The Visual Art of William Burroughs
POSTED ON 8/26/2005 | PERMALINK |1 Comments | BOOKMARK
Few people credit it, but William Burroughs spent 40 years making visual art. It is common knowledge that Brion Gysin's visual art experiments had a profound influence on the writings of Burroughs. But that influence also led to collaborations between the two, as well as a parallel, if private, career as an artist for Burroughs.

From Cut and Paste:
Eight years after his death in 1997, Burroughs is still talked of solely as a writer. In his 1988 biography, Ted Morgan called Burroughs's art a "senior citizen hobby". But it was a hobby that took up more and more of his time, and led to collaborations with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Robert Rauschenberg. Burroughs had his first solo exhibition in 1987; prominent New York galleries showed his work, and invariably sold out ("They're all pre-sold," he once said, not quite believing his luck. "It's the only way to go"). Those last years have led many to speculate on the extent to which art and writing were ever that separated in Burroughs's mind.
From Rethinking The Collage
For Burroughs, narrative itself, with its dependence on verbal units such as sentences, forcing the reader to plod through individual words, traps people in routine patterns of thought. To escape this aspect of language would mean moving beyond words. As he explains it, "a special use of words and pictures can conduce silence. The scrapbooks and time travel are exercises to expand consciousness, to teach me to think in association blocks rather than word" ("Art of Fiction" 22). In a series of largely unpublished scrapbooks, Burroughs constructed thousands of collages which he used to think through simultaneous associations. Sometimes commenting directly on his writing, sometimes reworking themes from his books or providing images for them, and sometimes existing as purely independent works, these visual collages provided Burroughs a new means of thinking, but one that is often more reminiscent of newspapers, illustrated magazines, and their ubiquitous advertisements than of the Egyptian hieroglyphics he often invoked to explain the idea of associational blocks.

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Blogger Saheli said...

Wondrous strange. . .

Sat Aug 27, 04:02:00 PM  

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