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  • Blue Eyes by Rene Ricard

Blue Eyes by Rene Ricard

Petersburg Press

Oil on Paper


Sheet Size: 40 x 26.5 inches


Condition: Pristine

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Typically moody, unusually minimalist, this abstract Rene Ricard painting in blue, yellow, and green features a short poem: “Blue Eyes / When I go to sleep / my eyes turn black.” The words seem to sink slowly into a gazing pool of cobalt: one could be tempted to slip into the opaque water of Ricard’s inner world.

Ricard’s confessional hand-painted and hand-written poetry is almost always accompanied by the artist’s outsized signature, integrated into the composition, or placed flamboyantly at its center. Here, his initials are painted in green: the cover of his first book Trusty Sarcophagus Co. was styled after a Tiffany’s catalogue and the artist favored the company’s iconic hue.

Gouache, marker and ink
Paper 40 x 26.5 in. /101.5 x 67 cm
White finished poplar frame 45.5 x 32 x 2 in. / 114.3 x 85 x 5 cm with 2 in. moulding
Signed “R.R.” lower right.

Ricard was a poet and art critic who published numerous books of poetry, and his increasing use of text in his work over the 1980’s reflects this interest in the written word. Ricard’s confessional poetry is often handwritten over spontaneous drawings. Ricard’s confidence (and his 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.”

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.

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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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