11
Dec 03

Joe Brainard

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,188 views

Joe Brainard is known (if he is known at all) for his clever twists on Ernie Bushmillers Nacy (Nancy as a Boy, Nancy in Landscape, Nancy as a Drawing by Di vinci, Nancy as a de Kooning painting ad absurdum) and his assemblages with flowers and madonnas. If yr a poet, he is best known for his work with the New York School, working with Koch, Berrigan, Ashberry and O’Hara.

I guess with his work in the low, and the literary coupled with a connection to collage, assemblages and found pieces, that he could not draw or paint. I always thought he was so good at the above media that he did not need to. Looking through the catalogue for the 2001 retrospective at Berkley there are two oil paintings that betray those thoughts. Done of a white whippet called Whipperwhool, they are a solemn connection to the rest of his work. There is the quoting of Fairfield Porter( who he corresponded with), of course but there is something else beside.

In 1974, the dog leans across a broad green couch, an odalisque that resembles elements of Titian’s Urbana, Goya’s Madja, and Manet’s Olympia. There is a 1972 recreation of Christiana’s world, but where everything overwhelms the pooch, and then there is the singular canvas from 1973, where the dog leans into himself, directed inside and away from humanity. He manages to make the dog look monastic.

On the websitethat comes from the estate, these are placed in the category of portraits, but that would assume something human–they are uncannily canine, expressing emotions that would seem out of place with humanity but not with dogs.

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