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Robert C. Morgan Collection on Conceptual Art

Identifier: MSN/MN 9206

Scope and Contents

The Robert C. Morgan collection includes art-related materials acquired and preserved by Morgan over the course of his professional career, 1968 to 2015. Morgan's research files provide a comprehensive view of the work of many important conceptual artists in the early stages of their careers. The collection is divided into two series.

The first series, Artists' Research Files, arranged alphabetically by artist last name, is the core of the collection. This series contains a vast amount of printed ephemera Morgan received through the mail related to the art projects and gallery installations of various conceptual artists. Among those prominently featured in the collected posters, announcement cards, catalogs, brochures, press clippings, and press releases are Lawrence Weiner, Robert Barry, Peter Downsbrough, John Baldessari, Dan Graham, Douglas Huebler, Seth Siegelaub, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, and Ed Ruscha. Also present in many of these files is a substantial quantity of Morgan's writings on art, including papers and ephemera related to his associations with museums, galleries and cultural institutions; clippings and photocopies of articles by Morgan; and original transcriptions and transcripts of interviews by Morgan, many with hand-written notes and annotations. Although limited in number, the files contain some of Morgan's work-related correspondence with several conceptual artists, regarding details of their exhibition installations and planning, theoretical discussions of their artwork, and some personal news. Also present in the first series is Morgan's own research file, which encompasses not only his career as an artist involved in the conceptual art movement, but also his work as a writer, teacher, and advocate of the arts. Of particular note are transcripts of Morgan's interviews with artists, curators, and scholars as well as copies of his Ph.D dissertation and drafts of other manuscripts.

The second series, comprised of audio recordings, arranged alphabetically by artist last name consists primarily of interviews Morgan conducted with various artists from 1976-1997. The numerous audio cassette tapes and vinyl records in this series are unavailable until reformatted. Where possible the original order was maintained and the arrangement follows the organization of Robert C. Morgan and the inventory of Granary Books. Some items have been removed to oversize boxes, and are listed in the finding aid. Robert C. Morgan's personal library of more than 200 volumes of artists' books, though part of the original collection, have been catalogued separately and are held in the Department of Rare Books & Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame. Items can be found in the Libraries' online catalog using a keyword search for the artist of interest as well as Robert C. Morgan Collection on Conceptual Art.


  • Creation: 1968-2015


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Robert C. Morgan is a prominent American artist, critic, and art historian. Born in 1943, in Massachusetts, he left the state after completing a college dregree in European history. He spent time teaching in Southern California before returning to Massachusetts in order to pursue his acquired interest in art. Upon his return, he began painting and showing his work in and around the Boston area. During the early 1970s he transitioned into conceptual art. He attributes the shift to the influence of Danish physicist Hans Fogerby, a personal friend, whose work in quantum physics inspired him to experiment with structural concepts of geometry and time. Morgan eventually enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he earned an MFA in Sculpture in 1975. Even as he delved into sculpture and conceptual art, he continued his painting and photography, and by the mid-1970s he was exhibiting his work at the Artists Space and Whitney Museum in New York City. At that time, he entered the doctoral program in contemporary art at the School of Education, New York University. He earned his Ph.D in 1978, after producing a dissertation titled "The Role of Documentation in Conceptual Art: An Aesthetic Inquiry," which was the first such study of conceptual art in the U.S. The dissertation was eventually revised and published as Conceptual Art: An American Perspective (McFarland & Company, 1994).

After receiving his Ph.D., Morgan turned his attention to art history and art criticism, fields in which he had grown more interested in the early 1970s, and to teaching in the academy. He would go on to teach at a number of institutions, including the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2003, and publish prolifically. Currently, he is the author of more than 2800 essays and reviews, and several books, including Conceptual Art: An American Perspective (McFarland & Company, 1994), Art into Ideas: Essays on Conceptual Art (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Between Modernism and Conceptual Art (McFarland, 1997), The End of the Art World (Allworth Press, 1998), Robert Barry (Karl Kerber Verlag, 1986), and Bernar Venet 1961-1970 (Éditions des Cahiers Intempestifs, 1999), Bruce Nauman (John Hopkins University, 2002), Late Writings: Clement Greenberg (University of Minnesota, 2003), and The Artist and Globalization (The Municipal Gallery of Art, Lodz, Poland, 2008). Morgan's writings have been translated into seventeen languages, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Serbian, Hebrew, Farsi, and Finnish. His highly regarded writing in art history and criticism earned him an invitation in 1992 to be the first Critic-in-Residence at the Art Omi International Artists Workshop in Ghent, New York, as well as the first Arcale Prize in International Art Criticism, which he received in Salamanca, Spain in 1999. In 2011 he was inducted into the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg, Austria.

Morgan's scholarship and art work continued to evolve during the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. Besides curating and displaying his own abstract art in over seventy exhibitions in various museums, cultural spaces, and galleries across the United States and abroad, he received several prestigious fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Humanities (1980, 1986, 1987), a Rockefeller/NEA grant (1988), and a Francis Greenburger Fellowship (1993). In 2005, he was awarded an Edward Albee Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship as a senior scholar to research "The Traditional Arts and the Korean Avant-garde" in the Republic of Korea. His four-month Fulbright stay in Korea was in keeping with his interest in artistic expressions rooted outside the West. Much of his work since the late 1990s has focused on art in the Middle East and East Asia. In addition to working extensively with contemporary ink artists in China, and authoring many catalogs and monographs on Chinese artists, he has lectured and displayed his work at several Biennials and Art Fairs in China, Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Indonesia, and Iran.

Morgan currently lives in New York City, where he lectures at the School of Visual Arts and is Adjunct Professor in the graduate fine arts department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.


5 cubic feet (5 containers and 4 bound volumes)

Language of Materials


Dutch; Flemish





Spanish; Castilian


A collection of research files comprised of printed ephemera, correspondence, manuscripts, audio recordings, and other materials documenting the activities and work of more than 100 conceptual artists, assembled by Robert C. Morgan during his professional career as an artist, art historian, curator, and author from 1968-2015.


The collection is divided into two series: 1. Artists' Research Files; and 2. Artists' Audio Files. Both series are arranged alphabetically by artist's last name and thereunder by date. Typically, there are multiple items per folder.

Related Materials

Robert C. Morgan's personal library of more than 200 volumes is held in the Department of Rare Books & Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame.

Robert C. Morgan Collection on Conceptual Art
Debra Dochuk and George Rugg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556