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Chip Lord papers on Ant Farm, 1965-2014

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Preferred Citation

Chip Lord papers on Ant Farm, 1965-2014, Avery Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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Summary Information


Chip Lord (1944–) is an architect, media artist, and Professor Emeritus of Film & Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Lord is best known for his work with the art and architecture group Ant Farm, which he co-founded with Doug Michels (1943–2003) in 1968. This collection, gathered by Lord, includes correspondence and material produced between 1968 and 1978, when the group disbanded following a fire at their Pier 40 studio in San Francisco, CA. In addition, the collection includes correspondence and material produced in the following decades that document Ant Farm-related products, anniversary celebrations, exhibitions, lectures, and publications, as well as material documenting litigation (including several cases of copyright infringement over use of Cadillac Ranch), licensing, and royalties.

At a Glance

CLIO record: View CLIO record
Creator(s):Lord, Chip.
Title:Chip Lord papers on Ant Farm, 1965-2014
Physical description:approx. 11 linear feet
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email  More information »



The collection is dividied into five series:

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Scope and Content

The collection documents projects by Ant Farm, the radical architecture group founded in 1968 by Chip Lord and Doug Michels. The collection includes a small selection of drawings, sketches, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera related to work produced between 1968 and 1978, in particular Cadillac Ranch (1974) and, to a lesser extent, Media Burn (1975). Correspondence with various publications and institutions in the 1970s, with art patron Stanley Marsh 3, and with Ant Farm member Doug Michels are of note. In addition, the collection includes more than 1,300 slides that document the group and its work, from early inflatables to the Pier 40 fire that destroyed the group’s studio in 1978. Also included are legal and financial records that document licensed and unlicensed use of Ant Farm work—most of which concern Cadillac Ranch and Media Burn—beginning in the 1970s up through the 2000s.

The collection provides an interesting account of the legacy—including products, anniversary celebrations, exhibitions, lectures, and publications, as well as a short-lived restoration—of the group’s work in the decades after disbanding. Some materials, gathered under Series V, document projects by Doug Michels, shared with Chip Lord. Scholars interested in individual Ant Farm projects are invited to consult the group’s main archival holdings at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley, CA) and the FRAC Centre (Orléans, France).

[RESTRICTION: Please note, all time-based media in the collection is currently closed pending preservation work.]

Series I: Project Records contains drawings, collages, correspondence, photographs and other material related to Ant Farm projects undertaken between 1968 and 1978. In addition, this series includes material documenting successive editions of 42MAR0, the Ant Farm Timeline, a self-published survey of the group’s work that eventually framed the 2004 retrospective organized by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive [editions of the timeline have since been published in Felicity D. Scott, Living Archive 7: Ant Farm (Barcelona; New York, NY: Actar, 2008) and Constance Lewallen, ed. Ant Farm, 1968-1978 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2004)].

Subseries I: Projects contains all the project records, arranged in chronological order, with the exception of Cadillac Ranch, which is the subject Series II . Media Burn, the 1975 media event at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA, in which two “artist dummies” drove the Phantom Dream Car through a wall of flaming television sets, is represented in slightly greater detail with a few drawings, photographs, and select ephemera from the event. In most instances, material pertaining to individual projects is limited. Subseries II: Other Work includes collages for and Xeroxes of Ant Farm handouts, mail art, a collaborative “sketchbook” that was left on the dining table in the Ant Farm warehouse, four “letterpress items printed by Curtis Schreier,” copies of Ant Farm postcards, and other miscellaneous material.

Series II: Cadillac Ranch contains ephemera, correspondence, clippings, and photographs that document the life of Ant Farm’s perhaps best known work, created in 1974 on art patron Stanley Marsh 3’s property, near Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. The series is divided into six subseries.

Subseries 1: Correspondence includes over two decades of correspondence with Cadillac Ranch sponsor Stanley Marsh 3. Subseries 2: Legal and Financial Records documents the licensed and unlicensed use of Cadillac Ranch and related royalties, and includes correspondence with various law firms as well as the Curtis Management Group. Subseries 3: Legacy documents tenth and twentieth anniversary celebrations held in 1984 and 1994, the creation of the Cadillac Ranch logo, the development of the Cadillac Ranch movie, the Hampton Inn hotel chain-sponsored “restoration” in 2002, and the matte black repainting of Cadillac Ranch to mark the passing of Doug Michels in 2003. Subseries 4: Printed Material includes a substantial collection (arranged by decade) of newspaper and magazine clippings related to Cadillac Ranch, a bound copy of Xeroxed press clippings and Cadillac Ranch-related correspondence produced by the group for the work’s twentieth anniversary, and various advertisements, postcards, posters, and publications featuring images of Cadillac Ranch. Subseries 5: Photographs includes prints and negatives of photographs by Chip Lord, Peter de Lory, Wyatt McSpadden, and others. Subseries 6: Artifacts contains Cadillac Ranch-related ephemera.

Series III: Ant Farm papers contains correspondence and publications related to the group’s work and subsequent activities after the group disbanded in 1978.

Subseries 1: Correspondence includes requests and inquiries sent to the group from a variety of individuals, publications, universities, and cultural institutions, and a collection of correspondence from Ant Farm member Doug Michels. Subseries 2: Legal and Financial Records includes correspondence with various law firms regarding licensing and royalties, and correspondence with distributors, including Art Metropole, Electronic Arts Intermix, and the Video Data Bank. Subseries 3: Legacy documents a proposed Ant Farm retrospective in the late 80s, a proposed Ant Farm CD, the possible inclusion of The Eternal Frame in a Voyager Press videodisc/videocassette project, a restoration project with the Pacific Film Archive, and acquisitions by the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Tate. Subseries 4: Printed Material includes copies of publications with contributions by Ant Farm members, copies and Xeroxes of articles or publications on Ant Farm’s work, and newspaper and magazine clippings. Subseries 5: Photographs includes a collection of candid photographs of Ant Farm members, friends, and acquaintances taken between 1968 and 1978. Subseries 6: Artifacts contains a copy of Milton Martin Levine’s Ant: Facts and Fantasies. Subseries 7: Lectures and Exhibitions documents lectures given by Ant Farm members and exhibitions of Ant Farm’s work through posters, catalogs, leaflets, and other printed matter.

Series IV: Slides and Videos includes over 1,300 slides and 11 DVDs, including complete sets of Ant Farm’s three “slidesets” distributed by Environmental Communications. Subseries 1: Slides contains all the slides, as well as two issues of Environmental Communications. Subseries 2: Videos includes the DVDs, as well as two reels of original 16mm film. *Time-based media in this subseries is currently restricted from use pending preservation work.

Series V: Doug Michels papers contains material produced by or published on Ant Farm co-founder Doug Michels. This includes the script for Brainwave, a feature film based on the Dolphin Embassy concept, and material on Michels’ Bluestar project, a space station occupied by humans and dolphins, as well as various documents relating to trips taken to Australia and Japan. This series also contains obituaries published in newspapers and magazines collected by Chip Lord following Michels’ sudden, tragic death on June 12, 2003.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email

Restrictions on Use

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Chip Lord papers on Ant Farm, 1965-2014, Avery Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Related Material

Archives and museums with related holdings on Ant Farm include:

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain de la Région Centre (FRAC Centre)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA)

For Further Information

For more information about using the collections and conducting research in the Department of Drawings & Archives, please see our FAQ.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library. Department of Drawings and Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Elliott Sturtevant (Graduate Intern), under the supervision of Shelley Hayreh, Avery Archivist, in 2017.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion March 20, 2017 Finding aid written in English.
    2017-03-20 File created.

CLIO ID: 12305919 View CLIO record

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Index Terms

The names and terms listed below are represented in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a consortial/union catalog offered by OCLC that allows users to search the holdings of multiple archives and libraries.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Ant Farm (Design group)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schreier, Curtis.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Conceptual art--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Design--United States--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--United States--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Avant-garde (Aesthetics)--United States--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Counterculture--United States--History--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note


Ant Farm was founded by two architects, Doug Michels (1943-2003) and Chip Lord (1944-). The group was based in San Francisco and Houston and was active from 1968 to 1978. Inspired by the counterculture of the Bay Area, the group presented objects, events, and performances, often with an architectural component, recorded on video for dissemination. In keeping with the times, their work was intended as a criticism of American capitalism, mass media, and culture. The group disbanded after a fire destroyed their studio and most of their archive, in 1978.

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