A Finding Aid to the Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone Papers, circa 1860-2011, bulk 1940-2011, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.sarccosm
Creators:
Sarchiapone, Cosmos Andrew, 1931-2011
Dates:
circa 1860-2011
bulk 1940-2011
Languages:
English
Collection is in English
Physical Description:
49.2 Linear feet
0.367 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of New York City photographer, conceptual artist, and musical composer Cosmos Sarchiapone measure 49.2 linear feet and 0.367 GB and date from circa 1860-2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1940-2011. The collection includes biographical material and personal business records; correspondence; extensive writings, including written and recorded music compositions; teaching files; printed material and published sound and video recordings; photographic material; artwork; artifacts; and unpublished sound recordings and born-digital material. Highlights of the collection are more than 40,000 photographic images documenting New York's avant-garde art scene of the 1970s, along with celebrity parties, concerts, exhibition openings and other occasions in the art, music, and theater world. Extensive and somewhat rare printed materials offer users a visual chronical of the downtown art world in the form of posters from the 1970s, including a number of Milton Glaser's, and hundreds of exhibition announcements, theater programs, and playbills.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York City photographer, conceptual artist, and musical composer Cosmos Sarchiapone measure 49.2 linear feet and 0.367 GB and date from circa 1860-2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1940-2011. The collection includes biographical material and personal business records; correspondence; extensive writings, including written and recorded music compositions; teaching files; printed material and published sound and video recordings; photographic material; artwork; artifacts; and unpublished sound recordings and born-digital material. Highlights of the collection are more than 40,000 photographic images documenting New York's avant-garde art scene of the 1970s, along with celebrity parties, concerts, exhibition openings and other occasions in the art, music, and theater world. Extensive and somewhat rare printed materials offer users a visual chronical of the downtown art world in the form of posters from the 1970s, including a number of Milton Glaser's, and hundreds of exhibition announcements, theater programs, and playbills.
Biographical material and personal business records include address books, calendars, legal paperwork, life documents, resumes, and other material. Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature. Personal correspondence is between Cosmos and friends, family, and pen pals. Professional correspondence is with curators, publishers, and estates and mostly concerns Cosmos's artwork, photographs, or objects he lent for exhibition or publication.
Writings include general writings and notes, including a book layout for a book never realized; fifteen notebooks containing Cosmos's writings about projects, dreams, and miscellany; music compositions in both written form and on sound recordings; and scattered writings by others, including manuscripts and theater scripts.
Teaching files document photography courses taught by Cosmos at the School of Visual Arts in 1974-1976, and the Parsons School of Design in 1980.
Printed materials and commercially published sound and video recordings in the collection are extensive and reflect Cosmos's unique interests and inspirations, and his tendency to save and collect material discarded or rejected by others. There are books and periodicals featuring Cosmos's work, annotated by Cosmos, or of special significance to Cosmos. There is also a list of books in Cosmos's library. Some of the periodicals concern Push Pin Studios and Milton Glaser. There is a large group of ephemera, such as announcements, catalogs, press releases, programs, playbills, posters, and assorted items covering several decades of New York exhibitions, events, concerts, and performances. There are posters for exhibitions, events, performances, film screenings, and concerts. Some of the clippings and other ephemera may have been removed from scrapbooks or other compilations, and some remain collated and mounted on mat board. Some of the printed materials may have been used by Cosmos as source materials.
Photographic material makes up a significant portion of the collection (14.5 linear feet), and illustrates the breadth of Cosmos's documentation of New York City, capturing the avant-garde art and theater worlds, the people and streets, self-portraits, and numerous other subjects. There are images of named people and people at parties, of exhibitions and performances, of New York City streets and buildings, of a more personal and family nature, of artwork, and of miscellaneous subjects. There are also collected photographs, some of which are vintage. There is a large group of unidentified and unsorted negatives, slides, and contact sheets. Where they existed, labeling and descriptive notes have been preserved with the unidentified materials.
Artwork is also quite extensive (10.5 linear feet) and found in a variety of genre, format, and media. There is also a small subseries of artwork by others. One group of artwork consists of titled or named art projects and series, often executed in the form of series that spanned decades. This group includes Cosmos's Reciprocal project that incorporated his photographic work. For this project, he would photograph notable figures, including John Cage, Robert Scull, and others, and ask them to photograph him. There are also several folders of Cosmos's work focusing on photographer Diane Arbus.
A group of artwork identified as "compilations" consist primarily of photocopies of compiled presentations of documents, photographs, fragments, writings, drawings, printed materials and ephemera, and bits and pieces of Cosmos's titled work. These compilations were prepared by Cosmos for individuals in the art world to whom he was close. The original compilations were then photocopied and presented to the intended receiver. The subseries of compilations contains both originals and photocopied versions that do not always correlate with one another. Also found among the artwork are drawings, illustrations, a few paintings, collages, and sketchbooks by Cosmos. Artwork by others includes an artist book, drawings, a sketchbook, and prints by Milton Glaser, Alex Hay, Douglas Huebler, Marvin Israel, Ray Johnson, Ellsworth Kelly, and Eve Sonneman.
Found within the collection are three dimensional artifacts, including eight cameras and other items Cosmos saved and collected to incorporate into his photographs.
There is a large series of unpublished sound recordings and born-digital material, some of which is clearly identified and labeled, and some of which is unidentified. When known, labeling has been incorporated into the folder titles in the container inventory. Users should note that sound recordings that were clearly identified and associated with other projects were arranged in context with those related materials.
Printed material (series 5), photographic material (series 6), and artwork (series 7), include many photocopies. Cosmos used the photocopy process to make copies of his work to share with others, and as a creative form of art in itself, experimenting with tonality, collage, and the degeneration of images from repeated copying. Photocopies were also made of articles, newspapers, and various source material and ephemera that he collected. Many photocopies have descriptive labeling on the back. For some photographs and projects, photocopies are the only form of documentation located in the collection.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as nine series
  • Series 1: Biographical Material and Personal Business Records, circa 1949-2011 (1 linear foot; Box 1, 44, OV 49)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1940s-2011 (.7 linear feet; Box 1-2)
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1947-2000s (4.2 linear feet; Box 2-6, 44, OV 50-51)
  • Series 4: Teaching Files, 1970s-1980s (1.9 linear feet; Box 6-8, 44, OV 52)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, Published Sound, Video Recordings, 1894-2000s (8.3 linear feet; Box 8-13, 44-45, OV 53-73, RD 105)
  • Series 6: Photographic Material, circa 1860-2000s, bulk 1970-2010 (14.5 linear feet; Box 14-26, 46-47, OV 74-80)
  • Series 7: Artwork, 1947-2000s (10.5 linear feet; Box 27-34, 47-48, OV 81-104)
  • Series 8: Artifacts, 1960s-2000s (1.5 linear feet; Box 34-35)
  • Series 9: Sound Recordings and Born-Digital Material, 1950s-2000s (6.6 linear feet; Box 36-43, 0.367 GB; ER01-ER02)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
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.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and the finding aid prepared by Hilary Price and Caroline Donadio in 2016. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2020 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
Author
Hilary Price and Caroline Donadio
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the Archives of American Art in 2015 by Tom Sarchiapone, Cosmos Sarchiapone's brother, via Catherine Morris, curator and friend of Cosmos.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing 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.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone 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.
Preferred Citation
Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone papers, circa 1860-2011, bulk 1940-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Composers--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conceptual art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conceptual artists--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photography -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photography--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Theater--New York (State)--New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York (State)--New York City--Photographs Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ephemera Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Illustrations Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photocopies Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Posters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arbus, Diane, 1923-1971 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cage, John, 1912-1992 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Glaser, Milton Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hay, Alex Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Huebler, Douglas Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Israel, Marvin Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Johnson, Ray, 1927- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kelly, Ellsworth, 1923- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scull, Robert C. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sonneman, Eve Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parsons School of Design -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
School of Visual Arts (New York, N.Y.) -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Push Pin Studios Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
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