Roffman’s biography of poet John Ashbery, a close friend

of Porter’s, explores the people and places that influenced him 

Larry Rivers, American, 1923–2002 Untitled (John Ashbery), 1984

Lithograph 18-inch diameter Gift of Elaine Benson


The Parrish Art Museum presents an illustrated talk related to the exhibition HOUSEBOUND: Fairfield Porter and his Circle of Poets and Painters, with Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, and Karin Roffman, author of a biography of poet John Ashbery—a close friend of Porter’s and frequent guest at the artist’s Southampton home. The live stream talk is scheduled for Friday, October 30, 5pm—part of the Museum’s Friday Nights Live! series. The public is invited to take part in a live chat following the presentation. Log in information is at

“I’m delighted that Karin Roffman will join me for this conversation about painters and poets and the ways in which their domestic surroundings can both nurture and reflect their artistic choices,” said Longwell. “Her deep knowledge of Ashbery’s life and work, including his enduring friendship with Porter, will be the focus of this illuminating talk.”

Porter (American, 1907–1975), the poet Anne Porter, and their children moved in 1949 from New York to a rambling 19th-c. captain’s house in Southampton Village. From the 1950s through the ‘70s, the couple’s friends gravitated there for a weekend or an extended stay, chronicling their social mores and shared sensibilities in words and paint. Ashbery was a frequent visitor, along with fellow poets Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler; as well as painters including Robert Dash, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, Larry Rivers, and Jane Wilson. Roffman’s book, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life, reveals how Ashbery’s poetry arose in part, from those lifelong friendships with Porter and others who congregated at his home, notably Freilicher, O’Hara, Koch, and Schuyler. The exhibition at the Parrish reveals the reciprocity of inspiration: Ashbery’s typed manuscript of his poem Pyrography is the surface for Rivers’s drawing of the poet at the typewriter.



Housebound presents paintings and poems that bring in sharp focus the many connections between the works and the artists who created them. Nearly 40 paintings by Porter, Robert Dash, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, and Larry Rivers will be on view. Poems by Anne Porter and New York School poets John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, and James Schuyler are accessible from SQR codes on the labels of specific works. Paintings by Porter from the late 1940s and ’50s such as Anne Reading to Laurence, 1947, show intimate scenes in the Porter household, while others illustrate direct inspiration of one artist to another, such asSketch for a Portrait of Jimmy Schuyler, 1962 , and Jane and Elizabeth, 1967, depicting Freilicher and her young daughter. Portraits by artists inspired by their writer friends include Rivers’s lithograph, Untitled (John Ashbery), 1984, and Alex Katz, Untitled (Portrait of Kenneth Koch), c 1970.


Karin Roffman

Karin Roffman has published essays on John Ashbery and 20th – and 21st– century writers and artists in RaritanModern Fiction StudiesArtforumRain TaxiYale Review and others.  Her first book, From the Modernist Annex: American Women Writers in Museums and Libraries (2010) won the University of Alabama Press’s American Literature Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Humanities, English and American Studies at Yale University, where she is creating, John Ashbery’s Nest, a website and virtual tour of Ashbery’s Hudson house in collaboration with Monica Ong Reed and the Yale Digital Humanities Lab. Roffman has previously taught at West Point and Bard College.


Alicia Longwell

At the Parrish Art Museum, Alicia Longwell has pursued a special interest in the history of the art and artists of Eastern Long Island. She has organized numerous survey exhibitions, including Malcolm Morley: Painting, Paper, Process (2012), Dorothea Rockburne: In My Mind’s Eye (2011), Sand: Memory, Meaning and Metaphor(2008); and North Fork/South Fork: East End Art Now (2004) and has curated solo exhibitions on the work of artists Barbara Bloom, Marsden Hartley, Frederick Kiesler, Alan Shields, Esteban Vicente, and Jack Youngerman, among others. Longwell has authored many publications for the Parrish including Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson: Seen and Unseen (2015); William Glackens (2014, contributing essay); William Merritt Chase in the Collection of the Parrish Art Museum, 2014; Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet (2013; contributing essay), and many others Longwell received her Ph.D. degree from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where her dissertation topic was John Graham, the subject of a critically acclaimed retrospective she organized for the Parrish Art Museum in 2017.


The Fairfield Porter Collection and Archive at the Parrish Art Museum

In 1979, the estate of Fairfield Porter recognized the bond between the artist and the Museum by donating some 250 works to the Parrish collection. Porter painted what was familiar to him: his family and friends and the places he lived and visited, including Southampton and a family-owned island off the coast of Maine where he summered since childhood. An artist who steadfastly maintained a figurative vision, Porter knew and admired many Abstract Expressionist artists on the East End, especially Willem de Kooning. Porter once wrote: “The realist thinks he knows ahead of time what reality is, and the abstract artist what art is, but it is in its formality that realist art excels, and the best abstract art communicates an overwhelming sense of reality.”


Friday Nights are made possible, in part, by Presenting Sponsor: Bank of America.

Additional support provided by Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder

Housebound: Fairfield Porter and his Circle of Poets and Painters is made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of the Art Bridges Foundation and Andrea Glimcher. 


Parrish Art Museum

Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in-residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.


Parrish Art Museum construction photographs © Jeff Heatley.


AAQ / Resource: Koral Bros., Inc. General Contractors