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Ashes of Roses by Rene Ricard

Petersburg Press

Oil on Canvas


Sheet Size: 40 x 26.5 inches


Condition: Excellent

Details — Click to read

Ashes of Roses is a mauve-colored map of Rivington Street between Suffolk and Clinton Street, with a white arrow pointing to the word mofongo, indicating a Puerto Rican restaurant at that location. William Rand describes a lunch outing with Rene in 1989: “…Rene suggests we stroll over to Avenue B to eat cuchifritos. He orders in Spanish and the food is madly exotic to me. It is another world over there.” This painting is Rene’s culinary memento mori, contrasting the image of a beautiful blossom disintegrated, with the sensory delight of food.

Ashes of Roses 1989
acrylic and oilstick over silkscreen on Arches watercolor paper
40 x 26.5 in / 102 x 67 cm.
Signed ‘Rene Ricard 1990’
white wood frame

Exhibition history: Mal de Fin, 1990, Petersburg Gallery, New York.

As an author, Ricard’s increasing use of text in his work over the 1980’s reflects his interest in the written word. His confessional hand-painted and hand-written poetry is almost always accompanied by the artist’s outsized signature, integrated into the composition, or placed at its center, displaying the artist’s unabashed confidence and flamboyance. Here, he has signed his name on the lower edge in red.

This confidence (and Ricard’s bedroom-eyed allure) attracted the attention of Andy Warhol, and the young Rene (formerly Albert Napoleon Ricard) became his protege. He would appear in three Warhol films, even playing the Factory founder himself in “Andy Warhol Story”. Warhol would later call the famously acid-tongued Ricard “The George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world”, and close friend William Rand called the artist “the Baudelaire of Avenue C…a brilliant, elusive and glamorous underground figure.”

By the early 1980s, Rene Ricard was a fixture in the New York art scene, not only as an accomplished artist, but as a critic. Penning enlightening and poetic essays for Artforum, he turned his attention to rising stars such as Julian Schnabel and Alex Katz. Ricard famously wrote the first major article on Jean-Michel Basquiat. “The Radiant Child” is credited with launching Basquiat’s career, and is considered a seminal contemporary art essay.


The Artist

Rene Ricard

In the 1980s, he wrote a series of influential essays for Artforum magazine. Having achieved stature in the art world by successfully launching the career of painter Julian Schnabel, Ricard helped bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. In December 1981 he published the first major article on Basquiat, entitled “The Radiant Child,” in Artforum. Ricard also contributed art essays to numerous gallery and exhibition catalogs. Ricard was immortalized by Basquiat in the drawing entitled Rene Ricard / Axe, representing the tension that existed between the two. Andy Warhol called him “the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world.”

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