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.
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.
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.