Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal

John Yau


Rizzoli Electa, 2022. Hardcover, 240pp., 8 x 10 inches


Known for his internationally popular memoir, I Remember, which uniquely captures 1950s America, Joe Brainard (1942–1994) was also a prolific and beloved artist. This beautifully illustrated book covers the entire range of his versatile art, including hundreds of drawings, collages, assemblages, prints, and paintings, many unpublished or never exhibited.
Brainard was closely associated with the New York School, a community of poets and artists such as Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Alex Katz, Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, and Fairfield Porter, who thrived in downtown Manhattan in the 1960s and ’70s. Brainard transformed ordinary objects and ephemera collected from his Lower East Side neighborhood into stunning assemblages and collages. The book brings together Brainard’s classic subjects, such as the comic strip heroine Nancy; Madonnas (inspired by Ukrainian images in the Lower East Side); his iconic pansies, poppies, and daisies; and erotic works (male torsos).
Poet and art critic John Yau describes in vivid detail how Brainard produced thousands of lush multimedia pieces radiant with poignancy, wit, intimacy, and a sheer beauty that express Brainard’s unabashed affection for the world.