John Giorno Dead: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

John Giorno Dead

Getty Poet John Giorno pictured in 2018.

John Giorno, the famed American poet and visual artist, has died at the age of 82. Giorno was an AIDS activist and the subject of Andy Warhol’s 1963-film “Sleep.” In the film, which last for five hours, Giorno is depicted sleeping nude for the entire length of the movie.

Giorno’s death was confirmed on October 12 in an Instagram post from his friend Lee Ranaldo. Giorno passed away on October 11.

Giorno was a following of Tibetan Buddhism and regularly practices meditation. He was native of New York City and graduated from James Madison High School, the same high school attended by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Giorno Had Worked as a Stockbroker Before Meeting Andy Warhol & Dedicating His Life to the Arts

Sleep (Andy Warhol, 1964) [FULL MOVIE]Sleep is a 1964 American film by Andy Warhol consisting of long take footage of John Giorno, his close friend at the time, sleeping for five hours and 20 minutes. This is the entirety of the film.2017-10-07T16:33:30.000Z

Giorno had worked as a stockbroker following his graduation from Columbia University. He became involved in the arts in 1962 after a meeting with Andy Warhol. According to a Poetry Foundation profile, “The influence of pop art and Warhol’s Factory are evident in Giorno’s work.”

In a 2013 interview with Interview Magazine, Giorno said of his relationship with Andy Warhol, “Andy was very difficult emotionally. We had this great love affair in a sense.” Giorno went on to say that Warhol “was peculiar” and that he really enjoyed performing oral sex on men, sometimes on random occasions. Giorno said about Warhol, “Andy Warhol had a beautiful body and a big dick.”

Giorno once told the Brooklyn Rail in an interview that he read a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” during spring break and it “blew [his] mind.” Ginsberg and Giorno became friends in later life.


2. Giorno Had an Exhibition Displaying in New York City at the Time of His Death

John Giorno cause of death

GettyGiorno speaks onstage during the Norman Mailer Center 4th Annual Benefit Gala on October 4, 2012 in New York City.

At the time of his death, Giorno had been exhibiting new work at the Sperone Westwater gallery in New York City. The exhibition, titled “Do the Undone,” is due to be exhibited until October 26. The press release for the show refers to Giorno living and working out of his studio in the Bowery in Lower Manhattan for over 50 years.


3. Famously, Giorno Set Up ‘Dial-a-Poem’ in 1968

The Talking Asshole, Frank ZAPPA – You’re a Hook / Dial-a-Poem (1968-1983)"You're a Hook"—The 15 Year Anniversary of Dial-a-Poem (1968-1983) 06/18/84 Giorno Poetry Systems records (# GPS 030) B4. Frank Zappa – The Talking Asshole (from William S. Borroughs book "Naked Lunch") 720p Way to "You're a Hook"—The 15 Year Anniversary of Dial-a-Poem (1968-1983) full album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIB6ibF6VYk Link(s): http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/421901-did-i-ever-tell-you-about-the-man-who-taught https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQoNRqb3Wsg http://frankzapppa.blogspot.ch/2014/11/the-talking-asshole-routine-from-naked.html http://www.elsewhere.co.nz/fromthevaults/3057/frank-zappa-the-talking-asshole-1978/ .2015-01-24T23:29:14.000Z

In 1968, Giorno set up a concept known as “Dial-a-Poem.” The service allowed members of the public to call a number and hear a live recording of a poem. Giorno has said that the idea of “Dial-a-Poem” came from a conversation he had with fellow poet William Burroughs. Among the poets featured on “Dial-a-Poem” were Frank O’Hara, John Ashberry and Laurie Anderson.

John Giorno Interview: A Visit to the Poet“Poetry never dies. You can’t kill poetry.” We called on John Giorno – one of the most influential figures in contemporary performance poetry – in his legendary home on the Bowery in New York, to talk about the innate freedom and possibilities of poetry. For five decades John Giorno has lived on 222 Bowery in New York City, in one of the city’s first YMCA’s dating back to the 1880s. On the top floor, Andy Warhol’s film ‘Sleep’, starring John Giorno, was first shown to filmmaker Jonas Mekas, who put it on the cover of the magazine Film Culture in 1963. The address was also the home of the legendary writer and drug addict William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) – famous not least for his automatic writing in books like ‘Naked Lunch’. Giorno did not start writing in the style of the dominant The New York School of Poets such as John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, who had a “style of writing complicated sentences that had a whole ideology.” Writing in his own style gave Giorno a lot of freedom: “Everything I did was self-generated energy, relatively successful and I went on for sixty years…” He soon began his production company Giorno Poetry Systems, which had the purpose of connecting poetry to new audiences by means of innovative technologies, and also doing away with the notion that poetry was “pathetic and boring.” In 1967 Giorno organized the first Dial-A-Poem-event, where short poems by various contemporary poets were available on the telephone. In the many innovative projects connected to Giorno Poetry Systems, he also got to work with artists such as William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Laurie Anderson, trying out a multitude of different artistic expressions: “After fifty years I had done everything I thought I could do.” As a poet, Giorno writes, but as a performer he works more from the principles of a singer. For decades, he has melted poetry and painting – “I’m a poet with my words making pictures” – and he feels that whereas poetry was seventy-five years behind painting and sculpture for a long time, in the last fifty years, it has had a golden age: “Poetry is in the process of changing its skin.” “Poems are instruments of wisdom. It awakens something in one’s mind.” When he performs, people have an enormous emotional response, which Giorno feels is because his words allow them to see themselves: “That same thing happens to me, when I read a good poem – something lights up in my heart.” In continuation of this, Giorno is a Nyingma Tibetan: “Being a Buddhist is a meditation practice, and that has to do with training of the mind, and training of the mind was also these things happening to the mind. It affected my poetry, I think – understanding the empty nature of mind.” At the end of this video, Giorno guides us around ‘The Bunker’. Burroughs lived in the apartment between 1975-82 and Giorno was delighted to host his friend and colleague in the windowless basement. Giorno has used ‘The Bunker’ as a guest room for visiting friends and today everything has been restored and kept like it was when Burroughs lived there: the target poster, the typewriter, the gun magazines, the water tank, the BB gun, the Orgone-box (invented by psychoanalyst William Reich) and the desk all set for someone to sit down and write. John Giorno (b. 1936) is an American poet and one of the most influential figures in contemporary performance poetry with his intensely rhythmic and philosophical poetry. He has published a wide range of poetic works such as the collection ‘You Got to Burn to Shine’, spoken words with William S. Burroughs and Laurie Anderson. In 1962, Giorno was the subject of Andy Warhol’s 6-hour movie ‘Sleep’. In 1967 he organized the first Dial-A-Poem event, where short poems by various contemporary poets were available of the telephone. Giorno has also created Giorno Poetry Systems, which has published more than 40 spoken LPs with acclaimed artists such as Allen Ginsberg, Laurie Anderson and Patti Smith. In 2009 Giorno published ‘Subduing Demons in America: Selected Poems 1962-2007’. In 2015 he was the subject of a major retrospective ‘I Love John Giorno’ by Giorno’s husband, the acclaimed Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and in various venues throughout Manhattan in 2017, in celebration of the poet’s 80th birthday. Giorno’s work is included in the collections of prominent venues worldwide. John Giorno was interviewed by Christian Lund in New York City in October 2017. Camera: Mathias Nyholm Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen Produced by: Christian Lund Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018 Supported by Nordea-fonden2018-01-09T11:59:57.000Z

At the time of writing, “Dial-a-Poem” is still active on +1 641-793-8122. In the past, in addition to poems, callers would also here political and activist speeches from time to time.


4. Giorno Is Survived by His Husband, Ugo Rondinone

John Giorno Ugo Rondinone

GettyGiorno and his partner, Ugo Rondinone, attend the preview party for “Ugo Rondinone: Human Nature, presented by Nespresso” at Rockefeller Center on April 23, 2013 in New York City.

Giorno is survived by his husband, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Rondinone had set up a multi-part exhibition dedicated to his husband titled, “Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno.” The purpose of the exhibition was to present a portrait of “Giorno’s astonishingly wide-ranging artistic career” as well as being “a joyous celebration of Giorno’s ubiquitous presence in contemporary culture, as well as his myriad contributions to it.”

Poetry Marathon 2009: John GiornoThe Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon was an ambitious two-day poetry event taking place in London during Frieze Art Fair week and featuring unique performances from leading poets, writers, artists, philosophers, scholars and musicians.2016-01-08T11:49:06.000Z

Ronidinone is originally from the town of Brunnen, Switzerland, and now lives in New York City. The couple spent some of their time at home on the North Fork of Long Island. Rondinone told Architectural Digest in 2014 that part of the reason the couple chose to buy a home out there was because Giorno “spent a lot of time on Long Island as a child, so for him this house was a homecoming.” In the same feature, Giorno said of their home, “I can work anywhere, but this place is genuinely inspiring.”


5. News of Giorno’s Death Has Led to an Outpouring of Emotion on Social Media

John Giorno Dead

GettyA work by artists John Giorno, Lek and Sowat is pictured at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris on May 28, 2014.

As news of Giorno’s death spread, friends, colleagues and fans have taken to social media to express their grief and to pay tribute. Here are some of the most poignant messages:

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