Homage to the Square: Ian Hamilton Finlay's Poor. Old. Tired. Horse

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Started by Ian Hamilton Finlay and Jessie McGuffie in 1962, the little magazine Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. – along with the Wild Hawthorn Press which launched in 1961 – was an influential (and combative) presence within the small press milieu of the 1960s. Both magazine and press displayed a ‘constructive’ sensibility that encompassed geometric abstract painting, Russian constructivism, Op art, and concrete poetry. This constructive aesthetic often appeared in the context of relatively ‘square’ themes – teapots and old tired horses – that in the countercultural climate of liberated mind and body, seemed quaint. ‘Square’ therefore denotes a tendency toward the orthogonal (as opposed the curvilinear) and a sense of propriety that is deliberately unhip. In both cases, the ’square’ nature of POTH was a critical incitement aimed at the Dionysian excesses of contemporary poetry, art and the Mimeo Revolution that propagated them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTextual Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Apr 2024

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