Richard Kostelanetz is an American artist and writer. His interests, primarily directed at language in any literary form, have led him to work with the most diverse media, with an extensive bibliography of critical publications and acclaimed articles. He graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and Columbia University in New York City, later studying at King’s College London with a Fulbright Scholarship in 1965/66. He began his literary career writing essays in such journals as the Partisan Review and The Hudson Review, both devoted to the arts, and later writing for New York Times Magazine. Relentlessly experimental and productive, he founded Assembling Press in 1970, his first publishing house dedicated to disseminating new ideas and styles in literature. Of anarcho-libertarian ideals, Kostelanez was a significant figure in the New York avant-garde scene, participating in it with his radical output and doing considerable work as a critic and editor of numerous anthologies. In 1970, he published Manifestos, followed by the experimental novel In the Beginning (Abyss, 1971), entirely centered on the letters of the alphabet. Both publications paved the way for varied research on visual poetry, focusing on the linguistic potential of number sequences and visual alliterations and especially aimed at overturning traditional structures of comprehension and reading. Thoroughly exploring the expressive potential of technologies and innovative media, he has worked with tape recordings, computer installations, audiovisual pieces, and literary holographs. Parallel to this extensive research, Kostelanez published numerous critical texts, such as The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America (Sheed and Ward, 1974), A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes (Routledge, 1993), and SoHo: The Rise and Fall of an Artists’ Colony (Routledge, 2003)—essential volumes and intimate records for art-historical research. Kostelanez is also an outstanding collector of printed matter. His “Wordship,” a 7,000-square-foot space in Brooklyn, includes an exceptional holding of rare books, films, audio recordings, drawings, visual poems, and artworks accessible to the public as a proper bookstore once a week. For his work, Kostelanez has received countless awards from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation (1967), the Fund for Investigative Journalism (1981), the National Endowment for the Arts (ten individual awards through 1991), and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2001).

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