Academic journal article Chicago Review

"In Memory of My Feelings"

Academic journal article Chicago Review

"In Memory of My Feelings"

Article excerpt

Recently I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to see "In Memory of My Feelings," a delightful show (up through November 14) that features many, what might be called "cozy" collaborations between Frank O'Hara and the artists in his life (Larry Rivers, Alfred Leslie, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Michael Goldberg, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Joe Brainard and several others). Then I went next door see Alex Katz interviewed on stage by Raymond Ferguson, the curator of the show.

Katz is rather wonderful in remembering his experience--in the 1950s--of becoming a figurative painter in opposition to abstraction. "When the opposition tries to cow you, that's the time to stick out your elbow and stick with your stuff." And his wry rendering of O'Hara in the mode of MOMA curator (a non-stop talking, whiskey priest) put the poet up on his feet.

Unlike most of the artists in the show, however, my sense now is that the artist closest to O'Hara--in vision and process--was actually Robert Raushenberg. The "Feelings" exhibit revels in work that was made in intimate responses to O'Hara's person--but, though wonderfu, it is for that reason also limited. When I crossed over to the Museum's permanent collection and entered a room full of Raushenberg assemblages, the work in the O'Hara show became suddenly secondary, or comparatively private. Both O'Hara and Raushenberg share an epic, joyous, and ambitious pleasure in making an enormous collage of the whole disparate phenomena of the 1950s American eye, particularly as it opened to the globe, and the way the globe began to impinge particularly on New York City -- turning what Katz called a then-provincial metropolis into an international capital, a place no longer just impacted by the outside, but throwing its emergent post-war power back over and around the world. …

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