Saturday, September 15, 2018

Exhibition Opening in New York Next Week

Not everyone knows that John Ashbery, the acclaimed poet who made his home here in Hudson, was also a visual artist, his medium collage. On Thursday, September 20, a new exhibition, the most comprehensive of Ashbery's visual art to date, opens at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 144 West 14th Street. 

A Dream of Heroes, 2015
The exhibition, John Ashbery: The Construction of Fiction, spans seven decades of work, presenting 120 collages and archival materials. To quote the press release for the exhibition:
The prolific collage work produced by Ashbery over the last decade of his life allows new insights into the creative process of one of America's most reticent poets. What many saw as a poet's late foray into the visual arts was, in reality, a return to an early vocation that morphed into complex hybrids. Composition, whether with images or words, was Ashbery's m├ętier and collage had been his technique of choice since he began his career as a poet. The mixing of visual arts and literature was also a distinctive trait in the works of authors that have been of central interest to Ashbery, namely French writer Raymond Roussel and American outsider artist Henry Darger. Ashbery, like Roussel and Darger, conveyed narrative through the juxtaposition of seemingly random imagery that left to the reader the task of filling the gaps and making connections.
Conservatory, c. 1972
The exhibition is curated by Antonio Sergio Bessa, director of curatorial and education programs at the Bronx Museum, and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog and public programs. The opening reception takes place on Thursday, September 20, from 6 to 8 p.m., on the second floor of the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 144 West 14th Street in New York City. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, runs from September 21 through November 14, 2018. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

1 comment:

  1. Surrealism was the occasion for at least one early insight, early for someone born in 1927. Following is from Karin Roffman's 2017 book, "The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery's Early Life."

    "In late December 1936 [Ashbery] picked up Life, the new magazine his grandfather subscribed to, and read a feature article on an art exhibition, 'Fantastic Art: Dadaism and Surrealism,' opening at [MoMA] ... [He] was swept up again in thoughts of art and artists. He had never heard the term surrealism, but the magazine's definition of surrealist art as 'no stranger than a person's dream,' was both completely understandable and very appealing to him. The article included photographs of objects from the exhibition: Meret Oppenheim's now famous fur-lined teacup; paintings by Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico, and Pablo Picasso that used images of clocks, trees, houses, and chairs, but their shapes and colors altered in such a way that they became slightly stranger and more menacing in the process. Here were examples of ordinary objects that John saw and used every day presented as art, and he found that in their transformation, they became more compelling. To see objects from his dull world tweaked slightly, just as a dream might do, and in that process of transformation becoming something new, vivid and exciting, thrilled him. Seeing the strangely beautiful examples of surrealist art consciously rekindled his former desires to become an artist."