René Ricard (born 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American poet, art critic and painter.
Ricard grew up in Acushnet, Massachusetts. As a young teenager he ran away to Boston and assimilated into the literary scene of the city. By age eighteen he'd moved to New York City, where he became a protégé of Andy Warhol. He appeared in the classic Warhol films Kitchen (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966). He continued to be a frequent contributor to the Mel Lyman-owned underground paper The Avatar, a Boston bi-weekly that was active until 1968.
Having achieved stature in the art world by successfully launching the career of painter Julian Schnabel, Ricard helped bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. In December 1981 he published the first major article on Basquiat, entitled "The Radiant Child," in Artforum
Andy Warhol called him "the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world."
In 1979 the Dia Art Foundation published Ricard's first book of poems, an eponymous volume styled on Tiffany's shopping bags. This book is featured in a photograph from Nan Goldin's book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986). The same year, he published a poem titled The Death of Johnny Stompanato. His second book of poetry, God With Revolver (Hanuman Books) was published ten years later, edited by Raymond Foye. The same year, he contributed poems to Francesco Clemente: Sixteen Pastels (London: Anthony D'Offay).
Along with a handful of one of a kind "zines", Ricard has released two other volumes of poetry since then; Trusty Sarcophagus Co. (Inanout Press, 1990), which featured his poems painted onto found artwork, and Love Poems (C U Z Editions, 1999), a collaboration with artist Robert Hawkins, who provided drawings for the book. Trusty Sarcophagus Co. was the basis of an exhibit at the Petersburg Gallery in SoHo. In 2004, Ricard did the covers for Shadows Collide With People by John Frusciante
The majority of Ricard's poems are now in the form of paintings. He is represented in New York City by the Vito Schnabel Gallery on West 23rd Street.
Ricard was played by Michael Wincott in Julian Schnabel's biopic, Basquiat (1996).
Ricard is reclusive and famously mercurial. He lives and works at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City.