The Tibor de Nagy Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new collages by John Ashbery who is considered to be one of the most important contemporary poets. This is Ashbery’s fifth gallery exhibition since his solo debut here in 2008.
Ashbery started making collages as an undergraduate at Harvard. His approach to poetry and collage is very much the same. In an Ashbery poem, the sentences and phrases accumulate into abstract “collages” that can’t easily be paraphrased or explained. The collages and poems both have surprising, and sometimes humorous juxtapositions and references to popular culture.
Ashbery was fascinated in his youth by the collage novels of Max Ernst and the partially collaged Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque. Influenced by such collage giants as Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, and more directly, Joe Brainard, Ashbery’s work combines equal doses of art historical and contemporary pop culture references.
The new collages are more inventive and confidently his own than ever before. At 89, Ashbery continues to explore the collage medium, pushing the imagery into increasingly amorphous shapes with unexpected and often humorous juxtapositions, in much the same way that he has consistently pushed the boundaries of poetry. Rizzoli is currently planning a future publication which will be dedicated to Ashbery’s collage work.