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Mixed MessagesAmerican Correspondences in Visual and Verbal Practices$
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Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784991500

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784991500.001.0001

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‘Twenty-six things at once’: pragmatic perspectives on Frank O’Hara and Norman Bluhm’s Poem-Paintings

‘Twenty-six things at once’: pragmatic perspectives on Frank O’Hara and Norman Bluhm’s Poem-Paintings

Chapter:
(p.85) 5 ‘Twenty-six things at once’: pragmatic perspectives on Frank O’Hara and Norman Bluhm’s Poem-Paintings
Source:
Mixed Messages
Author(s):

Catherine Gander

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784991500.003.0006

Created over a couple of Sunday mornings in the Fall of 1960, the twenty-six collaborative Poem-Paintings of the artist Norman Bluhm and the poet Frank O'Hara represent what Bluhm later called a spontaneous ‘conversation’ between the painter and the poet. In this essay, Catherine Gander adopts a number of pragmatist positions to reconsider these overlooked works as essential examples of verbal-visual interaction that extend their ‘conversation’ to greet and involve us in a relationship that is at once interpersonal, integrated, and embodied. The works, Gander argues, constitute what John Dewey terms ‘art as experience’; in their back and forth exchange of verbal and visual gesture, abstraction and denotation, the Poem-Paintings are the ‘cumulative continuity’ of ‘the process of living’, dramatising the shifting, spontaneous and multiple dimensions of interpersonal conversation, and in so doing, indicating a new path toward interconnective and equal exchange between word and image.

Keywords:   Norman Bluhm, Frank O’Hara, Poem paintings, Pragmatist aesthetics, Somaesthetics, Embodiment

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