HIGHLIGHT is pleased to present “new paintings and not so new” by the American poet and painter Rene Ricard. In this exhibition, numerous works created over the past decade by …
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Rene Ricard (b. 1946, d. 2014) was an American poet and painter. Ricard's work has appeared in influential literary, art, and popular publications and he has contributed profoundly to the cultural discourse of his era. He was one of America's most controversial arbiters of taste.
As a teenager, Ricard left his hometown of Acushnet, Massachusetts and became part of Boston's 1960s literary scene. By eighteen he had moved to New York City where, as a protoge of Andy Warhol became part of the scene surrounding the Factory. He appeared in such classic Warhol films as “Kitchen” and “Chelsea Girls” as well as films by many other independent young directors. As a performer, Ricard was also a founding participant in the Theater of the Ridiculous collaborating with John Vaccaro and Charles Ludlam.
By the early 80s, having achieved stature in the art world through his influential essays, was acknowledged to have launched the careers of painters Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring (most notably). His breakthrough 1981 essay “The Radiant Child” for Artforum magazine is considered to be at the forefront 20th century art writing: a slim shelf with very few other occupants.
In 1979 DIA Foundation inaugurated its publishing arm with Rene Ricard 1979-1980. The fact that this turquoise-covered book of poems appears in photographs taken on the beach in Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependency illustrates its ubiquity as summer reading in 1979.
This book was followed ten years later by God With Revolver, published by Francesco Clemente under the rubric "Hanuman Books". Trusty Sarcophagus Co. published in 1990 (Inandout Books) was the first publication to reproduce his poems as paintings. The 1999 Love Poems (CUZ Editions) brought Ricard's poems together with illustrations by the London-based artist Robert Hawkins.
In the late 1980s Ricard began to develop his poems into paintings, a process which he continues to explore. Occasionally Ricard paints directly on antique prints or found paintings, a method used when creating the 2004 CD cover for Shadows Collide With People, an album of songs written and performed by John Frusciante. Paintings and Drawings (Percival Press), a full color monograph of works created over a twenty-year period, was published in 2003.
In his later work Ricard expanded his ambition, working in a larger scale (up to 8 feet) with fully integrated imagery and text.
Rene Ricard lived and worked in New York City.
Portrait photograph by Bill Troop