Picking Up With Poetry




Rene Ricard rarely ventures out of his Hotel Chelsea apartment for public appearances, but when he does, the art world shows up, as they did this weekend for the “Oil Kills Poets Spill” poetry reading at New York Marble Cemetery in the East Village. Ricard read from “Daddy’s Hand,”a new work, at the Saturday afternoon event organized by poet/artist Stefan Bondell to comment on the BP oil spill. Francesco Clemente, Chiara Clemente, Mirabelle Marden, Josh Lucas, and Olivier Sarkozy, Jessica Stam, were among the hundreds who watched as poets Stella Schnabel, John Giorno, Jonas Mekas, and Vito Acconci, among others, joined Bondell and Ricard in reading before a painting by Bondell.

Bondell’s painting, “Currentcy”—the visual equivalent of his masterful, intricate poem, “The Current Sea“—consisted of ink, oil and blood splattered on a canvas covered with over a million dollar bills (removed from circulation by the Federal Reserve).






Bondell, who studied at Wesleyan University and has read at Bowery Poetry Club, St. Mark’s Church, La MaMa “and all the usual suspects in New York” said that “this year I will release my first body of work of poetry and paintings, which I’ve been working on for the past decade, in a book and an exhibit.”  He described the theme as “the theory of emotional relativity.”

The event, which benefited the Endangered Species Coalition, was the second annual Marble Cemetery reading hosted by Bondell, whose theme last year was “Pax Americana.” And how did Bondell meet all these renowned poets, including Ricard?  “I’m a lucky boy,” he said.

Ricard’s new poem comprises a self-illustrated book which, he told us, “will be sold at my upcoming art opening at Schnabel’s gallery, whenever that may be.”  Ricard appeared in Andy Warhol’s films “Chelsea Girls” and “Kitchen” before writing the seminal 1981 essays for Artforum credited with launching Julian Schnabel’s (“Not about Julian Schnabel”) and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s (“The Radiant Child“) careers.

“The Radiant Child,” which Ricard told us “is in a collection of the ten greatest essays of the twentieth century” lends its title to Tamra Davis’ exquisite 2010 documentary on Basquiat, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.

Even less frequently than he appears in public does Ricard give interviews, so we were lucky to ask the art critic who discovered Basquiat about the first time he spotted one of the artist’s paintings.

“I met this young Swiss count in a discotheque and we went to his home and it was Maripol’s loft,” Ricard said.  “And there was this painting hanging in the bedroom.  I ended up calling my editor at Artforum and I said, ‘I found my new artist!’ and he said, ‘what is his name?’ I said ‘I don’t know.’

“But he had been writing them all over town [as Samo graf] so I found out and I went to visit [Basquiat] where he lived.  And I said, ‘Do you want to be the most famous painter in the world?’

“And he said, ‘Can you put me in the ring with Schnabel?'”

So although the setting was tweaked, he replied exactly as he did in Julian Schnabel’s film, Basquiat?

“Yes, exactly, and I told him I could,” Ricard said.  “And I did!