Every English major has an E.E. Cummings phase. It doesn’t have to be in college as it is likely a side effect of high school cynicism but it definitely happens. Cummings appeal comes from his way with using words like little paint drops, dabbing them around the page and defying properties like capitalization, stanzas, spacing, etc. He was also super sexual. Stupid kids who want to be alt love that shit.
I was one of them, the proud owner of a Borders produced collection of his work. I didn’t have my obnoxious literary affair with Kerouac or Salinger and, while I dabbled in Hemingway more, Cummings was the one boasted about. Oh, to be young and with a drop of taste shaped by bookstores: that is where this Cummings shit comes from.
Yet, I gotta give E.E. (or ee? EE? e.e.?) his due as he is more nuanced than I initially though: he was actually a super accomplished artist. He isn’t featured in any giant museums or seen as a coveted fine art collectible but he did paint in that very mid-century, post-Impressionist way of inky people and expressionist landscapes. They’re nice, considering his great(er) talent is poetry.
He made work about everything, too. There were abstracts, cityscapes, and seasides and lakes. There were his obviously fuckable lovers, nudes, and strippers. There were even a few familiars in his lineage, like his wife Marion Morehouse and local New Hampshire feature Mount Chocura. He did it all—and in ink, oil, watercolor, etc. He did it all.
Differing and similar to his poetry, the appeal to this work is that it borrows and breaks artistic trends. He obviously was the type of guy who wanted to create, to bleed art, and this work feels both trendy and unique in its own universe. Would I mistake it for someone else’s creation? Absolutely. Would I be pleasantly surprised to know Cummings made it? Absolutely. The visual appeal is that he is trying so hard to make E.E. Cummings The Painter™ happen and succeeds and fails at the task.
It should be unsurprising that this sensitive artiste had a proclivity for visual expression. Yet, here I am, a bit wowed by all this. I always looked up to Cummings’ style, even if in a vapid, juvenile manner, and the discovery of his art tickles that desire of wanting to be a Renaissance Man, that guy who can do all in art. I’m not jizzing myself over how great these paintings are but I do appreciate and respect his capabilities. It is something to marvel at. You, too, can peruse his archive here and wander down the halls of bygone literary obsessions as I did.
writing my posts
ee from now on.
(Kill me. I want to die.)