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John Giorno

painting with text reading

John Giorno (1936-2019) was an American poet and visual artist. From his studio on the Bowery, where he lived and worked for over fifty years, Giorno’s practice grew beyond poetry to encompass film, painting, sound installation and much more. He began staging multimedia events alongside Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable in the 1960s, when he also worked with Robert Rauschenberg’s Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) (1966) and with Bob Moog (1967-68). An early pioneer of recorded spoken word projects, he founded the nonprofit Giorno Poetry Systems in 1965, which produced albums with hundreds of artists and poets. Giorno is best known for his interactive telephone work “Dial-A-Poem,” first presented in 1968, which invited people to call into a dedicated line to hear poems from live recordings by Laurie Anderson, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, and numerous others. Included in Kynaston McShine’s watershed exhibition “Information” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, “Dial-A-Poem” has gone on to several subsequent influential iterations in both analog and digital worlds. Giorno’s earliest silkscreened works, first exhibited around this time, reconcile Buddhist spiritual texts with a Pop sensibility. His well-known text paintings of recent decades, executed in the trademark font Mark Michaelson developed for him in 1984, feature curt and contradictory messages excerpted from his poetry.

Giorno’s legendary influence as an artist, poet and performer was recently celebrated in the expansive retrospective project “Ugo Rondinone, I ♥ John Giorno,” presented at the Palais de Tokyo in 2015 and at 13 venues across New York in 2017. Other recent exhibitions include “You Got to Burn to Shine,” Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome (2019); “Call and Response: Recent Acquisitions from The Bass Collection,” The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2017); “Artists and Poets,” Secession, Vienna (2015); and “Ecstatic Alphabets / Heaps of Language,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012). Giorno is represented in major collections including The Museum of Modern Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg; Pérez Art Museum Miami; and Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.


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John Giorno

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
56 x 56 inches (142,2 x 142,2 cm)
SW 18129

Red painting with yellow text

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches (101,6 x 101,6 cm)
SW 19198

Purple painting with brown text

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches (101,6 x 101,6 cm)
SW 19004

Rainbow painting with white text

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
56 x 56 inches (142,2 x 142,2 cm)
SW 18140

John Giorno

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
56 x 56 inches (142,2 x 142,2 cm)
SW 18130

purple watercolor with text

John Giorno
cobalt violet on paper
20 1/8 x 20 1/8 inches (51,2 x 51,2 cm)
23 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (59,7 x 59,7 cm) frame
SW 19058

black canvas with text

John Giorno
acrylic on canvas
48 x 48 inches (121,9 x 121,9 cm)
SW 19007

Artist press

Artforum logo
John Giorno: 1936–2019
by Laura Hoptman
18 February 2020
The Brooklyn Rail logo
John Giorno: DO THE UNDONE
by Robert C. Morgan
October 2019
T Magazine logo
John Giorno on His Most Precious Possession
by Emily Spivack
14 October 2019
New York Times logo
John Giorno, Who Moved Poetry Beyond the Printed Page, Dies at 82
by Randy Kennedy
13 October 2019
ARTnews logo
John Giorno Joins Sperone Westwater
by Andrew Russeth
29 November 2018
Paris Review logo
I ♥ John Giorno and So Should You
by Chantal McStay
29 August 2017
Artsy logo
Why Everyone Loves Poet, Warhol Muse, and Underground Hero John Giorno
by Alexxa Gotthardt
20 July 2017
New York Times logo
John Giorno’s New Show in Paris Was Organized by His Life Partner
by Ted Loos
27 October 2015
The Brooklyn Rail logo
Promiscuous Compassion: John Giorno with Jarrett Earnest
by Jarrett Earnest
April 2015
Sperone Westwater logo
Press Kit