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Frank O’Hara: Accident and Design

  • Geoff Ward
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)

Abstract

Frank O’Hara was dead at forty. Called on to speak by the graveside, the New York painter Larry Rivers began, ‘Frank was my best friend’, but later in his speech had ruefully to admit that there were ‘at least sixty people in New York who thought Frank O’Hara was their best friend’.1 Poet, critic, Assistant Curator at the Museum of Modern Art and associated with many of the painters called Abstract Expressionist, O’Hara led by any standards a packed and hectic life in which the threads of work, play, friendship and competition were deliberately allowed to intertwine at speed. His career, evidently successful in one way, also had something of the balancing-act about it. According to one close friend and colleague at MOMA, O’Hara had been ‘under suspicion as a gifted amateur’ during his early years at the Museum: a Harvard English major who switched from Music, graduating in 1950, O’Hara was first employed on the front desk, the sum of his relevant work-experience at that time having been dogsbodying in the theatre and a brief stint as private secretary to photographer Cecil Beaton. Consequently O’Hara did not have ‘the credentials of art history training or a long museum apprenticeship to support his claim to direct exhibitions’, and his closeness to the artists was thought a mixed blessing.2

Keywords

Deep Space Poetic Language Romantic Poet Romantic Poetry Love Poem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Geoff Ward 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolUK

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