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Wayne Koestenbaum: Unfamiliar Grammar, Paintings from 2010-2015

September 12 - December 18, 2015


Wayne Koestenbaum's first solo show "Wayne Koestenbaum: Unfamiliar Grammar, Paintings from 2010-2015" opened at UK Art Museum September12 and runs through December 18, 2015.

An acclaimed author and educator, Wayne Koestenbaum has examined subjects including Andy Warhol, Jackie Onassis, Harpo Marx, opera, fashion, desire, and humiliation. In 2010, he took up the paintbrush, and, since then, has produced hundreds of canvases of male portraits and nudes, landscapes, and dense abstractions rife with meandering lines, riotous corange benolors, and suggestive iconography. One work features a male head looking straight at the viewer with the phrase "I pose problems" written above. This may be true of Koestenbaum's creative output in art and literature, but it must also be said that he offers outrageously complex and candid revelations about the self and society. (right: Wayne Koestenbaum, I Pose Problems, 2010, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the artist)

Without any formal training but spurred by his numerous friendships with visual artists and years as a contributing critic to many magazines, Koestenbaum's painting investigations continue those of modernist forebears like André Derain, Henri Matisse, and Alice Neel.

Poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum earned a BA at Harvard University, an MA at the Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD at Princeton University. His work often explores the male body and the emotional, sexual, and social weight of its exposure. In an interview for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Koestenbaum described his writing process as a kind of bodily endeavor: "I extrude my vulnerable inner lining. I purge. And then I examine the contents-my expulsed interior-and begin the bloody interrogation." He has authored several poetry and prose collections and novels over the past 20 years.

Koestenbaum is the author of several collections of poetry, including "The Pink Trance Notebooks" (2015), "Stranger with Mosaic Background" (2012), "Selling Jewish Porn Films" (2006), "Milk of Inquiry" (1999), and "to Anna Moffo and Other Poems" (1990), which was named one of the Voice Literary Supplement's "Favorite Books of the Year." His prose works include "" (2011); "Theory" (2007); the novel "Orfei in Aigues-Mortes" (2004); ": Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics" (2000); and National Book Critics Circle Award­nominated "Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire" (1993).

In recent years, paintings by Koestenbaum have been exhibited at institutions including the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Brian Morris Gallery and White Columns.


The University of Kentucky's Art Museum and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) Creative Writing Program in the Department of English welcomes to campus essayist, poet, artist and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum as he discusses his paintings and writings with UK Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, in 106 White Hall Classroom Building.

The talk by Koestenbaum is presented in conjunction with the Department of English's Visiting Writers Series and the first solo exhibition of his work, "Wayne Koestenbaum: Unfamiliar Grammar, Paintings from 2010-2015," at the UK Art Museum. Individuals attending the talk have an opportunity to meet with Koestenbaum prior to his presentation from 5-6 p.m. Friday, at the UK Art Museum. The talk, lecture and reception are all free and open to the public.



In addition to his campus visit, Koestenbaum will also do a reading as a part of the pop-up exhibition "Peoples Portal," this weekend, an exhibition featuring established artists from Lexington, London, Atlanta and Chicago aiming to draw attention to the Peoples Bank's history and recent relocation efforts. Koestenbaum's talk will begin 2 p.m., November14, 2015 at the bank located at 343 South Broadway. This talk is also free and open to the public.


(above: Wayne Koestenbaum, Orange Ben, 2010, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the artist)


(above: Wayne Koestenbaum, More Speedy Fruit as Landscape, 2013, oil on canvas, courtesy of the artist)


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