Disguise the Limit: John Yau’s Collaborations

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This exhibition is the first examination of the various collaborative works that poet/author/critic John Yau has created with a range of visual artists during the past five decades. These include paintings, mixed media works on paper, print portfolios, artist books, and letterpress broadsides. As he says, "I'm into every way a poem can be done."

Yau's poetry is infused with humor and intelligence, and he uses a variety of forms to examine aspects of his Chinese-American identity, visual art and film, detective novels, and popular culture. His reviews and essays are celebrated for providing fresh insights into canonical artists and for helping to situate diverse practitioners into historical contexts and traditions.

The result of friendships and shared sensibilities, Yau's collaborations reveal his embrace of both representation and abstraction as foils for language generation. Offering nimble turns of phrase, Zen koans, road sign warnings, and fragmented and completed poems, he has been a curious and generous partner in producing these unique works with established and emerging artists including:

Phil Allen, Bill Barrette, Jake Berthot, Norman Bluhm, Tom Burckhardt, Squeak Carnwath, Aaron Cohick, Tracy Featherstone, Enrique Figueredo, Pia Fries, Max Gimblett, Richard Hull, Bill Jensen, Justine Kurland, Judy Ledgerwood, Suzanne McClelland, Malcom Morley, Ilse Sorensen Murdock, Martin Noel, Ed Paschke, Norbet Prangenberg, Archie Rand, Sydney Jean Reisen, Peter Saul, Hanns Schimansky, Pat Steir, Siv Stoldal, and Carol Szymanski, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Terrien, Richard Tuttle, Claude Viallat, Chuck Webster, and Trevor Winkfield, among others.

Yau has collaborated alongside artists in their studios or at printmaking facilities, as well as through more remote means - providing words, lines, and finished texts for use in variously produced and published endeavors. Disguise the Limit presents these works on gallery walls and in vitrines, offering rich word/image combinations that are the result of serious play and the masterful use of materials and printing/binding techniques.

John Yau has authored numerous books of poetry and prose including Corpse and Mirror (1983); Edificio Sayonara (1992); Hawaiian Cowboys (1995); Forbidden Entries (1996); Borrowed Love Poems (2022); Ing Grish (2005); Paradiso Diaspora (2006); Further Adventures in Monochrome (2012); Bijoux in the Dark (2018); Genghis Chan on Drums (2021); and Tell It Slant (2023).

His critical writings and monographs include In the Realm of Appearances; The Art of Andy Warhol (1993); The Passionate Spectator: Essays on Art and Poetry (2006); A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns (2008); Catherine Murphy (2016); The Wild Children of William Blake (2017); Thomas Nozkowski (2017); Foreign Sounds or Sounds Foreign (2020); Liu Xiadong (2021); Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal (2022); and Please Wait by the Coatroom: Reconsidering Race and Identity in American Art (2023).

This exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art, with additional support from the Albisetti Exhibition Fund. A full-color publication with essays by Stuart Horodner, Sharon Mesmer, and Barry Schwabsky is forthcoming.

Read more about our Terra grant.

John Yau and Tom Burckhardt, A Void Going Back, 2022, oil on panel. Courtesy of John Yau and Tom Burckhardt.
John Yau and Archie Rand, I Upgrade the Sublime, undated, watercolor on paper. Courtesy of John Yau and Archie Rand

Created 05/18/2023
Last Updated 01/24/2024