Rene Ricard Remembered



Rene Ricard

Poet / Artist

(1946 – 2014)

Rene Ricard (1946 – 2014)  was an American poet and painter who achieved status in the art world dating back to his involvement with Andy Warhol, appearing in several of his films such as “Kitchen” (1965) and “Chelsea Girls” (1966). Well known for his influential essays in Artforum, Ricard held a major role in helping to establish the careers of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Ricard published four volumes of poems: René Ricard 1979–1980; God With Revolver (1990), which included his visual representations of the poems; Trusty Sarcophagus Co (1990); and Love Poems (1999), which collected his verse alongside drawings by Robert Hawkins. Ricard’s paintings have been exhibited at Petersburg Gallery, Cheim & Read, Half Gallery (New York), Vito Schnabel Presents (New York & Los Angeles), and the 2011 Brucennial. His work is in the permanent collections of the British Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (New York), as well as the private collections of Brice and Helen Marden, Francesco Clemente, and Andy Spade.


I first met Rene Ricard one night when I was walking home from work (John’s E. 12rh Street NYC) .. I ran into my good friend Alma Marti who was hanging out with Rene that night. I bump into them on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, where we all lived at the time. Alma introduced me to Rene, and we exchanged the usual pleasantries when meeting someone. We were chit-chatting and I was telling Alma that I was flying to Rome that coming Saturday (June 15, 1985). When I told them I was going to Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Venice, and Positano, Rene got quite excited and wanted to tell me all about Venice and Positano, where he had vacationed the previous Summer with his mother. 

Rene told me that I should stay at the Hotel Locarno in Rome where he had stayed. The Locarno is probably the coolest hotel in all of Rome, and is favored among artists and writers, such as Ricard. Rene continued, “you have to go to the Piazza d’ Popolo to see the twin churches of Santa Maria, and go to Rosatis’s for an apertivo. Do you know what an aperitivo is? Just order a Campari & Soda or a Negroni. Get a nice table outside, it’s devine,” Rene said. Well, I would have loved to stay at the Locarno, but it wasn’t in my budget, however, seeing the Twin Churches at the Piazza del Popolo and having a Campari at Rosati’s was, and so I did.

Rene told me a hotel to stay at in Venice (can’t remember) and he told me, in Positano, that I should stay at the Villa Maria Antionetta, whcih was a very affordable little pensione right in the center of Positano, not far from the beach and all the best little trattorias and caffes / bars in town.

Rene said, “go to Bar DeMartino, it’s the best place to go to at night, all the cool people hang out there. And you have to go eat at Da Vincenzo’s next door, their Spaghetti Vongole is the best in the world.” I went there, and fell in love with bothBar DeMartino and Da Vincenzo, and Rene was right, Da Vincenzo was a wonderul trattoria, and yes, they do make the World’s Best Spaghetti with Clam Sauce, I can attest to that.

Rene was also so kind as to write me “A Letter of Introduction” to the signora at the pensione. He told her that I was his friend and would she please take good care of me while I was in Positano staying at her little guest house, Villa Maria Antionetta.

Rene gave me some great advice that night, and his name and the recommendations he gave me for Rome, Venice, and Positano often come up in some of my conversations every now and then. I bet Rene would be surprised, but happy to here of this, and that in this little way, it’s just one of the ways in which the spirit of the poet Rene Ricard is kept alive, though in a way no one including Rene would have ever dreamed. This is just a little story, but I think it is nice, and so I write it.



Mick Jagger in Positano


I arrive in at Ville Maria Antoinetta, Positano


A man told me exactly where the little pensione was, and so I headed over. It wasn’t far at all, and in no time flat, there I was at Villa Maria Antonietta. I asked the lady if she had any rooms available. She did, so I checked in, but not before showing her the “Letter of Introduction” from Rene Ricard. She took a quick glance and then brought me to my room. Once inside, I took a nice warm shower and unpacked some of my clothes before heading out to explore the town.


Excerpted from the forthcoming book POSITANO by Daniel Bellino Zwicke 







Bikini Wax?

and I thought they waxed the

Surf – Board

Rene Ricard


blow – jobs 5 cents

w/ Lipstick 25 cents

Rene Ricard 2011


Rene Ricard


If I weren’t talking to you right now I’d be…

Painting. I’m in the middle of two paintings right now.

A phrase I use far too often is…

“Hello.” I need to say goodbye more often.

I wish people would take more notice of…

My paintings. They do give them some notice, but they need to give more.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was…

That I’ve got a show at all. I’m massively excited and I think Ronnie Wood has the loveliest family – I love his wife and kids, so I can’t wait to see them again.

I am not a politician but…

If I were, I would probably be in Mark Spitzer’s shoes and be impeached. I think the most grotesque thing is they make such a big deal about it and drag his wife into it. People are shocked at all the money he spent – I think it’s good that he spent money on good whores.

I’m good at…


I’m very bad at…

Saying goodbye

The ideal night out is…

Staying home, as it’s almost impossible to do.

In moments of weakness, I…

Work. My work is all that I think about because I spent so many years not doing anything. Therefore, work pleases me, which is success in itself.

You know me as a poet, but in another life I’d have been…

A rich kid.

The best age to be is…

For a woman, the forties; for a man, the fifties. Women are really beautiful in their forties, and men seem to come of age around the period of their second wife.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this…

I don’t have a philosophy in a nutshell; I would go on and on too much.

Toby Green

VICE MAGAZINE Interview with RENE RICARD … May 31, 2009

Vice: What can we expect to see in your new show?

Rene Ricard: There are some new paintings and drawings and I did some collages, which are pseudo-prints. I printed them off the computer and wrote on them and they look nice, very turn-of-the-century, 1890s or early 1900s kitsch.

Over the years you’ve transitioned from text to a more visual type of poetry and communication. How did that happen?

I began adding images because I’ve always liked to draw and paint. And it was hard to find junk-store paintings of the right quality, things that could support some writing, so I just started making the images myself. Unfortunately, people really like that, even though I far prefer just the writing. I’m vain about my handwriting. An artist once called it my “font.” [laughs]

How do you feel about state of poetry today, especially in New York?

I loathe poetry. I just gave a poetry reading, and other poets were standing up and reciting their rhymes from memory. I guess that’s cute, you know, with the backbeat, but I loathe it. I don’t like what I read in the New Yorker. I really like my own poetry a lot and I think that’s why I write it. Of all the arts, it’s the one I know the least about, and it’s interesting that it’s the one I practice and earn my living on. Anyway, yes, I like my own work. It speaks to me. [laughs]

That seems reasonable. It’s better than acting like you’re ashamed of your work, which so many poets do.

It sounds terrible because I have colleagues like Bob Holman, who I’m sure will hate hearing this even though I adore Bob and I like his work. But when it comes down to it, I like my own work the most. I don’t think that I would proliferate it the way I do unless I really liked it.

What about your acting days? Are you up for doing some of that again?

Oh, I was just in a movie that was at that Robert Redford thing. What’s it called?


Yes. So many of my friends are terribly young and do things like make movies. And if they ask you to do it, what are you going to say? No? You’re not going to say no. You know what I mean. If somebody needs an old man in a movie, I’ll do it.

What’s the name of the movie?

You Won’t Miss Me. My friend Ry Russo-Young made it and Stella Schnabel is in it and that’s why I did it. I play her uncle. She won an award for it—the Geraldine Page Award for Method acting. You know, Geraldine Page was my absolute favorite actor and I know all her kids. Seeing Sweet Bird of Youth at too early an age turned me queer. Geraldine Page turned me queer. She was so glamorous. I didn’t want to grow up to be a movie star—I wanted to grow up to be a faded old movie star

Rest in Peace, Rene Ricard (1946-2014)



Rene Ricard has died. The Warhol Factory Member, film star, artist, and poet, passed away at Bellevue Hospital this weekend, taken by cancer. From GalleristNY

Rene Ricard, the Massachussets born artisit and poet was a fixture of the New York Art World since he arrived in 1965, has died. He passed away early this morning in Bellevue Hospital, said the artist Brice Marden, wha had known Ricard since the 1960s. He died of cancer.

“This is an irreplaceable person,” Mr. Marden told The Observer. “He was really something, just on all ends of the spectrum.”

A member of Andy Warhol’s Factory, Ricard in iconic films, including The Kichen (1965), and Chelsea Girls (1966), and even played Andy Warhol in The Andy Warhol Story (1967) alongside Edie Sedgwick. He is perhaps best known for his essay “The Radiant Child” which appeared in the Artforum in 1981 and effectively launched the careers of Jen Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and his collections of poetry. The Tiffany-Turqoise volume Rene Ricard 1979-1980 was Dia Art Foundations debut publication.

Toward the end of his life, Ricard was represented by art dealer Vito Schnabel.

According to Mr. Marden Ricard was experiencing difficulty walking and went into the hospital a week ago for hip replacement. “When he went in they found all this other stuff,” Mr. Marden said.

Rene Ricard, the Massachussets-born artist and poet who was a fixture of New York’s art world since he arrived in 1965, has died. He passed away early this morning in Bellevue Hospital, said the artist Brice Marden, who had known Ricard since the 1960s. He died of cancer.

“This is an irreplaceable person,” Mr. Marden told The Observer. “He was really something, just on all ends of the spectrum.”

A member of Andy Warhol’s Factory, Ricard appeared in iconic films, including Kitchen (1965) and Chelsea Girls(1966), and even played Warhol in The Andy Warhol Story(1967) alongside Edie Sedgwick. He is perhaps best remembered for his influential essay “The Radiant Child,” which appeared in Artforum in 1981 and effectively launched the careers of painters Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and for his collections of poetry. The Tiffany-turquoise volume Rene Ricard 1979-1980 was the Dia Art Foundation’s debut publication. Toward the end of his life, Ricard was represented by Vito Schnabel.

According to Mr. Marden, Ricard was experiencing difficulty walking and went into the hospital about a week ago for a hip replacement. “When he went in they found there was all this other stuff,” said Mr. Marden, who added that Ricard’s death was unexpected. “He was going to be starting chemotherapy, but he didn’t get it in time.”

Mr. Marden, who visited Ricard in the hospital where he was surrounded by friends, said Ricard had been in good spirits. “When I saw him he was really up to it all,” Mr. Marden said. “He was obviously in bad shape but he was really enjoying the company.”

Rest in peace, starlet.

More on RENE

Ricard was a frequent contributor of essays to Artforum Magazine, here publishing one of his poems.

CARAVAGGIO & HIS MODELS by Rene Ricard, Artforum November 1984

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