Word Up

Artist John Giorno’s legacy celebrated by Ugo Rondinone.

John Giorno

The poet and artist John Giorno didn’t achieve the prominence of some in his early-1960s circle—Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, to name but two—but he was an influential Pop and conceptual artist, best known for coaxing more than a million people into calling his Dial-A-Poem phone number and for being the subject of Warhol’s landmark 1963 film Sleep. Now, at 78, he’s finally getting a full retrospective: “Ugo Rondinone: I [Heart] John Giorno,” at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, beginning October 21 (through January 10, 2016). Conceived by Rondinone, Giorno’s companion of 18 years and a major artist in his own right, the exhibition lovingly charts how Giorno gave verse his own unique spin, from recordings of Giorno Poetry Systems (with assists from the likes of the musician Patti Smith and the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe) to witty text paintings (Prefer Crying in a Limo to Laughing on a Bus). Also on view will be eight Warhol films starring Giorno, some never shown until now. Although Giorno has exhibited worldwide, “this show is on another scale for me. It’s my life’s work, as seen by Ugo,” he says of the poetic tribute.

Photos: Word Up

Don’t Wait for Anything, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Almine Rech Gallery.

The 1975 album cover for Giorno Poetry Systems, featuring William S. Burroughs and Giorno. Courtesy of Giorno Poetry Systems.

God Is Man Made, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and Elizabeth Dee New York.