A blind auction of paintings by Michael Horovitz to raise funds to secure the future of the Horovitz Archive (1955-2021)

5 – 9 September 2023

Frame on Frame, c1967, Enamel, emulsion and collage on canvas, 83 x 105cm

Wednesday 6th September


& Special Guests

Michael Horovitz (1935-2021) was a prolific poet, editor and visual artist well known for his trailblazing role in the Beat Poetry movement, and vast contribution to counter-culture, in the UK. Born in Frankfurt, then Nazi Germany, Horovitz was raised in Britain and attended Oxford university during the 1950s. While studying at Oxford, he established New Departures, a periodical which would endure for the next fifty years. A notable milestone for Horovitz was his appearance at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside Allen Ginsberg. He published in abundance throughout his life, including several books showcasing his own visual art practice.

In conversation with Editor and Artistic Director of Bermondsey Project Space, Mike von Joel, Horovitz said:

Most of us who produce art and have built up an archive are constantly stricken with the anxiety that most of our activity will be piss in the wind in a few years. In my case, I have seven to nine rooms of material all over the place, full of correspondence and archives, some of which are very valuable. The job of collating and sorting the chaff from the grain is a huge job that I don’t have the money or the staff to deal with. I have many reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes and DVDs from over the years with marvellous recordings of (like) Stevie Smith, William Burroughs and the Beat writers and all the artists I have worked with.

I have guilt bordering on panic that this far-reaching material, going back to the 1950s, will just end up in landfill somewhere.


Michael’s son, Adam Horovitz speaks about the exhibition and auction:

The intention is very much to raise funds to ensure the preservation of Michael’s archive. Vanessa has done amazing work organising Michael’s archive in London […]  Gloucestershire in desperate need of sorting. There is much to do, and the more time that can be bought until a library, or the like, can take on the archive the better.

Of Horovitz, Mike von Joel writes:

Anyone who has ever been active in the London arts ‘scene’ over the last 50 years – and more – would likely have come across Michael Horovitz. In later years his slight, often bedraggled figure, in a mish mash of vibrant colours, would appear laden with a tote full of his latest publication – yours for a ready tenner. I can’t recall the number of books I bought off him in the street over the years – and then promptly put down somewhere and lost; but never the autographed copies of New Departures or his other titles, which I still treasure. I suspect Michael, like my-self, suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Sixties Disillusion). However, he spent his life keeping alive the flame of the counter-culture and its core tenet that individual creativity and vision could change society and that the magickal power of words not could – but would – triumph. And it was often a hard slog for him.

Michael Horovitz was a truly remarkable man. He wrote poetry, produced it, promoted it, supported and encouraged its creators by apparently magicking funds out of thin air. He tirelessly devoted himself to the spirituality of words, as a poet, songwriter-singer, literary journalist and editor-publisher. By the end of his life he was loved and appreciated by the great and the good across the literary world and accolades from the famous are as common as trees. As news of his death at 86 spread, not a few were surprised to learn of his OBE, a little incongruous perhaps, but well deserved.

Michael Horovitz and Vanessa Vie performing at Bermondsey Project Space in 2016.

Vanessa Vie, Michael’s partner writes:

His polymathic career was fertile & luminous like those of William Blake, & Samuel Beckett, two of his Muses. In the afterword to his book ‘Wordsounds & Sightlines’, Michael declares “I have spent most of my adult life as a poet, songwriter-singer, kazooist, clown, impresario, visual artist, translator, literary journalist, & editor- publisher”. He certainly did. Michael produced some 50 influential books of poetry & prose, plus several recordings. He admired & encouraged creativity in others.

He remains my true love & muse, my best friend.