Here at Gallerist, we think that probably the greatest love poem in the history of mankind is “Having a Coke With You,” by Frank O’Hara. Well, this is Sarah Douglas writing and she thinks that’s the case. Or thinks it right now, at 12.01 p.m. on the day before Valentine’s Day. That might change tomorrow! Let’s see, perhaps something more florid by someone from longer ago… Donne? Keats? Shakespeare? Fulke Greville? (“Love, the delight of all well-thinking minds…”)
No, let’s stick with O’Hara’s “Coke” poem. What could be better than having a Coke with someone you like enough to say you love them? Who convinces you, just for a few moments, that hell might not indeed be other people? Why not watch and listen to O’Hara reading it, right now? Here’s a link. Do it. It’s so good, and he’s no longer with us, and he reads it so well.
Here are a few lines:
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
That poem was written long ago, in the 1960s, in the halcyon days, the days before internet dating, the sexier days of face-to-face interaction, the days before Christian Mingle dot com claimed it could find you “the soul mate God intended.”
O’Hara worked at MoMA once, so he would have well understood the romantic implications of an art experience shared with a lover and–oh, yes, right, this is a slide show. Click on the slide show above for all kinds of artworks relating to love, coupledom, singledom, pornography. Wait–what? Yes, that too.
Enjoy. For now! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and you will be surrounded by store-bought gewgaws, too-sweet sweets, and mawkish declarations.
All of us
Jeff Koons, Hanging Heart (Magenta and Gold), 1994-2006
$23.6 million worth of love.
Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Rest Energy, 1980
A successful, loving relationship involves trust.
Damien Hirst, All You Need Is Love, 2006
Sigh. In the butterfly wings, the unmistakable fluttering of desire, etc.
Robert Indiana, Love, 1964
Take your lover for a stroll right by this beauty on the way to the Museum of Modern Art.
Marc Bijl, PORN, 2005, installation at GEM Museum, The Hague
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Venus and Cupid, ca. 1752-53
Plan to propose in front of this classic at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
Tracey Emin, I Kiss You, 2006
Pablo Picasso, Marie-Thérèse avec une Guirlande, 1937
A reminder that love can cross generations. Picasso was 45 when he met the 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter, probably his most beautiful and most tragic lover. The works produced from that affair are probably among the great artist's most schmaltzy, perfect for Valentine's Day, no?
Carsten Höller, Love Drug (PEA), 1993/2011
This vial contains phenylethylamine, a substance that is supposed to stimulate love. Sadly, Mr. Höller's New Museum show has ended, so you will need to seek it out yourself.
Will Cotton, Cotton Candy Clouds, 2006
Valentine's Day can also be about simple lust, or just candy.
Sophie Calle, Exquisite Pain (Count Down - 52), 2000
For those still suffering from a breakup, the quintessential breakup work: Ms. Calle retrospectively counts down the days until her lover leaves her.
Rivane Neuenschwander, First Love, 2005
Another one for the loners: for this piece, a police sketch artist draws your first love based on your recollections. Wallow in a lost love, or savor the fact you two parted!
Grand Openings, Singles Night, at the Museum of Modern Art, July, 2011
But, you know, now that you're back on the market, why not put really put yourself out there at a singles event that doubles as performance art?