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White Shroud


White Shroud


This artist’s book reproduces Francesco Clemente’s and Allen Ginsberg’s collaborative project begun in 1983 and exhibited at Kunsthalle Basel in 1984. After meeting at a dinner with curator Henry Geldzahler, the Beat poet visited Clemente in his studio on Broadway; within an hour, they began working on White Shroud. Ginsberg would handwrite sections of a poem on sheets of paper after which Clemente illustrated the space around the text—the result being reminiscent of William Blake’s illuminated poetry manuscripts, an inspiration to both artists. Ginsberg's ‘White Shroud’ recounts a dream wherein the poet discovers that his mother did not die in a mental hospital in 1957 but has been living destitute on the streets of the Bronx. The poem offers a joyful opportunity for reunion and amends, feelings that linger after awakening. True to the dream state, Clemente's illustrations depict a fluid underworld of forms–abstracted, biomorphic, and corporeal–in various stages of commingling and dissolution.

This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel. One thousand one hundred and eleven numbered copies were printed and bound from hand woven cloth by Kalakshetra Press in Madras (today Chennai), in India.


Publisher: Kalakshetra Publications Press, Madras

Texts: Allen Ginsberg
Publication Date: 1984

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 15 5/8 x 12 1/8 inches (39.7 x 30.8 cm)

Pages: Unpaginated, with 12 color plates

Covers: leopard print, orange, navy, green, brown