John Ashbery
American, 1927-2017
Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Selected exhibitions
Correspondences: A Group Exhibition,
Tibor de Nagy
John Ashbery: New Collages,
Tibor de Nagy
John Ashbery Guy Maddin: Collages,
Tibor de Nagy

A celebrated surrealist poet, John Ashbery debuted as a professional artist at the age of 81. The collages for which he is known date from as early as his college years in the 1940s, when he forewent painting for practical reasons, and throughout the intervening decades. Never imagining anyone might take interest in them, Ashbery made the collages for personal amusement, inspired by his friend Joe Brainard and other collagists. The wittily titled, lighthearted works reference contemporary pop culture and art history through found vintage postcards and cut-and-pasted images. New York Times critic Holland Cotter noted that “a hint of narrative” exists in his collages, as in his poetry, “though what the story might be is hard to say.”