Poet, visual artist, and LGBTQ+ activist John Giorno died on Friday. Giorno, who was also the subject of Andy Warhol's 1963 five-hour film Sleep, was a New York City icon who was unlike any other. According to ART News, his death has been confirmed by the Almine Rech and Sperone Westwater galleries.
One of the artistic works Giorno is most known for is his 1968 "Dial-a-Poem." This project made poetry accessible by allowing people to call a number (+1 641-793-8122 ) — which is still active now — and hear a live recording of a poem from poets like Frank O'Hara, David Henderson, John Ashberry, Laurie Anderson, and more. He told curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, "It occurred to me that poetry was 75 years behind painting and sculpture and dance and music."
He also currently has an exhibition open entitled "Do the Undone," is due to be open until October 26 at the Sperone Westwater gallery.
Aside from his work in the arts, Giorno also founded the AIDS Treatment Project in 1984, which collects funds to directly donate to HIV/AIDS patients. The Paris Review quotes Giorno saying, "My intention is to treat a complete stranger as a lover or a close friend; in the same spirit as in the golden age of promiscuity, we made fabulous love with beautiful strangers, and celebrated life with glorious substances. 'God please fuck my mind for good!' Now that their life is ravaged with AIDS, we offer love from the same root, in the form of boundless compassion."
Giorno's friend, musician Lee Ranaldo, posted photos on Instagram on Saturday in memory of the artist. He wrote, "Sad to note the passing today of dear friend John Giorno, such a sweet, beatific person."
Giorno's cause of death is unknown, but he is survived by his husband Ugo Rondinone.
Photo via Getty