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Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone papers, circa 1860-2011, bulk 1940-2011

Biographical Note

Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone (1931-2011) was a documentary photographer, musical composer, and conceptual artist who worked in New York City.
Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone was named Cosime Sarchiapone at birth, and was also known as Cosmos, Cosmos Savage, and Richard Savage. His parents, Lois and Aldo, had seven children, including twins Cosmos and Damian. Born in Manhattan, Cosmos graduated from the La Guardia High School of Music and Art in New York City in 1948 and from Syracuse University in 1958 with a concentration in music composition and studio art. After college, he studied musical composition with John Cage at the New School in 1961, art history with Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University from 1963-1965, illustration with Marvin Israel from 1966-1971, design with Milton Glaser from 1968-1973, and photography with Diane Arbus from 1970-1971. He taught photography at the School of Visual Arts from 1974-1976, and at Parsons School of Design in 1980. In the early 1970s, he led experimental theater workshops at Columbia-Barnard University.
Between 1968-1969, Cosmos worked with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast at their Push Pin Studios, a graphic design and illustration studio.
Sometime between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Cosmos began photographing New York City, capturing the art and theater worlds, the people and streets, self-portraits, and numerous other subjects. As a freelance photographer for New York magazine (founded by Milton Glaser) and other mass-market publications, Cosmos photographed Andy Warhol and his circle, Halloween parties at the Waldorf, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon convention, the Jesus Joy Jubilee at Carnegie Hall, the Beat Poets' reunion and private parties attended by Hollywood actors and directors, often capturing the overlapping worlds of art, movies and music. Cosmos's photographs have been published in numerous books and publications. His work was featured in several exhibitions in the 1970s, including shows at the Jamie Gallery, the Fine Arts Building, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. But he created the bulk of his work for himself and much of it remains unpublished.
Throughout the 1970s, Cosmos documented the avant-garde art scene in New York City. He captured performances at The Kitchen and La Mama, the offices of New York magazine and Push Pin Studios, Tom O'Horgan's Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, and much more. He photographed performances and installations at 112 Greene Street in SoHo, an interdisciplinary art space that nurtured the experiments of a number of now significant American artists, dancers and musicians, including Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Suzanne Harris and Phillip Glass, all of whom were photographed by Cosmos. He also photographed numerous images of 112 Greene Street's sister space, Matta-Clark's FOOD, an artist-run eatery at the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets where exotic meals were offered up as both performance art and nourishment. Cosmos used his camera as a way to get close to artists he admired, including Diane Arbus, Milton Glaser, and Marvin Israel.
According to Milton Glaser, "Cosmos was a brilliant photographer who was never without a camera….He was always everywhere. In terms of documentation of that period, there was no one like him."
Cosmos often incorporated aspects of his photography into conceptual art pieces, including two serial works that Cosmos made from fragments of Diane Arbus' discarded photographs, transforming her iconic work. Many of Cosmos's conceptual art pieces often took the form of a series, and were continuously revisited. In Reciprocal, Cosmos photographed figures—including those he admired like John Cage, Meyer Schapiro, Robert Scull, and others—then asked each to photograph him. Many of Cosmos's art projects were based in photographic documentation of his "performances", as in Sheet Music, where he is seen tearing a white sheet outside Bloomingdale's during the 'white sale.' Cosmos's convictions about smoking, its hazards, and the nefarious actions of tobacco companies led to several related projects, among them, Photo Arrest, where Cosmos captured on camera people smoking illegally in hospitals, classrooms, grocery stores, and elevators.
Cosmos created scores for plays and dance performances, including Churchyard by the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1970, and numerous Off-Off Broadway theater productions in the 1960s. He wrote an opera, Vox Humana #3. The opera is about three heroines of history: Antigone, Joan of Arc, and Patty Hearst, and synthesizes a variety of media, including music composition, stage direction, and video (Patty Hearst in Chains), into a four hour performance that was staged at La Mama in 1976 and The Kitchen in 1977.
Cosmos lived at Westbeth Artists' Community from 1970-2011, but had largely withdrawn from the world by the 2000s. Cosmos Sarchiapone died in 2011.