Rene Ricard (1946-2014)

Rene Ricard (1946-2014) – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg c.Estate of Allen Ginsberg  – courtesy Raymond Foye

We received news yesterday of the death, at 67, of the larger-than-life, irreplaceable, Rene Ricard, poet, painter, art critic, scene-maker, ex-Andy Warhol super-star, subject of one of Allen’s most penetrating portraits (see above). The cause of death has been reported as cancer. As his friend, painter, Brice Marden, declared, speaking to the New York Observer, “Ricard was experiencing difficulty walking and went into the hospital about a week ago for a hip replacement – “When he went in they found there was all this other stuff. He was going to be starting chemotherapy, but he didn’t get it in time.”

Ricard was the author of the eponymous Rene Ricard 1979-1980, in its distinctive Tiffany blue (the first poetry publication of the DIA Foundation). This was followed by God With Revolver – Poems 1979-82 (1990) (the only large-scale Hanuman book), followed by Love Poems (C U Z Editions, 1999)

Trusty Sarcophagus Co. (Inanout Press, 1990), inaugerated a medium which Ricard engaged in with gusto for the latter part of his life – poems painted (or scrawled) onto found artwork.

He had a number of singularly noteworthy shows both in London and the US (most recently “new paintings and not so new” at San Francisco’s Highlight Gallery)

His work was (indeed, continues to be) represented by Cheim & Read and  by Vito Schnabel, son of another of his long-time friends, the painter and film-maker Julian Schnabel.

His brilliant (if idiosyncratic) art writing (for the magazine Artforum in the early 1980’s), it would be no exaggeration to say, was crucial in helping launch Schnabel’s career, and, perhaps even more influential, “The Radiant Child”, his December 1981 essay, the first substantial piece on that artist, marked and sealed the fame of Jean-Michael Basquiat.

Michael Wincott had the unenviable role of playing Rene in the film Basquiat

“The George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world”, Andy Warhol famously called him.

He himself played Andy Warhol in 1966 (alongside Edie Sedgwick)  in The Andy Warhol Story

Here’s a harrowing clip (from a little over three years ago) of Rene reading

Here’s a recent (well, 2009) interview (fragment):

Interviewer: How do you feel about the state of poetry today, especially in New York?
Rene Ricard: I loathe poetry. I just gave a poetry reading and other poets were standing up and reciting their rhymes from memory, I guess that’s cute, you know, with the backbeat, but I loathe it. I don’t like what I read in The New Yorker. I really like my own poetry a lot and I think that’s why I write it. Of all the arts, it’s the one I know the least about, and it’s interesting that it’s the one I practice and earn my living on. Anyway, yes, I like my own work. It speaks to me.” [laughter]


  1. Rene is my brother Albert,I'd like his friends to know they can read an article in Southcoast Today news.Thanks, to all of you that wrote of the beautiful memories! by Denise Bannon

  2. Rene………..with you gone……………it is like the NY skyline without the Empire State building……..

    A sentimental in search of an anecdote

    by Eric Mitchell

    Embarrassing was the word we use to use
    Tragic was the general situation
    Not that we had any thing to do with it
    But we were the witness
    Always cool and distant
    Demure and detached
    We cared
    Decadent and broke
    We called upon William , Jack and Allen
    To help us understand we were like them
    Too much dope, too much wine, too much weed
    We had to make it ours in their image
    We care little about the hippies and yuppies
    Same breed different clothing
    Our quest for stylish truth was grounded in history
    Tangier, SF, Paris, Berlin, those were the cities
    Traveling was done through books
    No tickets available at that time
    New York was on the horizon
    To all it was the frontier
    Derelict Puerto Ricans
    Old money was young
    Rock and roll was a life style
    It was not called anything
    Dandies in distress
    We roamed the Bowery
    Looking for a solace in Allen or Robert
    They were our brothers, older
    Rene brought us the knowledge
    Taylor was our uncle
    Jackie was our sister
    Ronald had written the screenplay
    Doomed poets our heroes
    Overlooked painters our friends
    Black weejuns we wore
    Always to a teeth
    Groomed as opposition
    To the bell bottom lambda
    We trusted our arrogance
    As intelligence
    We never rumbled
    But believed in everything
    No limit to good taste

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *