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 was accepted as a protege 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 also helped bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. In December 1981 he published the first major article on Basquiat, entitled "The Radiant Child," in Artforum.
He was called by Andy Warhol "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, a self-titled volume styled on the Tiffany Christmas catalogue. This turquoise book is featured in a photograph from Nan Goldin's book "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" (1986). The same year, he published a now legendary 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, Rene did the covers for "Shadows Collide With People" by John Frusciante.
The majority of Ricard's poems are now achieved in the form of paintings. He is represented in New York City by the Cheim and Read Gallery on West 25th Street.