Jackson Mac Low

Medium Biography

Jackson Mac Low in Paris, 1996
Jackson Mac Low in Paris, 1996. Photo by Anne Tardos

Jackson Mac Low, b. Chicago, 12 September 1922, d. New York, 8 December 2004, was a poet and composer who also writes performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works (mainly produced at Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne). He was also a painter and multimedia performance artist, often with the poet/visual artist, Anne Tardos and sometimes with Pauline Oliveros and others. Author of 31 books, his work has also been published in more than 90 anthologies and periodicals and read publicly, exhibited, performed, and broadcast in North and South America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. He has read, performed, and lectured in New York and throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Asnières, Paris, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and New York.

Educated at the University of Chicago (1939-43 A.A.) and Brooklyn College (1955-58 B.A., cum laude), He taught at many schools, notably the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). He taught creative writing and lectured at SUNY-Albany (1984), SUNY-Binghamton (1989), Temple University (1989), UC San Diego (Regents’ Lecturer, 1990), and with Anne Tardos at Naropa Institute (Boulder, 1975, 1991, 1994), Schule für Dichtung in Wien (Vienna, 1992, 1993), Bard College (1994), and Brown University (1994). He also read, performed, lectured, and participated in seminars at SUNY-Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania. He participated in the “John Cage Festival-Symposium” at Wesleyan University, with Tardos (1988), and in “Performing Language,” a conference-festival at the State University of New York, Binghamton (1988), and presented papers at conferences on John Cage in Warsaw (1993) and with Tardos, at Mills College, Oakland, CA (1995). He and Taros also took part in a conference at Yale (1995) on visual and experimental poetry. In 1996 he worked with French poets and translators on translations of selected poems of his into French at Fondation Royaumont, L’Abbaye de Royaumont, France.

Jackson Mac Low, 2003
Jackson Mac Low, 2003. Photo by Anne Tardos

He received fellowships and grants from CAPS (NY State, 1974, 1977), the NEA (1979), PEN (1974, 1982), the Guggenheim Foundation (1985), the Fulbright Foundation (for New Zealand, 1986), the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council (N.Z., 1986), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1988), and The Fund for Poetry (1988-89, 1991-92).

His visual works have been exhibited in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Austria, France, Italy, Ireland, and Australia, Galerie 1900-2000 (Paris, 1989), Galleria F. Borghese, (Rome, 1990); the “Ubi Fluxus ibi motus” pavilion, Venice Biennale (1990); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (1990); Salvatore Ala Gallery (NYC, 1990); Emily Harvey Gallery (NYC, 1990-91, 1991-92); Plug In Galleries (Winnipeg, 1991); Galerie Krinzinger (Innsbruck, 1991), in Cork, Ireland (1994), and in group exhibits throughout, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. (1994-98)

His publications since 1980 include the books From Pearl Harbor Day to FDR’s Birthday (1982, 2nd ed. 1985), Bloomsday (1984), French Sonnets (1984, 2nd ed. 1989), The Virginia Woolf Poems (1985), Eight Drawing- Asymmetries (1985), Representative Works: 1938-1985 (1986), Words nd Ends from Ez (1989), Twenties: 100 Poems (1991), Pieces o’ Six: Thirty- three Poems in Prose (1992), 42 Merzgedichte in Memoriam Kurt Schwitters (1994), Barnesbook (1996), and Two Plays: The Marrying Maiden and Verdurous Sanguinaria (1999) as well as the CD Open Secrets (1993), comprising eight works Tardos and Mac Low, and performed with seven instrumentalists.

Posthumously published books:

Doings: Assorted Performance Pieces 1955–2002, a selection from a half-century of verbal, graphic, and musical scores for groups of many different numbers of performers, as well as soloists; cover art by Ian Tyson (New York: Granary Books, 2005)

Thing of Beauty: New & Selected Works, 1937-2004, Edited by Anne Tardos (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008)

154 Forties, Edited by Anne Tardos (Denver, CO: Counterpath Press, 2012)

The Complete Light Poems: 1-60, Edited by Anne Tardos and Michael O’Driscoll (Victoria, TX: Chax Press, 2015)

Posthumous exhibitions:

2009 - 2014: “Tree Movie” at MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona)

1900-2000: “Typewriter Poems” in group show, Paris, Galerie

2010: “Tree Movie” in collection of Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid

2011: “Typewriter poems” in group show, Paris: Galerie 1900-2000

2012: Solo show, Paris: Galerie 1900-2000, exhibition of collages and constructions from the 1940s to 60s

2013: Group show, Madrid: Reina Sofia Museum in the exhibition “+- 1961 Founding the Expanded Arts”

2016-17: “Tree Movie” in the exhibition “Albert Oehlen: Woods Near Oehle” Cleveland Museum of Art

2016: “Gitanjali for Iris” Paris: Galerie Patrick Seguin in the exhibition “Carte Blanche to Karma”

2017: “First Milarepa Gatha” audio recording in the exhibition Carré d'Art de Nimes, Centre Pompidou

2017: Solo show “Jackson Mac Low: Lines Letters Words” at the Drawing Center, New York

Copyright © by Anne Tardos, Executor of the Estate of Jackson Mac Low. All rights reserved.