Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror:

A Tribute to John Ashbery (1927-2017)

Currently on view

Exhibition Overview

This artist book highlights the Pulitzer-prize winning work of poet John Ashbery who died in September of 2017.

Published by Arion Press in 1984, this artist book is a collaboration between Ashbery, eight artists, and master-printer Andrew Hoyem. 

Its distinctive circular shape echoes the poem’s inspiration – a round self-portrait by Italian painter Parmigianino (1503-1540).


Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1984, Arion Press, San Francisco, author: John Ashbery, artists: Jim Dine, Alex Katz, Larry Rivers, Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, R.B. Kitaj, and Jane Freilicher, Four lithographs, one offset lithograph, one woodcut, one etching with aquatint, one photogravure with hand additions, and one record; housed in a stainless steel canister, 53/175, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Gift of Isabel Ehrlich Goodman and Charles F. Goodman 90.18.39a-oo.

This type of book is referred to as “shaped poetry”—one in which a poem is printed on a shape appropriate to its content. Hoyem’s ingenious use of this literary convention for Ashbery’s poem includes one final addition: a vinyl record with a recording of the author reading his poem.  

Museum visitors can listen to the recording in the gallery.


Alex Katz, American, b. 1927, Untitled from Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery, 1984, published by Arion Press, Metal plate lithography, 53/175, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Gift of Isabel Ehrlich Goodman and Charles F. Goodman 90.18.39mm © Alex Katz
 

 

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