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Almine Rech

John Giorno

John Giorno was born on December 4, 1936, in New York City.

After earning a BA from Columbia University in 1958, Giorno established himself as an active presence in New York’s art scene, lauded for his starring role in Andy Warhol’s five-hour film Sleep (1963). A life-long collaborator, he staged multimedia events with Robert Rauschenberg, developed new recording techniques with Bob Moog, and performed alongside William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. In 1967, he published his first monograph, Poems, and his first LP, collaborating with Rauschenberg and Les Levine on the artwork and designs for both.

Giorno created Dial-A-Poem at The Architectural League of New York in 1968, which was subsequently included in the landmark group exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. Dial-A-Poem was both celebrated and censored for its selection of readings and speeches by poets and activists. Giorno was unwaveringly unapologetic in his use of politically-charged and sexually salacious content, using his work as a platform to draw attention to his own status as a gay man, to police violence in America, and to the harrowing statistics associated with the war in Vietnam. 

Giorno was not just a poet but an artist and a performer. In 1969, recognizing that the written word could be powerfully transformed into spoken word, he began a performance practice that he pursued throughout his life, pioneering a distinct and unique style. In 1981, he formed The John Giorno Band and performed at various punk rock venues.

Giorno retired from performing in 2017 and spent the last two years of his life in meditation, artmaking, writing poetry, and working on his memoir, 'Great Demon Kings'. His iconic poem prints, paintings, prints and drawings continue to show in museums and galleries around the world. 

Giorno died in his home at 222 Bowery in 2019.

In 2020, his non-profit began operating under the name The John Giorno Foundation, but in honor of Giorno's legacy and building on GPS's long history of extraordinary events, LPs, and grants, it returned to its original name in 2023 and currently operates as Giorno Poetry Systems.

Selected artworks

  • John Giorno,                                      I’m Tired of Being Scared (blue Dayglo), 1969

    John Giorno I’m Tired of Being Scared (blue Dayglo), 1969

    Silkscreen on paper

    99 x 71 cm
    39 x 28 in

  • John Giorno,                                      You Can’t Remember Where You Are (rainbow), 1974

    John Giorno You Can’t Remember Where You Are (rainbow), 1974

    Silkscreen on paper

    76.2 x 86.36 cm
    30 x 34 1/2 in

  • John Giorno,                                      WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH THE TOUGH GET GORGEOUS, 1989

    John Giorno WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH THE TOUGH GET GORGEOUS, 1989

    Silkscreen on vinyl

    121.9 x 121.9 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      I WANT TO BE FILTHY AND ANONYMOUS SCUM AND SLIME, 1989

    John Giorno I WANT TO BE FILTHY AND ANONYMOUS SCUM AND SLIME, 1989

    Silkscreen on vinyl

    121.9 x 121.9 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      SUGAR, ALCOHOL, MEAT & CIGARETTES, 1991

    John Giorno SUGAR, ALCOHOL, MEAT & CIGARETTES, 1991

    Silkscreen

    36.5 x 36.5 cm
    14 3/8 x 14 3/8 in

  • John Giorno,                                      IT’S WORSE THAN I THOUGHT, 1991

    John Giorno IT’S WORSE THAN I THOUGHT, 1991

    Silkscreen

    36.5 x 36.5 cm
    14 3/8 x 14 3/8 in

  • John Giorno,                                      EATING THE SKY, 2016

    John Giorno EATING THE SKY, 2016

    Cobalt Violet on paper

    51.1 x 51.1 cm
    20 1/8 x 20 1/8 in

  • John Giorno,                                      DO THE UNDONE, 2016

    John Giorno DO THE UNDONE, 2016

    Graphite on paper

    74.9 x 74.9 cm
    29 1/2 x 29 1/2 in

  • John Giorno,                                      ​NOW AT THE DAWN OF MY LIFE, 2019

    John Giorno ​NOW AT THE DAWN OF MY LIFE, 2019

    King's Blue Deep watercolour on paper

    74.9 x 74.9 cm
    29 1/2 x 29 1/2 in

  • John Giorno,                                      I WANT TO CUM IN YOUR HEART, 2012

    John Giorno I WANT TO CUM IN YOUR HEART, 2012

    Acrylic on canvas
    121.9 x 121.9 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      DON'T WAIT FOR ANYTHING, 2015

    John Giorno DON'T WAIT FOR ANYTHING, 2015

    Acrylic on canvas
    121.9 x 121.9 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      LIFE IS A KILLER, 2012

    John Giorno LIFE IS A KILLER, 2012

    Silkscreen on canvas

    122 x 122 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      JUST SAY NO TO FAMILY VALUES, 2012

    John Giorno JUST SAY NO TO FAMILY VALUES, 2012

    Silkscreen on canvas

    122 x 122 cm
    48 x 48 in

  • John Giorno,                                      YOU GOT TO BURN TO SHINE, 2018

    John Giorno YOU GOT TO BURN TO SHINE, 2018

    Acrylic on canvas - in four parts
    284.5 x 284.5 cm
    112 x 112 in

  • John Giorno,                                      EVERYTHING IS DELUSION INCLUDING WISDOM, 2015

    John Giorno EVERYTHING IS DELUSION INCLUDING WISDOM, 2015

    Enamel on linen

    101.6 x 101.6 cm
    40 x 40 in

  • John Giorno,                                      A HURRICANE IN A DROP OF CUM, 2015

    John Giorno A HURRICANE IN A DROP OF CUM, 2015

    Acrylic on canvas

    101.6 x 101.6 cm
    40 x 40 in

  • John Giorno,                                      BE YOURSELF, 2019

    John Giorno BE YOURSELF, 2019

    Acrylic on linen

    142.24 x 142.24 cm
    56 x 56 in

  • John Giorno,                                      SIT IN MY HEART AND SMILE, 2019

    John Giorno SIT IN MY HEART AND SMILE, 2019

    Oil on linen
    141 x 141.6 cm
    55 1/2 x 55 3/4 in

  • John Giorno,                                      LILACS LUXURIOUSLY LICKING THE AIR, 2017

    John Giorno LILACS LUXURIOUSLY LICKING THE AIR, 2017

    Acrylic on canvas

    101.6 x 101.6 cm
    40 x 40 in

  • John Giorno,                                      ALMOST MISS AMERICA ROSE, 2017

    John Giorno ALMOST MISS AMERICA ROSE, 2017

    Acrylic on canvas

    101.6 x 101.6 cm
    40 x 40 in

  • John Giorno,                                      CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE RAZOR BLADES, 2017

    John Giorno CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE RAZOR BLADES, 2017

    Acrylic on canvas

    101.6 x 101.6 cm
    40 x 40 in

  • John Giorno,                                      BIG EGO, 2016-2022

    John Giorno BIG EGO, 2016-2022

    Site specific wall painting

    Dimensions variable

  • John Giorno,                                      SPACE MIRRORS MIND, 2022

    John Giorno SPACE MIRRORS MIND, 2022

    Glacial granite, engraved
    80 x 140 x 64 cm
    31 1/2 x 55 1/2 x 25 1/2 in
    Edition 1 of 3

  • John Giorno,                                      Dial-A-Poem (2012 edition), 1968-2012

    John Giorno Dial-A-Poem (2012 edition), 1968-2012

    Telephone, soundfile player with 200 digitally recorded poems from 80 poets.

    Edition of 12.

Selected press