Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute. William S. Burroughs shot his wife. Antoni Gaudí died in a pauper’s hospital. Paul Gauguin, of syphilis awaiting a prison sentence. Virginia Woolf walked into the sea with a pocket full of rocks. Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven. Pablo Picasso was a notorious womanizer. Marcel Proust, a sickly aesthete.
Defined not just by their works, but by the transferability of their lives to tale, the artist is a mythic figure in our cultural imagination. Savvy to the advantages of achieving the status of a legend, many artists have constructed personas that perform the personal. Many artists, too, have worked in a diaristic or confessional mode, and many have been made the subject of narration from outside sources.
What happens when an artist’s personal history becomes a part of their work, whether through biography or autobiography? The Drawing Center’s exhibition Unica Zürn: Dark Spring serves as stage to the discussion of the various ways an artist’s life is presented alongside their work and how that context can influence our relationship to their art. Colleen Asper moderates the panel, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Featuring Jenifer P. Borum, Patricia Cronin, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Gail Levin.
JENIFER P. BORUM is an adjunct instructor at NYU. She holds a Master's Degree in Art History and Criticism from SUNY at Stony Brook, an MFA in Fiction from NYU's Creative Writing Program, and is currently a PhD Candidate in Art History at CUNY's Graduate Center. She contributes regularly to Artforum, Raw Vision, and Folk Art Magazine, and has authored essays for: Souls Grown Deep Vol. I: African American Vernacular Art of the South; Sacred and Profane: Voice and Vision in Southern Self-Taught Art; and Folk Erotica: Celebrating Centuries of Erotic Americana.
PATRICIA CRONIN's paintings, sculptures and installations have been exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe, and she is the author of Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found, A Catalogue Raisonné, published by Charta (Milan) this fall. Cronin is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and the Grand Arts Artist Grant. Her first solo museum exhibition, Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found, is being mounted by the Brooklyn Museum from June 5, 2009 through January 24, 2010. She an Associate Professor of Art at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York.
WAYNE KOESTENBAUM has published five books of poetry: Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Model Homes, The Milk of Inquiry, Rhapsodies of a Repeat Offender, and Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems. He has also published a novel, Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes, and five books of nonfiction: Andy Warhol,Cleavage, Jackie Under My Skin, The Queen's Throat (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Double Talk. His newest book, Hotel Theory, a hybrid of fiction and nonfiction, was published in 2007. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center, and also a Visiting Professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art.
GAIL LEVIN is Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women's Studies at The Graduate Center and Baruch College of The City University of New York. She is author of many books including Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography and Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist. She is currently completing a biography of the artist Lee Krasner, whom she knew well.