Cover image for Joe Brainard : a retrospective
Joe Brainard : a retrospective
Lewallen, Constance.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley [Calif.] : University of California, Berkeley Art Museum ; New York : Granary Books in association with Mandeville Special Collection Library, University of California, San Diego, 2001.
Physical Description:
xi, 156 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm
General Note:
Exhibition schedule, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, Calif., Feb. 7-May 27, 2001 and others.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6537.B6823 A4 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Over a period of four decades--from the early 1960s until his death in 1994--artist, writer, and designer Joe Brainard contributed greatly to the arts in a number of media. From his early paintings and assemblages, which built upon the work of Jasper Johns and Joseph Cornell, to his set designs for LeRoi Jone's "The Dutchman" and Frank O'Hara's "The General Returns from One Place to Another"; from his comic book collaborations with various poets, "C Comics" and "C Comics 2," to his later drawing, collage, painting, and assemblage work, Brainard exemplified the link between avant-garde art, writing, and theater that defined the New York School. In addition to a checklist and bibliographies of work by and about Brainard, this exhibition catalogue includes the artist's published and unpublished writings, as well as interviews and letters. Also included are essays by John Ashbery, Carter Ratcliff, and Constance Lewallen, who chronicles Joe Brainard's formative years in Oklahoma and move to New York City, his involvement with Pop Art, assemblage and painting, and his literary and artistic associations.

Author Notes

John Ashbery was born on July 28, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a master's degree in English from Columbia University. After graduating, he wrote advertising copy for Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill.

In 1955, he won the Yale Younger Poets prize for his first collection, Some Trees. While on a Fulbright scholarship to Paris, he began writing art criticism and editing small journals. After about a decade in France, he returned to New York, where he became executive editor of ARTnews and continued to work as an arts journalist. After ARTnews was sold in 1972, he taught and wrote art criticism.

He wrote several collections of poetry including Houseboat Days, Flow Chart, And the Stars Were Shining, and Turandot and Other Poems. He received a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976 for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He also received the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Poetry in 1992, the Ambassador Book Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2011. In 1993, the French government made him a Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He also translated the poems of Pierre Martory. He died on September 3, 2017 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Inventive mixes of media, vibrant color, and occasional humor characterize Joe Brainard's intriguing art. Incredibly prolific, Brainard (1942-94) created thousands of collages, book covers, paintings, and illustrations, sometimes in collaboration with important writers such as Frank O'Hara. Yet, Brainard remains less known and less appreciated than his more avant-garde counterparts of the 1960s and 1970s. He was certainly active in this period; he participated in more than 40 group exhibits and several one-person shows until he stopped exhibiting his work in 1979. This book documents the first museum retrospective exhibition of Brainard's work organized for the University of California, Berkeley, Art Museum, by senior curator Lewallen. More than 106 works are reproduced in this colorful catalog, which also includes critical essays by Lewallen, Ratcliff, and Ashbery; bibliographies of works by and about Brainard; the artist's exhibition history; and an exhibition checklist. The section, "Why I Am a Painter," features works from Brainard's writings, interviews, and letters, and enables even greater understanding of the artist's motivations and influences. Altogether, a timely, well-conceived, and thorough presentation. Highly recommended. General readers; undergraduates through faculty. E. H. Teague University of Oregon

Table of Contents

John AshberyConstance M. LewallenCarter RatcliffJoe BrainardJoe Brainard
Director's Forewordp. viii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Lenders to the Exhibitionp. xi
Joe Brainardp. 1
Acts of Generosityp. 5
Joe Brainard's Quiet Dazzlep. 49
Why I Am a PainterJoe Brainard
I. Published Writingsp. 71
II. Unpublished Writingsp. 85
III. Interviewsp. 91
IV. Lettersp. 106
Exhibition Historyp. 123
Publicationsp. 129
Publicationsp. 135
Checklist of Exhibitionp. 143
Photo Creditsp. 156