Foundation to award grants to artists. In 1986, in conjunction with the Athena Foundation and with Enrico Martignoni, he created the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York, an outdoor space where sculptors are invited to create and exhibit their work. With Marcel Evrard in 1988, di Suvero created a foundation entitled La Vie des Formes (The Life of Forms) in the shipyards at Chalon-sur-Saône, France. Based upon the model of Socrates Sculpture Park, this organization hosted artists in studio and exhibition spaces at the shipyard and on di Suvero's converted canal barge Rêve des Signes, that was moored alongside.

Included in most major international gallery collections, Mark di Suvero's art work has also been the focus of major solo exhibitions including two at Storm King, and international city-wide exhibitions in Duisberg and Stuttgart in Germany, Chalon-sur-Saône, Paris, Valence, and Nice in France, and Valencia in Spain. During the summer of 1995, di Suvero was honored with a major installation of seven pieces along the Grand Canal to coincide with the Venice Biennale's 100th anniversary.

In 1993, Mark di Suvero married Kate Levin, Ph.D., a professor at the City University of New York and Commissioner of the New York Department of Cultural Affairs. Di Suvero and Levin have a daughter named Veri. At present, di Suvero maintains studios in Petaluma, California, Long Island City, New York, and Chalon-sur-Saône, France.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The collection measures 6.7 linear feet (including sealed portions of the collection), dates from 1934 to 2005, and documents the career of sculptor Mark di Suvero and the importance of his family relationships. Found within the papers are biographical material; letters to and from di Suvero family members; scattered writings by di Suvero and Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero, the artist's sister, about Mark di Suvero; drawings; a file on the Socrates Sculpture Park; a file on artist Helen Lessick, a friend of Mark di Suvero; exhibition files; printed material; photographs of the artist, artwork, and members of the di Suvero family; audio and video recordings of interviews with di Suvero; and promotional Tee Shirts. 57 folders of Mark di Suvero's letters to his brother Henry are sealed, as are 3 folders of letters to his sister Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero. Also sealed are a typescript for a book by di Suvero, a play script by Henry di Suvero, and family photographs, per the donor's request. All series contain annotations by the donor, Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection has been arranged into 11 series:

All series have been arranged chronologically. Unrestricted material is housed in Boxes 1-5, 7 (Sol), and OV 9. Sealed material is housed in Boxes 6, 8 (Sol), and OV 10.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms. People, families and organizations are listed under "Subjects" when they are the topic of collection contents and under "Names" when they are creators or contributors.

Subjects:

  • Lessick, Helen
  • Socrates Sculpture Park

Subjects-Topical:

  • Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Slides (photographs)
  • Video recordings
  • Works of art
  • Drawings
  • Interviews

Provenance

The Mark di Suvero and di Suvero family papers were donated in 2004 and 2005 by Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero, the artist's sister. After donation, the donor requested that a portion of the papers be sealed (no access) until 2033. The sealed portion includes family letters, a typescript for a book, a play script, and family photographs.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed by Jean Fitzgerald in October 2005. After processing, the donor requested that a portion of the collection be sealed, thus the sealed boxes have box numbers integrated with the rest of the boxes.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

A portion of the the collection is open for research, Boxes 1-5, 7, and OV 9. Use requires an appointment. A portion of the collection (Boxes 6, 8, OV 10) is SEALED and unavailable for research.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Mark di Suvero and di Suvero family 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.

How to Cite this Collection

Mark di Suvero and di Suvero family papers, 1934-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1941-2004
(Box 1; 4 folders)

This series consists of biographical accounts for various members of the di Suvero family and school records for Mark di Suvero. The curricula vitae were written by Mark di Suvero.

Box
1 Biographical Accounts for di Suvero Family Members, 1993-2004
1 Curriculum Vitae Written by Mark di Suvero, 1984-1997
1 Report Cards for Mark di Suvero, 1941-1948
1 School Attendance Certificate for Mark di Suvero, 1944

Series 2: Letters, 1956-2005, undated
(Box 1, 7, and Sealed Box 6, 8, OV 10; 1.6 linear feet)

The majority of the letters are from Mark di Suvero to his brother Henry and sister Marie Louise, including 60 SEALED folders of letters and several SEALED oversized letters. There are also some scattered letters to friends and colleagues including a letter containing a printed description of di Suvero's New York Court of Appeals case concerning his accident. Several of these letters are illustrated with drawings of ideas for sculpture. Other letters are those written by members of the di Suvero family to each other, and letters received from various friends and colleagues.

Box
1 Letters from di Suvero Family Members (see also Box 7), 1966-2005, undated
(27 folders)
Box
6 SEALED SEALED Letters from Mark di Suvero to Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero (see also SEALED Box 8 ), 1960-1964
(3 folders)
6 SEALED SEALED Letters from Mark di Suvero to Henry di Suvero (see also SEALED Box 8, OV 10), 1956-2001
(57 folders)
Box
7 (sol) Oversized letter from Mark di Suvero to Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero, 1987-1988
Box
8 (sol)SEALED SEALED Oversized letter from Mark di Suvero to Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero, 1961
Box
8 (sol) SEALED SEALED Oversized letters from Mark di Suvero to Henry di Suvero, 1958-1999, undated
Box
OV 10 SEALED SEALED Oversized letters from Mark di Suvero to Henry di Suvero, 1972, undated

Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1961-2005, undated
(Box 1, Sealed Box 6; 15 folders)

This series primarily consists of Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero's notes and writings. The files containing notes for her lecture at the University of New Mexico include 2 photographs and 80 slides of Mark di Suvero's art work. There are also writings by Mark, Henry, and Victor di Suvero.

Box
1 Poems by Mark di Suvero, 1961, undated
1 Typescripts of Poems Written from 1938 to 1953 by Victor di Suvero, 1998
1 Notes and Writings by Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero, 1982-2005
1 Draft Press Release for the Portland Museum, 1982
1 Notes for Lecture at University of New Mexico, 1989
(2 folders)
1 Proposal to Cast in Bronze Gutzon Borglum's Bust of Adolph Bandelier, 1991-1993
1 Notes Concerning Mark di Suvero Art Work Executed Between 1954 and 2004, 2005
1 Miscellaneous Notes Concerning Decades of Family Events, 2004
(6 folders)
Box
6 SEALED SEALED Typescript Draft for a Proposed Book by Mark di Suvero, circa 1998
6 SEALED SEALED Play Script, The Ballad of Rachel Corrie, by Henry di Suvero, 2003

Series 4: Drawings, 1983, undated
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Three small ink sketches by Mark di Suvero are designs for sculpture.

Box
1 Ink Sketches, 1983, undated

Series 5: Socrates Sculpture Park File, 1985-2004, undated
(Box 1-2, 7; 0.6 linear feet)

This series contains material concerning the Socrates Sculpture Park, an outdoor space where sculptors are invited to create and exhibit their work, created through the Athena Foundation. The photographs include one showing New York Mayor Koch presenting co-founder Enrico Martignoni with an award for the Park. Artifacts include two matchbooks and a tee shirt advertising the Park.

Box
1 Letters, 1985-1996
(2 folders)
1 Typescript of the Proposal, 1988
1 Inventory and Analysis Report, 1988
1 Notes and Writings, 1986-2001, undated
1 Clippings, 1985-2001
(2 folders)
1 Press Packet, 1985-1986
1 Miscellaneous Press Releases, 1986-2003
1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs (see also Box 7), 1986-2004
(9 folders)
1 Brochure for the Athena Foundation, 1986
1 Brochures for Socrates Sculpture Park, 1990-1992
(2 folders)
1 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1986-2004
1 Photographs, 1986-1990
Box
2 Videotape Socrates Sculpture Park, 1986
2 Artifacts (see Also Box 7), 2003, undated
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Exhibition Announcement from the Socrates Sculpture Park File, 1987
7 (sol) Socrates Sculpture Park tee shirt, 2003

Series 6: Helen Lessick File, 1986-2004
(Box 2, 7; 6 folders)

This series contains miscellaneous material relating to artist Helen Lessick, an Athena grant-funded artist and friend of Mark di Suvero and the Martignoni family, who exhibited her work at the Socrates Sculpture Park in its early days, and at Chalon-sur-Saône's La Vie des Formes.

Box
2 Letters (see also Box 7), 1990-2003
2 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1987-2004
2 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1986-2003
2 Baseball Cards Created by Helen Lessick, 1999
2 Bookmarks Created by Helen Lessick, 2003
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Illustrated Letter from Helen Lessick File, 1990

Series 7: Exhibition Files, 1975-2003
(Box 2-3, 7; 1.4 linear feet)

The exhibition files contain miscellaneous material relating to specific exhibitions or installations by Mark di Suvero. Most files contain printed materials, catalogs, announcements, notes, a few essays, letters, and photographs. Two of the exhibition files also contain video recordings: La Biennale di Venezia, XLCI International Art Exhibition, Venice, Italy, 1994-1996; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, 1995-1996.

Box
2 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1975-1976
(7 folders)
2 Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, 1985
(7 folders)
2 Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 1988
(5 folders)
2 Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valence, France, 1989-1991
(10 folders)
2 Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Nice, France, 1991
(4 folders)
2 Unveiling of L'Illume (Erleuchtung), Parliament Building, Bonn, Germany, 1992
(5 folders)
2 Centre Julio González, Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), Valencia, Spain, 1994-1995
2 La Biennale di Venezia, XLCI International Art Exhibition, Venice, Italy, 1994-1996
(7 folders)
2 Dedication of Sea Change, South Beach Park, San Francisco, California, 1995
(7 folders)
Box
3 Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, 1995-1996
(8 folders)
3 Mark di Suvero in Paris Exhibition, Paris, France, 1997-1998
(7 folders)
3 Unveiling of Tyne Anew, 1999
3 Works from a Private Collection, Danese Gallery, New York, New York, 2000
(4 folders)
3 Installation of Beppe, University of Missouri at St. Louis and Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Missouri, 2003
(5 folders)
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Letter from Mark di Suvero to Henry di Suvero, from the La Biennale di Venezia Exhibition File, 1994
7 (sol) Oversized Posters from a Press Packet in Exhibition File for Mark di Suvero in Paris, 1997

Series 8: Printed Material, 1958-2004, undated
(Box 3-4, 7, OV 9; 1.4 linear feet)

This series consists of printed material that does not directly relate to specific exhibitions. Exhibition announcements include a poster for di Suvero's first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in 1960. Exhibition catalogs for The Hands, 1996-1997, and for the Orange County Museum of Art solo exhibition, 1998, are autographed.

Box
3 Clippings (see also Box 7), 1960-2004, undated
(33 folders)
3 Press Releases, 1966-2000
3 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Mark di Suvero (see also OV 9), 1958-1986
(9 folders)
Box
4 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Mark di Suvero, 1987-2004
(18 folders)
4 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others (see also Box 7), 1976-1995
(3 folders)
4 Lecture Announcements, 2000-2001
4 Brochures for Miscellaneous Art Galleries, 1973-2004, undated
(4 folders)
4 Brochures for the Sale of Art Work, 1973-1993
4 Travel Brochures, 1990-1995, undated
4 Miscellaneous Brochures, 1991-2001
4 Note Cards with Photographs of Art Work by Mark di Suvero, 1996-2001, undated
4 Postcards with Photographs of Art Work by Mark di Suvero, 1998, undated
4 Miscellaneous Picture Postcards, undated
4 Booklet Summer War Haiku by Jack Crimmins, 2002
4 Book New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970 by Henry Geldzahler, 1969
4 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1993-2000, undated
Box
7 (sol) Oversized Clippings, 1964-1972
7 (sol) Oversized Exhibition Announcement for Others, 1988
Box
OV 9 Oversized Exhibition Announcements for Mark di Suvero, 1960-1986

Series 9: Photographs, 1934-2004, undated
(Box 4-5, Sealed Box 6; 37 folders)

Photographs are of Mark di Suvero, members of the di Suvero family, di Suvero's studios and art work. Many of the photographs depict a combination of all these elements, so they have been organized into one chronology in order to maintain the sense of each occasion. The CD-ROM of slides and the slides of di Suvero's work belonged to friend and dealer Richard Bellamy.

Box
4 Photographs of the di Suvero Family and Mark di Suvero's Art Work, 1934-2004
(14 folders)
Box
5 CD-ROM of Mark di Suvero's Art Work Executed from the 1960s to 1990s, undated
5 Slides of Mark di Suvero's Art Work Executed from the 1960s to 1990s, undated
(2 folders)
Box
6 SEALED SEALED Photographs of the di Suvero Family and Mark di Suvero's Art Work, 1963-1998, undated
(19 folders)
6 SEALED SEALED Miscellaneous Negatives, undated

Series 10: Audio and Video Recordings, 1982-1994, undated
(Box 5; 7 folders)

This series presents aural and visual insights into Mark di Suvero's work. With the exception of La Vie des Formes, all videotapes contain interviews of Mark di Suvero.

Box
5 Audio-Cassette Lecture by Marie Louise Martignoni di Suvero Speaking about Mark di Suvero, Portland Museum of Art, Oregon 1982
5 Videotape Mark di Suvero: Rêve des Signes (Dream of Signs), undated
5 Videotape Storm King, 1987
5 Videotape La Vie des Formes by Dominique Evrard, 1988-1989
5 Videotape In the Steel: A Portrait of Mark di Suvero, 1991
5 Videotape Sculptors at Storm King, 1992
5 Videotape Echt Wahr Träume (Genuinely True Dreams) by Nina Hagar, 1994

Series 11: Promotional Tee Shirts, 1978-2001
(Box 7; 2 folders)

These Tee Shirts are promotional items from an unveiling event for Mark di Suvero's sculpture Potowatami, and from a charity event.

Box
7 (sol) Tee Shirt from the Unveiling of Potowatami, 1978
7 (sol) Tee Shirt from the Art Walk 2001 for the Venice Family Clinic, 2001