Deemed "a legendary cultural catalyst" in a long New York Times obituary announcing his September 27, 2002 death at the age of 94, the immensely creative and prolific Charles Henri Ford – often regarded as America's first surrealist poet – was also a magazine editor, novelist, and visual artist who produced paintings, drawings, collages, films, and photographs. During a career that spanned most of the twentieth century, he authored sixteen books of poetry and edited, from 1940-1947, the important avant-garde journal View. Having created a huge body of visual art – which over decades he exhibited in America and abroad – Ford has, remarkably, never until now had a solo show in a United States art museum. It is, therefore, our special privilege to present Photographs by Charles Henri Ford.
Although published dates of his birth vary by several years, Charles Henri Ford was actually born on February 10, 1908 in Hazelhurst, Mississippi. (Weary of repeatedly being asked if he was related to the automobile maker Henry Ford, he eventually changed his name to Henri.) With his extended family owning hotel properties in Texas, Kentucky, amd Mississippi towns, during his youth he "moved to many hotels. . .all over the South. . .. " A premature sexual experience interrupted his youth, as he poignantly and briefly explained: "When I was ten years old the life of a child was over because I was seduced by an adult – end of childhood." Despite being a Baptist, he attended Catholic schools and eventually dropped out of high school; by the age of approximately thirteen, however, he had already edited his initial publication, a typed broadside.
From the introduction written by Victor Koshkin-Youritzin
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