Hartigan, Rivers, and O'Hara

Burt Glinn (b. 1925)
Back Table at the Five Spot
gelatin silver print
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, Richard A. Heald Fund

At the "back table" are (facing l – r) Frank O'Hara, Larry Rivers, and Grace Hartigan.

Grace Hartigan with Frank O'Hara | Walter Silver, Grace Hartigan, Jane Freilicher, and Larry Rivers at Coney Island

In 1952, Frank O’Hara’s A City Winter and Other Poems was published, a collection of thirteen poems with two drawings by Larry Rivers. The collection was the first of a series of books by poets with artists’ drawings published by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Three hundred copies were printed. This copy was purchased in 2006 with funds generously donated by the Syracuse University Library Associates.

For Grace Hartigan’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery exhibition that showed the series Oranges, John Bernard Myers printed one hundred copies of O’Hara’s poems on which the paintings were based. Hartigan painted covers, in oil, for each copy, and they sold for one dollar. The copy above is on loan from the Poetry Collection at the libraries of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The exhibition checklist, with Hartigan’s notes on the location of the paintings—including the purchase of The Persian Jacket by the Museum of Modern Art, her first major sale—was under the name of “George” Hartigan, a tribute or homage to George Sand and George Eliot.

Frank O’Hara, Grace Hartigan, and Larry Rivers collaborated on a show entitled Hartigan and Rivers with O’Hara: An Exhibition of Pictures with Poems by Frank O’Hara. This ran from 24 November through 24 December 1959 at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York.

This short note is typical of the communication between Hartigan and O’Hara. “The Cedar” refers to the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village, one of their favorite gathering places. The note contained the poem “L’Amour avait passé par là,” which was published in O’Hara’s Collected Poems in 1971.

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