John Giorno (1936–2019)

Avant-gardist who revolutionised spoken word performance

John Giorno, a key member of the New York avant-garde, has died at the age of 82. 

Giorno entered the artworld as Andy Warhol's lover and muse, starring in his film Sleep (1963). A budding poet, he sought to apply the lessons of Pop to the written word and performance by applying avant-garde artistic techniques such as appropriation and collage. 

In 1965 founded the artist collective and record label Giorno Poetry Systems with the aim of finding new ways to distribute the form and reach new audiences. In 1968 he created Dial-A-Poem, which allowed citizens to ring a number and hear a poem read by authors including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ron Padgett and Patti Smith, or messages delivered by groups such as the Black Panthers. The work was included in Information at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and the phone number is still in operation. 

In 1984 Giorno Poetry Systems founded the AIDS Treatment Project, which raised funds for victims of the crisis. In 2016, Giorno's husband, the artist Ugo Rondinone, organised the exhibition Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. 

14 October