John Giorno, Who Moved Poetry Beyond the Printed Page, Dies at 82


“He said to me on the way home: ‘Would you like to be a movie star?’” Mr. Giorno told The Guardian in 2002. “ ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘I want to be just like Marilyn Monroe.’” Though Warhol and Mr. Giorno split in 1964, the movie — which was among the first footage Warhol ever shot and which became an underground classic — linked them indelibly in postwar art history.

In 1962, Mr. Giorno had moved into a hulking Queen-Anne-style building on the Bowery that had been built as the first YMCA and then had a second life as a warren of studios for artists, including Mark Rothko and Fernand Léger.

He eventually occupied three spaces in the building, one of which became known as the Bunker, christened as such by Burroughs, who began living there part time, in a windowless former locker room, in 1975.

After Burroughs’s death in 1997, Mr. Giorno preserved his bedroom just as he left it, with his hat hanging from a hook across from his single bed, his manual typewriter on a small stand and a working blowgun resting against the wall.

In 1963, the artist Wynn Chamberlain threw a 27th birthday party for Mr. Giorno in the building that became renowned later as a remarkably comprehensive snapshot of the emerging art scene at the time: attendees included Warhol and Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Frank O’Hara, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Frank Stella, Barbara Rose, Roy Lichtenstein, John Ashbery, Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

“They didn’t really know me,” he told Mr. Obrist. “It was billed as a Pop birthday party for a young poet. By the late ’60s, everybody became very famous and nobody went to anybody’s party anymore. It was over.”

For more than three decades Mr. Giorno, a longtime practicing Buddhist, also hosted annual gatherings known as fire pujas in the building for hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist adherents.



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