"Ugo Rondinone : I John Giorno" is the first retrospective of the life and work of the gay American poet John Giorno, a key figure of the American underground scene of the 1960s. Rondinone has been the poet's partner since the late 1990s and with whom Giorno has been a frequent collaborator, sounding board, and muse.
The exhibit at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris is a multi-form, eight-room tribute to Giorno's work over the past half century, and ithis career from the early 1960s, when he was a member of Warhol's Factory, to his collaborations and friendship with William S. Burroughs in the 1970s and '80s, when both had their second (of many) lives as punk icons, to his current work as a painter. Comprising videos, portraits by other artists, collaborations, photographs, paintings, installations, and poetry, it is both a pedagogical effort -- one that has introduced many to Giorno's lesser-known material -- and a love letter, perhaps art history's longest and largest.
"I structured the exhibition in eight chapters, each representing a layer of Giorno's multifaceted work. Taken as a whole, they reflect how he works and help us to understand the dual influences that American culture and Buddhism had on his life and art," Rondinone explains.
"Poet and artist: the poet born in 1936, the artist in 1964. Giorno lives downtown in the stately old YMCA on the Bowery and has been there since 1966. The painter Wynn Chamberlain introduced him to the building at a house party. Rondinone lives uptown in a large, renovated church he's converted into both his studio and his apartment. They trade off sleepover nights. Giorno is a committed Tibetan Buddhist, Rondinone is not. These differences do not define them. Rather they shape their relationship -- and, for Rondinone at least, have been creatively generative. 'I'm interested in dualities,' he said one fall evening over coffee in his spacious office."
Ugo Rondinone's exhibition, "I John Giorno," continues through Jan. 10, 2016 at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.
Watch a video of Giorno reading his poem, "God is Man Made" below: