William Burroughs Shotgun painting at auction

shotgun.jpg timandbill.jpg

Lisa Rein says

Timothy Leary’s estate, the Futique Trust, is auctioning off a an original painting from the infamous Shotgun Art series of William S. Burroughs. The piece was a gift to Leary from Burroughs in the late '80s.

The painting, which hung in the Leary’s living room for years, is being auctioned on Ebay with a starting bid of $85,000. A blog has been set up to track the auction action and discuss the painting and its connection to Tim's huge archive, which is also for sale (but not on Ebay).

Before his death in 1996, Dr. Leary became fascinated with virtual experiences, and was an early advocate of the WWW and virtual reality/worlds. One of his last wishes was for his entire archive to be made available through the internet. The Trust has been working with Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive to fulfill Tim's wish of making it available to the world.

The Leary Archive is full of primary source documents chronicling the birth of the psychedelic movement including photographs and letters from countless celebrities of the counterculture movement. It also includes everything from Tim's baby pictures and unpublished writings to Harvard LSD sessions and a seldom seen Folsom prison video.

Burroughs Shotgun Art


  1. I once worked with a guy who lived with Burroughs, near the end of his life, in the house featured in the photo above. He said a bunch of folks would take turns with the shotgun while making these paintings, often while under the influence of various substances.

  2. Its not Tim,its not Bill.Stop this.It is unbecoming
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  3. “One of his last wishes was for his entire archive to be made available through the internet.”

    …Actually, his *last* wish was to die live on the Internet. He *almost* made it, according to most sources.

  4. They tell people to use the arts as therapy.

    I think creating art by using a shotgun would be a great stress reducer.

  5. It’s interesting that they call this piece “untitled”– if I’m not mistaken this appears in a book of Burroughs’ visual art and is titled “Screaming Ghost.” I have a copy of the book somewhere and should dig it out, I believe the book is called “Ports Of Entry.”

    You really have to see these up close or in hi-res to appreciate them, the idea of “shotgun paintings” seems like a novelty, but they actually produce beautiful and interesting textures. For example, he used plywood, in which the grain goes in different directions depending on the layer, so a shotgun blast exposes a lattice-like wound, which is of course also covered with exploded paint.

  6. Takuan, it was ruled an accident.

    Hassan i-Sabbah, please avoid superfluous line returns when you’re being ineffable.

  7. without any knowledge but the most trivial second hand stories, I still condemn him. People should play William Tell with their own heads.

    regarding ineffable space, could we develop a stylistic short-hand system? Can the brain really do the work the eye has trained up to?

  8. He stood behind the gun, but she stood in front of it. They were all blitzed.

    Putting the ineffable into language is notoriously difficult. IMO, Sir Thomas Browne gets closest — it’s like he’s writing plasma containment structures for God. Aside from that, the best one can usually do is try to make true statements about the ineffable: not the same thing at all.

  9. IIANM, those paintings are sigils he fired or activated by blowing holes through them with a.45 and or a shotgun.
    He was an IOT elder mage after all.

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