John Giorno was a poet, performer, visual artist, practicing Buddhist in the Tibetan Nyingma lineage, and founder of the non-profit and media label Giorno Poetry Systems. By 1963, he had established himself as an active presence in New York’s art scene, lauded for his starring role in Andy Warhol’s eight-hour film Sleep. Other collaborations followed: with Brion Gysin on Subway Sound in 1965, Robert Rauschenberg at 9 Evenings of Theater & Engineering in 1966, and Bob Moog on Giorno’s “electronic sensory poetry environments” of 1967–1969. He originated Dial- A-Poem at The Architectural League of New York in 1968, which was subsequently included in the group exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art in 1969-70. It is still re-created around the world today.
Dial-A-Poem was both celebrated and censored for its selection of readings and speeches by poets and activists including New York poets like Anne Waldman, Diane DiPrima, and Allen Ginsberg and Black Panthers’ Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and Kathleen Cleaver. Giorno was unwaveringly unapologetic in his use of politically charged and sexually salacious content, using his work as a platform to draw attention to his own status as a gay man, police violence in America, and harrowing statistics associated with the war in Vietnam.
A major retrospective Giorno’s work, I ♥ John Giorno, was curated by Rondinone for Palais de Tokyo in 2015, and was re-imagined for 13 spaces in New York City in 2017.
Giorno retired from performing in 2017 and spent the last two years of his life in meditation, artmaking, writing poetry, and working out final edits of his memoir, Great Demon Kings. His iconic poem prints, paintings, prints, and drawings continue to show in museums and galleries around the world. Giorno passed away in 2019 in his native New York.
Born in 1936 in New York, NY.
Died in 2019 in New York, NY
1958 Columbia University, New York, NY.
AWARDS & HONORS:
The American Book Award, The Before Columbus Foundation, 2021
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FR
Cleveland Museum of Art, OH
The Hirshhorn Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.
Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, FR
MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US
MUDAM, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, LU
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, FR
Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD
The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, FL The Bass Museum, Miami, FL