The Writer’s Brush: The Exhibition

“Offers a delicious peek into the artistic pursuits of some eighty authors, from John Ashbery and Djuna Barnes to Günter Grass and Sylvia Plath. There are more than a hundred and ninety works, some by familiar visual thinkers like Henri Michaux and James Thurber, others by sleepers like Jonathan Lethem (whose colorful little paintings have a neo-expressionist zing). Most take up no more space than a desk corner, but otherwise they vary wildly, from a misty, wistful watercolor of the lake at Coole Park, by William Butler Yeats, to an appropriately fanciful zebra-tiger sketched in ink, by Jorge Luis Borges.”
The New Yorker

“Shows you how fertile imaginations are a fount of many creative streams.”
The Boston Globe

“A monumental show”


The historic exhibition of 190 paintings, drawings, and sculpture by 90 of the world's most celebrated writers—poets and playwrights, essayists and humorists, mystery writers and memoirists-opened September 13, 2007 (the release date for The Writer’s Brush) at Anita Shapolsky Gallery, New York. and at Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge, on December 15,2007. The show was co-curated by me and John Wronosky, owner of Lame Duck Books and the Pierre Menard Gallery.

Gathering writer-art from private collections and public treasures, the exhibit included works by among others: Victor Hugo, William Butler Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, Federico Garcia Lorca, Aldous Huxley, Vladimir Nabokov, Gunter Grass, Derek Walcott, Louise Gluck, Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski, Djuna Barnes, Jorge Luis Borges, Susan Minot, Mark Strand, Richard Wilbur, Donald Justice, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Julian Beck, Weldon Kees, E.E. Cummings, Charles Simic, Mina Loy, and Jonathan Lethem. Five Nobel Prize winners, six Poet Laureates of the United States, and innumerable Pulitzer and National Book Award winners were represented. (See list of exhibitors below.)

There is a beautiful, hardbound catalog of the show, with a preface by me and an afterword by John, biographies by both of us, and an introduction by famed novelist and art critic, Joseph McElroy. The catalog was produced in a limited edition, for placement in university libraries, and not for sale to the general public. A small number of copies remain and anyone interested in acquiring one should contact me.

CBS Sunday Morning covered the exhibition with an interview of me, and added additional interviews about their art with Kurt Vonnegut, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Susan Minot.

The Swiss cable/internet TV network, Vernissage TV’s video of the opening reception may be seen here.

For some still shots of the reception and of the art, check out Roberta On the Arts website.

Alphabetical List of Artists:

Walter Abish
Rafael Alberti,
Roberta Allen
A.R. Ammons
Roberto Arlt
John Ashbery
Enid Bagnold
Amiri Baraka
Djuna Barnes
Julian Beck
Andrei Bely
Elizabeth Bishop
Jorge L.Borges
Breyten Breytenbach
Joseph Brodsky
Charles Bukowski,
Gelett Burgess
David Burliuk
William S. Burroughs,
Josef Capek
Tom Clark
Daniel Clowes
Jean Cocteau
Norma Cole
Morris Cox
Douglas Coupland
Jim Crace
E.E. Cummings
Henry Darger
Dillard, Annie
J.P. Donleavy, J.P.
Rikki Ducornet
Robert Duncan
Lawrence Durrell
Russell Edson, Russell
Jules Feiffer
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
FedericoGarcia Lorca
Kahlil Gibran
Louise Glück
Alasdair Gray
Allen Ginsberg
Gunter Grass
Brion Gysin
Hermann Hesse
Jack Hirschman
Maxine Hong Kingston,
Charles Henri Ford
Susan Howe
Georges Hugnet
Victor Hugo
Aldous Huxley
Tama Janowitz
Charles Johnson
Donald Justice
Anna Kaven
Weldon Kees
Ken Kesey
Jack Kerouac
Bill Knott
Alfred Kubin
Jonathan Lethem
Mina Loy
Robert Marshall
Clarence Major
Henri Michaux
Henry Miller
Susan Minot
Bradford Morrow
Walter Mosley
Hugh Nissenson
Clifford Odets
Kenneth Patchen
Sylvia Plath
Annie Proulx
Beatrix Potter
James Purdy
Kenneth Rexroth
MacLarren Ross
Peter Sacks
William Saroyan,
Maurice Sendak
Charles Simic
Iris Smiles
William J. Smith
Ralph Steadman
Mark Strand
Igor Terentiev
James Thurber
Josef Vachal
Kurt Vonnegut
Keith Waldrop
Derek Walcott
Rosanna Warren
Lewis Warsh
Marjorie Welish
Denton Welch
Richard Wilbur
Tennessee Williams
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy)
Unica Zürn