An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle

Jess Collins, known simply as Jess, and his partner, the poet Robert Duncan, wereone of the most fascinating artist couples of the 20th century. An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle is the first exhibition to focus on the creative production and relationship between the two, and their remarkable circle of friends. Jess’s mind-bending collages—or, as he called them, “paste-ups,” were often published to accompany erudite Duncan’s poems and essays, whose writings and ideas, in turn, made their way into Jess’s dense and allusive works. The exhibition draws its name, “An Opening of the Field,” from the title of one of Duncan’s key books. Progenitors of modernism, Jess and Duncan heavily influenced an entire generation of poets and painters who would gather at their San Francisco home, which served as a salon and gallery space for their artist friends. The exhibition includes approximately 85 works by Jess and Duncan as well as from members of their coterie, including R. B. Kitaj, Edward Corbett, Wallace Berman, Lawrence Jordan, and George Herms, as well as the poets Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, and Michael McClure and is accompanied by a 250-page catalogue.

An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle is co-curated by Michael Duncan and Christopher Wagstaff, and is organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento. This exhibition is supported by Bente and Gerald E. Buck.

The International Associations of Art Critics-United States (AICA-US) honored An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle with an award in Excellence in Art Criticism and Curatorial Achievement for Best Thematic Show Nationally.