by Joe Brainard


JOE BRAINARD was born on March 11, 1941, in Salem, Arkansas, and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From an early age he showed artistic talent. In high school he co-edited The White Dove Review, an art and literary magazine, with poets Ron Padgett and Dick Gallup. After high school and a few months of study at the Dayton Art Institute, Brainard moved to New York City in early 1961, joining Padgett and poet Ted Berrigan. It was mainly through Berrigan's encouragement that Brainard started to write. However, most of his energy during the early and mid-1960s went into painting.

His first solo exhibition was at the Alan Gallery in 1965. He subsequently showed at the Landau-Alan and Fischbach galleries in New York, and took part in many group shows around the country and abroad. His early paintings and assemblages showed the influence of JasperJohns, Andy Warhol, and Joseph Cornell, but Brainard's work soon distinguished itself by its combination of Iyricism, wit, and congeniality. His theater work includes set designs for LeRoi Jones's The Dutchman and Frank O'Hara's The General Returns from One Place to Another, as well as sets and costumes for the Louis Falco Dance Troupe and the Joffrey Ballet Company.

Brainard became friends with many writers and painters associated with the New York School, including Joseph LeSueur, Frank O'Hara, Kenward Elmslie, Alex Katz, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Edwin Denby, John Ashbery, Fairfield Porter, and Rudy Burckhardt, many of whom collaborated with him. He also designed the covers for a great number of poetry books and magazines. Brainard edited and drew C Comics and C Comics 2, collaborations with contemporary poets. He designed many covers for books and record albums by Kenward Elmslie. His drawings, collages, assemblages, and paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Joe Brainard Archive at the University of California-San Diego, among others. Joe Brainard died on May 25, 1994, in New York City.

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