Joe Brainard (1942–1994)

I Remember: A Film About Joe Brainard (2012) dir. Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His critically acclaimed and award-winning Born in Salem, Arkansas and raised in Tulsa, artist, poet, and theater set designer Joe Brainard moved to New York City at age 19. There, he joined the community of New York School poets and painters who would later become his artistic collaborators, including Frank O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, John Ashbery, and Ron Padgett. One of Brainard’s most frequent collaborators was his longtime partner, the writer Kenward Elmslie.

Brainard’s visual art, which ranges from painting to collage to drawing, is often situated in the ephemeral; he engaged popular culture with wit as well as a classical attention to light. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Brainard published more than a dozen books, including the lyrical prose-poem memoir series I Remember (1975) and The Nancy Book (2008), which contains 15 years’ worth of his artworks and collaborations incorporating Ernie Bushmiller’s classic comic strip character, Nancy. In a review of The Nancy Book, the New Yorker observed, “Brash but never bratty, fanciful without descending into preciousness, Brainard demonstrates a visual perfect-pitch equivalent to that of his miniaturist memoir-poem ‘I Remember.’”

Brainard died of AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 52.

Joe Brainard in UbuWeb Sound