Saturday, January 18, 2014

Crowd Reaction to the Art of William Burroughs

Part of his garage
William Burroughs

If Lawrence ever had a celebrity to its claim, it would be William S. Burroughs.  Although known to many as a writer, Burroughs' artwork is currently featured at The Lawrence Arts Center in the new show "The Creative Observer." Observation and creative process are a focus to the presentation of the show which provides 3-D glasses and kaleidoscopes to view work.  Placement of holes made by fired bullets allow viewers to look to another side.

viewing artwork with two kaleidoscopes

The range of reaction to the show from the crowd at the opening reception was polarizing.  Some loved the show. Wayne Probst declared that The Creative Observer is probably the most important art show Lawrence has ever had.  We heard words such as "explorative." Other remarks were more critical; "He was a great writer....end" and "Not bad, but undergraduate ( art school) quality work."

Regardless of the Lawrence crowd reactions to the art of Burroughs, his art has made quite a name for itself worldwide. Major shows in Europe and the US have found impressive sales, and there is much buzz about his work in international art circles.

What are we to make of the Burroughs art star phenomena? Is his art  a name brand with no substance? After all, one doesn't have to go to art school to shoot a bullet through found wood. On closer look, however, Burroughs' artwork can be tied to his writing.  Burroughs was deeply impressed by collage, a technique of cutting things up and putting them back together. He applied this technique to his writing. His art also reflects his personal interests and ways of tapping into the unconscious.  If you are a Burroughs fan, these are important elements in understanding Burroughs' approach to finding the "it."

The organizers of "The Creative Observer" did a great job curating and packaging.  After the opening, our bartender Nate did a great job choosing a scotch for us to make a toast. "To William S. Burroughs, one of the founders of our beloved beat generation. "

objects to aid viewers to look at "The Creative Observer"

Read More:
We love what George Pendle writes about the art of Burroughs in Art in America:
“If you are famous you can get away with anything!” So declared Allen Ginsberg in a 1991 interview while discussing the artworks of William S. Burroughs. Ginsberg didn’t mean it as an explicit criticism of the work, he was simply marveling at the fact that Burroughs was making more money selling his paintings than he ever had from his groundbreaking writing. (Ginsberg was doing the same thing with the sale of his own photographs.) Nevertheless a lingering suspicion has persisted that Burroughs’s art was simply a cash cow. 
Read more of the article here....

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