Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Alain Arias-Misson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Giorno, Richard Kostelanetz, Various artists, La Livre VIII, La Livre, 2000-2002, Print, crayons on paper, paperboard, photography, 35 × 25 × 4 cm
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Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Alain Arias-Misson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Giorno, Richard Kostelanetz, La Livre VIII, La Livre, 2000-2002, Edition of 10. "La Livre VIII" is comprised of 3 drawings by Alain Arias-Misson, 4 texts by Richard Kostelanetz, 3 texts by John Giorno, 4 collages by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and 9 drawings/prints/photographs by Demosthenes Agrafiotis The edition was made in 2000-2002. Print, crayons on paper, paperboard, photography, 35 × 25 × 4 cm (13 ¾ × 9 ⅞ × 1 ⅝ inches). Box dimensions: 37,9 x  28,8  x 13,9 cm Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin 2024
  • Print, crayons on paper, paperboard, photography
  • 35 × 25 × 4 cm
    (13 ¾ × 9 ⅞ × 1 ⅝ inches)
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  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti was an emblematic figure of the American cultural scene. A poet, novelist, playwright, bookseller, publisher, painter, and activist, he was the founder of the San Francisco-based City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, an independent bookstore that became a landmark for the Beat Generation in the 1950s. Ferlinghetti himself shared deliberately contradictory biographical information about his youth. He grew up between the United States and France among different foster families and attended the University of North Carolina. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Ferlinghetti completed his studies at Columbia University in New York City, eventually receiving a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Paris in 1951. Back in the United States, he settled in bustling San Francisco. Two years later, City Lights Bookstore was born, a lively and hearty hotspot for the city’s enthusiastic readers, writers, poets, and artists. In 1955, Ferlinghetti launched the Pocket Poets Series, a collection of paperback volumes to be easily disseminated, making poems from around the world accessible to a broader audience. Reversing the cliché of intellectualism in favor of a militant democratization of poetry was a crucial political stance for Ferlinghetti. The series began with his own Pictures of the Gone World, with translations by Kenneth Rexroth. The fourth volume was Allen Ginsberg’s infamous Howl. In 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested in a First Amendment trial on charges of distributing indecent material. The notorious court case revolving around freedom of speech and expression was eventually won by Ferlinghetti the following year. He was an anarchist sympathizer and a committed activist for multiple issues of his time, such as the Cuban Revolution and the Vietnam War. Ferlinghetti’s bibliography is extensive. His second collection of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), has been widely recognized as his masterpiece and has been translated into nine languages. With his straightforward poetry, Ferlinghetti critically engaged with people from different backgrounds, borrowing visual impressions and images from American culture and modern jazz. Ferlinghetti was connected to Fluxus through Francesco Conz in Verona, who particularly supported Ferlinghetti’s interest in painting. In Verona, he coined the term “Fluxare,” meaning “to make love without touching.” A retrospective of his painting was held at the Museo di Roma (2010), and his works are in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco’s Poet Laureate in 1998; he received numerous other awards and honors, such as the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal (2003), a National Book Award (2005), and a John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry (2007).
  • John Giorno was an American poet and performance artist widely recognized as a leading figure of the Beat Generation. After graduating from Columbia University in New York in 1958, he briefly worked as a stockbroker, establishing a reputation among his peers as “the poet who works on Wall Street.” A beloved friend, collaborator, and muse of many Pop artists, Giorno was the protagonist of Andy Warhol’s famous film Sleep (1963). Other encounters and collaborations followed, and personalities such as William Burroughs, John Cage, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, Trisha Brown, and Carolee Schneeman were among his circle of friends and acquaintances. 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. Three years later, Giorno organized the first Dial-A-Poem event at the Architectural League of New York. 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. Giorno’s text-based poetry evolved rapidly inthe late 1960s. He published his first monograph, Poems, and his first LP in 1967, collaborating with Robert Rauschenberg and Les Levine on the designs. 1970 saw the publication of Balling Buddha, which also contained several “Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments,” poetry performances made in collaboration with Robert Moog, initially presented in 1966. 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 a fund system dedicated to AIDS care 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 traveled on as a cross-institutional exhibition in numerous American galleries.
  • 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).

Artworks (22)