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In 1961, an art dealer and gallery director named John Bernard Myers came up with an umbrella name to categorize and promote the group of young writers he was publishing as part of a series. From then on, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett, Joe Brainard and many others became part of the New York School of poets, a label that stuck hard.
The New York School poets were literary twins to Myers’ other progeny, a group of artists, many of them abstract expressionists, that included Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Fairfield Porter, Grace Hartigan and Jane Freilicher. Myers organized their art shows at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in midtown Manhattan, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
To celebrate, the gallery has mounted a group retrospective that pays homage to the exceptionally creative and collaborative community that Myers helped foster and produce. Artists and poets not only influenced each other, they worked together directly, designing chapbooks and creating works of art that combined painting with poetics.
“Tibor de Nagy Gallery Painters and Poets” is currently on show through March 5, 2011.
Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Brown talked to poet John Ashbery in 2007. Click here to watch that segment.