“It is…one of the few totally original books I have ever read.”Joe Brainard was born March 11, 1941 in Salem, Arkansas and spent his childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is the brother of painter John Brainard. Brainard became friends with Ron Padgett, Dick Gallup and Ted Berrigan during high school while working on the literary journal The White Dove Review. The 18 year-old Brainard joined the journal as its art editor after fellow Central High classmate Padgett sent Brainard an anonymous Christmas card praising his work. After high school, the artist re-united with the White Dove boys in New York City shortly after leaving the Dayton Art Institute. (
By 1964, Brainard had already had his first solo exhibition and was ensconced in a circle of friends that included Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Alex Katz, Edwin Denby, Larry Rivers, Fairfield Porter, James Schuyler, Jane Freilicher, Virgil Thomson, John Ashbery, among many others. He also began a relationship with Kenward Elmslie which lasted much of his life, despite having other lovers. He found much success as an artist until he removed himself from the artworld in the early 1980s.
Kenward Elmslie, Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, Westhampton, NY, 1968. Photo by Joe Brainard. Photo courtesy Larry Fagin.
Joe Brainard was an American artist and writer associated with the New York School. His prodigious and innovative body of work included collages and painting, as well as covers, theatrical sets and costumes. Brainard broke new ground in using comics as a poetic medium. He is best known for his memoir I Remember. By 1964 he began a relationship with Kenward Elmslie which lasted much of his life, despite having other lovers.
Tattoo, 1972, Pencil and Ink on Paper
Poets Dressed and Poets Undressed by Wynn Chamerberlain. It depicts poets Joe Brainard, Frank O’Hara, Joe LeSueur and Frank Lima.
Brainard died of AIDS-induced pneumonia May 25, 1994.
Brainard began his career during the early Pop Art era, and while his work has a certain affinity with Pop Art, it does not fit the definition of the genre:
Brainard knew and admired Warhol (Brainard sat for a Warhol screen test in 1964) . . . but he was never a Pop artist in the strict sense. Warhol and Lichtenstein maintained an ironic distance from their subject matter. Brainard's relationship to the material world of popular culture was one of affection or amusement or both. Moreover, he was too protean to be stuck with Pop or any other label. In what now would be considered Postmodern fashion, he drew his materials and images from everywhere. --In Constance M. Lewallen, Joe Brainard: A RetrospectiveThe inimitability of Brainard's work is located partly in its resistance to categorization, in its breadth, and in its rapport with and awe of the quotidian:
Joe Brainard is one of those unclassifiable artists . . . who do several things well. In his case this resulted not in separate compartments but a unified whole . . . . The same qualities shine forth in all that he produced: clarity, bold simplicity, accuracy of execution and feeling, humor, casual elegance, a charm that invites his audience in rather than keeping them at arm's length, and something grander but determinedly low key and offhand, a sense of the ordinary as sacramental. --Hello Joe: A Tribute to Joe BrainardParticularly in this collages, drawings and small works on paper, Brainard transformed the everyday into something revelatory:
[Brainard] seems to have been drawn to forms of containment, in which the unruly or rupturing experiences of life are brought into the kind of reductive clarity that we often associate with classical modalities . . . . Not surprisingly, along with this gift for distillation, Brainard had an uncanny eye for essential, revelatory detail; these contribute to the vivid immediacy and spontaneity of his work. In essence, such specific distillations can be understood as a form of abstraction, not the abstraction we affiliate with non-representational art, but something perhaps closer to the poetics we have come to associate with the New York School of poetry: an "aesthetics of attention" as critic Marjorie Perloff has said about its most important avatar, Frank O'Hara . . . . Distillation, specificity, and a keen sense of intimate scale allowed Brainard to locate the extraordinary in the ordinary and, curiously, something like the reverse; he could, with Nancy's help, make the extraordinary seem ordinary. --in Ann Lauterbach, Joe Brainard & Nancy. In The Nancy Book
Joe Brainard’s I Remember radically departs from the conventions of the traditional memoir. It is neither chronological nor thematic; rather, each sentence begins “I remember…” and is followed by a single memory delivered with uniform weight and declaration. His deft juxtapositions of the banal with the revelatory, the very particular with the seemingly universal accumulate into a complex portrait of his childhood in the 40s and 50s in Oklahoma as well as his life as an artist and gay man in the 60s and 70s in New York City.
I Remember has inspired many homages, none more notable than OuLiPian Georges Perec’s Je me souviens which was dedicated to Brainard. Poet Kenneth Koch was the first to utilize “I remember…” in the classroom as a prompt in teaching children to write poetry. The simplicity of the form has had great appeal to both writers and teachers, and most who use it are unaware of its origins.
Selected Collections of Joe Brainard's works include Berkeley Art Museum, Chase Manhattan Bank, Baron Guy de Rothschild, Fogg Museum, Harvard; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, Time-Life, Inc,. Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. The Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD also has a large archive of works by and about Brainard collected by Robert Butts from 1960-1992.
His work in theater included set designs for Frank O'Hara's The General Returns from One Place to Another and LeRoi Jones's The Baptism. He also did sets and costumes for the Louis Falco Dance Troupe and the Joffrey Ballet Company.
Burial: Cremated, Ashes scattered in private meadow in Northern Vermont
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Brainard & http://www.joebrainard.org/
Mixed Media Collage, 1976
Carte Postale, 1978, Mixed Media Collage
Flower Painting IV, 1967, Mixed Media Collage
Native American, 1964, Assemblage
Whippoorwill, 1974, Oil on canvas
Joe Brainard, 1990, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123737)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Keith McDermott (born 1953) is an American actor, theater director, and writer.
Born September 28, 1953 in Houston, Texas, McDermott graduated Ohio University Theatre School. In the 1970s, he lived with author Edmund White in New York City, and appeared as Alan Strang in Equus on Broadway opposite Richard Burton. He directs theater productions, and is particularly known for his direction of Off-Off-Broadway comedies penned by avant garde playwright Jim Neu. McDermott appeared in the Hollywood movie Without a Trace, as well as in numerous independent films, including as half the title role in Ignatz & Lotte.
His novel Acqua Calda was inspired by his long-term friendship and collaboration with director Robert Wilson, and his memoir of former long-time boyfriend Joe Brainard appeared in the anthology Loss Within Loss. His other memoir and fiction has appeared in periodicals, as well as in the anthology Boys Like Us. (Photo: Eric Amouyal)
In 1964 Joe Brainard began a close relationship with Kenward Elmslie that, despite other lovers, lasted until the end of Joe's life because it was based on the kind of love that comes partly from deep companionship and mutual artistic admiration. Later on, for several years Joe had a passionate relationship with McDermott.
Keith McDermott's current partner is artist Eric Amouyal.
Joe Brainard with Kenward Elmslie, 1982
Keith McDermott (born September 28, 1953 in Houston, Texas) is an American actor, theater director, and writer. His novel Acqua Calda was inspired by his long-term friendship and collaboration with director Robert Wilson, and his memoir of former long-time boyfriend Joe Brainard appeared in the anthology Loss Within Loss. His other memoir and fiction has appeared in periodicals, as well as in the anthology Boys Like Us. Keith McDermott's current partner is artist Eric Amouyal.
Kenward Gray Elmslie (born April 27, 1929) is an American writer, performer, editor and publisher associated with the New York School of poetry.
Born in New York City, Elmslie, a grandson of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, spent his childhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, prepped at the St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard in 1950 with a B.A. in literature. He began his career collaborating with composers on operas and musicals in an attempt to bring a contemporary style to classical theater. Among his theatrical works are The Grass Harp and Lola, both projects in collaboration with Claibe Richardson.
His poetry and prose is often combined with the graphical work of other artists. A collection of his writing, Motor Disturbance (1971), won the Frank O'Hara Award for Poetry in 1971. He was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts Award for Power Plant Sestina (1967) and the Ford Foundation Grant.
In 1973 Elmslie began work as editor and publisher of Z Magazine and Z Press, working to promote the work of other New York School artists such as John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, and perhaps most extensively, Joe Brainard. Elmslie’s work with graphic artists such as Brainard combined poetry with art to emphasis their interconnectedness; his work in theatre demonstrates his commitment to art as a whole, not only to one medium. Poet Alice Notley says of Elmslie’s Routine Disruptions (1998), “this is an icon, for me, of Elmslie’s work, its wild funniness, theatricality, brazenness, its love of art and objects”.
Kenward Elmslie, 1990, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123779)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digital
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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