Painter and Poet

E. E. Cummings
Paris view from a rooftop studio
Ink on paper, 9 x 11-3/8 inches
Collection of Ken Lopez, Bookseller

"'Peintre et poete,' he had told a French policeman who asked his profession before arresting him; I think that was in 1923. Poet and painter—and nothing else—he remained to the end.
                —Malcolm Cowley, E. E. Cummings: Poet and Painter
This is the first of two posts on poets. I was going to write a combined post on E. E. Cummings and Kenneth Patchen because both poets spent a considerable amount of time drawing and were close friends but have decided that each deserves a unique entry. Cummings and Patchen spent long hours talking at Cumming's house on Patchin Place in the Village where Patchen lived for a time.  I'm guessing that some of their talk must have been about drawing and painting but can't find any record of such.

View a collection of E. E. Cummings drawings.
"Cummings viewed himself as much a painter as a poet, as evidenced by the enormous amount of time and energy he devoted to this lesser-known half of his "twin obsession." Not only did Cummings spend a greater portion of his time painting than writing, he also produced thousands of pages of carefully thought-out notes concerning his own aesthetics of painting: color-theory, analysis of the human form, the "intelligence" of painting, reflections on the Masters, etc.
Critics have tended to divide Cummings' painterly career roughly into two stylistically differing chronological phases. The first phase, more or less from 1915-1928, covers his widely-acclaimed large-scale abstractions and his immensely popular drawings and caricatures published throughout the 1920s in the leading modernist journal, The Dial. The second phase, covering the period from 1928 until his death in 1962, consists primarily of representational works: still lifes, landscapes, nudes, and portraits.
                Ken Lopez, Bookseller
For an interesting little history by Milton A. Cohen on E.E. Cummings drawings for and other contributions to The Dial, read The Dial's "White-Haired Boy": E. E. Cummings as Dial Artist, Poet, and Essayist.

Learn more about the visual side of this poet at E. E. Cummings art

Visit the E. E. Cummings art collection at the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Read a succinct article by Jim Lane for the Humanities Web, E. E. Cummings, the Artist.
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." —E. E. Cummings

Stay tuned for Kenneth Patchen!