The scattered papers of French Dada painter Jean Crotti measure 1.7 linear feet and date from 1913-1973, with the bulk of the material dated 1913-1961. Found within the papers are autobiographical notes and essays; correspondence with family and colleagues, among them Jean Cocteau, Andre Crotti, Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, Christian a.k.a. Georges Herbiet, Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia, and Jacques Villon; notes and writings by Crotti and others; art work by Crotti and Paul Guillaume; a scrapbook; and additional printed material. Photographs are of Crotti, Suzanne Duchamp, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, and other family and friends; and of Crotti's art work. There are audio recordings on phonograph records of three interviews with Crotti and one with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain.
Scope and Content Note:
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.
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.
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.
Sound recordings include two phonograph records of interviews with Jean Crotti, including topics "Assignment Switzerland" and "Assignment World." A third phonograph record contains an instantatneous disk recording of correspondence between Mr. and Mrs. Paul Blancpain as well as an additional interview with Crotti.
The collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1954-1955 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1916-1961 (Box 1; 43 folders)
Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1924-1958 (Box 1; 27 folders)
Series 4: Art Work, 1913-1925 (Box 1, 3; 12 folders)
Series 5: Scrapbook, 1931-1935 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1921-1973 (Box 1, 2, 3; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1920-1957 (Box 2; 25 folders)
Series 8: Sound Recordings, 1955 (Box 3; 1 folder)
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.
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.
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.