“Writing is Fifty Years behind Painting” – William S. Burroughs and the Arts





William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, visual arts, multi-media projects, Shotgun Arts


William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), one of the most controversial American writers of the 20th century, is an example of a "total artist", who does not limit himself to one genre or medium. He is best known for being an experimental writer, the co-creator of the avant-garde, "cut-ups" technique - a variant of collage. His cut-ups, however, were not limited to literature, as he was also the author of musical recordings, experimental videos and various visual art projects. These were collaborative undertaking that the artist carried out with his friends - mainly with  Brion Gysim (painter), Ian Sommerville (electronics technitian and computer programmer) and Anthony Balch (film director). This article discussed William Burroughs' lesse-known works like, The Third Mind, As Pook Is Here, and The Book of Breeething as they are multi-media, interdysciplinary projects, created with the help of popular painters or illustrators, e.g. Bob Gale or Malcolm McNeil, and best demonstrate Burroughs' unconventional approach towards collaboration and the crossing of boundaries between different forms of art. The article also briefly comments on Burroughs' final decision to turn to painting and his eccentric "Shotgun Art".


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How to Cite

Białkowska, A. . (2020). “Writing is Fifty Years behind Painting” – William S. Burroughs and the Arts . Forum for Contemporary Issues in Language and Literature, (1), 93–108. https://doi.org/10.34739/fci.2020.01.06