Scope and Content of Collection
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla 92093-0175
Title: Joe Brainard Archive
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0005
32.2 Linear feet
(8 archives boxes, 47 art bin items and 86 oversize folders)
Date (inclusive): 1960 - 1992
Abstract: Materials collected by Robert Butts, consisting primarily of diverse works by and regarding New York artist and writer Joe
Scope and Content of Collection
Materials collected by Robert Butts, consisting primarily of diverse works by and regarding New York artist and writer Joe
Brainard (1942-1994). The Joe Brainard Archive consists of numerous examples of Brainard's graphic work dating from 1962 to
1979, most of the books illustrated by Brainard, all of Brainard's manuscripts and published writings, notebooks for Brainard's
I Remember series and several other books, Brainard's correspondence with members of the Butts family and correspondence to Brainard
from Ned Rorem and Virgil Thomson, checklists of Brainard's artistic production constructed by Robert Butts, and a selection
of articles devoted to Brainard's career. In addition to the Brainard materials, the Archive also includes an oil painting
by Tom Clark, and a few ink sketches by poets Ron Padgett and Allen Ginsberg. There are also manuscripts of Ted Berrigan,
Tom Clark and Rudy Kikel, in addition to broadsides and books written by New York School writers such as John Ashbery, Edwin
Denby, and Kenneth Koch. Primarily a study collection, the importance of the Joe Brainard Archive is in documenting the wide
range, topical as well as technical, of Joe Brainard's artistic production over a twenty-year period, ca. 1960-1979.
Accession Processed in 1987: This portion of the collection contains many examples of Brainard's artwork as well as book and
cover illustrations, manuscripts, and published writings, all dating from ca. 1960 to 1979. It also includes original art
and documentation by and of other notable artists and writers.
Arranged in five series: 1) ARTWORK, 2) MANUSCRIPTS, 3) CORRESPONDENCE, 4) CATALOGS, and 5) BIBLIOGRAPHIES.
Accessions Processed in 1991, 1993: Portions of the Joe Brainard Archive processed in 1991 and 1993 contain originals of artwork
by Joe Brainard for collaborations with Bill Berkson and Kenward Elmslie, and correspondence related to Robert Butts' projects.
Arranged in four series: 6) CORRESPONDENCE, 7) ARTWORK, 8) MANUSCRIPTS, and 9) PHOTOGRAPHS.
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.
The large number of collaborative works in the collection, as well as the many illustrations Brainard did for books by others,
reflect the sense of community shared by these artists.
Brainard's achievement, however, is remarkable quite 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 is full of information and frequently takes 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. His first
retrospective show, consisting of work from 1960-1970, took place at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago in 1970. In the mid-1970s
he created over 3,000 miniature collages, paintings, and drawings for a major show at the Fischbach Gallery in Manhattan.
The materials gathered in the Joe Brainard Archive were first exhibited at the Long Beach Museum of Art in 1980. In 1986 they
were again exhibited at UCSD.
Like Joe Brainard, Alex Katz is a New York City artist. He has given numerous solo shows since the early 1960s, and many
of his works have been added to numerous public art collections throughout the country. Unlike Brainard, Katz has created
a depthless, planar art which strips the visual image of its narrative, literary aura. The result, as one critic has noted,
is an image of a reality that is of no consequence.
Joe Brainard Archive, MSS 5. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Joe Brainard Letters. MSS 703. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Books, journals and some artworks received in the 1984 accession of the Joe Brainard Archive have been separated from the
collection and added elsewhere to the library's holdings. To identify and list these items, conduct an author search in ROGER
on the term "Butts, Robert, 1952- former owner."
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Oil paintings -- 1979-1979
American poetry -- 20th century
Watercolor drawings -- 1970-1979
Watercolor drawings -- 1960-1969
Lithographs -- 1960-1969
Cartoons -- United States -- 20th century
Photographs -- 1964-1990
Prose poems, American
Gay men in art
Gay men -- United States -- Biography
Gay men -- United States -- Poetry
Oil paintings -- 1960-1969
Collages -- 1970-1979
Collages -- 1960-1969
Lithographs -- 1970-1979
Clark, Tom, 1941-
Greenwald, Ted -- Correspondence
Butts, Robert, 1952-
Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989 -- Correspondence
Berkson, Bill -- Correspondence
Kikel, Rudy, 1942-2017
Fagin, Larry -- Correspondence
Padgett, Ron, 1942- -- Correspondence
Brainard, Joe, 1942-1994 -- Archives
Brainard, Joe, 1942-1994 -- Correspondence