The Nancy Book

Joe Brainard

Essays by Ann Lauterbach and Ron Padgett, collaborations with Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Frank O’Hara, Frank Lima and James Schuyler

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hardcover, 7.5 × 9.75 in.
144 pages, 46 color and 32 bw
published in 2008

PDF Press Release

Brainard was a master of life’s microcomedies, the unheard laughter that courses through any truly alert consciousness. And Nancy, with that bow like a pulsating noodle in her frizzy hair, is as good a Descartes as any for our age.
—Albert Mobilio, Bookforum

From 1963 to 1978 Joe Brainard created more than one hundred works of art that appropriated the classic comic strip character Nancy and sent her into an astonishing variety of spaces, all electrified and complicated by the incongruity of her presence. The Nancy Book is the first collection of Brainard’s Nancy texts, drawings, collages and paintings, with full page reproductions of over fifty works, several of which have never been exhibited or published before.

In The Nancy Book, Joe Brainard’s Nancy traverses high art and low, the poetic and pornographic, the surreal and the absurd. Whether inserted into hypothetical situations, dispatched on erotic adventures, or seemingly rendered by the hands of artists as varied as Leonardo da Vinci, R. Crumb, Larry Rivers, and Willem de Kooning, Brainard’s Nancy revels in as well as transcends her two-dimensionality.

These works exude a beguiling balance of mischief and innocence, irreverence and wonder, spontaneity and calculation. Together they accumulate into a sophisticated and complex work of great wit and joy, rich with metaphor, and equal parts surprise and subtlety.

Co-edited by Ron Padgett and Lisa Pearson

about the author

JOE BRAINARD (1942–1994) left Tulsa at eighteen for New York City and soon became a part of the thriving downtown art scene and the New York School of poets and painters. Over his career, Brainard created a prodigious body of work, distinguished by its breadth, originality, and rare alchemy of sensuality and precision, sophistication and sweetness. Admired for his writing as well as his visual art, Brainard wrote the legendary and beloved memoir I Remember, which was hailed as “a masterpiece” by Paul Auster and inspired George Perec’s Je me souviens. His writings were recently published in 2012 by the Library of America in The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. His drawings, assemblages, collages, and paintings are in private and museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of America Art, and a major travelling retrospective was organized by the Berkeley Art Museum in 2001 and included a stop at MOMA P.S 1.




Bookworm on “Joe”
PennSound: Joe Brainard
Joe Brainard Archive at UCSD
Joe Brainard Tribute
New York Times Obituary

see also


A Truly Dirty Rotten Book. A Filthy Weird Book.

Not all of the mail is fan mail.


Untitled (Nancy with Gun)Joe Brainard

A hand-pulled lithographic reproduction of one of Brainard’s earliest Nancys

✼ ex libris:

“Multiplicity and distance or void wasn’t an affected practice on Johnson’s part; they were the very lenses of his reality.” —Elizabeth Zuba, from her introduction to Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson


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