Scope and Contents of Collection
Title: Joe Brainard Letters
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0703
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
2.4 Linear feet
(6 archive boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1957-1994
Letters to Joe Brainard, author and artist. The collection is comprised of correspondence from various poets and artists,
including John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, and Kenward Elmslie, and includes letters, postcards, images and ephemera. The materials
date from 1957 through 1994, with the bulk of the collection covering the period from 1964 through 1993.
Brainard, Joe, 1942-1994
Born in Arkansas in 1942 and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brainard moved to New York City in 1961. There, he quickly developed
friendships with Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Bill Berkson, Barbara Guest, and other participants in the New York School.
Brainard's achievement, however, is remarkable aside from his many associations. Brainard harmonized linguistic and visual
materials in extraordinary ways. His graphic work is notably literary, often incorporating words and sentences into non-literary
designs. Such qualities prompted Frank O'Hara to say that Brainard's work had "nothing to do with philosophy, it's all art."
Both the art work and writing are full of information and frequently take erotic and semiotic risks. In one of his more scandalous
serial works, Brainard subjected Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy to every imaginable erotic and high art situation.
A prolific artist, Brainard's work has been exhibited extensively in the New York City area since the early 1960s. The Joe
Brainard Archive, located in the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD, is the largest collection extant of Brainard's
Brainard died on May 25, 1994.
Joe Brainard Letters, MSS 703. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Scope and Contents of Collection
The Joe Brainard Letters include correspondence from such American authors and artists as John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Ted
Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Kenward Elmslie, Joanne Kyger, and Alice Notley. The collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
Materials cover the period from 1957 to 1994 and include copies of manuscript and typescript drafts of poems sent to Brainard
from such writers as Ted Berrigan, Ray Johnson, and Lewis Warsh.
This collection includes 89 postcards, separated into 12 undated packets, from Frank Bidart. These postcards, in which Bidart
wrote for Brainard, contain an overarching narrative in each packet, including such themes as "clothing", "hair", and "the
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Allen, Donald, 1912-2004 -- Correspondence
Ashbery, John, 1927- -- Correspondence
Berkson, Bill -- Correspondence
Berrigan, Ted -- Correspondence
Brainard, Joe, 1942-1994 -- Archives
Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005 -- Correspondence
Elmslie, Kenward -- Correspondence
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 -- Correspondence
Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995 -- Correspondence
Kyger, Joanne -- Correspondence
Mayer, Bernadette -- Correspondence
Notley, Alice, 1945- -- Correspondence
Owen, Maureen, 1943- -- Correspondence
Warsh, Lewis -- Correspondence
American poetry -- 20th century
Gay men -- United States -- Poetry