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Leo Castelli Gallery records, circa 1880-2000, bulk 1957-1999

Leo Castelli Gallery records, circa 1880-2000, bulk 1957-1999
Usage Conditions Apply
Leo Castelli Gallery
Castelli, Leo, 1907-1999
Rosenquist, James
Tworkov, Jack
Rowan, Robert
Powers, Kimiko
Starn, Doug
Warhol, Andy
Flavin, Dan
Scull, Ethel
Darboven, Hanne
Barry, Robert Thomas
Artschwager, Richard Ernst
Lichtenstein, Roy
Noguchi, Isamu
Nauman, Bruce
Gorgoni, Gianfranco
Epstein, Ethel Steuer
Heller, Ben
Koons, Jeff
Twombly, Cy
Grisi, Laura
Morris, Robert
Klapheck, Konrad
Namuth, Hans
Tremaine, Emily Hall
Ruscha, Edward
Rowan, Carolyn
Tremaine, Burton
Scarpitta, Salvatore
Oldenburg, Claes
Acconi, Vito
Paik, Nam June
Rauschenberg, Robert
Kiesler, Frederick
Parker, Raymond
Starn, Mike
Collins, Hannah
Serra, Richard
Powers, John
Power, Alan
Stella, Frank
Bloom, Barbara
Daphnis, Nassos
Johns, Jasper
Scull, Robert C.
Landsman, Stanley
Weiner, Lawrence
Judd, Donald C. (Donald Clarence)
Multiples, Inc
Biennale di Venezia
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Record number
Place of publication, production, or execution
United States
Physical Description
215.9 linear feet
7 rolled docs
3 artifacts
Access Note / Rights
Use of original records requires an appointment.
The Leo Castelli Gallery records measure 215.9 linear feet and date from circa 1880-2000, with the bulk of the materials dating from the gallery's founding in 1957 through Leo Castelli's death in 1999. The major influence of dealer Leo Castelli and his gallery on the development of mid-to-late twentieth century modern art in America is well-documented through business and scattered personal correspondence, administrative files, exhibition files, extensive artists' files and printed materials, posters, awards and recognitions, photographs, and audio and video recordings. Also included are records for the subsidiary firms of Castelli Graphics and Castelli/Sonnabend Tapes and Films.
The records document the gallery's daily business operations, exhibitions, spaces/buildings, collaborations and joint ventures with other galleries and museums, and its relationship with many artists, dealers, and clients. Artists particularly well-represented throughout the collection include Hanne Darboven, Dan Flavin, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Richard Serra, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner.
Records pre-dating the gallery's establishment in 1957 are primarily newspaper and magazine clippings related to artists, personal photographs and photographs of works of art, and scattered personal business records of Leo Castelli.
General Correspondence is extensive at circa 25 linear feet and consists primarily of the gallery's and Leo Castelli's named and subject correspondence files concerning the gallery's daily operations, exhibitions, artwork installation and fabrication, appraisals, inquiries, loans, sales, consignments, personal and business relationships with artists, and other topics. The general correspondence is arranged either by name of correspondent or topic, and is with museums and galleries, collectors, business associates, artists, employees, and friends. Notes, scattered photographs and slides, and printed materials are often found as enclosures. Leo Castelli's personal correspondence is also found here and consists primarily of solicitations, requests for advice, notes of thanks, congratulations, and invitations.
Letters written by artists in the gallery's stable are somewhat limited. There are scattered letters from artists Christo, Chryssa, Nassos Daphnis, Hanne Darboven, Marisol, Dan Flavin, Jasper Johns, Frederick Kiesler, Robert Morris, Hans Namuth, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Ray Parker, James Rosenquist, Edward Ruscha, Salvatore Scarpitta, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, and Jack Tworkov. There are also letters about artists in this series filed under the artists' name.
Collectors and dealers represented within the correspondence include the De Menil family, Mrs. Henry Epstein, Ben Heller, Giuseppe Panza, Alan Power, John and Kimiko Powers, Robert and Carolyn Rowan, Robert and Ethel Scull, and Burton and Emily Tremaine. Museums and galleries for which there is considerable correspondence includes the Dwan Gallery, Ferus Gallery, the Jewish Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Sidney Janis Gallery, Stedelijk Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Ileana Sonnabend Galerie.
The materials arranged in General Correspondence were originally marked by the gallery as "correspondence" files upon accessioning, and, are thus arranged into their own series. However, in some cases, there appears to be little difference between the General Correspondence and the Administrative Files. Thus, researchers are encouraged to reference both series.
Administrative Files document a wide variety of the gallery's activities and business. Essentially, these are files that were arranged by the gallery according to subject or topic and cover almost all activities except specific exhibitions. These files include records and correspondence about buildings and space, advertising, appraisals, auctions, consignments, loans, miscellaneous business correspondence, index cards, business arrangements with artists, information about artists, interviews with artists (transcripts), history of the gallery, mailings, photograph requests, shipping, and other topics. There are staff notebooks and files and Leo Castelli's notebooks and notes from the late 1950s through the early 1990s. Extensive outgoing chronological correspondence filed in this series dates from 1964-1977. Also found are transcripts of interviews with Leo Castelli, biographical material, and scattered photographs.
Researchers should note that the Administrative Files often overlap and complement the General Correspondence. However, they focus slightly more distinctly on gallery business activities and are arranged mostly by subject or topic, except for the chronological business correspondence. Researchers are encouraged to reference both series. For example, correspondence with and about Jasper Johns may be found in both series, but the administrative files most likely focus on a specific loan, consignment, or business activity or transaction.
Exhibition files provide a thorough history of the gallery's exhibitions, as well as the fabrication and installation of artwork for exhibitions. These files include correspondence, exhibition catalogs, guest books, lists of exhibitions by artist and by year, press releases, sketches and notes, and scattered financial records. Photographs document over 650 exhibitions at Leo Castelli Gallery, including The Ninth Street Show organized by Castelli in 1951, and over 200 exhibitions at other galleries.
Extensive artists' files comprise approximately 40% of the records and are a rich resource of printed and compiled information about the careers of over 120 artists and their relationship with Leo Castelli and the gallery. There are exhibition announcements and catalogs, flyers, invitations, magazine articles and clippings, newspaper clippings, posters, press releases, photographs, and a handful of books. Nearly half of the series is comprised of black and white photographs of artwork, presumably handled by the Leo Castelli Gallery.
Additional printed materials include exhibition announcements, flyers, invitations, magazine articles and clippings, newspaper clippings, press releases, and exhibition posters. Exhibition catalogs are filed with the exhibitions files. The general archives files provide a chronological history of the gallery and its exhibitions. There are also files concerning Leo Castelli and numerous art-related topics. Exhibition posters are found here as well.
Artwork is limited and includes a few works of art and signed posters. Artists represented here include photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol, as well as others.
The records of the subsidiary Castelli Graphics New York consist of correspondence and administrative files relating to general operations and the sale and loan of prints. Also found are exhibition files, sales records, and scattered financial records. The series provides a wealth of information about Castelli Graphics collaborations with Multiples Inc. in the 1970s.
Also found in the collection are records of Castelli/Sonnabend Tapes and Films, a joint business venture between Leo Castelli Gallery and Sonnabend Gallery from 1974-1985. Records include correspondence, administrative files, exhibition files, artists' files, printed materials, sales and rental records, photographs, and financial records.
The importance and stature of Leo Castelli and the Leo Castelli Gallery to the arts community in New York City and beyond is documented by numerous awards and recognitions, such as framed and unframed certificates, plaques, statues, medals, and scattered photographs.
Nearly seven linear feet of photographs include professional black and white original prints, scattered color photographs, color transparencies, slides and negatives, a
Leo Castelli Gallery records, circa 1880-2000, bulk 1957-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the digitization of Series 3, Exhibition files and Series 10, Photographs, was provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
Related Materials
Available in the Archives of America Art are three oral history interviews with Leo Castelli. Paul Cummings interviewed Castelli between May 14, 1969 and June 8, 1973; Barbara Rose in July, 1969; and Andrew Decker on May 22, 1997.
Biography Note
Leo Castelli Gallery (established 1957) art gallery, New York, N.Y. Leo Castelli (1907-1999), founder of Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, N.Y. He established the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1957, recognizing that important cultural changes were occurring in America and that a new form of art would derive from Abstract Expressionism which was in its heyday. The first two artists he signed up were Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, both transitional figures in the move from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Castelli became known as one of the greatest salesmen in the art market and an avid supporter of contemporary art movements.
The Leo Castelli Gallery records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Leo Castelli's wife, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, and his children, Nina Castelli Sundell and Jean-Christophe Castelli in 2007.
Digitization Note
This site provides access to the records of the Leo Castelli Gallery in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2015. The bulk of the Exhibition Files and the Photographs Series (Series 3 and 10) have been scanned and total 27,534 images.
Location Note
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Data Source
Archives of American Art
Art Movements and Schools
Art Gallery Records