Ports of Entry: William S. Burroughs and the Arts

Overview

William S. Burroughs, the Beat iconoclast turned cultural icon, has been practicing a postmodern voodoo alchemy, via his cut-up and fold-in techniques, that accurately reflects our fragmented, discontinuous experience of a universe that is fluid, undetermined, tangential, and absurd. His novels, once banned and condemned, have over the years earned him membership in the American Academy and Institute for Arts and Letters and the title Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Now Robert A. ...
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Overview

William S. Burroughs, the Beat iconoclast turned cultural icon, has been practicing a postmodern voodoo alchemy, via his cut-up and fold-in techniques, that accurately reflects our fragmented, discontinuous experience of a universe that is fluid, undetermined, tangential, and absurd. His novels, once banned and condemned, have over the years earned him membership in the American Academy and Institute for Arts and Letters and the title Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Now Robert A. Sobieszek, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's curator of photography, demonstrates how Burroughs's creative practice extends to and permeates most of the arts, how his work has paralleled and in some cases anticipated significant developments in painting, assemblage, music, sculpture, video, and film. Sobieszek discusses and offers illustrations of Burroughs's extensive body of visual art - including his collages, photomontages, sculptural assemblages, shotgunned paintings, and text-image works - as well as the work of artists with whom Burroughs has either collaborated or had an affinity, including Brion Gysin, Keith Haring, Philip Taaffe, and Robert Rauschenberg.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
William S. Burroughs's place in and influence on late 20th-century American literature is little questioned, and today he occupies the position of cultural icon, lending his voice for use on pop albums, composing the book to a recent opera, and appearing in a Nike commercial. These wide-ranging offerings are not mere celebrity dabbling but the outgrowth of a sincere and longtime occupation with expression as much as with simply writing. He has been making visual art in a wide array of media, in collaboration and on his own, for decades. His artistic work most often treats themes that will be familiar to students of his writing, and as such they are illuminating even when the individual pieces do not rise to the same artistic heights. Lavishly illustrated and exceptionally well designed, this catalog to a Los Angeles County Museum of Art show presents the full span of Burrough's output. A flowing, lucid text by the museum's curator of photography ties the work to Burroughs's life and literary career. It is unfortunate, however, that an investigation of Burroughs's influence on other visual artistsa valid and rich topicis limited to a final chapter. Still, this is well recommended to libraries with larger collections on contemporary art or American literature.Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500974353
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 8.97 (w) x 11.81 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Preface 10
Acknowledgments 13
Ports of Entry: William S. Burroughs and the Arts 15
Afterword 167
Checklist of the Exhibition 169
Exhibition History 180
Bibliography, Filmography, and Discography 182
Lenders to the Exhibition 191
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