We’ve all had those head-thumping moments—coming up with the crushing argument when our adversary is long gone, remembering the ingredient left out of the casserole, the part that should have been done or installed before the part just finished with. Many such omissions are fixable, even if at some cost or inconvenience. But imagine writing a book that’s supposed to cover all examples of your subject, and only learning of the ones you’ve missed after it’s printed and bound and in readers’ hands.
Well, I’ve done it twice now. In my preface to The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers—which I’d endeavored to make as comprehensive as possible, identifying more than 260 writer-artists and reproducing more than 400 images of their work–I’d presciently acknowledged that “with new writer-artists appearing every day, it was out of date the day it was published.” But I little suspected that not two months after it had gone to the printer I would be inundated with names of writer-artists whom I’d failed to unearth in decades of research. How could I have left out Joseph Brodsky and John Ashbery and Annie Proulx and Annie Dillard and dozens of other great writers who were also visual artists?
Such omissions were happily, if only partially, remedied by inclusion in two exhibitions—the largest shows of writer-art ever mounted–which were documented in a catalogue that is now available in every university library in America. A gallery which will be an open-ended repository for both known and newly-identified writer-artists has been set up on this site. In subsequent blogs I will write about and show the art of omitted writer-artists and I invite you to contribute the names of any you may know of.