If you’ve ever wished to be at the heart of American Abstract Expressionism, the Philip Pavia papers will come as close to fulfilling your fantasy as possible. A selection of the Pavia papers is currently on display in MARBL, viewable from Monday-Saturday, 9am-5:30 pm.
Philip Pavia was a sculptor, an organizer, and a central figure in the cast of characters who would become known as “Abstract expressionists” in the 1950s and 1960s. A prime mover behind the “Club,” a regular gathering of intellectuals and artists in New York City that took the lead in defining Abstract expressionism, he was also the publisher of It Is, a magazine that contained images of art works, essays, and statements from prominent artists.
Items on display highlight Pavia’s involvement with the Club and his work at It Is. They include fliers, sign-in sheets, and discussion topics from early club gatherings attended by such figures as John Cage, the de Koonings, Frank O’Hara, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Ad Reinhardt. Events ranged from serious discussions to parties. Materials from It Is illustrate how Pavia promoted the works and ideas of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Also on display are two sculptures, artist proofs of Leda and the Swan from the studio of Willem de Kooning cast by Pavia.
The generous gift of Pavia’s wife, Natalie Edgar, the Pavia papers are available to the public for perusal, inspiration and research. Further exploration of the papers will provide access to drawings by Aristodimos Kaldis, photographs of work by Conrad Marca-Relli, posters for Robert Smithson exhibitions, and writings by Hans Hoffman, among other items. The papers include information and transcripts for weekly Club gatherings. Pavia’s writings document his experiences and friendships in the New York City art scene. Exhibition catalogs and posters from around the world highlight major and minor shows and artists from the 1940s through the 1980s.