John Giorno (1936 New York City, New York, USA – 2019 New York City) was an American poet and performance artist widely recognized as a leading figure of the Beat Generation.” A beloved friend, collaborator, and muse of many Pop artists, Giorno was the protagonist of Andy Warhol’s famous film Sleep (1963). Intent on giving poetry a renewed performative and multimedia dimension, Giorno founded Giorno Poetry Systems in 1965, a nonprofit production company committed to creating and promoting experimental poetry. Both acclaimed and censored, Dial-A-Poem was a platform and communication system, which made a selection of readings and speeches by poets and activists available through the telephone. Since 1971, following a trip to India with Allen Ginsberg, Giorno embraced Buddhist spiritual precepts. Devoting himself to frequent retreats, he made his famous loft at 222 Bowery a space for the practice of the Nyingma lineage. As a key supporter of queer culture, Giorno expanded the reach of Giorno Poetry Systems activities to fundraise for AIDS awareness since 1984. Giorno began working with screen printing, creating the first Vinyl Paintings series in 1989 in collaboration with Edizioni Conz. The iconic font and the concise phrases placed on monochromatic or rainbow backgrounds were characteristic of Giorno’s recognizable visual practice from the 2000s onward. Giorno’s legacy is now preserved and promoted through the John Giorno Foundation. A major retrospective of Giorno’s works, curated by his husband Ugo Rondinone, was presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2015) and travelled on as a cross-institutional exhibition in numerous American galleries.

Artworks (4)