Works of William Carlos Williams and Frank O'Hara

Essay by kashman March 2004

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During the early nineteen hundreds painters began to break away form traditional subjects and ideas associated with painting in order to refresh old conventions. Some artists claimed that painting was simply a matter of paint upon canvas and not a mirror to nature or a window on the world. They began to explore new ways to describe the world with the intent to shock viewers out of their preconceptions. This new breed of painter, the abstract expressionist, recognized the spontaneity of the creative moment and constructed works that would attempt to deconstruct ideas from the past. The focus of this essay will be how these revolutionary ideas infused their way into literature with specific focus on works by American writers William Carlos Williams and Frank O'Hara. Using critical analysis the author of this essay will attempt to show how both authors incorporated ideas from the abstract expressionist movement into their works.

As a result the reader may acquire a new appreciation for the themes and images discussed by both authors while achieving an understanding for the ideas perpetuated by abstract expressionists. In order to assess how writers, like Williams and O'Hara, were influenced by ideas propagated by painters one may be inclined to look into the historical period in which they lived

Between the years of 1909 through 1925 there was a period of unprecedented collaboration between art communities in New York, Paris and London. In 1913 abstract expressionist art made its first major appearance in North America at the Armory Show in New York and this is cited as having a major influence on American artists of this time period. A poet, William Carlos Williams, was impressed at the advances made in painting and set out to revive literature with the philosophies of abstract expressionists. Even before the...