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Roko Gallery records, 1929-1982, bulk 1970-1978

Roko Gallery records, 1929-1982, bulk 1970-1978

Roko Gallery (New York, N.Y.)

Collection Information

Size: 6.0 linear ft.

Summary: The Roko Gallery records measure six linear feet and date from 1929-1982, with the bulk of the records from 1970-1978. Founded by Michael Leon Freilich in 1946, the records of this New York gallery consist primarily of artists' files. Also found are scattered correspondence, business and financial records, a subject file, exhibition files, disassembled scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.

The bulk of the correspondence is from the early to mid-1970s and concerns general gallery operations, sales of artwork, artists interested in exhibiting at the gallery, letters to Ann Freilich Schutz regarding Michael Freilich's death, and a handful of personal postcards from Freilich to his niece, 1952-1955. Scattered correspondence from artists Lambro Ahlas, Mike Cook, Hermann Dahl, Salvatore Del Deo, Raymond Dowden, Charles Kaiman, Peggy Muray (Mrs. Nicholas Muray), Raphael Soyer, George Sugarman, Anne Parker, Jan Wunderman, and Hank Virgona is also found. General business and financial records include calendars, address books, mailing lists, visitors' registers, receipt books, consignment agreements, invoices and receipts.

Measuring 3.5 linear feet, Artists Files comprise the bulk of the collection and contain correspondence, exhibition catalogs, clippings, original artwork, receipts, price lists, photographs, and slides of work. Among the nearly 200 artists are Murat Brierre, Faith Bromberg, Clare Burch, Lawrence Calcagno, Victor Candell, Arthur Cohen, Giuseppe Di Lieto, Edward Eichel, Ann Freilich, Dennis Fritz, Mary Heisig, Herbert Kallem, Doris Klein, Elizabeth Korn, Randall Morgan, Anne Parker, Dorothy Robbins, May Stevens, Hank Virgona, Walter Williams, and Jan Wunderman.

There is one subject file containing a proposal by the Rainbow Art Foundation. Exhibitions and Event files date from 1956-1978 and contain printed material, press releases, notes, correspondence, agreements, and a disassembled notebook containing prices and lists of works exhibited at the Roko Gallery from 1967-1978. Also found is typed and signed poetry by poet John Tagliabue. Disassembled scrapbooks contain additional printed materials regarding the gallery's solo and group exhibitions from 1947-1966. Among the many artists represented in the scrapbooks are Claude Clark, Beauford Delaney, Paul England, Peter Heinemann, Herbert Kallem, Herschel Levit, Si Lewen, Howard Mandel, Rose Piper, Sadie Rosenblum, Herbert Scheffel, Erika Weihs, Walter Williams, and Jan Wunderman.

Additional printed material includes mostly newspaper clippings, exhibition announcements, and catalogs. Material found in the collection that pre-dates the founding of the gallery consists primarily of printed material collected by Freilich.

Photographs, slides, and negatives date mostly from the 1970s and depict gallery directors Michael Leon Freilich, Cynthia Bernadini and Manu Sassoonian, and artwork.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Roko Gallery is an art gallery in New York, N.Y. Est. 1946 by Michael Leon Freilich. Featured work by young, lesser known artists, most living in New York.


Donated 1975-1988 by Ann Freilich, sister of founder Michael Frielich, and by Cynthia Bernardi, former director of the gallery.

A Finding Aid to the Roko Gallery Records,
bulk 1970-1978
, in the Archives of American Art
Historical Note
Michael Leon Freilich (1912-1975) established the Roko Gallery in 1946 at 51 Greenwich Avenue where it remained until the mid-1950s. Over its 32 year history, the gallery featured the paintings and sculptures of young, new artists, most living in New York City, through solo exhibitions, group shows, and sales. The gallery then made a series of moves, first to 925 Madison Avenue, then to 867 Madison Avenue, and finally back to Greenwich Village at 90 East 10st Street in 1970. In 1974, Michael Freilich became ill and the daily gallery operations were taken over by artist Lloyd Lózes Goff. Freilich passed away in February 1975; Cynthia Bernardi and Manu Sassoonian bought the gallery and became co-directors in the spring of 1975. The gallery closed in 1978, leaving open an annex on 816 Broadway.
The Roko Gallery records are arranged into eight series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1936, 1952-circa late 1970s (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 2: Business and Financial Records, circa 1956-1980 (Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Artist Files, circa 1948-1979 (Box 2-5; 3.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Subject Files, undated (Box 5; 1 folder)
Series 5: Exhibition and Event Files, circa 1956-1978 (Box 5; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Scrapbook, circa 1947-1966 (Box 5-6; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1929-1982 (Box 6; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographic Material, 1946-circa 1970s (Box 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Donated 1975-1988 by Ann Freilich, sister of founder Michael Frielich, and by Cynthia Bernardi, former director of the gallery.
Processing Information
The collection was received in several increments, merged and processed to a preliminary level in 1994 by Jill Lundin. It was further processed, arranged, and described in a finding aid by Sarah Haug in 2009.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Roko Gallery records, 1929-1982, bulk 1970-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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