John Ashbury Collects

Article re-posed from here 

ART & DESIGN

‘John Ashbery Collects’: ‘Poet Among Things’

A re-creation of “Reading Room,” with works by Jane Freilicher, Edwin Dickinson and Joan Mitchell, at Loretta Howard. CreditThomas Müeller/Loretta Howard Gallery

GALLERIES2-superJumbo 2Loretta Howard Gallery

525-531 West 26th Street, Chelsea

Through Nov. 2

The poet John Ashbery has tight connections to art. He wrote about it professionally for years. Recently, he’s been producing it at quite a clip. (He’s had two shows of collages at Tibor de Nagy Gallery.) He’s been collecting it pretty much all his life. Loretta Howard Gallery, working with two poet-curators, Adam Fitzgerald and Emily Skillings, has arranged an unusually interesting sales format. With the aid of painted scenes by the artist Matthew Thurber, they’ve installed some dozen works in a gallery environment that simulates the interior of his Victorian home in upstate New York.

To devotees of his critical writing — his “Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957-1987” is, for some of us, a staple reference — the show will have a familiar logic. Many of the artists are, or have been, his friends, soul mates and muses. Jane Freilicher, with two transcendently no-nonsense floral still lifes in the show, is all of these, as is the whimsical rigorist Trevor Winkfield. It’s great to see work by Joe Brainard (1942-94), with whom Mr. Ashbery once collaborated, and by Archie Rand, a co-worker in the present. Mr. Rand deserves more attention than the art world gives him, as does Mark Tobey, whose ethereal 1954 painting “World dust” is a peak moment here.

They are in stiff company with the likes of Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Shirley Goldfarb, Joan Mitchell, Edwin Dickinson, Joseph Cornell (six collages!) and that Caravaggio of so-called outsider artists, Henry Darger. Two portraits of Mr. Ashbery, one by Fairfield Porter, the other by Alex Katz, are not for sale. Nor are three classic 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints. Nor (I think) are various books (well-thumbed copies of Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Ronald Firbank) from Mr. Ashbery’s library, or atmospheric bric-a-brac — vintage toys, ceramic pots, Staffordshire pooches — from his house. It’s a comfort, really, to know that, once the show’s over, they’ll be returning home, to resume their roles in an art-filled life that has been so much, and so movingly, of a piece.

Correction: October 29, 2013 

An art review on Friday about “John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things,” at the Loretta Howard Gallery in Manhattan, referred incorrectly to Mr. Ashbery’s art holdings. He is not in fact in the process of deaccessioning some of them. The review also misstated the source of the artworks that are for sale. They are from various galleries, artists and private collections — not from Mr. Ashbery’s personal collection. And a picture caption with the review, using information from the gallery, carried an erroneous credit. The picture of a re-creation of the “Reading Room” is by Thomas Müeller/Loretta Howard Gallery — not by Fairfield Porter and John Ashbery/The Flow Chart Foundation and Hirschl & Adler.

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