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Gigi by Rene Ricard

Gigi by Rene Ricard

Petersburg Press

Colour Lithograph


Edition Size: 30

Sheet Size: 50 x 38 inches


Condition: Pristine

Details — Click to read

Lithograph on Folio Creme paper. Edition 30. Signed by the artist lower center. Numbered lower left in pencil; dated 1989 lower right in pencil.

While it is based on a movie poster, the composition of Gigi could double as a book cover, certainly not an accident given Ricard’s numerous published books and poems. Indeed, this lithograph was published in Ricard’s 1990 book of poetry Trusty Sarcophagus, next to the printed text of the poem.

Touched by the influence of Andy Warhol, champion of a young Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rene Ricard served as enfant terrible of the 1980s New York art scene. This red and black lithograph replicates the splashy red film title for the 1958 MGM film starring Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier. Based on a Colette novel, GiGi follows a plucky young Parisienne who captures the heart of a wealthy aristocrat. The title is written with bold red brushstrokes at the top of the sheet. Ricard changed the title from GiGi, to gigi, with the lowercase text and girlish handwriting evoking an archetypal young, innocent girl. Below the title, a poem printed in black reads: “gigi / When I / died they / discovered I / was still a / 13 yr. old / girl / Named Willy”. The loosely-drawn letters express a pensive emotion at odds with the urgent energy of the lipstick red painted title.

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. Here, Ricard’s signature is printed in bold iridescent ink, 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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