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McHale, John

John McHale archive, ca. 1950-1978.

Physical Description:
25 linear feet (7 boxes)
Rare Books and Manuscripts
MSS 60
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Magda Cordell McHale
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Copyright Status:
© Yale Center for British Art
Related Content:
View a description and listing of collection contents in the finding aid
Archives & Manuscripts
John McHale (1922-1978) was a British collage artist, art theorist, and sociologist. As a member of the Independent Group, formed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1952, McHale helped to originate Pop Art in Britain, a movement rooted in American mass culture and modern technology. McHale spent a year at Yale University in 1955-1956 and returned permanently to the US in 1962 to work with Richard Buckminster Fuller on ecological issues and environmental sustainability. With his wife, the artist Magda Cordell, McHale founded the Center for Integrative Studies (CIS) to consider the impact of modern industrialized world on human society and the environment. In a 1984 retrospective of McHale's work, Charlotta Kotik wrote: “The unique oeuvre of John McHale results from both his special creative talents and his exceptional human qualities. John McHale was at once a visual artist, writer, educator and organizer; but most important, he was a humanist philosopher endowed with relentless energy to pursue innovations which were ultimately to result in changes beneficial to mankind. He looked toward the future with a mixture of optimism and skepticism, but above all with a great deal of realistic wisdom, making possible a clear formulation of our predicament, and the consequences of our behavior well in advance of the mainstream.” (The Expendable Ikon, p. 9).
The collection comprises collage books, collages, drawings, palettes, and posters by John McHale, with related printed material, including catalogs, periodicals, ephemera, and small posters. The collage books include McHale's Why I Took to the Washers in Luxury Flats and his Shoe-Life Stories, both completed ca. 1954. The collages series includes McHale's Transistor (1954), Aluminum Head (1956) and Untitled (Head) (1977). The drawings series 14 drawings of geometric or abstract design and several studies for Aluminum Head. Among the printed material are posters and literature concerning exhibitions of work by John McHale or related exhibitions at the Institute for Contemporary Arts.
The collection is arranged into eleven series: I. Collage Books; II. Collage Books, unfinished; III. Collages; IV. Collages, unfinished; V. Palettes; VI. Paintings; VII. Drawings; VIII. Notes on paintings and drawings; IX. Sheets prepared by McHale for discussion of lecture by E.W. 'Bingo' Meyer, entitled "Probability and Information Theory and their Application to the Visual Arts" given March 8, 1955, to the Independent Group at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; X. Posters; XI. Catalogs, periodicals, ephemera, and small posters.
Subject Terms:
Alloway, Lawrence, 1926-1990.
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Exhibitions.
Art, Modern -- 20th century.
Collage -- 20th century -- Exhibitions.
Collage -- 20th century.
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-1985.
Independent Group (Association : Great Britain)
Information theory.
Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, England)
Irwin, Gwyther, 1931-2008.
McHale, John.
McHale, Magda Cordell.
Mesens, E. L. T. (Edouard Léon Théodore), 1903-1971.
Meyer, E. W. Probability and information theory and their application to the visual arts.
Paolozzi, Eduardo, 1924-2005.
Pop art -- Exhibitions.
Pop art.
This Is Tomorrow (1956 : Whitechapel Art Gallery)
Whitechapel Art Gallery.
Abstract art.
Collage books.
Collages (visual works)
Drawings (visual works)
Exhibition catalogs.
Tear sheets.
McHale, John. Aluminum head.
McHale, John. Shoe-life stories.
McHale, John. Transistor.
McHale, John. Why I took to the washers in luxury flats.
Del Renzio, Toni.
Hamilton, Richard, 1922-2011.
Henderson, Nigel, 1917-1985.
Katayama, Toshihiro, 1928-
Independent Group (Association : Great Britain)
Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, England)

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