In the Galleries: An Opening of the Field

In the Galleries: An Opening of the Field

Robert Jessx633 0

Robert Duncan and Jess, 1959


Jess Collins, known simply as Jess, and his partner, the poet Robert Duncan, were one of the most fascinating artistic couples of the 20th century.

Soon after meeting in San Francisco in the early 1950s, they began a romantic and professional partnership that lasted until Duncan’s death.

Their newfound domesticity helped focus their creative process, and they ultimately merged their personal and artistic lives. Jess’s collages and drawings were often published to accompany Duncan’s poems and essays. Duncan’s writings and ideas in turn made their way into Jess’s dense and allusive works. 

Visionaries in their own right, the couple heavily influenced an entire generation of poets and painters who would gather at their San Francisco home, which served as a salon and gallery space for their artist friends.

Openingofthefield Bookx400 0
At left: The catalog published in conjunction with the exhibit by Pomegranate Communications

This exhibition looks at Jess’s and Duncan’s influence and unique position as precursors of Postmodernism and presents works by the couple, along with a selection of works by artists such as R. B. Kitaj, Edward Corbett, Wallace Berman, Lawrence Jordan, and George Herms, as well as the poets Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, and Michael McClure. The exhibition also includes a group of posters Jess made for the Berkeley Cinema Guild run in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the young Pauline Kael.

"An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle"
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
April 26 through Aug. 17
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016

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Robert Duncan
Untitled, 1947
Wax crayon on paper. 29 x 23 in.
Courtesy of SUNY Buffalo

To Corbettx633 0

To Corbett, 1951
Oil on canvas. 46 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Odyssia Gallery, New York

Ronald Bladen Connies Painting C 1958 59 Ocx633 0

Ronald Bladen
Connie’s Painting, c. 1957-1958
Oil on canvas. 38 x 38 ½ in.
Courtesy of Loretta Howard Gallery, New York

VIIth Wave X633 0

Sent On The VIIth Wave, 1979
Collage and mixed media. 39 x 33 in.
Courtesy of The Buck Collection, Laguna Beach, CA

JESS Feignting Spell 1954x633 0

Feignting Spell, 1954
Oil on canvas. 42 x 48 in.
Courtesy of Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

Leo Boxx633 0

George Herms
The Zodiac Behind Glass: Box #5 Leo, 1965
Mixed media. 25 x 25 x 4 in.
Courtesy of Margaret Nielsen, Las Vegas, NV

The Enamord Mage Translationx633 0

The Enamored Mage: Translation #6, 1965
Oil on canvas over wood. 24 ½ x 30 in.
Courtesy of The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA

Paste Ups 1971x633 0

Paste-Ups by Jess, 1971
Collage. 22 x 28 in.
Courtesy of Odyssia Gallery, New York

Tags: Art, Art