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  • David Shapiro by Rene Ricard

David Shapiro by Rene Ricard

Petersburg Press



Edition Size: 27

Sheet Size: 31 x 24.5 inches


Condition: Pristine

Details — Click to read

Lithograph on German Etching paper. Edition 27. Signed by the artist lower right in red pencil; numbered in pencil lower left.

The title of this poetic, abstract work is written across the top of the sheet. The hand-written cursive below reads: “David Shapiro / Told me he was going to / Carve his poems in stone / “That’s one way to make them lost” / I don’t have to / Rene Ricard”. A poet, art historian and art critic, David Shapiro was friends with Ricard, and a part of the 1980’s art scene in New York. Shapiro became famous briefly during the 1968 anti-Vietnam student uprising at Columbia University, when a photograph of him smoking a cigar behind the desk of the Columbia University president was published in Life magazine, and he became the face of the student protest movement.

Ricard was a poet and art critic who published numerous books of his poetry, and his increasing use of text in his work over the 1980’s reflects this interest in the written word. Here, Ricard playfully competed with fellow poet Shapiro, with Ricard signing his name across the lower center of the page — having the proverbial last word over Shapiro. The frame surrounding the poem is the inked up edge of the lithography stone (heavy, limestone slabs used to print lithographs) upon which the artist inscribed his emotionally-expressive cursive. The printed shape of the stone recurs frequently in Ricard’s work, here functioning as a pun (“carve his poems in stone”) and as a memento mori, a gravestone bearing the two poets’ names.

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 at its center. In David Shapiro, Ricard signed his name in the plate, and again on the paper in red pencil, displaying the artist’s unabashed confidence and flamboyance.


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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