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Joe Brainard—Art on Paper
"Review of Joe Brainard: A Retrospective." Art on Paper 5.4 (March/ April 2001).

An eclectic body of work can often be disadvantageous to an artist, as Joe Brainard noted in an interview: "I don't have a definite commodity… People want to buy a Warhol or a person instead of a work. My work's never become 'a Brainard' "—but he didn't mind. Brainard, who died in 1994, is the subject of a traveling retrospective that was organized by the Berkeley Art Museum. This is an important exhibition that will no doubt revive interest in a prolific artist whose work, widely known by the late 70s, sadly faded from view until receiving a degree of posthumous recognition in the past few years (see, for example, On Paper 1/4, pp. 36- 40). Difficult to categorize, Brainard was fairly uninterested in the art world, and boasted an easy versatility in many media, from three-dimensional assemblages to veristically modeled graphite drawings, traditionally painted still lifes, and vibrant mixed-media collages of madonnas and flowers. With charming tributes-as-essays by John Ashbery and Carter Ratcliff, an equally devoted biographical overview by Constance Lewallen, interviews, selections from Brainard's own writing, and two bibliographies, this slim yet comprehensive catalogue affords readers a chance to enjoy the scope of Brainard's imagination—smart, irreverent, and sensitive by turn.

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