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Charles Simic

(b. 1938– )

Serbian-American poet, essayist, and translator

“On a cold January morning, I once asked a fashionably dressed middle-aged woman, standing outside a building on Madison Avenue smoking a cigarette and shivering, whether she had a pen I could use. She didn’t think this was an odd request and was happy to oblige me. After she extracted a pencil not much bigger than a matchstick from her purse, I took out a little notebook I carried in my pocket, and not trusting the reliability of my memory, wrote down some lines of poetry I had been mulling over for the previous hour, roaming the streets. Today, she’d probably be staring at an iPhone or a blackberry while puffing away on her cigarette and it would not cross my mind to bother her by asking for a pencil.”

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source: New York Review of Books Blog, October 12, 2011.

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“The collage technique, that art of reassembling fragments of preexisting images in such a way as to form a new image, is the most important innovation in the art of this century. Found objects, chance creations, ready-mades (mass-produced items promoted into art objects) abolish the separation between art and life. The commonplace is miraculous if rightly seen, or recognized.”

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source: Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (New York: The New York Review of Books, 2006), 19.

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medium: Art criticism

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