Purple Art

[November 17 2021]

“Growing up in America,” an exhibition by Rene Ricard at Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York

American Poet and Painter, Rene Richard was a literary visionary who established himself in the 1980s as a grandiose flâneur and illustrious acolyte of the New York art world’s downtown scene. He 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. 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. Assimilating imagery and text onto almost any surface of his choosing, Ricard began to develop his poems into paintings. These ‘poem paintings’ employed antique prints and found paintings that Ricard had often thrifted in secondhand stores. In some cases, Ricard would paint over the original surfaces entirely, wiping out the pre-existing images. Ricard also painted his own canvases, depicting figures from old photographs and other sources. Mixing pigments and oils, he created sultry, subdued and seductive colored paintings that were lurid and ghastly, articulated in a gestural palette of smoky black, chalky grey, fiery red, or his lauded acidic ‘poison green.’

On view now until December 18 2021 at Vito Schnabel Gallery 
455 West 19th Street, New York

Photos by Ava Perman

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