Exchanging Hats: Paintings
`They are Not Art -- NOT AT ALL,' Elizabeth Bishop insists. Forty of her pictures are here tracked down and reproduced in full colour by poet and art ... Show synopsis `They are Not Art -- NOT AT ALL,' Elizabeth Bishop insists. Forty of her pictures are here tracked down and reproduced in full colour by poet and art writer William Benton, who provides an introduction and an anthology of Miss Bishop's formal and informal prose on the subject of art and artists. `If Elizabeth Bishop wrote like a painter,' Benton says, `she painted like a writer. All her paintings are small, on sheets of paper the same size that one might write a poem on.' The earliest dates from 1937, the last from the year before her death. Most are gouaches and water-colours. It was not until 1993 that they were gathered (after sleuthing in archives and among her friends) and exhibited at the East Martello Tower Museum, in Key West where she had lived between 1938 and 1948. This was the first time the world at large knew her as a painter, but it might have guessed at her skills from the poems with their painterly eye and subtle tonalities. Her vivid gallery poem `Over 2,000 Illustrations and a Complete Concordance' comes to mind as readers encounter Miss Bishop's quiet scenes of New York, Newfoundland, Florida, Yucatan, Brazil, her occasional portraits and still lives, vital and mysterious as the poems, but their reality unrehearsed and not correctable.