PRIMER SETS, 1972
Full title: Primer Sets Of A Revealingly Graphic, Personal History Of Western Painting Using The Complete And Basic Iambus Throughout. Eighty Pieces In Eight Sets: Marster Buckt Tho Nitid / Makar Vanisht / Oyez Fúnnee.
This set begins Henry’s project of collapsing the linear history of Western art into a flat medium. It is often described by Henry as the key to understanding his artistic project. The works, meant to be read from left to right, capture the rhythm of poetry. Just as poetry plays with structures of meaning in language, Henry similarly attempts to disrupt the common way of seeing art. The Iamb, a poetic foot comprised of first an unstressed ( ̆) and then a stressed (/) syllable, for Henry can be also be understood as articulating how one can read relative visual emphasis. In each of the works, he plays with a rhythmic contrast between qualities such as light and dark, straight and curved, recessed and protruding, textured and smooth, finished and unfinished. The titles of each piece are words chosen at random from John Berryman’s 77 Dream Songs.