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Joe Brainard

100 Works

April 20 – May 26, 2019

Joe Brainard Pansies, 1968
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Toothbrushes), 1973-74
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Easel), 1976
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Whippet on Green Couch), 1973
Joe Brainard, White Owl, n.d.
Joe Brainard, Untitled (White Dog), 1978
Joe Brainard, Untitled, n.d.
Joe Brainard, Chewing Gum Wrappers, 1971
Joe Brainard, Cigarette, 1969
Joe Brainard, Untitle (Puppy), 1972
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Tomato Juice), n.d.
Joe Brainard, Untitled, 1970
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Lucky Strike), n.d.
Joe Brainard, Untitled, 1974
Joe Brainard, Kenward, Happy Labor Day, Vermont, 1966
Joe Brainard, Untitled, 1962
Joe Brainard, Untitld, 1977
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Owl Cat), 1971
Joe Brainard, Nancy as Mona Lisa, 1968
Joe Brainard , Untitled (Cigarettes), n.d.
Joe Brainard, 30 Squares, 1975
Joe Brainard, Bouquet, 1975
Joe Brainard, Flowers, 1969
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Pepsi-Coila Black-eyed Susans), 1969
Joe Brainard Untitled (Madonna and Child), 1967
Joe Brainard, Untitled (Portrait of Joe), n.d.
Joe Brainard, Madonna, 1966
Joe Brainard, Still Life, 1968

Press Release

Tibor de Nagy is pleased to present Joe Brainard - 100 Works, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Brainard's work since his retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2001.

The current exhibition is comprised of collages, watercolors, oil paintings, and drawings, from large-scale to miniature. Many of these works have never been publicly shown. The exhibition brings together Brainard's classic subjects such as Nancy (based on the Ernie Bushmiller comic strip), Madonnas (inspired by Ukrainian shops on the Lower East side where he lived when he first moved to New York and by cathedrals he saw in Mexico), his iconic Flowers (pansies, poppies, and daisies), and Erotic works (male torsos and diving figures), as well as a serene oil painting of a whippet. One of Brainard's favorite pastimes was smoking, and he based many works on this activity—some in the exhibition contain actual butts, and one is a large, multipanel depiction of the classic Cinzano ashtray, a subject he returned to often.  

Often remembered as gentle, generous, and affectionate, he was described by John Ashbery as "one of the nicest artists I have ever known. Nice as a person, nice as an artist." But he was far more than simply nice. As Peter Schjeldahl put it, he was "touched by genius." Brainard was a friend and ally of poets since his youth in Oklahoma, and continued to be throughout his life in New York. In fact he became a writer himself. His memoir I Remember, continuously in print since 1970, has been translated into eight languages, and his Collected Writings were issued by the prestigious Library of America.

Brainard grew up in Tulsa and moved to New York in 1960. He gained early recognition with his first solo exhibition in 1965 in New York. Over the next decade he exhibited regularly and his work was included in numerous museum exhibitions in the United States and abroad. In his mid-30s he gradually stopped making and exhibiting art and devoted much of his time thereafter to reading. Brainard’s work was the subject of a traveling retrospective curated by Constance Lewallen at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2001. His drawings, collages, assemblages, and paintings are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many others.