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Homage to Tibor de Nagy
Holland Cotter took to the Arts section of this morning’s New York Times to wax poetic about the gallery that gave us Larry Rivers, Frank O’Hara’s first book, and the irrepressible John Bernard Myers:
Rivers, for example, introduced Jane Freilicher, a recent convert from abstraction to still life and landscape painting, to the gallery, along with the magnetic O’Hara, who had a menial job at the Museum of Modern Art but was clearly on the ascent. O’Hara, in turn, brought in the poets John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch — the three had overlapped at Harvard — and eventually attracted a legion of young disciples, including Bill Berkson, Barbara Guest and Ron Padgett, to the scene.
And a scene it was: amorous, rivalrous and incestuous; at once an avant-garde and — much like the New York art world at present — an avant-garde in reverse. Poetry was pushing into prickly new territory, while art was revisiting old ground, although with some new moves. What made the situation at Tibor de Nagy distinctive was that almost everyone was collaborating, artists and poets alike.