Collection 1950s–1970s


Frank O’Hara, Lunchtime Poet

Fall 2019–Summer 2021


Larry Rivers. Double Portrait of Frank O’Hara. 1955. Oil on canvas, 15 1/4 × 25 1/8" (38.4 × 63.6 cm). Gift of Stuart Preston. © 2019 Estate of Larry Rivers/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
  • MoMA, Floor 4, 407 The David Geffen Galleries

Lunch was Frank O’Hara’s favorite meal. His 1964 book Lunch Poems is full of poetry he wrote during his breaks while he worked at The Museum of Modern Art, where he became a curator after starting at the front desk. Vivid and conversational, his poems lyrically document his sensory love affair with New York City. In addition to being a dynamic voice in American postwar literature, O’Hara was part of a community of contemporary artists, a “poet among painters” who were his friends, lovers, and inspirations for his work.

After his sudden death in 1966, when he was only 40 years old, the Museum published a memorial volume of his poetry paired with commissioned drawings by the artists closest to him. Titled In Memory of My Feelings after his 1956 poem, the book was described by director René D’Harnoncourt as “a homage to the sheer poetry—in all guises and roles—of the man.” The project reflects the diverse styles and interests of a group of artists who generated much of the creative energy in New York in the 1950s and ’60s.

Organized by Esther Adler, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, and Michelle Elligott, Chief of Archives, Library, and Research Collections, with Ana Torok, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

26 works online


Installation images

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