William S. Burroughs (1914 - 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and painter. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century. Burroughs collaborated closely with writer and artist Brion Gysin after their meeting in Paris in 1959. Together they made "cut up" work, by destroying and re-assembling texts in unexpected ways. Burroughs was devestated by Gysin's death in 1986, and began making visual art a year later. His shotgun art pushed the destructive chance techniques of the "cut-up" in a new direction. This piece of shotgun art was most likely made in the final decade of Burrough's life.The 8" x 8" artwork has Burroughs' personal inkstamp and signature in pencil on the verso. It was formerly part of the personal collection of Nelson Lyon. Lyon was a comedy screenwriter who is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, among many other things.
Artwork from 'Shotgun' Series
by William Burroughs
William Burroughs, Untitled (Shotgun Art), 1987-97William Burroughs created this extroadinary piece of original artwork by taking a criminal fingerprint card from the 1940s and blasting it with his shotgun, before stamping and signing it on the reverse. The fingerprint card strikingly evokes both bodily contact and criminality, to which Burroughs added an act of violence. In the later years of his life, Burroughs developed what he termed "shotgun art," a means of creating work by shooting objects and paintings. The practice was undoubtedly inspired by the killing of his wife in a bizarre and tragic accident, while Burroughs was trying to shoot a glass from her head.