Sunday, January 25, 2015

Allen Ginsberg at Gemini G.E.L - 2

[ "Harry Smith's Birthday Party" -  2-color lithograph and screen print -   32 1/4 x 24 1/2 - limited edition for Gemini G.E.L, Los Angeles, by Allen Ginsberg, 1998]

["The Ballad of The Skeletons"  - 4-color screenprint - 29 7/8" x 35 1/2" -limited edition for Gemini G.E.L, Los Angeles. by Allen Ginsberg, 1998]

from an interview with Steve Silberman, 1996 

..And (then)  a series of lithographs I did at the Gemini G.E.L - a great, very elegant printing establishment in Los Angeles. I was there in residence for about a month-and-a-half this year, and produced six images which they'll make into a portfolio. One of them was an illustrated "Ballad of the Skeletons," which they made a special edition of 100. They cost $1,500 each, on this really good paper, with a signed edition and what not. So those are out, and there are five other images.

from an interview with William Turner

WT: You have just completed six prints for Gemini G.E.L. I don't recall having seen any graphic work before. Is this a new endeavor for you?
AG: I have done prints twice before. A portfolio with Nam June Paik, John Cage and two others, a portfolio to raise money for Nam June Paik's world broadcast of 1984 ["Good Morning, Mr Orwell'], and I did another through Nam June again, just one, with many artists. Nam June introduced to someone in Paris who liked my little Buddha sketches, so I did one.
Here I began getting a little more technical with collage, etc. The next thing I might do would be to make a photo-collage, like (Robert) Rauschenberg's, using my own photos [Editorial note - sadly, never completed].Maybe making a big assemblage of everybody connected and semi-connected with the various generations of the Beat Generation, using my own photos, collaging them together. I've seen a lot of assemblages like that, though usually they've got a lot of bad poets and they're not accurate. 
Sid [Sidney Felsen, director of Gemini] mentioned that he had been making some prints with Rauschenberg now composed only of photographs. I've done some collages before  but always overly orderly things with (William S) Burroughs popping up large.
WT: You obviously love to draw as well, and were intensely focused on your printmaking at Gemini, is another artistic career blossoming?
AG: I like writing better. It got a bit much between photography and music and operas and rock n' roll, (but) it's like a vacation. I can do it and not have to be around New York. 

"The Ballad of the Skeletons", it should be pointed out, represents not only a triumph by Allen Ginsberg but a triumph of collaboration. As Ruth Fine in  the National Gallery's Catalogue Raisonné has noted - ""The Ballad of the Skeletons" represents a complex and multifaceted world through a presentation of interwoven text and image. The handwritten poem gathers many polar viewpoints and is illustrate with an aggregate of drawings contributed by nine artists representing many different styles. This collective spirit, celebrating art as the product of multiple imaginations, viewpoints and sensibilities revealed in the same entity, ehoes the spirit and substance of the Gemini workshop."
Contributers to "The Ballad of the Skeletons" include George Condo, Julian Schnabel, Hiro Yamagata, Wim Wenders, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, John Giorno, Steven Taylor and Raymond Foye.    

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Allen Ginsberg at Gemini G.E.L - 1

Allen Ginsberg during his proofing session at Gemini--in the artist studio, July 24, 1996
[Allen Ginsberg at Gemini G.E.L artists studio, Los Angeles, July 24, 1996 - Photograph by Sidney B Felsen]

Some weeks back we put up a post about Allen's artistic hand with signed editions, with book inscriptions, but, as we noted there (or did we?), that was just the tip of the iceberg. In 1996 in the very last year of his life, in L.A., he became feverishly engaged, for a while, at Gemini G.E.L, Sidney Felsen and Sidney Grinstein's legendary artist's lithograph workshop, and produced six extraordinary images (limited editions). Here are four of them (the other two we'll post tomorrow)

["Untitled 1" ,1998 - Allen Ginsberg - 2-color lithograph and screenprint, 23" x 28 1/2" - limited edition]

["Untitled 2", 1998 - Allen Ginsberg - 7 color lithograph and screenprint , 23" x 28 1/2" - limited edition]

["Untitled 3", 1998 - Allen Ginsberg - 6 color lithograph and screenprint , 30 1/3" x 23 1/4" - limited edition]

["Untitled 3", 1998 - Allen Ginsberg - 4 color lithograph and screenprint , 23" x 28 1/2" - limited edition]

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 205

Allen Ginsberg, 1959. Photo: Joe Rosenthal / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES
[Allen Ginsberg in 1959 - Photograph by Joe Rosenthal for the San Francisco Chronicle]

"Baby-faced Allen Ginsberg revealed" is the headline. At the end of last year, staff archivist Steve Cooney went looking through the voluminous archives of the San Francisco Chronicle and came up with this shot (see above) from a series of photo-negatives that had been maintained but had never actually run in the paper - "I struck gold", he declared. "The contrast between the cleanshaven Ginsberg with a full head of hair quite conservative in length and his more familiar rabbinical hippie image shined a light on the changes in social mores that the Beat Generation helped to ignite."

The "more familiar rabbinical hippie image"?- something like this, perhaps?

or this?

Ginsberg on Blake. We've drawn attention, on numerous occasions, to the remarkable 1969-70 MGM recordings. Our good friends at Open Culture recently did the same to those materials - here  

and Ginsberg-on-the-web - Ginsberg on Whitman - Allen's essay, "Taking A Walk Through Leaves of Grass" (that was originally published in 1991 in The Teachers and Writers Guide to Walt Whitman) was recently re-published on the Academy for American Poets site 

Caught in a somewhat noisy Wisconsin diner, Ginsberg biographer Michael Schumacher holds forth with some book news (he also speaks of his memories of waking up in New York City in Allen's apartment next to a  larger-than-life David Cronenberg mugwump, and some recollected Allen Ginsberg-William Burroughs banter over Allen's depiction in Cronenberg's filmed version of  Burroughs' Naked Lunch)

"I've just finished editing a "greatest hits" collection, so to speak, the best of his poetry, the best of his essays, interviews, just about everything, even his photographs, and it was a great project, I was happy to do it, and it'll be out by his publisher, HarperCollins here pretty soon, a couple of months [The Essential Ginsberg - a brand new trade paperback, will be published by HarperCollins under their Harper Perennial imprint, publication date has been announced as May 25]

AAA - Alan Ansen anniversary today. For more on Alan Ansen - see here

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meditation and Poetics - 35 - Reznikoff 7

Doing this produced tremendous clouds of steam. Getting the towel half dry took forever.

"A young negro is bending over a pressing machine/ in the tailor's shop on the corner/the white steam rising into his face" 

Well that's, more or less, mostly, what I mean by something seen in a moment of inattention, or open-mindedness (that is, attention to what's there, but inattention to… there's no purpose, no purposeful attention, just open mind), something seen that within itself has elements of magic (the white steam rising into the negro's face) but something that you would not necessarily be able to figure out is a poem until it recurred maybe several days later, or an hour later. You would have seen it and then the image would have returned to your mind.

 In the process of sitting meditation such images do recur often, nameless pictures, pictures that have no name and no attachment, sort of unborn pictures, that is, pictures once seen that have no particular interpretative meaning, and yet have a kind of clarity that makes them, so to speak, eternal, in that they'll recur over and over and over, until your death bed. Very often in sitting, a number of very early traumatic scenes will arise that you don't count as part of your official history but which are definitely a part of it, which return and recur over and over, as life reveals itself, as you get older and realize that they were actually early determining traumatic fixation moments. During sitting (or any other moment of inattention as well as sitting) they'll likely rise, and it's a question of recognizing them, (not necessarily getting attached to them, but just recognizing them), and realizing that they're being offered to you to appreciate and make use of, if you want, for aesthetic purposes (that is as a picture, or a haiku, or a poem). It's the other parts of your mind that you're not intending that are poetry. It's sort of the.. what rises on its own without your effort, what, naturally, rises because it's intrinsically exact and precise like - "A young negro is bending over a pressing machine in the tailor's shop on the corner/The white steam rising into his face" - It's something Reznikoff must have seen once or twice but was so clear.

 So why didn't he make a big poem out of it? Well, he made a little poem out of it. Because,  at this point in American mentality, American poetic mentality, it was just the beginning of time, the beginning time of just trying to explore mind itself, explore natural, simple, straightforward, direct poetics. There was an argument between (William Carlos) Williams and (Ezra) Pound. Pound said, "I'm interested in the finished aesthetic product. You're only interested in the raw material - and (so)  you're not a real poet, you're just interested in the raw material, you're just collecting a lot of raw material". And Williams wrote him back and said, "Absolutely, yes, that's it, that's it, I have no idea what poetry is, I have no pre-conceived notion, I'm just collecting. I'm observing mind, observing speech, observing the raw material, collecting specimens of raw material, like a scientist, collecting specimens. Perhaps some later generation will be able to make use of these. Perhaps they will be of some importance, as indicators, or sign-posts, or helpful experiments for a later generation, but it will take many many generations for America to develop its own poetics, that is, making the break from English poetics and standard (conventional) metric meter. It will take many generations for America to evolve its own forms of poetry and its own poetic mind, as distinct from the already-developed English poetic mind." So Williams was just interested in gathering specimens, and all these folks were just interested in "isolate flecks", as he says, "isolate flecks" [Editorial note - The phrase is, of course, from Williams' "To Elsie"]. So they were all doing the same thing around the same time. If this (Reznikoff) is 1934, if you look at Williams around that time you'll get some similar thing.