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Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. at the ICA | 29-May-09

Concrete poetry and text-based art will be the theme for the ICA's summer show. The title of the show takes its name from Ian Hamilton Finlay's 1960s magazine, originally named after a line from a Robert Creeley poem.

The exhibiton runs between 17 June - 23 August 2009 and is curated by Mark Sladen. There will be various events happening including a night of live experimental peformers on Thursday the 30th of July.

The text for this show says:

"Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. takes an imaginative and expansive look at text-based art practices, using the concrete poetry of the 60s as its starting point. The exhibition goes on to look at other practices from this era, and concludes with work from younger artists currently exploring the literary and graphic potential of language.

Concrete poetry has ancient roots, and can be understood as poetry in which the physical appearance of the poem has as much impact as its traditional poetic structure. It is mainly associated with the 1950s and 60s, and our exhibition starts with the work of the artist and writer Ian Hamilton Finlay, a key figure of concrete poetry in 1960s Britain. Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. takes its title from a periodical that Finlay ran from 1962 to 1968 which featured his own graphic and literary experiments alongside those of other artists and poets.

The exhibition continues with work by a number of other artists connected with concrete poetry in the 60s. It includes typewritten poems by Dom Sylvester Houédard and Henri Chopin, 'poem machines' by Liliane Lijn (spinning cones inscribed with letters or short phrases and designed to explore the notion of language as energy) and giant text-based PVC signs by Ferdinand Kriwet.

We often now associate the turn towards language in 1960s art with the use of written instructions within conceptual practice, or of advertising language within pop art, but a significant number of artists also allied themselves with poetic, literary or expressive language. The exhibition includes drawings from the early 60s by Robert Smithson in which image and text combine to create phantasmagorical emblems, as well as typewritten works by Carl Andre, Vito Acconci and Christopher Knowles.

Philip Guston is represented by a group of 'poem pictures', made in collaboration with the poet Clark Coolidge; Alasdair Gray shows a group of prints that are based on illuminated versions of his poems; David Hockney is represented by etchings that he produced to accompany the love poems of CP Cavafy.

The exhibition concludes with the work of a number of younger artists. Sue Tompkins, Janice Kerbel and Anna Barham are all represented by text-based pieces, included a film by Barham where letters are endlessly assembled and disassembled by hand. Other artists, including Matthew Brannon and Frances Stark, explore the combination of text and image while the artist and poet Karl Holmqvist is represented by a wall of photocopied poems and images from his ONELOVEWORLD book.

Exhibiting artists: Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Anna Barham, Matthew Brannon, Henri Chopin, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Alasdair Gray, Philip Guston, David Hockney, Karl Holmqvist, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Janice Kerbel, Christopher Knowles, Ferdinand Kriwet, Liliane Lijn, Robert Smithson, Frances Stark and Sue Tompkins."

Liiane Lijn, Sky Never Stops, 1965

Liiane Lijn, Sky Never Stops, 1965

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