In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


You Are here, in the heart of the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project, between the overpriced incompetence of the “Grand Tower” and the arrant pretensions of the InterContinental, listening to great jazz as horribly over-amplified as the Cultural Affairs Department can manage, amid a bewildering welter of bulldozed built-up over-and-undering streets islanded among the abandoned shells of a great and renowned city for all the world like Shelley’s Transatlantic commentator, and before you is the prospect of a very important American, a man of genius and industry, of vital significance in the fortunes of his generation, for the benefit of a later generation that has no use even for talent. So you ponder the clumsy importunities of baksheesh and Isozaki (the Sir James Stirling of the Orient) and these lines from O’Hara’s “Ode to Willem de Kooning”:


imperishable courage and the gentle will
which is the individual dawn of genius rising from its bed


“maybe they’re wounds but maybe they are rubies”
                                                                      each painful as a sun


The only remedy for Downtown is Tommy’s or Pink’s. Anything to remove the taste of Peter Frank drawing a distinction between Diego Rivera’s easel paintings as “artistic” and his frescoes as “political,” in the L.A. Weekly.


In Memory of My Feelings, 1961


Frank O’Hara, In Memory of My Feelings, oil on canvas with objects, 101.6 x 152.4 cm, 1961, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.