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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
Material is arranged into 10 series.
Scope and Content
This collection contains papers, documents, ephemera, sound and video recordings, photographs, and artwork created by, given to, or related to Angus MacLise.
The material in this collection was given by Hetty MacLise to LaMonte Young in 1980, and remained in a suitcase in Young's possession until it was acquired by Manhattan's Boo Hooray Gallery which used the material as the core of an exhibition on MacLise.
The majority of the materials in this collection came from composer LaMonte Young who held the materials for safekeeping after MacLise's death. Other important materials in the archive came from photographer and multimedia artist Don Snyder, who also played a significant role in the preservation of MacLise's archival material. Further materials came from filmmaker Jonas Mekas, bookseller John McWhinnie, and poet and photographer Ira Cohen.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
The following boxes are located off-site: 1-11. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Angus MacLise Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Boo-Hooray Gallery Purchase 04/18/2013
The majority of the materials in this collection came from composer LaMonte Young who held the materials for safekeeping after MacLise's death. Other materials in the archive came from photographer and multimedia artist Don Snyder, who was also important in the preservation of MacLise's legacy. Further materials came from filmmaker Jonas Mekas, bookseller John McWhinnie, and poet and photographer Ira Cohen.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed staff of Boo-Hooray Gallery 2010.
2013-06-28 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2021-03-29 Source information for Condon, Jim. ”Filmographies: NICO and ANGUS MacLISE” updated by CCR based upon correspondence from the magazine's publisher.
History / Biographical Note
Angus MacLise was a musician, poet, artist, and counterculture figure who was a mainstay of the downtown New York arts scene in the 1960s.
Angus MacLise was born in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1938. He studied music and dance before moving to Paris in the late 1950s. In Paris he and his high school friend, avant-garde filmmaker Piero Heliczer, started the Dead Language Press in 1958. The press specialized in poetry and published early works by poets such as Gregory Corso. MacLise also published several of his own poems and manuscripts through the press, including the pamphlet "Year" that renames all of the days of the year-- a convention that MacLise and many of his friends used in dating correspondence or artworks.
MacLise and Heliczer moved back to the United States in the early 1960s, settling in New York and bringing the press with them. In New York, MacLise continued his publishing efforts, while also pursuing music and becoming involved in avant-garde theatrics and performance art pieces. He was a member of the Theater of Eternal Music, started and organized by composer and musician LaMonte Young. He was a regular participant in Fluxus events in New York City and appeared in many experimental films being made by his friends in the downtown arts scene at the time, notably Piero Heliczer and Ira Cohen.
MacLise was a founding member of the Velvet Underground—he was introduced to the band through his roommate John Cale and became the band's first drummer. Though he helped to found the band, and may have even given it its name, his time with the Velvet Underground was short due to MacLise's disinterest in creating art for profit or on a schedule dictated by anything other than his own inspiration. He does not appear on any of the band's recordings.
In 1967 MacLise moved briefly to Berkeley, where he joined the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, a street performance troupe that included the painter and illustrator Hetty McGee. McGee and MacLise were married in Golden Gate Park in a ceremony officiated by Timothy Leary. The two would later have a son, Ossian, who began living in a Tibetan monastery at the age of 4 and was recognized at 7 as a tulku—a reincarnation of a lama.
The couple moved back to New York where MacLise again collaborated with Ira Cohen, scoring and appearing in Cohen's film The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda.
In 1970 Angus and Hetty began a tour of Asia that ended with their settling in Kathmandu, Nepal. In Nepal, MacLise opened the Spiritcatcher bookstore in Kathmandu which became a gathering place for the growing community of artist and poet expatriates living and working in the area. He founded a literary and poetry journal, Ting Pa, and in 1974 he and Ira Cohen started the Bardo Matrix publishing venture publishing poetry on handmade rice paper. They published work by MacLise, Paul Bowles, Charles Henri Ford among others.
During this time he was particularly interested in calligraphic art and works on paper. Much of his own work from his time in Nepal includes calligraphic illustrations in a made-up script. He was working on establishing a handmade paper company, Himalayan Paper, Inc. at the time of his death.
MacLise died in 1979 in Kathmandu, Nepal at the age of 41.