April 17th, 2009 / 12:53 pm
Author Spotlight

Influences 2: Gabriel Blackwell


This is the second follow up to my “Let’s make a list,” art influences post. I asked Gabriel Blackwell to respond to these two prompts:

1) Pick one of the pieces you chose and describe the thing about it that seems particularly innovative about it.

2) Tell me what changed about your writing because of that innovation.

Here are his answers:

1) Roy Lichtenstein’s appropriation of Jack Kirby and Kirby-esque comic panels very nearly manages to carry us into the hip-hop age single-handedly. Yes, there are of course Duchamp, Warhol, and Lichtenstein’s other Pop Art contemporaries, but, for me at least, no one is quite so honest and unapologetic about the act of choice being the most important (so important that it can stand on its own) technique in the creation of art—and the subsequent ethic of recycling—as is Lichtenstein.

2) My mother and one of my older brothers are visual artists, and I was dragged—literally, by the arm—into a lot of museums and galleries as a kid. I probably hadn’t started writing yet, so I don’t think it would be fair to say that anything “changed” as a result. But I think that seeing Lichtenstein, in that context and at that age, permanently affected the way that I think of art—all art, including writing. The first story I can remember writing, when I was in 4th grade (so around the same time that my family and I went to MoMA and I first saw Lichtenstein’s appropriations), won first prize in my elementary school’s writing contest. A week later, the prize was stripped from me when it was discovered that I had lifted part of the premise of my story from Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s “Fat Men From Space.” I didn’t see anything wrong with it then, and I still don’t now.


Follow this link to Gabe’s blog and you’ll find a bit from a Paris Review interview with William Burroughs on cut-ups.

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  1. pr

      This is really fun, Matthew.

      I came late in life to being a Lichtenstein fan, but I am one now big time.

  2. pr

      This is really fun, Matthew.

      I came late in life to being a Lichtenstein fan, but I am one now big time.

  3. Daniel

      Neither do I.  –Daniel Pinkwater