Without skipping a beat, she said, “They tore down my wonderful studio there. They put a Chemical Bank in its place. I worked for thirteen years in that studio. A sailmaker’s loft, on Coenties Slip. It was right on the East River, so close I could see the expressions on the faces of the sailors. That’s when I was friends with Barney Newman. We’d talk about Picasso, who was a good painter because he worked hard. But he had a lot of goofy ideas. I liked Andy Warhol, but I was afraid to go visit him because of his friends. Barney would do wonderful talk with me. He’d say about painting, ‘It’s transcendent.’ A lot of people didn’t believe him. But I did. It has to be about life. Barney and the other Abstract Expressionists gave up defined space, and they gave up forms. They all liked my paintings. I feel as though I owe them a debt. Barney hung my shows. Too bad about Barney. The doctor told him to stop, to give it up. Because it’s hard work. So he gave it up, but he started again, and he died of a heart attack.” She drank another glass of water. “This water is so good,” she said again.
Agnes Martin, The New Yorker, July 2003
Christopher Williams, RITTERSPORT, 2009
"When I came to New York in the ’70s, I was tremendously excited because everywhere— on the subways, posters on walls, graffiti—language was everywhere in this town and I loved that because language was mine. Most of it was advertising something, even the kids who wrote it, but you don’t come to New York if you don’t like advertising and I was definitely pleased. It was and remains a rich experience. Now it’s in the galleries too. I’ve heard people complain they’re sick of standing in galleries reading. I spent the last few weeks doing exactly that, being a poet looking at how visual artists use words in their prints. Often I got to sit down. I brought my coffee and was incredibly careful.
I started with Hannah Wilke at Ronald Feldman. Mark laid the print down on one of those beautiful pieces of furniture with so many thin drawers. I began counting, something I never do when I look at poems. In general, visual artists are more anal about language than poets are. It’s the thingness of words that they’re after and thingness often comes in pieces. Hannah Wilke chose 16 words in 1978, Hannah-Wilke-type words: thank you, archangel, epiphany, orphan, bacchanal, chance, thanatosis, enchantment, etc. You’ll notice that all these words have “h”, “a”, and “n” in them. You might also consider that Hannah’s name is a palindrome, going both ways, SO what she did in a raised grid yielding 16 squares was take each word and line it up six times (Hannah has six letters) with the necessary letter (the “H” in epipHany) capitalized as well, so you get a shape that resembles an arrow or an angel and the diagonal spine of it reads Hannah. The typeface of the whole is like that of a wedding invite, so it’s as if 16 birds flew by 16 windows and cooed someone’s name.”
Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland, 1993
Gerhard Richter, S. mit Kind, 1995
Sara Cwynar, Doric Columns (Darkroom Manual), 2014
Barbara Kasten, Construct LB-4, 1982, Polaroid, 8x10 in
Barbara Kasten, Construct XV, 1982, Polaroid, 8x10 in
Agnes Martin, “Untitled #1” (2003), acrylic and graphite on canvas.
Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Stairs), 2001
Rachel Whiteread, Stairs, 2003