Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Robert Lavigne papers, 1954-1969

Summary Information


The papers of artist and Beat Generation figure Robert LaVigne. The collection contains correspondence, artwork, and event invitations.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0747
Bib ID 4079553 View CLIO record
Creator(s) LaVigne, Robert, 1928-2014
Title Robert Lavigne papers, 1954-1969
Physical Description 3 linear feet (2 document boxes 1 map case drawer)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in 3 series.



The Robert LaVigne Papers include correspondence, artwork, manuscripts, and event announcements related to the work of Robert LaVigne and his group of friends.

  • Series I: Correspondence and Manuscripts, 1954-1969

    This series is comprised of letters and manuscripts composed by Robert LaVigne and his friends and associates. Because so many of LaVigne's friends were writers, there is a significant set of poetry manuscripts included on this series that were given to or reviewed by LaVigne.

  • Series II: Artwork, 1956-1965

    This series includes paintings, sketches, prints, and paintings done by LaVigne, as well as artwork created by his friends. This series includes some of LaVigne's artwork, but also some of his design work including book cover designs and four costume designs for a performance of Picasso's Desire Caught by the Tail.

  • Series III: Exhibition and Event Announcements, 1958-1964

    The Exhibition and Event Announcements series is comprised of notices of gallery events, art openings, and poetry readings, as well as publication catalogs and announcements from small, independent presses and publishers.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Robert Lavigne papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Custodial History

Kerouac letter to A. Brown, 23 March 1969, was returned to the Gotham Book Mart, 1 Dec. 1975. KAL/MBB

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Papers: Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--1985. Accession number--M-1985.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Processed HR 09/--/1985.

Papers Reprocessed Carrie Hintz 06/--/2010.

Finding Aid Written Carrie Hintz 06/--/2010.

Revision Description

2010-06-26 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found 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 catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Announcements Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book jackets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Costume design drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drawings (visual works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Prefaces Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Set design Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sketches Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Woodcuts (prints) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
watercolors (painting) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American poetry -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Artists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Avant-garde (Aesthetics) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Beats (Persons) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bohemianism -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cassady, Neal Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Catalogs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Conner, Bruce Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Corso, Gregory Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Designers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Illustrators Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Malanga, Gerard Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McClure, Michael Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-2010 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Plymell, Charles Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Portraits Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theater Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Whalen, Philip Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wieners, John, 1934-2002 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Robert LaVigne (1928-2014) was a painter, illustrator, and theatrical set designer associated with the Beat Generation and poets of the San Francisco Renaissance.

LaVigne was born in St. Maries Idaho in 1928, but moved to San Francisco in 1951. There he became associated with a number of poets and counter-culture figures centered around the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, including Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Peter Orlovsky.

LaVigne met Orlovsky in a coffee shop in San Francisco and almost immediately took the younger man as his muse, bringing him to live with him as a model and lover. It was at LaVigne's studio that Allen Ginsberg first met and subsequently fell in love with Peter Orlovksy-- first his image in a large, nude portrait that LaVigne had painted, and then with the young man himself.

In San Francisco LaVigne worked as a painter, illustrator and a set designer for the San Francisco Actors Workshop. He also worked as the Art Director of the Auerhahn Press-- a small fine press that focused on the work of the San Francisco Renaissance poets.

Like many members of the Beat Generation, LaVigne moved between coasts, leaving San Francisco for New York in the 1960s. While working in New York he was a pioneer of the painting style known as psychedelic painting, and continued to work in the theater, earning an Obie award for Best Design for his work on A Midsummer Nights Dream and Endicott and the Red Cross.

LaVigne eventually returned to the west coast, moving to Seattle in the early 1980s. He died in Seattle on February 20, 2014.