Study Guide

Having a Coke with You Art and Culture

By Frank O'Hara

Art and Culture

it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary (7-8)

Uh, isn't that what all successful statuary is? Still? Duh. For some reason, though, all this standing around stuff has our speaker bummed out. It seems that statues (and all art, really) just can't compare to the fabulous, moving reality of his beloved.

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them (11-12)

Wow. That's harsh. Still, it goes to show us how disenchanted our speaker has become with art. In this case, portraits, which in many cases are the most famous examples of art in the world (Mona Lisa anyone?)--just look like so much paint to him, and seem pointless. Pointless when compared to real, live, in-the-flesh love that is.

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick (13-15)

A-ha. So maybe our speaker hasn't totally chucked art for love after all. Do you think that he's just joking, or being cute, here? Or is there a chance that he still might possibly, occasionally check out some art in future?

and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me (17-19)

Paintings filled with images of motion and energy? A groundbreaking portrait of astonishing perspective? The human form, represented with all of its intricacies? Yawn, says our speaker.

and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully
as the horse (20-23)

Here we get some more cold burns on the art world from our speaker. Even though the Impressionists and Marini were famous for their art, the speaker points out one fatal flaw in all of them: they were missing the right person in their work. Now, who do you think he means by "the right person"? The you of the poem? The people the artists themselves were in love with? What do you think?

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