Tuesday, May 13, 2008

1 Orange for Frank O'Hara

While 12 Oranges For Frank O’Hara was inspired by the O’Hara poem "Why I am not a Painter," each painting itself references one of the poems from O’Hara’s "Oranges: 12 Pastoral"

O’Hara, an influential New York city poet and curator at the Museum of Modern Art, collaborated with many artists in his lifetime including Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers and Franz Kline. These pieces are also an homage to those literary-visual collaborations.

The Poem:

Why I am not a Painter
by Frank O’Hara

I AM not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

For instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink’
he says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters. “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems. I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mikes’ painting, called SARDINES.

The Poems:

Oranges: 12 Pastorals by Frank O'Hara

More about Frank O'Hara

Modern American Poetry

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