Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

The Writers Brush & Writers Who Paint:Aldus Huxley, William Butler Yeats, Tennessee Williams, Vonnegut, Borges…e. e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Clifford Odets, Kenneth Patchen

It's all the same urge, the same expression, the same message. Some day, it might come out graphically, another day, it'll come out in words. Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Snowed in in St. Louis, I turned on the TV and got a signal for the CBS Sunday Morning Show...seeing the last of a story of "The Writer's Brush:They Have A Way With Words, And With Paint,Too" commenting on a new book and comprehensive exhibition by Donald Friedman. You can read the story on-line which begins:

(CBS) The surprise isn't that there are writers who paint, it's how many writers paint.

Would you believe Aldous Huxley, the author of "Brave New World"; the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats; and playwright Tennessee Williams who actually sold his paintings.

Donald Friedman is a lawyer-turned-writer who recently put together the most comprehensive exhibition ever of paintings by writers. He's also just published a book called "The Writer's Brush."

"What we have here is the work of five Nobel laureates, five United States poet laureates, and more Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning writers than I could count," he told Martha Teichner.

"They found enormous pleasure in the act of painting and distinguished it very much from writing," Friedman said.

Other writer-painters mentioned are:

Kurt Vonnegut
Susan Minot
Derek Walcott
William Jay Smith
Jack Kerouac
Allen Ginsberg
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Jorge Luis Borges

"Friedman...found this common denominator: [writers who paint] all have so much creativity no one medium can contain it."


In October of 1996 George Krevsky Fine Art hosted an exibit titled "Writers Who Paint" which included e.e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Clifford Odets, and
Kenneth Patchen

The press release I found online (to my surprise, sent by my friend Rita Bottoms, the guest curator for this show and Curator of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz) reads like this:

"Writers Who Paint" is the title of an unusual exhibition of paintings and drawings by a group of visual artists who are best known for their literary notoriety, rather than the fact that they were also serious visual artists throughout their careers. Featured in the show at George Krevsky Fine Art are e.e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Clifford Odets, and Kenneth Patchen.

These artist were all drawn to express themselves in more than one medium, despite critical acclaim and public recognition for their literary efforts.

Henry Miller began to paint before he began to write and continued to do so until his death.

cummings also pursued painting throughout his life. He called himself a "poet & painter" from the outset of his career, even though his visual work was eventually eclipsed by his poetry and received less exposure.

Odets was a successful Depression-era playwright and later Hollywood screenwriter. Obsessed with art and a devoted art collector as well, his painting came to assume a significant part of his creative career.

West Coast poet Kenneth Patchen began to incorporate his visual art with his writing as early as the 1940's with his "painted books" series.

Ferlinghetti, a personal friend of Patchen's and a Bay Area resident, has been painting seriously since the late 40's. Perhaps best known for this leadership among the "Beat" figures through his City Lights Bookstore and Publishing House, Ferlinghetti's artwork was recently the subject of a solo exhibition in Rome. His work will also be included in the upcoming exhibition, "Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965," at the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses »

  1. Did they mention Winston Churchill? I'm always surprised to learn of yet another writer who also had "the second muse".

    Happy Third Advent Sunday!

  2. Nope, Dani, but I'm glad you did! And, then there's you, too, babe....Janet

Leave a Response