Seize your last chance to see 'Ray Johnson Designs' and join Siglio in celebrating the publication of 'Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson, 1954-1994' at the MoMA Library next Wednesday, September 24 from 6-8PM. read the full post
Pioneer of mail art and an early participant in both the Pop and Fluxus movements, Ray Johnson created complex, punning works that ingeniously combine text and image, celebrity culture and art history, wit and melancholy. Figures such as Mickey Mouse, Elvis Presley, James Dean, Michael Jackson and Calvin Klein models populate his many collagesóa candid foreshadowing of current societal obsession. In the 20 years since his death, Johnson's work has become an increasingly accurate depiction of our fragmented and overstimulated society and includes some of the most recognizable imagery from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Beautifully designed, this massive compendium includes 296 color reproductions of collages, drawings, interventions and other ephemera from Johnson's estate. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Ray Johnson (1927Ė1995) studied under Josef Albers and Robert Motherwell at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and worked as a painter early in his career, exhibiting alongside Ad Reinhardt and Charmion von Wiegand before embracing pop imagery, collage and mail art, producing thousands of collages and other works on paper. His life and death (by suicide, jumping from a bridge in Sag Harbor, Long Island) were the subject of the award-winning documentary How to Draw a Bunny (2002).
PUBLISHER KARMA, NEW YORK
BOOK FORMAT Hardcover, 9.75 x 12.25 in. / 296 pgs / 296 color.
PUBLISHING STATUS PUB DATE 1/27/2015 Out of print
DISTRIBUTION D.A.P. EXCLUSIVE CATALOG: SPRING 2015 p. 41
PRODUCT DETAILS ISBN 9781938560828TRADE LIST PRICE: $45.00 CDN $55.00
AVAILABILITY Not Available
STATUS: Out of print | 00/00/00
For assistance locating a copy, please see our list of recommended out of print specialists >
Long out of print and unavailable to wider audiences, The Paper Snake is an essential work in Ray Johnsonís oeuvre and the second title published by Dick Higginsí Something Else Press, in 1965. Johnson describes the book as "all my writings, rubbings, plays, things that I had mailed to [Higgins] or brought to him in cardboard boxes or shoved under his door, or left in his sink, or whatever, over a period of years." A vertiginous, mind-bending artistís book, The Paper Snake was far ahead of its time. In his essay "The Hatching of the Paper Snake," Higgins says: "I was fascinated by the way that the small works which Ray Johnson used to send through the mail seemed so rooted in their moment and their context and yet somehow they seemed to acquire new and larger meaning as time went along ... Since a book is a more permanent body than a mailing piece or even than our own physical ones, I could not help wondering what it would be like to make a new body for Johnsonís ideas as a sort of love letter or time capsule for the future." A collection of letters, little plays, tid-bits, collages and drawings, The Paper Snake connects disparate†elements to unbed fixed relationships and forge new systems of meaning by means of scissors, paste and the American postal system.
Published by Siglio. Edited by Elizabeth Zuba. Text by Kevin Killian.
Ray Johnson (1927Ė1995) blurred the boundaries of life and art, of authorship and intimacy. Correspondence is the defining character of all of Johnsonís work, particularly his mail art. Intended to be read, to be received, to be corresponded with, his letters (usually both image and textual in character) were folded and delivered to an individual reader, to be opened and read, again and again. Johnson's correspondence includes letter to friends William S. Wilson, Dick Higgins, Richard Lippold, Toby Spiselman, Joseph Cornell, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Robert Motherwell, Eleanor Antin, Germaine Green, Lynda Benglis, Arakawa and Madeline Gins, Christo, Billy Name, Jim Rosenquist and Albert M. Fine, among many others. The subjects of his correspondence ranged from the New York avant-garde (Cage, Johns, de Kooning, Duchamp) to filmmakers such as John Waters, philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and writers such as Gertrude Stein and Marianne Moore. This collection of more than 200 selected letters and writings--most of which are previously unpublished--opens a new view into the sprawling, multiplicitous nature of Johnsonís art, revealing not only how he created relationships, glyphs and puzzles in connecting words, phrases, people and ideas, but also something about the elusive Johnson himself. In a 1995 article in The New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote: "Make room for Ray Johnson, whose place in history has been only vaguely defined. Johnsonís beguiling, challenging art has an exquisite clarity and emotional intensity that makes it much more than simply a remarkable mirror of its time, although it is that, too."