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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Dutch 26

Willem de Ridder papers


Contains materials relating to Willem de Ridder's career as an artist and involvement with the international art community Fluxus.


  • Creation: 1957-2019


Language of Materials

Dutch, English, German

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


12 linear feet (16 boxes)
25.5 Gigabytes (3 DVDs)

Contains materials relating to Willem de Ridder’s career as an artist and his relationship as the founder of Fluxus. Materials include records about de Ridder’s audio projects, as well as multiple radio-involved projects, such as Deux Chevaux, Radio Art Foundation, All Chemix Radio Series, and more. Further records describe other art projects, such as European Mail-Order House (including the Museum of Modern Art reconstruction), The Walk, The Apple, Doodsangttherapie, Theater, Portable Vaudeville, Spiegelogie, and festivals De Ridder helped organize. Materials also include correspondence about Fluxus, de Ridder’s own work, with collaborators and colleagues, as well as photographs from Fluxus performances, de Ridder’s art events, of artworks by contemporary artists, of De Ridder during travels and a long stay in Italy, as well as those of Annie Sprinkle, who worked closely with De Ridder. A single print by Sprinkle, Tit Piece is also included. Further visual works include digitally recorded Fluxus performances and multiple posters. There are a multitude of personal papers and records related to De Ridder’s works, including written pieces about De Ridder, including catalogue entries from the Groninger Museum as well as magazine pieces, in both English and Dutch, as well as records about various businesses and projects of De Ridder, including his gallery Amstel 47. The vast majority of the material is organized in binders.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1939, Willem de Ridder is a Dutch artist and founder of the international artist group Fluxus. Fluxus was a group of artists, composers, designers, and poets who carried out experimental art perfomances, often emphasizing artistic process and concept over finished artwork. Fluxus members explored different artistic media and disciplines, including intermedia, radio, sound, and video works, and are sometimes seen to conceptual artists. Some of the work types created by Fluxus include Neo-Dada noise music, enactments of scores and time-based works, concrete poetry, urban planning, visual art, architecture, design, radio, literature, and publishing.

De Ridder showed and sold works in Amstel 47, a gallery he owned, as well as his shops Fluxshop and European Mail-Order Warehouse. He organized Dutch Fluxus festivals with colleagues such as Wim T. Schippers in 963 and 1964. De Ridder owned a club in Amsterdam, Provadya, and spoke out for sexual equality and liberty. He also worked with artist and sexologist Annie Sprinkle, and was an active part of the Radio Art Foundation, All Chemix radio, Eldorado (a broadscasting company), and multiple other artist groups and communities.


Materials have been reboxed, but binders are arranged in the order sent from the dealer. Materials in boxes 11 and 12 refoldered but not arranged.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection includes audio visual and born-digital materials that require special equipment, special arrangements and permission for viewing. Contact Houghton Public Services staff for further information.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2020M-72. Purchased with funds from the Gore VIdal Endowment Fund for Arts and Letters, 2019 December.

Source of addition is given with the items included.

Separated Materials

Fluxus periodicals and publications, as well as some publications about Willem de Ridder, were separated prior to accessioning for individual cataloging.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2020. Description is based on dealer inventory.



Ridder, Willem de. Willem de Ridder papers, 1957-2019 (MS Dutch 26): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2020 February 4
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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