Academic journal article Chicago Review

New York School

Academic journal article Chicago Review

New York School

Article excerpt

With a renewed focus on the New York School poets in recent years, and the poetry of the 1950s and 1960s more generally, there seems to have been a corresponding resurgence of interest in artistic collaborations. One might think of the collaboration between John Ashbery and James Schuyler on a novel, Nest of Ninnies; or Ashbery and Alex Katz in Fragment; or Philip Guston's wonderful illustrations to poems of Clark Coolidge; or the back-and-forth between Joe Brainard's drawings and Kenward Elmslie's poetry. While such projects give us a key to the creative foment of the times, they are often a puzzle to contemporary audiences. Such collaborations almost never seem to rank among the "significant" works of their poets or painters, and sometimes seem to constitute the worst of both aesthetic worlds. Yet they often have an undeniable charm and vibrancy, and provide a glimpse of creative origins rarely credited: the social exchange.

Robert Creeley has recently gotten his due as a collaborator in a travelling exhibition and accompanying catolague entitled In Company: Robert Creeley's Collaborations, edited by Amy Cappellazzo and Elizabeth Licata. Creeley began collaborating at Black Mountain College in the 1950s; since then, he has worked with artists such as Alex Katz, Joe Brainard, R.B. Kitaj, Jim Dine, Georg Baselitz, Francesco Clemente, Marisol, Rene Laubies, Robert Indiana, and others. Some of these are interesting primarily for their fine book design, and seem to provide little meeting-ground between Creeley and the artist. Others seem an excellent fit: Alex Katz has been Creeley's neighbor in Maine for many years, and they recently published Edges, which includes Katz's cool flower etchings next to poems such as the following: "Particular, located, familiar in its presence / and reassuring. …

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