Mission

The Flow Chart Foundation explores the interrelationships of various art forms as guided by the legacy of American poet John Ashbery and promotes engagement with his work.

Through programs for both general and scholarly audiences, The Flow Chart Foundation explores this mission, deepening participation with Ashbery’s art and maintaining the Ashbery Resource Center to explore his work as an inspirational and generative force.

The Flow Chart Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It raises funds to support its programs, with contributions tax-deductible to the full extant provided by law.


About John Ashbery

Widely recognized as one of the most influential American poets of our time, John Ashbery (1927 - 2017) received numerous awards for poetry, including the Yale Younger Poets Prize, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Poetry, Chevalier de L'ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Grand Prix des Biennales Internationales de Poésie, International Griffin Poetry Prize, National Humanities Medal, and National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and many others. Ashbery received a number of honorary degrees, including, among others, Harvard and Yale, and was also the first living poet to have his collected poems included in the prestigious Library of America series. His work intersects with the visual arts, theatre, film and other art forms, and continues to inspire countless poets, artists and readers. For a more complete bio, visit the Ashbery Resource Center pages.


History & Activities: An Overview

The Flow Chart Foundation (FCF), named for Flow Chart, the book length poem by John Ashbery, was initiated in 1998 to encourage the study of interrelationships among various art forms, as well as to facilitate awareness of the roles that an artist's environment can play in the creative process, focusing primarily on exploration of these issues as they are revealed through the various environments that Ashbery created, and through the creation of the Ashbery Resource Center. The engagement of Ashbery's poetry with other literature, music, the visual and decorative arts, architecture, theater, and film both reflects and is reflected in his own created environments and continues to serve as inspiration.

In early 2017, FCF changed its format from a “supporting organization” to an independent 501(c)3 private operating foundation. FCF continues the extensive archival work developed under the direction of David Kermani by Micaela Morrissette, Anni Rudegeair, and Rosangela Briscese to develop the Ashbery Resource Center, and has expanded its mission to encourage continued research and exploration of Ashbery materials while, through partnerships and direct programs, both celebrating Ashbery’s legacy and exploring the interrelationships of various art forms through public presentations, performances and exhibits.


 

Song

The song tells us of our old way of living,

Of life in former time. Fragrance of florals,

How things merely ended when they ended,

Of beginning again into a sigh. Later

 

Some movement is reversed and the urgent masks

Speed toward a totally unexpected end

Like clocks out of control. Is this the gesture

That was mean, long ago, the curing in

 

Of frustrated denials, like jungle foliage

And the simplicity of the ending all to be let go

In quick, suffocating sweetness? The day

Puts toward a nothingness of sky

 

Its face of rusticated brick. Sooner of later,

The cars lament, the whole business will be hurled down.

Meanwhile we sit, scarcely daring to speak,

To breathe, as though this closeness cost us life.

 

The pretensions of a past will some day

Make it over into progress, a growing up,

As beautiful as a new history book

With uncut pages, unseen illustrations,

 

And the purpose of the many stops and starts will be made clear:

Backing into the old affair of not wanting to grow

Into the night, which becomes a house, a parting, of the ways

Taking us far into sleep. A dumb love.

 

— from The Double Dream of Spring (© 1970 by Estate of John Ashbery. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Georges Borchardt, Inc.)

 

[ u n t i t l e d ]

And now I cannot remember how I would have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place. The place, of movement and an order. The place of old order. But the tail end of the movement is new. Driving us to say what we are thinking. It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand and think of going no further. And it is good when you get to no further. It is like a reason that picks you up and places you where you always wanted to be. This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed. Then there is no promise in the other. Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence, small panacea and lucky for us. And then it got very cool.

[This poem was commissioned by the artist Siah Armajani fo use in his Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, built in 1988 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on commission from the Walker Arts Center. The words of the poem are affixed to the upper lintels of the span and run in each direction across the bridge.}

From Hotel Lautréamont (© 1992 Estate of John Ashbery. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Georges Borchardt, Inc.)