And let’s not forget references like this in the text:
“Marylou was … waiting like a longbodied emaciated Modigliani surrealist woman in a serious room.”
But type in “Jack Kerouac” and “painter” and you get very few Google search results, and no images of author at work. This is quite surprising as we are talking about one of the most iconic cultural figures in post-war America. And certainly among the most written about.
Some fans will know that in the Fifties he hung out with the New York School – Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers, Franz Kline, and Dody Muller (who became his lover). Many are patrons at the 10th St Taverns in the chapter ‘New York Scenes’ in Lonesome Traveller. “They all belong to Kerouac’s poetic universe: that world in which all is fleeting and must be caught instantly, before one moves on to further experiences,” says Sandrina Bandera who is the president of Museo Maga and former director of Brena Museum in Milan.
Apparently, Kerouac’s interest went beyond mere appreciation. He wasn't just a fan, he was a student. “He liked to sit in my studio and watch me paint,” Muller once recalled. “He admired, envied, and was awed by the painters.” So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fabled poet and author of On the Road was himself a keen artist in the gallery sense.
But what would you say if I told you he created stacks of pieces between the late Fifties and early Sixties, from doodled portraits to impressionist scenes and abstract mysteries? Following the successful exhibition of around 100 of his works at Museo Maga – originally given to his brother-in-law John Sampas but later acquired by private collectors – we can all see another side to Kerouac as Skira publishes Kerouac: Beat Painting.