CASA MORRA ARCHIVE OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Salita San Raffaele 20/c – 80136 Napoli
Fondazione Morra’s day-to-day activity is concretely reflected in its archive material. From its beginnings in 1969, it has become one of the most important archives of contemporary artistic and cultural production in Campania and abroad. Much of the archive documentation is an inexhaustible source of information for scholars and researchers, contributing to a complete study of the artistic phenomena and their exponents over time. In fact, in 2019 the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities - Archival and Bibliographical Superintendence declares the Archives of the Fondazione Morra to be of particularly important historical interest.
The main goal of the Foundation is to trace a common thread highlighting the connections between itscontents, setting up a dialogue between the different aspects of its constantly expanding activities through a network of interconnected information, bringing added value tothe dynamic relationship that subsists between its complementary archives.
One of the goals that underpins the Foundation’s operational approach is to bring out this complementarity, which, in turn,produces more information and generates new research tools.
In addition to itsextensive photographic and bio-iconographic archive, the Foundation is home to a series of collections that currently constitute the institution’s entire heritage.
The Foundation Archives currently house fourteen collections with various sections by author, and several dossiers containing, in alphabetical order, documents pertaining to around 70 artists belonging to the first two historical avant-gardes, right up to the latest artistic movements, as well as a vast treasury of works, drawings, letters, and miscellaneous documents.
The Living Theatre and Julian Beck Collections cover a vast span of time from the late forties to the late nineties. They relate to the lives of Julian Beck and Judith Malina, and to the complex network of relationships they set up, promoting cultural, political, and sociological activities, reconstructed here through letters and documentation of different kinds.Of particular interest is the documentation relating to the Concrete Visual Poetry movement in the neo-avantgarde climate of the early nineteen-sixties. The Arrigo Lora Totino Personal Collectionconsists of numerous items bearing witness to his relationship with the international visual poetry scene. Artists in Campania is a collection consisting of documentary referencestoseveral artists on the Campania arts scene, ranging from members of the '58 Group, the MAC Movement topublishers of major avant-garde magazines likeDocumento Sud, Linea Sud, Radio Taxi, Silence’s Weke, Quaderno, and AEIOU. The Luca Maria Patella Archive containshis entire artistic output and correspondence, as well as manuscripts of his most interesting writing, published by Edizioni Morra, in addition to his photographic material. The Vettor Pisani Archive is currently made up of a large group of installations, in addition to a photographic archive documentingPisani’s entire artistic journey. The Shozo Shimamoto and Gutai Group Archive focuses on one of the founders of the 1950s avant-garde Gutai movement, preserving and protecting most of the artist’s work, starting from all the film, performance, and documentary materialpertaining to Shimamoto and his relationswith the rest of the world. The Anne Tardos and Jackson Mac Low Collection, mainly consisting of audio files and material from the 1950s and 1960s, holds numerous originals and correspondence by various American avant-garde artists. The Futurism and Dadaismarchive comprises numerous important magazines, cyclostyles, and invitations belonging to some of the leading exponents of the movement in Campania.The Viennese Actionism Archive, housed at Fondazione Morra, provides a unique chance to investigate the phenomenon, documentingevery aspect of the unparalleled vastness and uniqueness of the movement. In addition to the Collection dedicated to Body Art, the Happening and Fluxus Archive contains variousphotographs, documents, and materials relating to the leading exponents of the international network of Fluxus artists, composers, and designers, as well as the contemporary Happening created by Allan Kaprow and focusingnot so much on objectsas on events that can be organized outdoors in public places,bursting out, as it were, into everyday life.
Description of the archivecollections
The Morra Foundation contains fourteen Archives. Below is a detailed description of the specific features of each collection and a description of their ties with regional history and culture:
– The Living Theatre Collection, acquired in the early nineties,is not numbered continuously but is divided into twelve marked series, currently on show at Casa Morra - Archivio d’ArteContemporanea.It contains a variable number of files with handwritten letters (1,350), manuscripts (700), reviews and articles (over 2,000), notes for conferences and speeches, reports, lists with names and addresses of artists, sketches (over 100), drawings (400), posters and invitations (1,000), books (over 200), magazines (300), photographs (1,100), sets (15) masks, props (approx. 200),and award certificates (over 150). The collection covers a lengthy period spanning fromthe late 1940s to the late 1990s and relates to the lives of Julian Beck and Judith Malina and the complex network of relationships they set up, promoting cultural, political, and sociological activities, here reconstructed through letters and various kinds of documentation. The numerous letters testifying to the birth of the Living Theatre movementare of particular importance.
–TheVisual and Concrete Poetry Collection, reflecting the climate of the Neo-avantgarde, contains material from the 1960s, with authors likeStelio Maria Martini, Luciano Caruso, Ugo Carrega, Eugenio Miccini, LambertoPignotti, Nanni Balestrini, Paul De Vree, Henri Chopin, and many others, including sound works and typewriter poems, invitations, posters, press reviews, and documents.
- The Arrigo Lora Totino Personal Collectioncontains numerous letters (700), professional papers (2,000), printed papers (500), graphic works (500), photographic works, (150),and audio-videomaterial (200). The collectionholds documentation and material pertaining to the work of one of the lead figures in the world of concrete and sound poetry and hismany relationships and exchanges with artists across the globe from the 1950s to 2016.
- TheArtists in Campania Collection: numerous artists from the Campania art scene,ranging from members of the ’58 Group, to the MAC Movement, to the publishers of leading avant-garde magazines, such as Documento Sud, Linea Sud, Radio Taxi, Silence’s Weke, Quaderno, continuum, and AEIOU.
- The entire collection donatedby the Family of ErricoRuotolo consists of drawings, sketches, and documents.
- The Luca Maria Patella Collectioncontains material associated with the Roman artist, considered the spiritual father of the dozens of young artists who practise “conceptual” arttoday; it consists of his entire artistic production, correspondence, and manuscripts of his most interesting publications, published by Edizioni Morra, in addition to ample photographic material.
-TheVettor Pisani Collection. Vettor Pisani was one of the most controversial and fascinating figures in the history of Italian art from the 1960s onwards. The Vettor Pisani Archive currently consists of a large group of letters, as well as a photographic archive documenting his entire artistic journey.
- TheShozo Shimamoto and Gutai Group Collection.Shozo Shimamoto, one of the founders of the Gutai avant-garde movement, also known internationally in the “Mail Art” circuit, turned the common idea of Japanese art upside down. Fondazione Morra preserves and safeguards most of the artist’s work, namely, all the film, performance, and documentary material.
- The Anne Tardos and Jackson Mac Low Collectionconsists mainly of audio files and documents from the 50s and 60s, with numerous originals and correspondence from various American Avant-garde authors.
- The Futurism and Dadaism Collection, comprisingnumerous magazines, cyclostyles, invitations, books, and photographs of some of the leading figures of the two movements that explored all forms of expression and revolutionized the conventions of cinematic and artistic aesthetics: Francesco Cangiullo, Lucio Venna, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Mino Delle Site, Raffaele Castello, Duchamp, Man Ray, Cristian Schad, Lajos Kassák.
- The Viennese Actionism Collectionprovides a unique chance to investigate the phenomenon, with the unparalleled vastness and uniqueness of the moviment documented here from every angle. It represents approximately 3,000 archive documents concerning the major exponents of the movement, including Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Rudolf, Schwarzkogler, and above all the great Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch (Vienna 1938), collected in over thirty years of activity in the city of Naples.
- TheBody Art Collection. Material connected with Gina Pane, Marina Abramovic, UrsLuthi, and numerous editions containing around 40 rare photographs each.
- The Happening and Fluxus Collection houses documentary material, photographs, and paperspertaining toleading exponents of the international Fluxus artist network and the contemporary “Happening”,including Dick Higgings, Allan Kaprow, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, Ben Petterson, Wolf Vostell, Emmett Williams, Al Hansen, Bob Watts, Geoffrey Hendricks, and Jean Toche.
- Joseph Beuys: numerous documents, graphics, photographs, and other materials on the German artist and his relationship with Naples, plus numerous materials donated by Baroness Lucrezia De Domizio Durini
Involvement in National Archive System projects and the production of digital analytical inventories
The Foundation, which is already part, forits second three-year period, of the national and regionalMiBACtable of Institutes of High Culture, is starting the legal process for recognition of the cultural interest of its archivesthrough the Superintendent’s Bureau. We entered the PUBLIC CALL FOR ACCESS TO CONTRIBUTIONS TO SUPPORT INTERVENTIONS, ACTIVITIES, AND SERVICES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT, PROMOTION, AND VALORIZATION OF MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS OF LOCAL INSTITUTES AND LOCAL INTEREST FOR FINANCIAL YEAR 2017/18, including the documentation and cataloguing of the museum heritage, consisting of 830 itemspertaining to the Viennese Actionism Collection according to the standards set by the I.C.C.D. (the Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism). The Foundation is registeredwith the SBN system and has its own NAPMO identification code. It is also part of the MUSEUMS IN CAMPANIA -SIGEC WEB circuit.
Description of the archivematerials in terms of their importance for identity
The daily activity of the Morra Foundation is concretely reflected in the contents of its archives. In fact, towards the end of the 1960s, Giuseppe Fioroni, Gianfranco Baruchello, Sergio Lombardo, and a number ofhighly successful Neapolitan artists, such as Giuseppe Maraniello, Luigi Mainolfi, and Enrico Ruotolo were hosted at the CAE Centro Arte Europa cultural association. In 1974, artists representing the most important international avant-gardes such as Günter Brus, UrsLüthi, Gina Pane, Joe Jones, Marina Abramovic, Bob Watts and Peter Kubelka, Allan Kaprow, and many others went on showat Studio Morra. Through these events in Campania, the Fondazione Morra –formerly Studio Morra and CAE – acquired most of the works and archive materials currently featuring among its heritage. During the mid-to-late 80s, Studio Morra focused mainly on Visual-Concrete-Sound Poetry, holding numerous exhibitions byleading artists, such as Carrega, Luca (Luigi Castellano), Martini, Miccini, Pignotti, Chopin, Villa, Tola, Totino, etc. In the nineties, a series of exhibitions were dedicated to artists from the national and international scene, including an important anthological exhibition on Bruno Munari in 1990, with seven huge sculptures along the seafront in ViaCaracciolo, Piazza Municipio, and the harbourside (see,Munari Scultore,Edizioni Morra); Perez held a monumental exhibition entitled The Myth of Sculpture,on the open spaces and interiors of the Castel dell’Ovo in 1991.In 2002 Allan Kaprow, creator of the Happening, performed five versions of the most important environments in his artistic life in Naples. 2003 was the year of Living Theatre Labyrinths of the Imaginary: three months of events, performances, and concerts with numerous international artists, an exhibition on Julian Beck, and the world-exclusive performanceof Enigmas.
The cultural heritage contained in the Fondazione Morra Archives and Library is one of the most important testimonies of contemporary international culture and, in particular, of its manifestation in the city of Naples and the Campania region. The need to study and carry out research on such arare legacycalls for the digitization of the Foundation’s archive heritage.
Description of the archive material user target group and access
The users of the Morra Foundation Archives are mainly university professors, Italian and foreign students, connoisseurs, and persons and institutions operating in the cultural/arts sector. The significant current and future quantitative and qualitative development of the Archives, including the digitization of the material they contain, the construction from scratch of extensive multimedia collections, and the ample use of web resources, give a foretaste of a potentially larger, more varied, and richer user base than at present. In addition to extending the kind of target audience already reached by the Foundation’s cultural programmes, reconnaissance activities will make it possible to conquer hitherto less enthusiastic sectors in the community, who may be attracted by the new resources and new services offered.With this in mind, the Foundation will identify methodologies and fact-finding tools with a view to gaining a better understanding of its users, who they are, and how they use the Archives and services.The aim is to increase the level of satisfaction of current and future users, to facilitate the expression of new needsin terms of information and culture, and to identify possible new users.
The consistency, completeness, and thematic relevance of the archive collections
The Archivecollections presented for recognition as being of historical interest mainly consist of documents in different media with different levels of treatment, touching on many aspects of contemporary artistic, social, and civil life, aimingto satisfya need for information, training and cultural development, study, and research. The general principles underlying and guidingArchive management policy ensure accessibility to – and pluralism of– information, fostering critical use of the means of information available. Furthermore, the materials are open for all to use. The levels of consistency and completeness of the Foundation's archive collections are a): apt for research, with a broad selection of documents and sources necessary for study purposes, alsoin other languages, addressed to an expert public of scholars and researchers – the material includes, in addition to reference works, a choice of specialist materials, reports, and summaries on field activities and research, b) extensive: the archive collections includeimportant material on contemporary art and culture in a variety of formats and languages. As a whole, and in accordance with established policies of accessibility and the enjoyment of culture, the Foundation archives comply with the need for information and basic documentation.
Description of the environment in which the materials are stored
The FondazioneMorra Archives are currently housed in a number of roomsat Casa Morra - Archivio d’Arte Contemporanea, the Archive of Contemporary Art. The former Palazzo CassanoAyerbod’Aragona, a historicalbuilding situated in Salita San Raffaele in Naples, was transformed into a private home in the mid-eighteenth century, when the Materdei area of the city began toexpand. Deeds dating from 1748 record the beginning of renovation and expansion work commissioned by Prince Giuseppe Maria d'Aragona. The palace has an octagonal staircase hithertounknown to architecture critics, and it is assumed that the design and workson the sitewere initially supervised by Ferdinando Sanfelice, who died on 1st April of the year the worksbegan. Attribution to Sanfelice is based on his ample use of this unusual style of Neapolitan staircase. The renovation work was probably then entrusted to Giuseppe Astarita, who had worked with Sanfelicefrom the eighteenth century. In 1906, Palazzo CassanoAyerbod’Aragona was purchased by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows who built the church of Our Lady of Sorrows in the garden. Since 2016, the Foundation has gradually been renovating the 4,200m2.complexto house the extensive Morra Collection and its archives. In 2017,upon the advice of the Department of Urban Planning and Common Goods, the City Council approved the “feasibility plan”for a privately-run public facilitynamedCasa Morra – Archivio d’ArteContemporanea – Il Gioco dell’Oca: Cento anni di mostre. The project involves the redevelopment and restoration of most of the building located in Via Salita S. Raffaele, the demolition of the various additions made over the years, and the creation of a museum facility, regulated by an agreement with Naples City Council.
Of the 1,000 m2allocated for the conservation of the archives, 200 are to be used for the conservation of the Living Theatre and Julian Beck Archive, amounting to an estimated 300 linear metres of material. All the other collections are estimatedto occupy 779 linear metres, totalling approximately 1,079 linear metres of constantly growing archive.