Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Joe Brainard Archive
MSS 0005  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (116.52 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Brainard, Joe, 1942-
    Title: Joe Brainard Archive,
    Date (inclusive): 1960-1992
    Extent: 32.20 linear feet (8 archives boxes, 59 art bin items and 88 oversize folders)
    Abstract: Materials collected by Robert Butts consisting primarily of diverse works by and regarding the popular New York artist and writer Joe Brainard (1942-1994). Brainard was the author of fifteen books of writing, the illustrator of numerous other books produced by members of the New York School, and a celebrated graphic artist whose work covered a broad range of sizes, styles and media. The Joe Brainard Archive consists of numerous examples of Brainard's graphic work dating from 1962 to 1979, most of the books illustrated by Brainard, all of Brainard's manuscripts and published writings, notebooks for Brainard's I REMEMBER series and several other books, Brainard's correspondence with members of the Butts family and correspondence to Brainard from Ned Rorem and Virgil Thompson, checklists of Brainard's artistic production constructed by Robert Butts, and a selection of articles devoted to Brainard's career. In addition to the Brainard materials, the Joe Brainard Archive also includes several lithographs by Alex Katz (b. 1927), an oil painting by Tom Clark, and a few ink sketches by poets Ron Padgett and Allen Ginsberg. There are also manuscripts of Ted Berrigan, Tom Clark and Rudy Kikel, in addition to broadsides and books written by New York School writers such as John Ashbery, Edwin Denby, and Kenneth Koch. The accessions processed in 1991 contain primarily original artworks by Joe Brainard in collaborations with Bill Berkson and Kenward Elmslie, including THE BABY BOOK (1965). Also included are correspondence, manuscript materials and photographs. The accession processed in 1993 comprises 16 letters and postcards from Joe Brainard to Robert Butts and one print by Andy Warhol.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0005
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Joe Brainard Archive, MSS 0005. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Biography

    Born in Arkansas in 1942 and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brainard moved to New York City in 1961. There, he quickly developed friendships with Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Bill Berkson, Barbara Guest, and other participants in the New York School. The large number of collaborative works in the collection, as well as the many illustrations Brainard did for books by others, reflect the sense of community shared by these artists.
    Brainard's achievement, however, is remarkable quite aside from his many associations. Brainard harmonized linguistic and visual materials in extraordinary ways. His graphic work is notably literary, often incorporating words and sentences into non-literary designs. Such qualities prompted Frank O'Hara to say that Brainard's work had "nothing to do with philosophy, it's all art." Both the art work and writing is full of information and frequently takes erotic and semiotic risks. In one of his more scandalous serial works, Brainard subjected Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy to every imaginable erotic and high art situation.
    A prolific artist, Brainard's work has been exhibited extensively in the New York City area since the early 1960s. His first retrospective show, consisting of work from 1960-1970, took place at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago in 1970. In the mid-1970s he created over 3,000 miniature collages, paintings, and drawings for a major show at the Fischbach Gallery in Manhattan. The materials gathered in the Joe Brainard Archive were first exhibited at the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1980. In 1986 they were again exhibited at UCSD.
    Like Joe Brainard, Alex Katz is a New York City artist. He has given numerous solo shows since the early 1960s, and many of his works have been added to numerous public art collections throughout the country. Unlike Brainard, Katz has created a depthless, planar art which strips the visual image of its narrative, literary aura. The result, as one critic has noted, is an image of a reality that is of no consequence.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accession Processed in 1987
    The Joe Brainard Archive contains approximately 300 examples of Brainard's art work as well as book and cover illustrations, manuscripts, and published writings, all dating from ca. 1960 to 1979. Primarily a study collection, the importance of the Joe Brainard Archive is in documenting the wide range, topical as well as technical, of Joe Brainard's artistic production over a twenty year period, ca. 1960-1979. The collection also includes several art works and many books by other notable artists and writers. These materials have been arranged in five series: 1) ARTWORK, 2) MANUSCRIPTS, 3) CORRESPONDENCE, 4) CATALOGS, and 5) BIBLIOGRAPHIES.
    SERIES 1: ARTWORK
    This series comprises 161 pieces of Brainard's graphic art and another 20 pieces, most by Alex Katz. Reflecting the many styles, dimensions, and media with which Brainard experimented during his career, these works include collages (including many of the miniatures Brainard constructed for a show of his in work in 1975), oil and watercolor abstractions, graphite portraits of several well known writers, original cover art for books by Ted Berrigan and John Ashbery, and the original art work for numerous "comic strips" done in collaboration with various writers.
    SERIES 2: MANUSCRIPTS
    The MANUSCRIPTS series, arranged chronologically, includes the notebooks and original manuscripts for nine books of writing by Brainard. Several manuscripts by Ted Berrigan, Tom Clark, Philip Gambone, and Rudy Kikel are also included.
    SERIES 3: CORRESPONDENCE
    The CORRESPONDENCE series consists primarily of letters from Joe Brainard to Robert Butts. In addition, there are letters from Ned Rorem and Virgil Thompson to Brainard, and letters from Ron Padgett, John Giorno, Larry Fagin, and others to Robert Butts.
    SERIES 4: CATALOGS
    Catalogs for Brainard and Alex Katz exhibitions comprise the CATALOGS series. Also included are numerous reviews of Katz's work.
    SERIES 5: BIBLIOGRAPHIES
    Various checklists constructed by Robert Butts and documenting Brainard's production since 1961 are contained in series five, BIBLIOGRAPHIES.
    SEPARATION NOTE
    Books and journals received in the 1984 accession of the Joe Brainard Archive have been separated from the collection and added elsewhere to the library's holdings. To identify and list these items, conduct an author search in ROGER on the term "Butts, Robert, former owner."
    Accessions Processed in 1991
    The accessions to the Joe Brainard Archive processed in 1991 contain originals of artwork by Joe Brainard for collaborations with Bill Berkson and Kenward Elmslie, and correspondence related to Robert Butts' projects. The materials are arranged in four series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) ARTWORK, 3) MANUSCRIPTS, and 4) PHOTOGRAPHS.
    SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
    The CORRESPONDENCE series includes letters from Bill Berkson to Robert Butts concerning publication of his book "Serenade" and correspondence from Joe Brainard. The materials date between 1986 and 1987 and are organized alphabetically by correspondent.
    SERIES 2: ARTWORK
    The ARTWORK series contains original drawings by Joe Brainard for three collaborative works with Bill Berkson and THE BABY BOOK with Kenward Elmslie. Also included are original art by Brainard for miscellaneous poetry readings and flyers. The materials are arranged alphabetically by title.
    SERIES 3: MANUSCRIPTS
    The MANUSCRIPTS series contains photocopies of proofs for Bill Berkson's "Cnidus, August 4th."
    SERIES 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
    An excellent portrait of Joe Brainard by photographer Elizabeth Hathon is located in the PHOTOGRAPHS series. Also included are color transparencies of an eight-piece exhibit entitled "The Gang of Eight."
    Accession Processed in 1993
    The 1993 accession of the Joe Brainard Archive comprises 16 letters and postcards from Joe Brainard to Robert Butts, most of which are birthday or holiday greetings. Also included is a print by Andy Warhol.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Brainard, Joe, 1942- -- Archives
    American poetry -- 20th century
    Gay men -- United States -- Poetry
    Gay men -- United States -- Biography
    Gay's writings
    Gay men in art
    Prose poems, American
    Photographs -- 1964-1990.
    Cartoons -- United States -- 20th Century.
    Lithographs -- 1960-1969.
    Lithographs -- 1970-1979.
    Collages -- 1960-1969.
    Collages -- 1970-1979.
    Oil paintings -- 1960-1969.
    Oil paintings -- 1979-1979.
    Watercolor drawings -- 1960-1969.
    Watercolor drawings -- 1970-1979.
    Lithographs -- 1960-1969 -- Color.

    Contributors

    Brainard, Joe, 1942- , -- correspondent
    Berkson, Bill, -- correspondent
    Thomson, Virgil, 1896- -- correspondent
    Greenwald, Ted, -- correspondent
    Fagin, Larry, -- correspondent
    Padgett, Ron, -- correspondent
    Brainard, Joe, 1942-
    Brainard, Joe, 1942- -- artist
    Clark, Tom, 1941- -- artist
    Katz, Alex, 1927- -- artist
    Padgett, Ron, -- artist
    Berrigan, Ted
    Kikel, Rudy, 1943-