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Porter, Fairfield (1907-1975)  
page: 1  2  3  

This put an immense strain on the family, especially on Anne Porter, who once remarked "that Schuyler came to lunch one day and stayed for eleven years."

Porter's complicated feelings about Schuyler and his wife and children, may be indicated in one of his best-known works, The Screen Porch (1964). In the painting, Porter depicts Schuyler seated, reading a book, on a screened-in porch, with Porter's two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, standing close by, while Anne Porter stands outside looking in. As Justin Spring noted in his biography of Porter, "[T]he image is remarkable for the odd tension which seems to exist among the four subjects, and by extension, the painter, whose perspective is taken by the viewer."

Several of Schuyler's poems, especially "Southampton and New York" (1972), "The Island" (1972), and "The Morning of the Poem" (1980), are intimate meditations on the life Schuyler led with the Porters.

Ultimately, however, Schuyler's mental instability became too much for even the Porters, and he was asked to leave. He returned to New York City and lived a relatively reclusive life until his death in 1991.

Death and Posthumous Reputation

Porter died at the age of 68 on September 18, 1975, of a massive coronary, while walking his dog near his home in Southampton.

After his death over 230 of his works were donated to the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, while many other Porter paintings can be seen at such institutions as The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.

Porter's art writings were collected and published in 1979 as Art in Its Own Terms: Selected Criticism, 1935-1975, with an introduction by the art critic Rackstraw Downes.

Hilton Kramer, in his review of the book for The New York Times, called Porter "one of the most important critics of his time," who produced "consistently sensitive and thoughtful writing on new art, and on the art of the recent past."

Porter's poems were published in 1985, with thirteen selected drawings as illustrations and an introduction by John Ashbery. A selection of his letters was published in 2005.

His paintings received their first major retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1983. The exhibition met with record-breaking attendance. The show reopened in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art the following year.

A second major exhibition, "Fairfield Porter: An American Painter," opened at the Parrish Art Museum in 1993. The show received a strong critical reception, and travelled throughout the U.S.

Art historian William C. Agee, the show's curator, noted in his catalog essay, "Porter led the way to show you can work figuratively in an age of abstraction and still be a viable artist. His work . . . is deep, complex, and rich."

Craig Kaczorowski

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literature >> Ashbery, John

John Ashbery, one of the leading contemporary American poets, avoids explicit gay content in his poetry, but his work shares concerns with other late twentieth-century gay writing.

literature >> Howard, Richard

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literature >> Merrill, James

James Merrill's significance as a gay writer lies in his deliberate use of a personal relationship to fuel his poetry.

literature >> O'Hara, Frank

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arts >> Rivers, Larry

One of the pioneers of Pop Art, Larry Rivers was a prolific artist, sculptor, and jazz musician; although he did not identify as a bisexual, the twice-married artist had significant same-sex sexual experience.

literature >> Schuyler, James

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Schuyler, a prominent member of the New York School of poets and painters, wrote openly about his homosexuality.


Kramer, Hilton. "Porter--'A Virtuoso Colorist.'" The New York Times (November 25, 1979): D23.

Lehman, David. "The Heretic." American Heritage (September 1997): 92-104.

Noonan, Catherine. "The American Intimists." American Artist (December 2000): 20.

Porter, Fairfield. Art in Its Own Terms: Selected Criticism, 1935-1975. Rackstraw Downes, ed. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1979.

_____. Fairfield Porter: The Collected Poems with Selected Drawings. John Yau and David Kermani, eds. New York: Tibor de Nagy Editions, 1985

_____. Material Witness: The Selected Letters of Fairfield Porter. Ted Leigh, ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Spring, Justin. Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Strickland, Carol. "Fairfield Porter's Realist Art Is Rediscovered." The New York Times Book Review (November 1, 1992): 1.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Porter, Fairfield  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2009  
    Date Last Updated September 2, 2009  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc.  


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