Rene Ricard was an important voice in the cultural discourse of his era, and his words still carry the authority of his role as witness, critic and observer to a pivotal moment in American culture. His fevered imagination, fierce wit and intellectual acumen, along with his famed bon vivant demeanor and talent for conversation, flow through the stream- of-consciousness prose central to his art. Having moved to New York in the early 1960s at the age of eighteen, Ricard quickly absorbed himself into the transgressive experimental ventures and celebrated debauchery of Andy Warhol’s glittering, silver foiled Factory. By the early 1980s, Ricard had cemented his reputation as a poet and achieved status in the art world, asking the question “What is it that makes something look like art?” in his breakthrough 1981 Artforum essay The Radiant Child, which catapulted Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rise to prominence. This influential text is considered a seminal piece of twentieth century art criticism. Similarly, Ricard’s editorials for Artfoum during the 1980s helped to advance the careers of such artists as Keith Haring, Brice Marden, Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente.